Mon
Apr 18 2011 10:44am

Game of Thrones episode review: “Winter Is Coming”

Game of Thrones

The firepits have guttered out, a few Dothraki are dead, everyone’s in the throes of a Pentoshi wine-induced hangover from their viewing parties. It’s the morning after the premiere episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Bloggers Theresa DeLucci and Ellen B. Wright are here to share their first impressions on the many introductions. Seriously. There were a lot of introductions.

Spoilers ahead.

Theresa: How cool were those opening credits? Classic HBO style.

HBO really, really wanted everyone to watch last night. The weeks of promotion—food trucks, rickshaws, photo ops with the Iron Throne and tons of making-of featurettes—led to a premiere that mostly set the stage for the coolness yet to come, despite feeling a bit slow in areas. Or maybe it’s my impatience, having read the books. I forgot how difficult it was to keep track of everyone’s names in the beginning. The cast is huge and my first take-away from the series is that many of the actors really felt spot-on, knowing who these people are. But if I was new to the series, it might have felt like one big, long line of people being introduced.

First we met the Starks of Winterfell. I confess, I didn’t read George R.R. Martin’s series until just before Christmas of last year, so I already knew Sean Bean was cast as Lord Eddard. But is there really anyone better for the role of a deathly serious and honorable, but flawed, man of duty? It was the rest of his family I was excited to meet. Catelyn Stark is the Marge Simpson of Westeros, it seems. A perfect lady, wife, and mother. Which means she’s also a bit of a buzzkill. But I think there’s some quiet strength there. And I loved her little eye-roll as her teen daughter Sansa mooned over how handsome Prince Joffrey was. (He isn’t. He looks like a brat.)

The Stark boys seem like a good sort. Eldest son Rob with his soulful eyes and Bran, age ten, playful and clever. Then there’s Jon Snow, Eddard’s bastard son and one of my favorite characters from the series. Kit Harrington promises a strong performance. A misfit in a world of sharply defined roles. Outsiders are always the best observers of a society, as we learn in a very key conversation between Jon and Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf brother of Queen Cersei. (More on him in a bit.) Oh, we also saw the youngest Stark boy, Rickon, for a split second and Eddard’s ward, Theon Greyjoy, who was never even introduced. But I know that smirk.

However, Arya Stark was the scene-stealer of the night. An adorable tomboy after my own heart. I can’t wait to see more of her. She barely said a word. She didn’t even need to.

The next big houses are those of King Robert Baratheon and his wife Cersei Lannister. Again well cast. Lena Heady and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau starred in two of my favorite cancelled TV shows, Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles and John Amsterdam, respectively. Jaime especially was a stand out and I enjoyed the tension building between him and Eddard. We know very little about Jaime at the moment, but it seems the TV series is wisely setting him up to be even more of a foil to Eddard than he was in the books. I knew the episode would end with Bran getting tossed off the tower. That was the moment that got me hooked on the series, a gut-punch that said all bets were off. And any man who can so casually kill a cute moppet like Bran, well, he’s certainly one to watch very closely and very carefully.

Tyrion LannisterBut Tyrion Lannister. Oh, Tyrion. What a fantastic introduction. Like Sean Bean, there’s no one else I could see as the Imp. Although Dinklage is a good deal more handsome than the way Tyrion was described in the book. Hollywood-ugly, if you will. (Can’t wait to see who they cast down the line for a certain maid of Tarth.) If anyone gets real buzz for the series, it’ll be Peter Dinklage. Tyrion, if they stick close to Martin’s novel, is arguably the best character of all. Well, actually, no argument. Tyrion is the best.

But Tyrion’s introduction segues nicely into my thoughts about the happenings across the Narrow Sea, in Pentos, Land of the Billowing Gauze Curtains. So, the internet basically exploded on Friday when the New York Times reviewer trashed Game of Thrones as some sort of global-warming allegory mixed with a D&D campaign that was really just for men to enjoy. And somehow HBO shoehorned in lots of sex for the benefit of a female audience, who otherwise can’t possibly be interested in an epic fantasy series without romance.

So where was the romance? All I saw was a lot of fucking. (Excuse my language, but it’s a cable show. If King Robert can say it, so can I.)

I was expecting lots of bared breasts. It’s not TV, it’s HBO. The accusation that the sex scenes were in any way for the female gaze was laughable. Like Ellen says below, if it was, we would have seen Eddard and Catelyn make love as husband and wife. But even more disappointing for me was Dany’s wedding night with Khal Drogo. That was a rape scene. So far, I’m praying that Emilia Clarke has more facial expressions than “I am in a trance.” Maybe she’s just playing it very mild in the beginning, to surprise us with her transformation later on. We’re seeing her fear of Khal Drogo and the Dothraki people through the eyes of a scared young girl who has no control over her lot in life. Here, they really made the Dothraki seem like a bunch of stereotypical savages in a sea of civilized whiteness. In the books, Khal Drogo is ultimately tender when he consummates their marriage. Dany comes to love him. Did he have to be so rough here?

Direwolf-style is the only style in Westeros.

Overall, I enjoyed the first episode but I’m really looking forward to next week, when we get more into the meat of these characters. And we haven’t even met everybody yet.

 

Ellen: After months of stunning production shots, well-chosen castings, and promising interviews, not to mention reassuring trailers and a 14-minute preview that inspired excited shouting from my corner of the universe, it was hard to go into the first episode of Game of Thrones without inflated expectations. I don’t mean to damn with faint praise, therefore, when I say that I was not disappointed.

This first hour was a bit rushed—not unexpected considering how much material had to be covered—but covered enough material to be satisfying to me as a book fan. I do wonder if the first episode, at least, of Game of Thrones will be tough going for anyone who’s not familiar with the books; those of you who are new to the story will have to chime in in the comments.

There hasn’t been a misstep so far in the casting, but there were a few standouts for me in this episode. Bran and Arya, two of my favorite characters, match my mental picture of them exactly, despite the kids having been aged up a bit for the show. They both have the right mix of mischieviousness and sweetness that makes you dread the terrible things that will happen to them later on.

Tyrion, of course, was the first major casting announcement for the series and the one that made me sit up and take notice. I have to admit that I pictured the Lannisters as a bit blonder, but in every other respect Peter Dinklage is a perfect Tyrion, wryly observant, self-effacing and arrogant at the same time. He tells Jon to use his identity as a bastard as a shield, giving us our first glimpse at his own vulnerability. GRRM has said that Tyrion is one of his favorite characters; he’s one of mine, too, so I’m glad it looks like this adaptation will do well by him.

Jaime didn’t, like the others, match my mental image from reading the books, but now I’ve been convinced to revise that image. We barely scratched the surface of his character here—we didn’t even get much of his backstory—but this Jaime comes across as intimidating yet seemingly benign. At least at first....

A pleasant surprise for me was Viserys, who comes across as more mature and less whiny than I’d pictured him, and all the more creepy for it.

