For the last five years, there has been a noticeable chill in the air during the months of April, May and June. People started to whisper “Winter is Coming,” and with each passing year, more and more began to understand the meaning behind those words. Now the whispers have become shouts heard around the world, as fans shiver in anticipation for their ten hour television fix of the juggernaut known as Game of Thrones.
What do we say to the God of Death?
All together now: “Not today.”
Because today, we at Geeknation, decided to dive headlong into the world of knights and maesters, rulers and schemers, white walkers and dragons. Today, we start our coverage of season six of HBO’s Game of Thrones by looking back at the first five seasons of the massively popular television series. Then, starting on April 25th, be sure to tune in every Monday morning for a recap/review of the previous night’s episodes so we can talk all things Westeros and Essos.
So let’s rewind to April 7, 2011 when a little show, spearheaded by two super nerds, David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, premiered on HBO. Benioff and Weiss had somehow managed to convince legendary fantasy author George R.R. Martin that they could brings his epic A Song of Ice and Fire novels to life. The series hit the ground running by introducing nearly 20 characters to the audience (which would turn out to be merely the tip of the iceberg) in an entirely made up world that looked similar to 14th century Europe…with a few fantastical twists.
Season One Synopsis (As brief as I can possibly make it, anyway…)
In the land of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, King Robert Baratheon is finding it harder to rule from the Iron Throne than it was to win it in the first place, which he successfully did 17 years ago as a way to get revenge on Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen for kidnapping his betrothed, Lyanna Stark. After the end of the war and the death of Lyanna, Robert married Cersei Lannister and they have three children, Joffrey (16), Myrcella (11), and Tommen (10). Cersei’s twin brother Jaime, a member of the Kingsguard who infamously murdered the Mad King Aerys (Rhaegar’s father) at the end of the war, is secretly having an affair with her, as she despises her husband, the king. The twins have another brother, an intelligent but ribald dwarf named Tyrion.
Robert’s best friend, Ned Stark, is Lord of Winterfell in the North. His arranged marriage to Catelyn Tully of Riverrrun, has turned into a loving one, despite Ned having a bastard son named Jon Snow (17), who he insisted be raised with their legitimate children, Rob (17), Sansa (13), Arya (11), Bran (10), and Rickon (6), as well as his ward Theon Greyjoy (18, the son of a man who rebelled against Robert and lost).
The series opens with Robert and his court traveling to Winterfell to ask Ned to become the Hand of the King, as the previous Hand, Jon Arryn (the husband to Catelyn’s sister, Lysa), has mysteriously died. Many suspect The Lannisters are behind the death and Ned agrees to the position in order to protect his best friend. Before his family travels, however, Bran is pushed out a window by Jaime after he sees him having sex with his sister Cersei. Bran survives but is paralyzed and does not remember what happened to him. The Stark family then splits up as Ned travels to the capitol, King’s Landing, with his daughters, romantic Sansa (betrothed to Robert’s son and heir, Joffrey), and tomboy Arya. Jon Snow travels to The Wall to join the ancient order of the Night’s Watch, a band of men who protect the Seven Kingdoms from the dangers of the north (both natural and supernatural ones). Catelyn at first remains at Winterfell but after another attack on Bran’s life, rides in secret after her husband, leaving her eldest son, Robb, in charge.
Once at King’s Landing, Ned finds himself in over his head, being far too honorable to play “The Game of Thrones,” as Cersei puts it. Almost everyone around the king, including master of whisperers Varys, and Master of Coin Petyr Baelish (a man who has loved Catelyn since they were children), have ulterior motives to everything they do. Robert himself is also difficult to manage, especially given his insistence on murdering the last two surviving Targaryens, Viserys and his younger sister, 16 year old Daenarys, both of whom survived Robert’s war by crossing the Narrow Sea. Viserys forces his sister to marry a barbarian lord named Khal Drogo of the Dothraki in order to get an army that will help him reclaim the Iron Throne. At first meek and afraid, Dany finds the inner strength to stand up to her vicious brother (who is killed in one of the best scenes of the entire season!), becomes friends with an exiled Westerosi knight named Jorah, and eventually falls in love with her husband, becoming pregnant with a son.
