Game of Thrones: Season 1
For much of my life I’ve always gravitated to really thick tomes, particularly those that are individual installments of a larger, exceptionally detailed series where the author crafts his own universe populating it with a rich assortment of characters each with realistically involved back stories. It is rare for such intricately constructed books to make it to the screen without loose too much of the subtleties that made them so great. For that it would take a miniseries at the least or preferably a full television series with each season devoted to espousing one novel in the franchise. The cost is usually prohibited ruling out the traditional broadcast networks but thankfully there are the premium tier cable networks like HBO and Showtime. Both have repeatedly taken up the challenge with their usual attention to detail and quality. The literary franchise to be undertaken by HBO is the ‘Fire and Ice’ novels borne from the fertile imagination of George R. R. Martin. Under the meticulous care of David Benioff and D. B. Weiss the resulting series, ‘Game of Thrones’ is an unarguable phenomenon. Sparked by the craftsmanship of the first season I immediately obtained all the novels currently in the series and dug in. for those intimidated by the exceptionally complicated tapestry of plots, sub plots and the multitude of interconnected characters there are numerous study guide available. The one I prefer has a spoiler level selector so you can restrict what is disclosed to a particular point in the story. Thus far each novel has been translated into a single season so this works out very well. The events depicted on the screen are modified to some extent from the literary format; necessary to adapt to a different mode of telling a story. Still the show runners have taken extraordinary efforts to have the series accurately reflect the mood and intent of the novels. With the third season looming in the TV listings it is time once again to revisit the sophomore season with its Blu-ray release.
Fundamentally the ‘Game of Thrones’ is the quintessential period epic set in a mythical world ruled under a strictly enforced and ancient feudal system. Some have likened it to the ‘Lord of the Rings’ and the vast scope would support that consensus. There is far more different between the two most obviously the sexual themes that are not only quiet mature but frequently ranked in the deviant quarter. In fact one of the most notable aspects to this series is the way it explores the psychological motivations and disturbances infused in the characters. Even a cursory examination of the people portrayed here would offer examples of psychopathologies spanning several sections of the DSM-IV or its pending successor. In short most of the characters here are dangerously disturbed and sexually deviant. Add medieval era weapons, armor and politics and you have an award winning series that is gripping.
At the start of the second season the continent of Westros is in upheaval. With the death of King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) and his trusted Hand of the King, Lord Eddard Stark (Sean Bean), the coveted Iron Throne, seat of ultimate power in the Seven Kingdoms, fell to Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson), a teenage boy who is a sadistic monster completely devoid of a conscience. He is betrothed to the late Lord Stark’s eldest daughter, Sansa (Sophie Turner), who feigns devotion to the enfant terrible as a prudent measure of survival. Joffrey is nominally under the influence of his Machiavellian mother Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey). Is becomes widely known that the boy’s true father is Cersei’s twin brother, former Hand of the King, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Chidden by their father to occupy the powerful position of Joffery’s Hand id their other brother, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), a dwarf small in stature but arguably the most intelligent and crafty man in the realm. His lust for whoring is only surpassed by his understanding of politics and his ability to manipulate others. Lord Stark’s Son, Robb (Richard Madden), has raised an Army in the Stark’s northern realm and has declared war against the tyrannical teen Joffery. Although the Iron Throne is not his primary goal Robb does seek to succeed the North from the Seven Kingdoms. His mother, the Lady of Winterfell, Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) is backing her son not only for political reasons but in order to avenger her husband’s murder at the hands of Joffery and return Sansa back home.
Over on the other continent of Essos, the widow of the slain leaser of the equestrian marauders, the Dothraki, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), is gathering her own forces. An exiled princess of the Targaryen, once a great house, has lost her official position as Khaleesi when her husband died. She has a powerful magic on her side as the ‘Mother of Dragons’. Daenerys walked unharmed out of her husband’s funeral pyre accompanied by three newly hatched dragons; powerful creatures not seen in centuries. She has her goal set to honor her husband’s clan by taking the Iron Throne fir herself. If this wasn’t sufficiently textured there is also Lord Stark’s bastard son, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) accumulating power and resources as a member of the Black Guard, the traditional watchman of the northern most walls which keeps the vicious outsiders out. Starks’ young son Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is back in Winterfell, paralyzed while his sister Arya (Maisie Williams) is in the wilderness in the company of the true Baratheon heir.
This is arguably the largest number of dialogued roles ever assembled fir a television series. Yes, it is complicated and requires more than a passing measure of attention. This translates to an incredibly robust, fully developed story that pulls you in, enfolding you with a world that is wonderfully constructed and expertly blended. The characters are so detailed that you immediately accept them as real people. The Starks are the bastions of tradition, bold and honest. The Lannister are cut from merchant cloth, rich, devious but do have a code of repaying their debts. There are many tropes and archetypes taken from history. In many ways Tyrion is reminiscent of ancient Rome’s Claudius. Dismissed by most in the sphere of political power due to what is perceived as a physical disability. In reality both men are the smartest in the room, keen students of history, extremely well read in books a sharper still in reading other men. While most fans enjoy watching his uncanny ability to survive any dire circumstances they also want more than anything for the perverted Joffrey to meet with a prolonged, painful demise. The writing elicits strong feelings about most of the characters. You just don’t watch this series, you fully experience it.
War Of The Five Kings