One of my favorite scenes in the first book is one I’ve already referred to, where Tyrion and Jon first encounter each other, the bastard and the dwarf. Given the relatively rapid pace of the first episode, we only got a few glimpses of the complicated characters we’ll get to know over the rest of the season, but this was one of the few places where things slowed down long enough to give us a deeper peek at a couple of characters.

A lot of jokes were made in my living room about the fact that couples in Westeros haven’t yet discovered more than one sexual position, so there was some giggling when we first came across Jaime and Cersei being, well, more than brotherly and sisterly. Aside from that, though, the last scene was spot on. Cersei comes across as ruthless and Jaime as more reasonable and level-headed—until the last possible moment. I watched the premiere with six other people who have all read at least the first book and knew exactly what was coming, and yet for the first time all night we were all silent, holding our breath, as the scene played out.

Knowing some of what comes later, it’s impossible for me to watch this episode without thinking how the threads introduced here will play out. The death of Jon Arryn, of course, is the catalyst for most of the action of the first book and therefore season: it gets Ned into King’s Landing and investigating the mysteries over which Jon lost his life. Ned’s decision to take up the role of the Hand of the King is one that will define the rest of his life and the lives of his family.

Emilia ClarkeDany and Khal Drogo’s marriage plays a huge part in the story outside of Westeros. I mentioned already how delightfully icky I found Viserys. On the other hand, this is where I found the most disappointing interpretation of the book, during their wedding night. The original scene portrays Dany as initially reluctant but eventually won over by Drogo, who is affectionate and patient. Here, though, Dany is still trying to pull away when we cut to another scene.

It’s a bit sad that the two sex scenes we get early on in the book between loving couples—Dany and Drogo’s wedding night and Catelyn and Ned right before she receives Lysa’s letter—are recast as, respectively, non-consensual and nothing but fully dressed cuddling, while the prostitution and incest scenes are played up. (Or maybe it’s just that everyone would rather see the Lannisters undressed than the Starks?)

The subtle magical elements play out well in this episode. When I first read A Game of Thrones, I nearly dismissed the Others as unimportant, so caught up was I in the other conflicts that quickly take over center stage. These Others, though, stick in the mind, especially the young girl with the eerie blue eyes. Game of Thrones is unusual among fantasy stories, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing magical in this world. Winter is coming and there’s something out beyond the Wall, as this episode reminds us.


Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 9PM ET/PT on HBO.

Share your reactions below, but please be warned that, after careful consideration, spoilers for the books are allowed here. If you’re new to the series, we suggest reading Leigh Butler’s delightful non-spoiler read of A Song of Ice and Fire here.


Ellen B. Wright and Theresa DeLucci will be alternating episode reviews each week, so you don’t have to worry about all of their posts being as long as A Storm of Swords.

63 comments
Brennan
1. brentodd
I agree with the complaints re: Dany and Drogo's wedding night.

My wife hasn't read the books, and after that scene asked if there are actually dragons in the book, and if so, does Dany get to have them kill her husband? So, yeah - a pretty glaring failure there.

The rest of it was spot on though, I think. I would have liked a more faithful representation of the beyond the wall piece too, but it did the job so I can't complain too much about it.
Shaka Jamal
2. FaceofYo!
All in all, I was very excited! :) However, the I like Ellen was disappointed by Dany's wedding scence and where Catelyn receives Lysa's letter. The wedding orgy seemed flat, lacking the impact as portrayed in the book. Also, the significance of the wedding gifts was a let down, It would have been good to see Dany excited about books :(, and it would have been nice to hear her say"He has given me the wind..." to set up the emotional tenderness of the marriage consummation.
Would have been too much to show the puzzle of the letter instead of just reading it out. Even a mention of the cypher would have communicated more an atmosphere of danger, than simply stating it.
However, I am being told that I am being too picky,...so let me point out how much I enjoyed the first episode, and most definitely look forward to the next. I'm rooting for Jon and Arya :)
Dan Someone
3. Dan Someone
I wonder if the Dany/Drogo wedding night was made more brutal than in the book because the change in Dany's (and the reader's) perception of Drogo - from savage to husband - is fairly nuanced, and they felt they needed to put as much into the first hour as they could, leaving no time for subtlety; and in a future episode, that shift will be more pronounced. This episode was for introducing characters, and as of the end of the first hour, they may have wanted the audience to still retain the impression of Drogo as a violent savage.
Dan Someone
4. Carey Gibbons
These reviews are spot on. My husband hasn't read the books and also asked about the Dany/Drogo scene. He wondered why I liked a character that seemed like such an ass. I was disappointed that they made it a rape. I came to really like Drogo as the book went on and I wonder if this will make him a harder, more cruel character. Without spoiling anything, considering what happens to him, I think he needs to be sympathetic.
And, hell yes to Dinklage as Tyrion! Perfect, perfect casting! Even though I've read all the books, I can't wait to get to know him better on the screen. Seriously, other than the Dany/Drogo stuff, I couldn't have asked for a better adaptation.
Dan Someone
5. cranscape
For a lot of new viewers there isn't any way of redeeming that final scene with Drogo and Dany. It was very important that Drogo's other side was revealed right then at that moment before lines were crossed. Now that he did cross the line and they went a different direction with that for no reason (seriously, they had time to at least have him be gentle and her to say yes) Drogo has the impossible task gaining ground back that for many new viewers won't be possible.

Dany also has a lot to make up for. Her response to the horse in the book was one of the first moments she was speaking her own words and thus far she hasn't had a non-robotic scene because they removed that too. I've had to explain Drogo/Dany scenes to a number of people at work today and all I can say is, "That's not how it happened in the book." Drogo made a lot of fans out of readers, but I don't know how that will happen in the show now.
Shaka Jamal
6. FaceofYo!
@#3

I agree with your thinking there, in that case, perhaps they should have pushed that scene to next episode. That nuance is a large part of the character arc imo. :)
Dan Someone
7. gabemar
I actually like, the way Dany's character development and transformation is being set up in the series. Drogo is ultimately a secondary character in the books, while Dany is one of the most important characters. To see her become a leader on her own from a frightened and abused girl, it will be more powerful.
Rob Munnelly
8. RobMRobM
Thoughts
- I liked it.
- It is a talky, set up heavy episode, but they couldn't have gone any faster without losing understanding from the newbies. So many deviations from the book but they really needed to do so due to time constraints if they wanted to end with the Bran scene. I thought balance was reasonably struck.
- A newbie friend was confused about who were Ned/Cat's sons, based on direwolf scene (and refusal to identify Theon); and confused about relationship between/among Jon Arryn, Ned and Robert. Both understandable based on first Ep and will be clarified shortly.
- Dany/Drogo consummation scene was disappointing when I saw it on ARC copy last week but I've come to accept it more. They didn't have time to have Drogo take the time needed to be gentle in the book - so they'll now have a cleaner character arc for Dany to get stronger and win over Drogo to her strength. I see @7 agrees.
- Ellen - the little girl is a wight rather than an Other/White Walker. Different things.

