Category Archives: Season 1

Final Thoughts: Game of Thrones Season One

To call Game of Thrones an astonishing success is a bit of an understatement.  HBO may pride itself on making bold programming decisions, but even it must have hesitated before putting its gritty hands on a genre that had previously been limited to Hercules and Xena.  Thankfully, Benioff and Weiss have proven capable shepherds of Martin’s source material and delivered a series that stands amongst the best of serialized drama. Continue reading

There are no men like me, only me

Well, that was epic.  One of the advantages of consistently undermining fantasy tropes is that, when you actually play them straight, they can generate astonishing impact.  “Fire and Blood” hits a lot of the beats we expect from epic fantasy but, coming from this show, they all land as seminal moments in history rather than clichés.  It feels as though the characters and the show came into their own in this episode, which is saying a lot as they already felt fully realized.  Continue reading

I learned how to die a long time ago

Episodes like “Baelor” challenge my resolve not to put any spoilers in the first few lines of my reviews.  It’s a courtesy to those who might glimpse a link off Facebook or Google and one made more difficult when all the emotions I’ve carried away from an episode revolve around the ending.  Alright, now that I’ve padded the intro enough, Continue reading

The madness of mercy

It’s unfair to call this episode a letdown but, after the blistering awesomeness of last week, “The Pointy End” definitely feels like a step back.  It’s almost essential to have an episode like this after a game-changing climax, as characters must wake up to the new status quo.  Continue reading

Do you still believe good soldiers make good kings?

Who would have thought that the first Game of Thrones episode not to feature Tyrion would also be its best?  Not that “You Win Or You Die” was perfect, but the parts that didn’t work were few and far between and those that did were absolutely thrilling.  If the first six episodes were mostly build-up, this was the one where things started falling apart.  I could run down almost every scene in this episode and just gush about the awesome but, in the interest of focus, I’ll just look at how cleverly this episode reminds us of all the various ethics at play before finally letting them clash. Continue reading

There is only one thing we say to death

Awesome.  Absolutely awesome.  Game of Thrones is, undeniably, the most ambitious genre-project television has ever given us and while I’ve enjoyed the series thus far, it hasn’t really lived up to that promise until now.  “A Golden Crown” brings this series into the same league as Dexter, The Wire, etc.  The show is still far too young to be equal to such giants, but it’s now officially bringing something new to the realm of serialized drama.  That something is explicitly leveraging the tropes of another medium in order to build plot and character.  Of course this isn’t the first television series to make use of the audience’s understanding of literature, but it’s the first one to make it a core concept.  Entertaining as this episode was in its own right, it’s brought to a whole other level by a familiarity with epic fantasy. Continue reading

I’m willing if she is

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love Tyrion Lannister?  While bitch-slapping Joffery still ranks as his finest moment, bludgeoning a bandit to death with a shield is a very close second.  The scene is both grisly and awesome and it fits in nicely as this episode ups the action quotient of the entire series.  It’s truly impressive that, in an episode that features more blood than any of the previous ones, a dwarf still ranks among the most badass characters.  It’s even more impressive that letting him hold his own in a fight doesn’t undermine the the sympathy we’ve built up.  Continue reading

You don’t know cold

“Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things” is certainly the best episode of Game of Thrones so far and it didn’t take a lot to move this series from very good to great.  Upping the humour quotient certainly helped but, more importantly, this episode leveraged much of the painstaking set up we’ve seen thus far.  This world’s rich history has certainly been fun to hear about, and it’s clearly relevant to the characters, but this is the first time that it’s really become relevant to the narrative. Continue reading

Fear is for the Winter

It’s at this point that I must admit that having read the books may be a serious obstacle to effectively reviewing Game of Thrones.  There was really no part of “Lord Snow” that didn’t work and the acting, writing, and production values of this show continue to equal or surpass anything else on television.  And yet, much as I enjoyed all of this, I was never really wowed and I think it’s because I was never surprised.  I’m delighted with how true this series is staying to the novels, but I have a strong suspicion that I’m under-appreciating what a unique achievement it is in the medium.  Continue reading

Life is full of possibilities

Reviewing this series after having read the books is an interesting exercise in that I’m having trouble separating the episodes from the larger whole.  This is a challenge with any heavily serialized series, particularly when you know the outcome, but Game of Thrones has the added complication of being based on a novel.  What we’ve seen so far is fairly true to the books, but the fact is that my understanding of the context of each scene is imperfect.  I’m evaluating what see  I based on what I “know” is going to happen next.  This can be problematic when small changes are made from text to screen.  Continue reading