Had I seen it before: Not really. I’ve been in the living room while my brother watched the last couple episodes, but I couldn’t make heads or tail of them having not watched the previous six seasons.
What IMDb says: Nine noble families fight for control over the mythical land of Westeros, while a forgotten race returns after being dormant for thousands of years.
Why I picked it: People don’t shut up about this show, like ever, so I thought I’d see what the fuss is about. It’s one of the primary reasons people pay for HBO, isn’t it? I mean there was a time HBO was about movies with swearing and no commercials but now it’s about watching GOT on Sunday night when everyone else does so no one spoils it at the water cooler on Monday morning.
I also admire Game of Thrones’s capacity to break its fans’ hearts. As a writer, you want people to have that emotional connection to your characters. What role does the pilot play in establishing such connections? Do we fall in love with them right away or is it something that develops over time? I’m about to find out!
What I liked: LITTLE WOLF PUPPIES THEY’RE SO ADORABLE. Yadda yadda great world creation and a dramatic ending but mostly LITTLE WOLF PUPPIES.
Puppies aside, this one DID do a really great job of bringing me into its fantasy world while avoiding all the standard lazy exposition tricks sometimes used in pilots. There’s no voiceover. A minimal amount of text along the bottom to explain shit to us. No endearing grandmother telling the story of the kingdom to the kids as a bedtime story. Yet I don’t feel confused. I feel like I understand everything that’s happening and why. The expository dialog that does happen still feels pretty natural, not as though characters are going out of their way to explain shit to the audience that they wouldn’t say to other characters in the show. That’s tough and anyone looking to write a fantasy series pilot needs to watch this one and take notes.
It also ends on the sort of extreme holy shit moment that the show has come to be known for. If I didn’t have my rule in place about only watching pilots for these shows, you best believe I would’ve let autoplay take me into Episode 2.
What I didn’t like: There were definitely parts of it that seemed to drag on around the 40-minute mark. While I understand the need to introduce the Targaryans, this plotline seems like it was kinda thrown together at the last minute compared to the Starks’ storyline. Daenerys’s creepy brother is making her marry some dude she doesn’t want to marry so he can get more power. That’s it.
Compare that to the Stark family, where we have one daughter that does want to get married so her dad can have more power. But the dad isn’t even sure he wants that power. Also there’s a badass younger daughter, and a mysterious bastard kid that’s still treated like family to some extent. He’s playing the loving big brother role for the innocent 10-year-old brother who’s still learning his way in the world. Oh, and Ned has also learned that whitewalkers (i.e. murderous zombie things) might be a threat again. With all this shit is going on, I felt myself just wanting to cut back to the Starks whenever the Targaryans were onscreen. It’s like if you have a favorite plot in Love, Actually and then whenever you’re stuck watching the other Love, Actually plotlines you’re not really feeling the movie anymore because your heart lies with someone other than the characters immediately in front of you. (Read my full post on Love, Actually syndrome here.)
Do I want to watch Ep. 2: Hells to the yeah I want to keep watching. I’m pretty confident a lot of the people who really pissed me off are going to die at some point, so that’s something to look forward to.