Rob
Ellen B. Wright
9. ellenw
Rob@8: Thanks for the correction! You're right, of course. Can you tell it's been a while since I've reread the series?
Bill Stusser
10. billiam
I totally agree with these reviews. While I liked the first episode overall I did not like the show's portrayal of the Dothraki or the marriage of Dany and Drogo.

I have to disagree with the post at #7. How could Dany possibly fall in love with Drogo after after he basically raped her? How are we supossed to relate to Dany's decisions later on in the story if she doesn't indeed love him? I for one do not know how Drogo could even redeem himself in Dany's eyes after that.
Skye Peters
11. Eilastri
My husband hasn't read the series, but he has read a lot of other fantasy (including such things as Wheel of Time). I had to do...a lot of explaining. Having said that, my only real "ehhhhhh" moment was, as many others have said Dany and Drogo's wedding night. I'll give HBO the benefit of the doubt for now, though. Maybe they've got a plan? *shrug* All I know is that I definitely had to explain to my husband "It's alright, she ends up loving him in the end."

You know, though, you've got to wonder--how many people are going to watch this show and not get a "translation" from someone at *some* point who has read the books?
David Thomson
12. ZetaStriker
I was a tad bit disappointed, actually. While several elements, such as everything involving Tyrion, were rather well done, but as a whole I felt like I was watching a trashy, confusing mess. Dany’s scenes being the prime offenders.

Now, Dany has always been a little bit of a red herring. Secluded on a different continent with a different storyline, she has had absolutely no impact on any characters or events that would be considered the story proper. Yes, she will no doubt be of incredible import later, but for now she’s just a distraction, if a well-written one. And that has never been of greater notice than it is here. The cuts between scenes are jarring and ineffective, often deadening the emotional impact of scenes that should stir something within us. Going from Tyrion being spoiled by Jaime in a brothel makes for a poor lead-in to Ned and Robert mourning the dead, for instance. I blame poor direction, but it’s possible the script could be to blame.

Of course, even if Dany didn’t win the award for most jarring scene change, she does win the award for worst acting. My God she’s bad. Case in point was the scene after Viserys strips here in her introduction. After he grabs her breast and basically treats her like meat, she gives her best emotionless stare and then spends about three minutes climbing into a tub, followed by a lingering shot of her iconic stupid look. I got the distinct impression that this scene was supposed to make an impression on me, that Dany’s posture and movements were supposed to evoke strong emotion. And that the actress completely failed to do all of this. She literally has just one expression the entire episode, and could probably have been replaced by a manikin just as well.

And as if the actress draining all emotion out of the scenes weren’t enough, the script robbed it of meaning as well. Drogo is now far rougher, robbing the Dany’s scenes of a lot of possible depth, and most of her interesting dialogue and thoughts are absent as well.

The worst part is easily the sex though. While yes, there was sex in the novels, as others have pointed out, they removed every consensual or intimate one but kept every trite tryst in precise detail. Why keep these lewd concepts as opposed to more important plot-related ones unless they’re just trying to meaninglessly sell sex? It comes off as ridiculous and offensive as Spartacus: Blood on the Sand, rather than adding anything to the narrative. In short, it’s disgusting that an episode as rushed along as this one wasted so much time on these things.

Now, not everything was bad. As I mentioned, Tyrion was excellent, and like the books themselves, he’ll likely keep me watching when otherwise I might have stepped away. The other Lannisters are excellent as well, and so are the Starks and their children. All the leading roles seem very well in hand, and the set design is excellent . . . even if I think the sets in Dany’s scenes are somewhat lacking. They feel like a sparse, open wasteland with a couple fancy things put on display, one building and lots and lots of tanning lights. It just feels . . . odd. I don’t know. I noticed it first in the trailer, but I was hoping being fully exposed to it might wipe that impression away. Unfortunately, like everything else about Dany’s scenes, it didn’t improve with time.

Anyway, that’s all I have for now. Sorry if came across as incredibly negative! I don't hate it so far, I'm just disappointed. I still intend to introduce several friends who have not rea d the books to the HBO series, and I can’t wait to judge their reactions to what’s happening here. That’s the viewpoint I really want to hear from.
David Thomson
13. ZetaStriker
As for the Dany/Drogo relationship, I agree with others that this will irreperably damage her storyline. If she comes to love him, she's a weak victim clinging to his strength. If she has to struggle against and overcome him, it will ruin the end of this storyline. There is no winning at this point.
Jason Henninger
14. jasonhenninger
Agreed with many of the main points presented so far. I enjoyed everything except the Dany parts of the show. The wedding night especially. They could have streched the plot a little longer...an episode more, even...to get to know the characters and do that scene correctly). And yeah, I hope that whatsername-who-played-Dany's acting soon goes beyond looking good naked.

By their wedding night, in the book, it's clear that her brother is the savage and Drogo is actually worthy. In the show so far it seems Viserys is petulant and Drogo is just a brute with eyeliner. So, such things over all could have been done better, but other than that I like it so far.

Tyrion and Arya rock. Best characters in the books and so far in the show as well.

And I loved the credits. It was like a mechanized, menacing Settlers of Catan.
Jennifer B
15. JennB
I added HBO just so I could see this show. I liked it and won't be calling the cable company to cancel, but I agree with this review wholeheartedly about the huge mistake with Dany's plotline, and I found the fact that all the sex scenes were "Direwolf style" to be comical and a bit of a put off. Hopefully they can fix the few flaws so this can be a great show.
Daniel Goss
16. Beren
I hate to be this way, but . . .
Am I the only one who found the opening credit sequence to be a bit off-putting? I honestly don't know what I was expecting there, but it certainly wasn't a steampunk-y clockwork 3D map. Don't get me wrong, the episode itself mostly lived up to or exceeded my expectations. Those credits just took me out of it for a few seconds.
Just picking nits.
-Beren
Pritpaul Bains
17. Kickpuncher
Very disappointed by the Drogo/Dany scene, as has already been touched on in detail. Also, mildly disappointed by the lack of play-up of Drogo's gift to Dany. How she accepts and takes to the horse plays a big role in her winning over Drogo and the Dothraki - not to mention the gradual affinity she develops for it over time. Her horse plays a big role in keeping her grounded and able to deal during her initial time with the Dothraki. IMO.

Liked the first scenes between Jaime/Tyrion and Jaime/Jon. Would have loved a little more pacing but I understand the need to rotate and rush through a bunch of characters at the outset to get everyone introduced and in-play off the bat. Also, loved Arya. Perfect, perfect casting.

All in all, it was fun. A bit disappointed by a few things, but plenty to be excited for - this was never going to be a show that hit the ground running at a full sprint. A brisk walk is more apt. The real test will be to see how things are progressing a few epis down the road.
Theresa DeLucci
18. theresa_delucci
@ 12 Hey now! Spartacus, for all of it's gratuitousness, did show sex mostly between couples very much in love.