Back in Westeros, the Lannisters and the Starks come to blows as Ned finds out the truth about Robert’s children, narcisstic and cowardly Joffrey (who a clueless Sansa insists she is in love with), Myrcella, and Tommen: they are all actually fathered by Jaime, and are, therefore, bastards. Catelyn captures Tyrion and has him imprisoned in her sister Lysa’s castle, The Eyrie, only to have him win his freedom through trial by combat (Tyrion’s champion being a sketchy sellsword named Bronn). Ned is wounded in an ambush led by Jaime Lannister and is eventually thrown in prison after Robert dies in a hunting “accident.” Feeling betrayed by Lord Baelish and Varys, Ned eventually lies by confessing to treason (hoping to spare Sansa, who is a prisoner of the Lannisters). Arya, having escaped, during the arrests, witnesses her father’s shocking execution before pretending to be a boy in a caravan leaving King’s Landing on it’s way to The Wall.
In reaction to the news of his father’s treatment and death, Robb calls his bannerman, who proclaim him “King of the North” and ride out to seek vengeance upon The Lannisters. He loses one battle on purpose in order to win another and is able to capture Jaime Lannister in the process. Jon Snow also wants to take part in this new war, but that would mean breaking his vows as a member of the Night’s Watch. His friends, including the cowardly but loyal Samwell Tarly, and Lord Commander Jeor Mormont (father to Jorah, who has befriended Dany) convince him that there is a much more imminent threat to face in the north: the seeming return of The White Walkers, a supernatural race that nearly destroyed mankind thousands of years ago.
Another supernatural threat returns in the east as well. Dany’s bleeding heart towards slavery runs against Dothraki tradition and angers some of Drogo’s followers. After she prevents a maegi, Miri Mazz Durr, from being continually raped, Drogo is forced to fight one of his riders. He easily defeats the rider but is cut in the process. Mirri Maz Duur pretends to help with the injury but only makes it worse, leading Dany to demand she use magic to save his life. The spell and ensuing events lead to the death of both Drogo and Dany’s unborn child, as well as the loss of most of Drogo’s followers. Dany then builds a funeral pyre where she burns Mirri Maz Duur alive along with Drogo’s body, as well as three petrified dragons eggs she had received as a wedding present. Dany’s ancestors had originally conquered Westeros because they rode dragons, but the last of them had died more than a century earlier. Dany walks into the funeral pyre and after it burns out, she miraculously survives…along with three baby dragons.
Ok, so that is the briefest summation I could make (this series is soooo dense – I love it), and I didn’t even mention the Stark direwolves, The Hound, Bran’s dreams and Hodor, Arya’s “dancing master” Syrio Forel, Shae, or Longclaw! That’s the beauty of the show, the mythology is so dense that it practically demands multiple re-watches to take it all in.
“Baelor”: It showcased the beheading that shook the world and made a promise to viewers that this wasn’t going to be your typical television show…
“When you play the game of thrones, you either you win or you die.” - Cersei Lannister. So ominous and so prophetic.
- The opening prologue in episode one, what the hell is that thing with the glowing blue eyes!
- Arya learning how to use a sword with Syrio as Ned looks on. Though they are using wooden swords, we start to hear clashes of metal in an ominous foreshadowing of what is to come.
- Viserys’ “golden crown.” Hands down one of the best deaths in the entire series.
- Dany with her dragons! Gauntlet thrown.
Be sure to tune in over the course of this week as we continue counting down to the season six premiere later this week, and let us know what your favorites from season one as well!
Game of Thrones Season Six is set to premiere on HBO on Sunday, April 24th.
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