In that moment before season 5 of Game of Thrones released I watched the first 4 seasons, but like an idiot I watched them in chronological order. I mean it was helpful and taught me a lot about the show, but I am now going to watch the show in chronological and reverse-chronological order because that seems like a fun thing to do.
First things first: I’ve forgotten everyone’s names and will not even attempt to relearn them. 2nd, loads of spoilers about stuff, from horse guy dying to Ned dying to bald guy being a spy or something.
Season 1 - Episode 1: I remember when the episode was released by HBO ahead of time. Maybe it was like just the first 20 minutes. They hit on a few points that would end up being important to the series. Duty, Stark/northern relationships/customs, and a little of the intrigue that would mark the show.
Last year rewatching that first season it hit me how many times that particular season would add world building to dialogue. However rewatching the first episode it’s insane how many things they’re setting up as well. Hodor, the kid from the Wall, whether or not Jon Snow will ever cut his hair: all this stuff is in there. A lot of characters lose out on characterization early on in favor of bits of set up to payoffs later in the series. Bran, for instance, does a lot of climbing and running around all of which is a great set-up to the joke that he won’t walk again for the rest of the series.
The first episode isn’t so much a pilot as the very beginning of a prologue. I feel like the first season of the show is almost just there to give people a sense of where they are coming from. Basically the show we know now, where the game of thrones is what we constantly think about, is not really being shown. Our main character, Ned, is an outsider and not really thinking this way. His kids are outsiders and don’t really think this way. And rewatching this stuff shows us a ridiculous amount of configuring people to be where they need to be. Cerci (sp?) is basically the only character who shows up where she needs to be (at least out of all the characters who will be with the show for it’s full run. Ned and Rob are also right where they need to be. But the Lannister brothers, all the Stark kids, they don’t quite feel right.
Oh also the show had Whitewalkers in it, this is like the only whitewalker seen in the first 2 season’s outside of the season 2 finale I think. I don’t remember. Point is the show sets up that we’re watching the apocalypse then immediately diverts our attention to this other story.
Season 5 - Episode 10: Wow this is a TV show. We get a battle and lots of nudity, we see Winterfell and King’s Landing as these more realized places, and the episode does a great job of catching the psyche of our characters. It’s just a completely different show. So many other things, we have a grown dragon, we see the Mountain as some sort of walking monstrosity, and Stannis the mannis and his war seems to get an end.
It feels like the episode sees the fulfillment of a lot of stories that start in season two. Really the show doesn’t seem to hit it’s maturity until then. With the end of season 1 the world of GoT really opened up, even though in reality the series has mostly just bounced back between the wall and king’s landing and the capital. However this episode really sets all those stories on their head.
And yet we also see Jon Snow’s story at the wall find it’s end. Cersi and her public shaming, Sansa’s leap from the castle, the other sister’s thing. The two stories of the show, the story of the world and the one of the Lannisters and Starks and the other one, are still very much continuing but it feels like an end to all these middle stories.
Snow is really the one person who seems to fully appreciate it’s the apocalypse though. For his story there’s a ticking clock only nobody else is aware of it. I remember really hating season 5, and that season 4 and 5 were both paced really weird.
Season 1-2: The horse people. And Dogs. But remember the horse people? Yeah they were in the last episode, the season 5 finale, but they used to be an actual location the show constantly popped up in. We have the blonde kids and like this intense king’s landing attitude but it’s surrounded by people who live in huts and really love their horses.
Also the kid talks, the boy who’s going to be the terrible king. He gets slapped like 5 times by Tyrion. Tyrion was kind of just a drunk guy who gave monologues in episode one, now he’s this really funny character who seems to know everything and have all the best lines. Still we’re going to have a lot of lines in this episode setting up the world, but they’re delivered so well you forget.
Episodes in the first season, as a person who didn’t read any of the books, always had to be watched a time or two to get all the info on the world they could contain. It would be easy to go online but then you might get spoilled.
Anyways if the Starks set up the idea of duty in episode 1 the Lannisters set up the idea of family. Ned will become the hand of the king but they have to wait on Bran to get out of the bed. Ciri is great, giving one of those performances that we’ve come to expect from her.
If Jon and Tryion was the fun conversation to watch in episode one for a person who’s seen the whole series in episode 2 it’s Jon and the pretty Lannister guy. Kingslayer, that’s his name. Anyways Jon really wants to go to the wall. Really weird after having just watched him get stabbed to death.
And there are still dogs, everyone got dogs in the first episode. I forget but I think they all die but one in the first season. But Aria and Jon have a scene. Hell the first season of the show is just watching actors talk who won’t see each other for 5 years.
Oh and Stark Mom is so mean to Jon Snow. Remember that? I didn’t ever really like her due to how mean she was to Jon. Now everyone seems to think Jon isn’t really Ned’s son, and watching Stark Mom say “you came back a year later with another woman’s son” almost feels like “proof” or something.
Anyways it’s hard to get back into the mind set but I remember when I watched the show the first time not knowing anything it was weird not understanding who the kids were. You would play a game asking people who had read the books “that person, are they imporant? what about that other person, are they important? What about them?”
Now I watch the show and just wonder how they made it so good with no budget. There’s another thing of looking back: last episode I watched there was literally a battle and 5 totally different unique locations with interiors and graphic art and loads of extras. Now we’re watching an episode that looks like they could barely get permission for the few locations they got.
Big takeaway from the early episodes is how much set-up they’re doing. For characters dying or moving or whatever it feels like everything is set-up. Or nudity. But that was also a set up, I guess, the Targaryian girl being set up for eventually becoming a queen of her own accord. But still, in a general sense, every single line of dialogue in this episode seems to be doing the work of two or three building half a dozen pathways that they didn’t even have the money to think of doing.