I liked some of the jarring scene changes. Just amplified the different attitudes of the characters. I particularly liked the edit from Dany meeting Drogo for the first time to Sansa hoping Joffrey would become her bethrothed.

@14 Yeah, Viserys was actually less hateful in the TV show than he was by that point in the book. He's still threatening, but not as twisted. Drogo is like a relief at that point in the story.

@17 (Kickpuncher is an awesome name, btw.) Very good point about the horse! Dany is touched by this gift, Drogo clearly thinks highly of her to give her such a beautiful horse with the same hair color as his wife. She is gratious and "it's the first time she saw her new husband smile." Hardly a savage beast. I really, really hope they fix this straying from the book. It reminds me of Faramir in the LOTR movies. In the books, he didn't even want to touch the ring. In the movie, he's kidnapping Frodo and Sam. Not cool to assassinate good characters. Especially ones I have a big soft spot for.
Dan Someone
19. Edgewalker
Re: Khal/Dany

There is no inner monologue, so we can't read her thoughts. Without it, she could have been miscontrued as accepting of the rape and imagine the uproar today. "HBO is trying to say that women WANT to be raped" and other inane responses from the Internet.

Dany has an arc. She will fall in love with Drogo. Not all can be revealed in the first episode. I have enough faith not to rush to judgement on this.
Rob Munnelly
20. RobMRobM
I agree with @19. I'd like to see more done with Dany and Drogo but, as Jack would say on 24, "We're running out of time...." Contrary to some, I like Emilia's acting. She's in shock and afraid, but trying to act strong as befits her heritage. All showed on her face and body language, even with minimal dialogue. I have confidence she'll be darned good.

Theresa - if GoT goes substantially Faramir on us with any character I'll be severely disappointed...but I believe we'll be ok. (The deviations from the books in LoTR got less palatable to me as the movies progressed, to the point where I openly dislike RoTK.)

@16 - yes, you are the only one who found the opening credits offputting. (LOL).

@15 - "Direwolf style" - ROFL. Well played.
Dan Someone
21. iola
I haven't read the books and overall though I would have thought the episode decent enough, but the treatment of the sex/erotica scenes (as in, there being a lot of them and all being plainly for the menfolk with next to nothing for the women), and the stereotypical, offensive representation of the people of color makes me not care to watch any further. However, my husband is a big fan of the books, so for his sake (and his assurances that it "gets better" and the POCs are shown in a better light), I'll try to keep an open mind going forward.

Why do you guys ask for opinions on the ep from those who haven't read the book, but then write book/future ep spoilers in the same article? Odd.

Was the kid getting tossed supposed to be shocking? I saw it coming as soon as he peeked in the window. You have a setting that is trying to play up the harsh reality of death, so bad stuff happening to kids is expected. Or maybe I've watched too many other HBO offerings, ha.
lake sidey
22. lakesidey
I wonder....maybe Drogo will give her the horse in the next episode, and that will be the start of her way to loving him? A bit contrived, but it might work...

~lakesidey
Jessica Reisman
23. jwynne
I'll chime in as someone who hasn't read the books. I liked it, with reservations. One is that I saw Bran coming to harm a mile away and knew the moment he saw the incestuous tryst what would happen--and really wanted not to have it be the predictable (emotionally manipulative of the audience) thing. Hopefully, this isn't so badly telegraphed in the book. It's interesting that the second thing which really stuck in my craw was apparently portrayed differently than in the book--the wedding ceremony & consumation.

Other than that, very engaging. It's pretty familiar territory for any long time reader of fantasy, but that's not a bad thing.
David Thomson
24. ZetaStriker
theresa@18: Spartacus wasn't all bad; I did enjoy it, even if at times it felt like more of a guilty pleasure than anything else. But when I think of sex in Spartacus, I think of John Hannah with a slave girl giving him a blowjob, and Lucy Lawless with another slave girl with a hand slipped into her crotch, talking about money issues. Then stopping to have sex against a wall, and then talking about money issues while having sex. So that effects my overall image of how sex was treated.

Edgewalker@19: While your point is valid, and makes a good defense for the books, in the minds of viewers Drogo is already a rapist. Unless the scene was put on hold and continues with the revelation of Drogo's humanity in the next episode, Drogo is and will always be a rapist in the minds of all these new fans. If she comes to love him, Dany will be pitied as a continuing victim, this time of Stockholm's. First impressions last, and the show has gone out of its way to make Drogo's especially bad. I really can't see them recovering that plot from this.

iola@21: The treament of race was never even something I ever stopped to consider, actually. I don't really see the racism in it though. The Dothraki are . . . well, Dothraki. A brutal warrior culture. Are brutal warrior cultures not allowed unless they're white brutal warrior cultures? Besides, if anything, Drogo hasn't been much worse than the white Viserys so far.
Kent Aron Vabø
25. sotgnomen
First off, I agree heartily about the wedding night, very curious to see where they are going with Drogo in the series. Will he end up the only nothing-but-bad-guy?
I want to note a couple of things I really liked though..

1: I didnt notice any very jarring scene changes. I did, however, like very much all the changes between westeros and penthos changes. It seems like the conversations just before the changes prepares us for them, and thus helps hold the show together for non-readers. Case in point: "The Targaryens are dead." "Not all of them." -Enter Danaerys.

2: The Others. Obviously, it seems a bit silly to call them the White Walkers now. On the other hand, I really dont see how they could have made them scarier while sticking to the book. The book manages scary, but I feel it would come dangerously close to cheesy cgi if they tried that onscreen. And the black skin, blue eyes thing is really creepy. In addition, this comes in handy with the people they have turned. It would be really hard to recognise familiar faces if they were all in black. In the books, they could be recognized through the characters' viewpoint. In the show, I think the effect will be much better with just the familiar face, but with those creepy blue eyes. Exhibit A - the wildling girl.
William Fettes
26. Wolfmage
I must say I disagree with the outrage over Dany’s sex scene. I mean, if they added a non-consensual aspect to Dany’s post-marital coitus, they certainly glossed the various rapes that take place during the wedding itself. Those went from highly disturbing affairs to a kind of consensual Dionysian orgy with combat over the right, so there’s swings and roundabouts to the change people aren’t acknowledging.

Also, I think that the combination of the gift of the beautiful white horse with Drogo’s insistent, but still somehow tender, sexual ministrations was appropriately nuanced for where they are going with the relationship. Let’s face it, Drogo’s gentle behaviour in the books is a bit close to the noble savage trope for such a hugely misogynistic warrior culture. Also, bear in mind that the camera cuts away almost immediately after the sex scene begins, leaving any subsequent sexual awakening open territory for future episodes. I think that’s entirely appropriate given that you need a lot more time and a deft hand to communicate that subtlety. Had the show rushed in with a trite explanation that it’s okay because she’s in to it, that would have been forced.

