Praise the Old Gods and the New, Game of Thrones is back, in all its bloodthirsty glory! I’ll admit: Though I haven’t read the book series—I did try, but it only took a few pages of reading about honor, oaths and family creeds to realize the whole thing was too ridiculous in book form for my tastes—I was still a little apprehensive of how things would go, now that we’re at the point where the show is going beyond the scope of their source material. The verdict, thankfully—at least thus far—is that we are in good hands, indeed. The premier is monumentally frustrating at the same time; I’m convinced, after this past hour, that Game of Thrones may truly be the first series of our time that’s really, really not meant to be digested in a weekly format, and instead begs to binged. It’s been several months since we saw Jon Snow bleed out in the snow at The Wall, and all I wanted was some instant gratification and resolution of that plot line. Alas, we instead had to watch the characters who aren’t dead yet walk around, talking to each other about their past adventures and future plans. It was wholly necessary, of course, to re-acclimate us all to this wonderful world, but nonetheless annoying as hell at the same time. And there were a lot of updates, indeed: Thorne takes over command of the Night’s Watch, after assuming personal responsibility for killing Jon, using the paradoxical reasoning that disobeying his commander was okay because he was doing what he thought was in the best interests of the Watch, before immediately reminding his new charges that the last thing any of them should do is disobey their new commander; Jamie returns to Cersai with their daughter’s body; Daenarys is captured by the Dothraki and manages to talk her way out of being raped but into a life of being confined to a widows’ tower; blind Arya, now a street beggar, gets her ass kicked by the Waif, and Jon Snow is very, very dead (at least for now), as his few remaining allies surround his body and plot their revenge (or at least survival). Also, some people died in Dorne, and Jesus, I hope that’s the last we hear of that paper-thin plot. Anyway. I have full confidence that the action will kick into high gear with episode two, and we did get at least a couple bits of forward-moving action in the premier: the aforementioned moments notwithstanding, Tyrion and Varys see their plans to sail back to King’s Landing go up in smoke, literally, as they discover someone has set fire to the entire ship fleet in Mereen—I wonder, by the way, how allies of the Mother of Dragons may be able to travel there now, hmmm? And of course there’s the most talked-about moment of the episode, where Melisandre, the Red Woman, full of grief for not being able to predict or prevent the death of Jon Snow or apparent death of Stannis (I say “apparent” because off-screen deaths are not to be trusted), removes her magical necklace to reveal her true form—that of an old, withered woman. But for my money, the best moment of the episode by far—and a great indication of how things may shake out with the showrunners left to their own devices—was the escape of Sansa and Theon, and their subsequent rescue by Brienne and Pod. In a show that all too often demonstrates, over and over and over again, that just because you’re the good guy doesn’t mean you won’t be burned, stabbed, gutted and/or raped to death, it was incredibly cathartic to see Brienne and Pod ride in on their horses and strike down Ramsay’s men, just as they were about to recapture Sansa. In the Game of Thrones of last year and beyond, Sansa and Theon would have both been unceremoniously murdered right there in the forest, and Brienne would have arrived on the scene five minutes later to see their blood staining the ground. But now, in this brave new world, all four of the good guys in this scene survive, unscathed! It’s quite miraculous, actually. Perhaps the most interesting development of the series going in its own direction, though, is the sense of humor that really wasn’t present before. Sure, in seasons past, we heard some jokes—usually before a pregnant woman was stabbed in the stomach or the only honorable character we’d seen in weeks got his head chopped off. But here, though, we had some honest to god jokes! And they were actually funny! Before Khal Moro of the Dothraki realizes whose company he keeps, he wonders aloud about what it will be like to have sex with Daenarys, musing that there’s nothing better in life than seeing a woman naked for the first time. His men, of course, proceed to list all the things they think are better—conquering a country, breaking in new horses—at which point Khal Moro concedes that seeing a woman naked for the first time is at least in the top five best things in life. And when Tyrion sees a beggar woman on the street and offers her some silver, saying she should use it to feed her baby, she recoils in horror, and Varys helpfully explains that his Dothraki language skills are so bad the woman thought he offered the silver in exchange for being allowed to eat her baby. Is it demented humor? Of course! But it’s also a welcome respite from all the doom and gloom of seasons past. We end the episode where we began—with Jon still dead. And it’s absolutely appropriate for the ending credits to roll so soon after a scene so similar to the opening scene: a lot has been said, but not a ton has been really accomplished. It’s incredibly energizing at the same time, though, because the viewer is left with the unmistakable sense that now that we’ve gotten all this “previously on…” exposition out of the way, things are gonna start happening in a hurry. Fans have had to deal with those maddening promo posters for months, telling us that Winter is Coming. But now, finally, Winter is Here. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.