Also we got some classic Joffrey this episode. Looking back on the whole series it was such a weird show. Like for a couple of seasons Joffrey was such a big deal and he was always so maladapted. This episode, right now, just feels like a perfect example of classic GoTs. The stakes? The Direwolf. That’s what everyone is lying about and feeling terrible about. In the future everyone’s angry about slavery or some other insanity. It’s as if the symptoms existed before the disease.
This was Game of Thrones when HBO was still airing True Blood, I believe. Now it’s clearly the flagship show explainging to everyone why they need pay cable for like 3 months a year.
Season 5: episode 9: The red woman, Melisssanadara. Stannis and his leadership. Knowing he’s done for in the next episode changes things. Looking over the show there’s so much crappy leadership. All power flows through that “might makes right” system so it seems constant. Good leadership is a momentary thing leaving behind monuments the world swallows up, but it will always go back to bickering and infighting and all of that.
Anyways I remember season 5 as being the point at which I just stopped giving a damn about Westeros. None of them deserved anything good to ever happen so I just tuned out. Also it felt like all the characters were just running to the end of the page. What happens next? Nobody knows the books are done. I have no idea where anything is going and not in the way I had no clue in the first season. But it’s the same, it’s fantasy, they’re just going to make a bunch of stuff up for where everybody goes.
The kingslayer is with the Martels, not mentioned at all in season 1 episode 2. I remember there being so much build up and the whole thing sort of ends with people talking it out on a couch. It’s insane though the show is contrasting good leadership and bad leadership. Only we already saw how well this will work out.
Aria is now an assassin. Bravos and the banking stuff, have to watch for when that plot first starts up. Anyways Aria is an assassin, the whole series has been building up to it, and it’s not quite what we expected.
Big even this episode is Melisna burning a girl alive as Stannis and his weirdo wife watch on. Melasagna is a hell of a character. I think this scene parallels the first time we meet her. The night is dark and full of terrors. So are there gods in GoT? Like do we think their spirituality is founded in something? They seem to have some supernatural stuff in the world. I remember Ubik was cool cause they basically had proof of what religion was right so no more arguing about it.
Then the fights, dragon girl and short guy and the faceless ones. This is the type of thing that would of got it’s own episode in season 1, which might be the only season as weirdly paced as season 5. But in Season 5 the opening of the snake pits is just a small part of an episode and not even the biggest part of that episode because it’s a climiax to a season arc and the Melasagna stuff was a climax to a series arc. Every time I watch her fly off on that dragon I hear the music from FF 5 though.
There might not be gods but there are definitely ghosts. You see the dead tattooed all over this episode. A lot of work went in to building up to that episode but it’s an episode that kind of just sucks. For some reason the Emilia Clarke story allways seems to be the weakest part of the series. Even though her arc this last season or two really hit all of the themes of the show about politics and social justice that stuff just always seems so weird and out of place on the show.
Season one episode 3: We see the throne. And a great opening scene with kingslayer and stan shows the show has finally got writing to the level we’d become accustomed to. Actually some really great writing, and acting, making loads of exposition and introductions feel natural. Varus, Renly, the guy from the Wire, they all pop up right where they need to be, more or less.
Oh and we find out about the debt this episode, so that mystery is solved. We get Circi and Joffrey showing the other half of the arranged marriage situation. The show was lauded for showing women in a variety of situations, but rewatching it now Joffrey is another interesting portrayal. Like Sersi he’s this sad, impotent character full of a building rage.
Next we get a bit from Bran’s saga, it’s a bit of him hearing an old wive’s tale. We find out later it’s probably all based on truth. Then we see Mom Stark go to King’s Landing and basically half of the king’s people tell us they’re spies. I didn’t get it at first but rewatching the show later on they do some really funny stuff. Robert has basically set up a situation where everyone in control of the land is working for some other interest.
Then the wall again. All these guys who would eventually die for Jon are trying to kill him. Jon is sad about what the Wall is, not all it was cracked up to be. Tyrion shows up and saves the day. Eventually, slowly, Jon loses all of the people who might show up and save the day.
Honestly this is the first episode that feels like real GoT. It’s dark and real and weird. The episode is full of plots, both hinted at and explicit. Really the rewatching of GoT is such a fun trip cause you see how densely all these plots are going. We get some scenes in this episode showing how King’s Landing is this weird and unhappy alliance where everybody who is working together really hates each other.
Remember khaleesies brother? Wasn’t he crazy. His intensity though is really missed in her story later on. Her scenes are sort of just droning on, sometimes even meditative. They’re like the outer rim of the GoT universe but in the first season it didn’t really feel that way.
And then we get Jon looking over the wall for the first time. Also this scene was used to set up Jon getting stabbed in the last episode. But yeah, I remember looking over the wall with Jon and not having any idea what was on the other side. That was a pocket they didn’t need to pull out yet but just seeing it felt huge.
Eventually we get a scene about “speed vs. size” which would come up again in the last episode at the fight pits. Like people always have this question. But eventually we find out that Kaleesi is preggos.
Then a scene where we find the night’s watch asking Tyrian to really ask for more money when he gets home. Really it’s weird because this episode doesn’t have the usual rhythm we’re used to. Lots of bouncing back and forth between stories while later seasons we have a slower pace to the location changes.
Oh and Aria is getting taught how to fight with a sword. This was probably one of my favorite scenes in the show. There’s a lot of bits, looking back, trying to get at all the different philosophies of the world, all the different thoughts everyone has about the world. It might not of all felt as smooth early on but really it was insanely smooth for what they were doing.
Alright that’s the end. GoT is fun. Just really hope the next season is good.