Regardless, I’m not sure that the books have this right anyway. Why should Dany’s emergent consent to sex within the context of a forced marriage, pariah status and the intimidation of her brother be any less repugnant than the act itself? It’s an illusory consent whatever romantic gloss people want to put on it. The arrangement was itself repugnant, whether or not we have a uber-gentle version of Drogo right from the beginning.
Justin Golenbock
27. jgolenbo
@26 Agree re: Dany/Drogo. Perhaps I'm not remembering the books well enough (it's been a few years) but the immediate romance in Dany/Drogo's relationship did bother me, even as i eventually came around to that plotline. Selling a 13 year old girl into marriage IS rape, whether it's tender/consensual or otherwise. Dany's sheer terror and misery came off as genuine, even as Drogo makes his sort of clumsy efforts to be gentle with her. That said, there was just enough ambiguity in that cut to keep us guessing at what exactly happened next, so perhaps I'll reserve judgement for next sunday...

Also, I don't get the criticism of HBO's portrayal of the Dothraki in general. The wedding scene in particular was extremely accurate to the books, down to the men killing each other in armed combat...Illyrio's "3 men dead or its a dull wedding" comment came straight from the novel, i believe.

Overall, I thought it was a great start. Ned, Tyrion, Bran/Arya and both Lannisters were great, and I'm excited for the Tyrion/Jon relationship. There was even one great moment of foreshadowing btw Rob and Theon ("I take orders from your dad, not you")...just one of the great small moments that make or break a show. Definitely excited for ep 2...
Dan Someone
28. DarrenJL
I enjoyed the episode, but I have to be honest... it didn't wow me. I don't know what the NY Times reviewer was smoking to get global-warming allegory out of the phrase "Winter is coming"... but I can understand how someone who hasn't read the books would find that episode uninviting. In a lot of ways, it's too much, too soon. Jaime barely has time to kick the dust off his boots from his month long journey before he's throwing Bran out the window. Bran, who had what, four scenes? Two of them climbing? I think you expect him to fall, since it's straight-up foreshadowing/consequence.

Wonderful costuming, though.
William Fettes
29. Wolfmage
ZetaStriker @ 24


"While your point is valid, and makes a good defense for the books, in the minds of viewers Drogo is already a rapist."

I hate to break it to you but Drogo is a rapist, as are all the Dothraki Screamers and Drogo's elite Blood Riders. Their whole warrior culture is based on raping and pillaging. That Dany has a sexual awakening simultaneous with her first time with gentle Drogo is one of the least realistic aspects of the books given their culture. The fact that all of Drogo's countless rapes happen off-screen in the books, and that he turns into a one-woman man after marrying Dany, is basically a sleight of hand by Martin to avoid alienating the reader too much.
Theresa DeLucci
30. theresa_delucci
Rewatching the episode again as it's on TV and I forgot to mention how unintentionally funny it was when Viserys gets all excited over the dress Illiro gave Dany. "Touch it! Mmmm..."

I wonder if we'll get some awesome flashback scenes. They really need to show some of the old days. We didn't get much backstory on Robert's Rebellion, which is understandable since it'd be way too many names in the first episode. But I at least want a glimpse of Aerys. And Jaime reclining on the Iron Throne.

One more nitpicky thing: Sandor wasn't nearly as scarred as I was imagining, but he did have a good little one-liner with Tyrion. I'm super excited to get to King's Landing and see more of him.
Dan Someone
31. Tehanu
I'm with iola @21 and jwynne @23. I've read tremendous amounts of fantasy but happen not to have read these books, so I went in hoping to be caught up and instead feeling rather ... meh. However, I am trying to keep an open mind and will probably watch at least one more episode.

One thing that struck me about the Dothraki "barbarians" ... they seem like rather obvious knockoffs of Mongols to me, and I think that as nomadic conqueror types, they're getting kind of a worse rap than such peoples really deserve. Societies like that tend to have rather puritanical sexual mores than the reverse.
William Fettes
32. Wolfmage
The Dothraki are very deliberately and self-consciously based on a mixture of the Mongol Empire and Native Americas, in the same way as the mainland Westerosi culture is deliberately based on 15th Century England. And no, the Mongol Empire did not have puritanical sexual mores; its soldiers routinely committed rape as part of the spoils of conquest and as a weapon of terror. Genghis Khan did introduce some reforms sanctioning the kidnapping of brides, which probably helped protect monogamous marriage, but it's a big stretch to say even this can be equated with conservative sexual morality.
Dan Someone
33. DarrenJL
What does it matter? Drogo will probably only get three or four scenes next episode before he's killed off, so no one needs to worry about developing his character.
David Thomson
34. ZetaStriker
Wolfmage@29: You misunderstand my point; I'm not defending Drogo, or the Dothraki. I'm not as big a fan of either the character or the culture as a few who have sounded off on here, and was very disturbed by the plotline, at the start, on my initial read. The wedding night was not enough to endear him to me, but it left enough ambiguity for, at the very least, respect to form in relation to his treatment of Daenerys. And through Daenery's perspective, I was willing to accept the relationship.

My point was that the show has removed all ambiguity. Drogo is no longer the "noble savage", he's just the savage. Any affection she shows for him will now feel like her clinging to a violent captor, rather than true emotion. I believe it will make her coming strength look like weakness, and that is inexcusable.
William Fettes
35. Wolfmage
ZetaStriker @ 34

My point wasn’t to denigrate Drogo as an unredeemable savage. My point was to challenge the conceit that the Drogo of the books was not a rapist because he happens to coax consent out of Dany on their wedding night with a surprising show of gentleness. It’s a conceit because even in the books he’s obviously raped countless women offscreen, and he sees nothing wrong with his Blood Riders claiming their prizes onscreen. Why don’t these women count as tainting the possibility of love with this man? More pointedly, even in the microcosm of the wedding bed, Dany’s consent is rather dubious considering she is coerced into the whole situation by her brother and their mutual desperation. Her consent here is little more than the combination of her fear of her brother, her sense of duty, and the biological arousal of his attentions. Turning that biological response into some kind of moral tick box for modern readers to say "alright she said yes," seems like a tremendously shallow analysis of what it really means to give consent.

I realise people are genuniely concerned about the confronting nature of this scene, and how it might foreclose any possibility of organically communicating the love between them. But that's wrong too. It works sufficiently in the book, despite Drogo still being a rapist (just not of her). Give the producers time to build their own context for that transition.
Dan Someone
36. Nipuna
I know that most people are upset about the Dany/Drogo scene. But I think it's going to be fine. On TV, it's difficult to show Dany beginning to love Drogo so soon. In fact, it wouldn't have looked believable and could have ruined the perception of Dany.

I think in the next episode, they'll probably show them waking up, lying in each others' arms and that's a good way to bring across Dany's new feelings for her husband and to show Drogo's gentleness. So I have no complaints.

