by Steve Lancaster 7/2/18
Season One • The Game of Thrones series has been a great success for HBO in the last ten years. I won’t attempt to analyze the series episode by episode but cover it with the broader themes of season by season. So, this will take several updates to complete, or until we are all bored of it, whichever comes first.
The series is based on the books written by George R. R. Martin and generally referred to as a Song of Ice and Fire. If you are looking for details on the main characters the books are available on Amazon. It is fantasy, there is magic and dragons. The series is set in a mythical location of Westeros, a map of which looks suspiciously like England. Most of the actors are English and Scots.
The first season introduces the major characters and the general history of Westeros. The land is currently ruled by three competing families and several second level families that seek to replace any one of the main families. The current king is Robert Baratheon. who in partnership with Eddard Stark overthrew the reigning family, Targaryen, and seized power. The two remaining members of the Targaryen family have fled the land. The richest most powerful family are the Lannister who are plotting to grab the throne. In general, the land of Westeros is medieval and seems to have remained so for thousands of years. The most advanced technology are the ships, which are very 17th century in style. Knights are heavily armored, and the sword and the bow are the main hand weapons, magic is mostly secretive, but is accepted as a real element in everyday life.
The king’s primary counselor has died, due to poison we learn later. The king turns to his friend Eddard Stark, (Sean Bean) warden of the north, to take the place as hand of the king. The equivalent of a Prime Minister. The king travels to Winterfell in the north to persuade Stark to take the position.
In Winterfell the characters that will journey the entire series are introduced. Tyrion Lannister (the imp) played by Peter Dinklage, IMHO one of the most accomplished actors around. Lena Headey, (The wife of Leonidas in the 300) plays the evil queen, Cersei Lannister. The bastard son of Eddard Stark Jon Snow, (Kit Harington), Sansa Stark and Arya Stark (Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams). Jaime Lannister, (Nikolaj Costar-Waldau) is the handsome, but conflicted oldest son of the Lannister family and lover of his sister Cersei. They have three children two boys and a girl. Cersei and the rest of the Lannister’s pretend that her children by Jaime are the legitimate children of her husband the king, but it is an open secret that they are not. A secret not spoken for fear of the wrath of the Lannister’s.
Cersei and Jaime are observed by the son of Eddard Stark, Brandon (Isaac Hempstead Wright) having sex in a tower of Winterfell castle. Jaime catches him and throws him out of a window of the tower. Bran is not killed but is in coma and paralyzed from the waist down. Bran’s fall and his disability play and important part in the overall story later on.
The wall, was constructed several thousand years earlier. It is 700 feet high made from ice and magic, guarded by the men of the Black Watch. The Black Watch is composed of nobles who have displeased the king, murders, rapists, and thieves. As an illegitimate son Jon Snow joins the Black Watch, he is idealistic and unexperienced. All offences and family history are put aside when a man joins the Black Watch. They must swear allegiance to the code of the watch for the rest of their life and their single purpose is to defend the realm from the night walkers and the army of the dead. More on those in season two.
Also, in season one are the last of the Targaryen clan, Daenerys (Emilia Clark) and her brother Viserys (Harry Lloyd). The Targaryen’s are in exile on the mainland. Viserys is attempting to seal a marriage deal with the Dothraki. His sister, Daenerys to marry the Kaul of the Dothraki in exchange for an army to travel to Westeros and take back the throne. There will be no army for Viserys. Not only is he a poor leader but he manages to piss off his Dothraki brother-in-law. Who, growing tired of Viserys whining pours molten gold down his throat. Daenerys is saddened by the death of her brother, but not too much, she is also glad to see him gone, this makes her the legitimate Queen of Westeros.
In King’s Landing, the capital of Westeros, the major players have gathered. We are introduced to Lord Petyr “little finger” Baelish. A man with no moral compass and no morals. He sees himself as a power broker as long as he gets the power. He sits on the King’s small council as the master of coin. He also owns and operates the most exclusive brothels in Kings Landing, so he is also a pimp. He gives Eddard Stark one piece of advice, “trust no one, including me”.
Also sitting on the small council is Lord Varys, (Conleth Hill) the master of spies. He is a eunuch and plays the part of schemer to the max. However, he is loyal to the realm, so his loyalties shift with the changes in power. Cersei’s plot to take power involvers the seemingly accidental death of her husband with the secession going to her son, Joffrey (Jack Gleason) who is a monster. Think Suetonius, Caligula, with even fewer moral restrictions.
Stark opposes the ascension of Joffrey and is quickly designated a traitor, betrayed by Littlefinger and beheaded in front of his daughter Sansa, who is betrothed to Joffrey to secure the loyalty of the North, and Arya in the crowd.
This ignites the War of the Five Kings. With Starks son Robb (Richard Madden) raising an army of the North. The two Baratheon brothers each claiming rights of inheritance and of course, Daenerys after her brothers unkinglike death. More in the season two update.