The only issue I had was with the Others. In the book, they come off somehow as more intelligent and cruel, rather than the barbaric look they had on the TV show. I wanted to see their ice swords and the whiteness of their skin. After all they are creatures of cold and ice. I was very slightly disappointed about that.

But all in all, it was great! My favourites (on TV) were Tyrion, Robert and Arya. Can't wait to see how the rest of it unfolds! :)
Dan Someone
37. Edgewalker
@24,

And yet see how Jaime Lannister will be reviled now and revered later. This series can surprise you.
Justin Golenbock
38. jgolenbo
theresa_delucci @30 Sandor! I forgot that was Sandor...i can't wait for him to get some screen time...
Dan Someone
39. ryamano
Here, they really made the Dothraki seem like a bunch of stereotypical
savages in a sea of civilized whiteness. In the books, Khal Drogo is
ultimately tender when he consummates their marriage. Dany comes to lovehim. Did he have to be so rough here?

That. Would it have been so hard to show Dany like the horse she's given more? How about her "yes" that came after all of Drogo's "no"s? That dialogue would need just a few more seconds and it could change that scene completely.
Tricia Irish
40. Tektonica
Zetastriker@12: Could not have said it better. Dany was one dimensional and wooden and Drogo was portrayed as a brute, not the gentle on the inside guy he is. Ruins the plot advancement for me. Wolfmage, you make lots of sense too....It is a barbaric culture, but I do think Drogo has been painted into a one-dimensional corner. (Can a corner be one-dimensional? No....OK, you get what I mean...I mix my metaphors.)

In fact, I would rather they had only referenced the Targaryens and waited an episode to introduce them properly. Too much information!

The Mainland characters were great. Jaime and Cersei, Cat and Ned, Jon Snow and Tyrion and Arya! All great. I can certainly see why people would be confused about the kids tho....did young Robert even have a line? (ohoh, may have the kids names confused....the one that's Jon's age...friend and 1/2 bro.) Viserys was a pretty good evil guy too...he creeped me out.

I'd love some flash back scenes too. I think it would help anyone who hasn't read the series, and frankly, I'd be curious as well.
Marcus W
41. toryx
Okay, I saw it. I thought it was a decent start but not a great one. I wasn't watching it as an ASoIaF fan (though I am one) as much as a general audience what's-this-game-of-thrones-thing-all-about and I think that ultimately the first episode was something of a let down for all the hype.

When you get right down to it, it's the limitations that are cause for the problems. Too much too fast. If they'd been allowed to open with a special 2 hour episode, and granted 12 hours for the season rather than just 10, I think it would have been a lot more palatable for a non-fan audience. As it is, I worry that viewership is going to drop a lot for episode 2.

So good things first:

By and large, the acting was great. Dinklage was definitely the dream choice for Tyrion and he did a lot with very little. The girl who portrayed Arya (momentarily forgot her name) did a fantastic job. Robb seems well cast though a little too silent. Jaime was appropriately whimsical and beautiful. Joffrey has a slimey quality that makes me distrust him before he even speaks. Robert is big, bold, and bastard-making.

The settings were really well done. I thought they did a great job constructing the forest where the Black brothers met the wights. The landscape around Winterfell is just beautiful and the interior shots of Winterfell and its courtyard were very true to life (and made me miss Ireland all over again).

It's so nice to see Sean Bean play a good guy with honor.

Ned and Robert had a great comraderie that worked well. Jon Snow's relationship with Bran was very effective and the scene with Tyrion was pretty well done as well.

Great way to end the episode.

Things I didn't like:

As so many other said, I think they made a big mistake with Dany and Drogos wedding night. It's true that they didn't have enough time to paint the scene as effectively as it should have been but I think they've made it a lot harder for a standard audience to have any interest in her storyline.

Too much sex and nudity. I love that HBO doesn't have to play by network television rules but they overdid this. And the Direwolf position was so overused that it seemed utterly ridiculous when Cersei and Jaime were indulging in it. Disrobing Dany in the beginning like that and having her brother caress her rather than pinch her made the scene gratuitous rather than character building.

Everything felt too rushed. Meet these people, blur over to these people, blur through the Wight attack, Bran climbs and promises not to do so, he climbs anyway. I don't think that's their fault really, given the constraints I'm sure they're under, but it's not good for a broad audience.

They focused on the Wights rather than the Others. I think that was a bad move. It made the first few minutes of the show seem like a standard "Oh no, zombies!" rather than enhancing the mystery and alienness of the Others. It made the series look more typical rather than original.

Anyway, those are my general impressions. I hope it was enough to bring a large viewership to the second episode. I certainly look forward to seeing more but I'm not sure that the standard viewer would.
Mo -
42. Astus
It seems like Cersei is being painted as more sympathetic, with the scenes of Robert having 'fun' at the feast and her reactions. I know there are very subtle cues as to her motivations, actions and so on but there is an overwhelming sense of 'bitch' in the book. A very ice queen type of person. I don't how I feel about it. I don't really mind, I guess. We'll see how she develops as the series goes on.

On a side note, I still get an image of Komarck's artistic interpretation of her whenever I hear her name. It's just in there, haha.

Loved Tyrion, as expected. Jon was slick, Arya was slick. Sean Bean was awesome. I liked the main cast basically. Good casting selection.
Viserys was creepy to say the least. Though, he seemed a bit more whimsical than I had imagined him being. The way he handled his sister's fabric especially.
Rob Munnelly
43. RobMRobM
Note, FYI, per Not a Blog, HBO just confirmed that Season 2 is a go. GRRM is going to do the script for the Battle of Blackwater Bay. U.S. audience for Ep 1 was 4.2 million.
Marcus W
44. toryx
I'm waiting to see how the series does with the rest of the season before I break out the champagne. HBO has proven fickle in the past when it came to a series' popularity and cost. If the viewership declines substantially things can always change.
Joe Terrenzio
45. Terren
I really loved the premier, the production value is amazing, the opening on the Wall was haunting and beautiful, and I am incredibly exicted to be watching this for the next 5 years.

That said, I have a couple of minor issues, in addition to the topics already thoroughly covered.

1) Character Ages.
I understand that HBO needed to take some license with ages both because of the difficulty of finding convincing actors to portray such young children, and because of what happens to those children. I understand this, but I think it really takes away from some of the more visceral impact of Martin's work. The characters often stand out because of what they must learn and endure, and the responsibilities they must sholder at such young ages.
Bran being 10 instead of 8 is fine at this point, but honestly I do expect you be able to at least hit an archery target.
Dany being, (well ok, I'm not sure how old she is on screen, but she definately isn't 13) again worked fine for this point, but as she later builds her kindgom it will be much different to see a 17-19 year old queen than the 15 year old queen she is.

2) The Casting.
Sean Bean = made of awesome in general and is very right for the character. Ditto for Dinklage. However I am having serious issues with Cersei, Cat, and to a lesser extent Jamie. Cersei and Jamie are identical fraternal twins. They are also both ridiculously blond and beautiful. Ok, I get casting actors who look that much alike is rather difficult, but really was there no more blond hair dye? And though I think the actors will both do the character's justice with their talents, they really do not look the part. Same for Cat. Though looks are not super important for Cat, there are a major part of the Lannister characters.
Dan Someone
46. Tapley
re: Dany/Drogo
I am withholding judgement. I'm just not sure that we saw what we think we saw. For a show and a network that is more than happy to show sex scenes in detail, they cut away from this encounter awfully quickly, and I doubt it was because HBO would have been uncomfortable showing a rape scene. The next episode could easily pick up where we left off and have the scene go somewhere entirely different. Not saying it will, just saying it could.

Even if they don't, I'm not really sure it's fair to say that Dany and Drogo could never have a real relationship with this as a starting point. To a modern sensibility, this is rape, pure and simple, and you don't fall in love with your rapist. But really, is this so much different than all those arranged marriages where a ridiculously innocent bride tried to follow her mother's advice, "Close your eyes, and think of England?"
Theresa DeLucci
47. theresa_delucci
Wow, this thread is growing so fast, I'm having a hard time keeping up! Awesome.

@43 Yay for second season but like @44, I'm waiting to break out a bubbly Arbor gold. (Pours a .40 for Deadwood, Rome, and Carnivale.) HBO's betrayed me almost as much as Fox.
David Thomson
49. ZetaStriker
Wolfmage@35: Again, ambiguity. You claim Drogo is a rapist, and this could very well be the case. But we never see or hear evidence of this. He could have been a monster or a saint, and it's the reader's position to infer what they will from the character.

All we're shown, however, is tenderness. I'm not saying the man is pure as snow by any means; as you said yourself, he certainly gives his men free reign where rape is involved. But the fact that Martin never showed, or had the Dothraki talk about Drogo doing these things gives enough leeway for a majority of the audience to empathize and care for him. The people posting comments here are just more key examples of this. According to the text, both your view of the character and theirs is correct, despite the conflict of ideas.

This ambiguity is gone now, however. Drogo is a rapist. It is shown on screen. Evidence has been provided, and worse, it's the second damn thing we learn about the man. First, he can't be the common tongue. Then he rapes a non-consenting Dany. You have to admit that's a change, even if it reaffirms your view of character from the book.
Dan Someone
50. thorhammer737
I wasn't bothered by HBO's version of the Dany/Drogo scene. That's pretty much what I remember from the book. Dany was young, much younger in the book actually, and really didn't want to have sex. Drogo went for it anyways. Am I the only one who read the original version as being just as rapey? By the way, when the girl in an arranged marriage is that young, I think it's always going to seem like rape. Dany only comes to enjoy herself later.

The incestuous sex scene actually bothered me more, because it was done "direwolf style" I guess we're calling it. Those two characters are supposed to be in love, however disgusting that may be, and in my opinion romantic sex is more romantic when the characters are facing each other.

Case in point, when Dany and Drogo eventually have sex facing each other, it comes off as more consensual.
Bill Stusser
51. billiam
Actually the honeymoon or whatever you want to call it was nothing like what happened in the show. Dany was surprised at how gentle Drogo was and after what seemed like hours to her we get:

He cupped her face in his huge hands and she looked into his eyes. "No?" he said, and she knew it was a question.
She took his hand and moved it down to the wetness between her thighs. "Yes," she whipered...

That "Yes" makes all the difference in the world. All the show had to do was include that one word.
William Fettes
52. Wolfmage
"That "Yes" makes all the difference in the world. All the show had to do was include that one word"

I completely disagree. Dany’s ‘consent’ is a token nod to our modern conventions around sex - no doubt given to ease the grim reality of what is going on here. If you look deeper, however, you cannot miss the reality that she is coerced into the situation. Her biological arousal as a naïve and inexperience virgin, and someone who cannot choose to opt out of the situation (and therefore must resign herself to it), is hardly morally determinative compared to this coercion. If you weren’t already aware, rape victims often experience arousal and it is the cause of a great deal of confusion and shame afterwards; it means nothing in terms of consent.

I went back and read these chapters just to make sure, and it's actually an even more difficult argument to make than I thought. Everyone is forgetting that the first night is just one sexual encounter among many. In the books, there are several subsequent days where Dany is clearly taken non-consensually by Drogo, during which she experiences a fair amount of pain and cries during the act. Why are we taking such an antiquated approach that exclusively emphasises this first night, as if her consent on that night carries forward for every subsequent encounter? There is rape taking place one way or another.

As I've said, it's a highly superficial reading. Drogo is a rapist in the books pure and simple. If the genuine affection between Drogo and Dany still works for you it's because you've still managed to grasp onto Drogo's gentleness, and his attempt to respect and care for Dany within the highly limited confines of his cultural horizons. These are praiseworthy and distinctive for a warlord - but they don't make the situation fully consensual and the show should be afforded the same time to build to that realisation. If you hang everything on the fact that Dany has a fully consensual relationship with Drogo then I've got a bridge to sell you because it's an utterly wrongheaded, textually-unsupported assertion.

Book quote :


Yet every night, some time before the dawn, Drogo would come to her tent and wake her in the dark, to ride her as relentlessly as he rode his stallion. He always took her from behind, Dothraki fashion, for which Dany was grateful; that way her lord husband could not see the tears that wet her face, and she could use her pillow to muffle her cries of pain. When he was done, he would close his eyes and begin to snore softly and Dany would lie beside him, her body bruised and sore, hurting too much for sleep.
Dan Someone
53. HomeOpener
As someone who has not read the books, the Dany/Drogo scene really bothered me. Other comments suggest that in the books he at least waited for a "yes" and thus showed some degree of respect for her. That would in fact have made all the difference in the world for me, because right now he doesn't even seem to acknowledge her existence, and showing even a small ounce of humanity would induce far less squick on my part. As it is in the show, the character would be irredeemable in my eyes if he wasn't played by Ronon Dex. Honestly, I was bothered by all of the faux-Klingon scenes considering the only people of color were once again cast as nothing but uncivillized savages.

My only other complaint was that I had to chek the internet to find out that there was incest in the episode. I got the impression it was the King's brother having sex with his wife, but checking onlinemade me realize it was more significant than that.

The rest of the cast was pretty easy to keep track of. No more complicated than The Wire in my opinion. The show did a good job keeping the pace moving forward and using excellent set design to help me keep track of who was interacting with whom. My favorite characters are already the dwarf and the bastard, they carried all of the emotion in the episode from humor to pride and resentment. The other stand out actor for me was the youngest Lannister: I've never seen somebody so young look so lecherous, and that single smirk of his at the feast made me trust the director. If you can get the performance out of a child actor you can do almost anything with the rest of the cast. I'm trust that Dany's lack of emotion was as intentional and that we will see more range from the actress later, just like with Anna Torv on Fringe slowly revealing a greater range as she was required to play 3 different characters.

I'll watch the next episode for sure. If the faux-Klingons become less squick inducing I could become a loyal fan.
Dan Someone
54. rkx
As someone who had very fleeting knowledge of GoT and the book series it was based on, I found the pilot to be appropriate and sufficient in introducing the world and characters to us, the viewers.

I know several people are going to nitpick this series, because it doesn't happen 'as per the book' or is unvieled in a manner which is not as to how they had percieved it, but one has to understand, the book unlike television, is not limited by factors such as budget, time, or availability. One can use pages upon pages to build up and execute events, as well as describe inner workings, giving readers a much deeper insight into what is unfolding. Telivision and film as a medium sadly does not have the luxury. If it was so, then this series based on the first book alone would have been almost 50 episodes in length, which while it may have fully fleshed out the world as per the book, may have been a drag on the visual medium except for those who are already commited fanboys. Any sort of adaption of literary works to another medium takes some change, and whether we as fans like change or not, we have to give it a chance, to allow the show to develop before we fully judge the end product.

I will continue to watch the entire season, and then give my opinion, but so far, I have found the effort and the gamble to bring this world to life quite intriguing and wonderful.
Dan Someone
55. marian
I haven't read the series, so your comments are illuminating.
Actually, I think that the wedding consummation was portrayed as more gentle than I expected. I had the impression that the guy was trying to be considerate.

I am still confused about many of the characters, I guess, because when incest was mentioned, I sat up and said who? I guess that the couple in the tower were brother and sister? I thought I was looking at the king's son taking his bride earlier than planned. Too many pretty faces that all look alike. (And I saw 2 of HBO's 3 showings on sunday night. I missed this plot strain twice.)
Bill Stusser
56. billiam
@ marian
The couple in the tower are the king's wife, Cersei, and her brother, Jaime.
Dan Someone
57. Bruce A.
Hmmm, on the Dany/Drogo wedding-night scene.

The earlier scene between Viserys and Dany, where he disrobes and fondles her, seems to make it clear that Dany has been sexually abused by her brother. To Viserys, Dany isn't a sister, isn't a girl, isn't a woman; she's a thing. A thing to be used, like anything and anybody else, for his own benefit.

My conjecture: Dany has been the target of sexual assault by Viserys for years. Viserys has preserved his sister's maidenhead to make her more valuable when he sells her to the most advantageous buyer, but that doesn't mean he hasn't assaulted or raped her; there's always sodomy.

And a background like that would explain why Dany presents to the world as emotionally blank. And it would explain why, when her new husband, the man who represents the only faint hope of rescue from her brother, starts to mount her from behind, her response is terror and despair.

(Compare and contrast that possible incestuous relationship with Cersei and Jamie's, which appears to not only be fully consensual, but contain genuine affection for each other as well as lust.)
Rob Munnelly
58. RobMRobM
Bruce - I'd doubt there was sexual abuse. Emotional abuse yes, but not likely sexual in the manner you described.

The likely in-text explation for V's behavior is that Targaryens traditionally married brother to sister, so he's not only giving his sister to Drogo, he's giving up his long-planned wife. V is obviously having mixed feelings about what he's giving up with Dany as she's about to head out the proverbial door.

Rob
Nathan Rice
59. quazar87
I know who they need for Brienne... Coach Beist! She's still too pretty, but she's got the shoulders for it. She's Hollywood ugly I guess... but maybe too old? I don't know. They need someone like her at least.

Oh and the opening credits rocked.
Theresa DeLucci
60. theresa_delucci
@59 Ha! A Glee/Game of Thrones mash-up? Er... you're a scary person.
I wonder... HBO likes to recycle actors from past series. How cool would Calamity Jane from Deadwood be? She's a bit too old to be a maid though.

@57 I think you're reading too much into direwolf-style. Like RobM, I think the abuse is emotional, not really sexual. (Though I remember a nipple-tweak in there somewhere. Egads, George.)

@58 Do you think he has mixed feelings about giving Dany up as bride? I think he'd really do anything to get his crown. And maybe Viserys figures Drogo's just a temporary husband anyway. I imagine he'd find some horrible "accident" to get rid of him once he used the Dothraki and reclaimed the Irone Throne if he really wanted Dany that badly.
Marcus W
61. toryx
I actually think that the TV show presented Viserys and Dany's relationship as more physical than in the book. The book presents Viserys as cruel, seeking to inflict pain on Dany in a way that demonstrates his absolute possession of her. The episode presented him as more lecherous, possessive in a more physically intimate manner. He struck me as more slimy than outright cruel.

As far as Viserys is concerned (at least in the novel), Dany is his to do with as he pleases. Little more than a tool. If he felt it was necessary to wed her for his bride once he got the throne he'd have done so and expected it to be his right. Even selling her to Drogo didn't seem to be permanent to him. It was more like he was renting her out a while to pursue his own ends but in his mind nothing had really changed.
Dan Someone
62. Geckomayhem
I haven't read the books. I intend to watch this series through and enjoy it as a TV series. I haven't read any of the other comments here either, in case people accidentally let slip some spoilers. Thanks to the reviewers for not doing so themselves.

I had no idea it was going to be quite so graphic, in a bloody, warlike sense and in a sexual way (too many boobies!). Guess it depicts such a world pretty well, though. After all, the truth of a medieval setting will always be that there is incest, butchery and everything else that comes with lack of peace and morality.

As far as character introductions go, even though I have no idea what all their names are or how they fit into the scheme of things, it wasn't overwhelming for someone new to the world and the story. When you read a lot you get used to not understanding a lot of what is presented to you - because you know that the gaps will be filled in by the time you reach the end.

Be good to keep watching and see how the characters and the story develop. I'm sure I can look past the disturbing nature (esp. incest and people losing their heads) inherent throughout.
Dan Someone
63. Mouette
Jaime doesn't work for me. Not except for the brief moment with Tyrion. The actor is good, but... that's not Jaime Lannister. Not for me, anyway. Cersei I find perfect, though yes, I expected a bit more gold in both of their hair. But it's not just physical. Cersei is Cersei. Catelyn is Catelyn. Rob is Rob, and Arya is perfection to a T. But Jaime?

I have to admit that I am a little... wait-and-see about Jon as well. *ducks flying pans*. He's... almost girlish. A hair too pretty. There is a problem with telling the Stark boys apart, yes, and wondering who is who. And I know I'm nitpicking. Much of the casting is excellent, and I feel sure they all will do well. Even Sansa is perfect in her fluff-headed blind... Sansa-ness.

But Jaime...
Dan Someone
65. visual
The one thing that really bugged me and I haven't seen in any threads, and I have read a lot of them, is the inaccuracies in the visuals. Namely, the wall. It is supposed to be smooth, not overlapping, providing an easy climb. And, most of all, the stairs. Where are they? A big portion of the (much later) fight with the wildings, yet not even there.

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