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Jonesin’ For A Thronesin’: Winter is Coming (S1E1)

These recaps are meant to take us through each episode until the new season airs in 2014. It’s possible we’ll have to double up to make for a smooth landing once the new episodes begin, but for now this will be a weekly feature, covering a single episode at a time.

Also, I was late the party with the novels. In fact, as we speak, I’m only 200 pages into A Dance With Dragons. The goal is to review the show as is, without the baggage of the novels or a lot of winking towards future events in the books. Therefore, I’m asking that any comments respectfully delineate spoilery stuff for those of us who haven’t had time to read 5,000+ pages of fantasy. Ok then.

Season 1, Episode 1

Jon Snow knows nothing.

We’re thrown into the deep, icy end of the pool from the start with three characters we’ll never see again, which seems a little cruel. But Westeros is cruel! And winter is coming!

Three men of The Night’s Watch, one of whom looks like Matt Damon’s little brother, scout north of The Wall (definite article, proper noun). A campfire draws one of them to a bunch of desecrated bodies, arranged ritualistically, so we know this is extra evil! By the time the rest of the guys get to the burial site, the bodies are gone (dum dum DUM!). Clint Damon mentions “wildlings” and “white walkers” though the general consensus is that the latter can’t be responsible for the missing bodies, because they don’t exist anymore. The guy who saw the bodies wants to leave, but Clint isn’t having it, reminding him that traitors get fucked up the neck-ass for running south. Just when the conversation starts to get good, a white walker shows up and everyone falls in love with his dreamy, blue eyes. That gives Mr. White just enough time to relieve Clint of his blood, prompting the other two guys to fuck off into the woods. They run into a dead girl, a beheading happens, and we’re off!

Now we’re in Winterfell with The Starks, the good guys. We know they’re the good guys because they spend time doing things together as a family even though some of them are teenagers. They’re so tight knit, they even hang out with their dad’s bastard son, Jon Snow. It’s like if The Brady Bunch were constantly freezing and only one of them didn’t belong.

Everything is going pretty great until a guy with beard-pigtails tells Ned (the dad) that he has to behead someone. No matter! The 10-year-old needs to see this! So the men of the family (except for Rickon, never Rickon) ride out to a glen to behead the surviving member of the Night’s Watch, because fuck that guy for warning us of ancient evil. Ned kinda, sorta believes the man’s story about the white walkers, but Ned Stark never met an oath he couldn’t keep, intuition be damned, so he beheads the Night’s Watchman while his bastard son makes Bran watch. It’s sick. Ned asks Bran if he understands why he was the one who had to kill that guy, but Bran only wants to know if the man was innocent and misses the stuff about honor.

Ned decides he needs a moment to collect himself while his grim, murder boner softens, so he sits beneath a tree with a face on it and cleans his sword for a while. Then his wife, Cat, shows up and tells him his mentor, Jon Arryn, is dead. Ned’s grim, murder boner weeps.

Now we’re in King’s Landing with The Lannisters, the bad guys! This show is basically like Dallas with lobstered armor, and all of The Lannisters are like hatless J.R. Ewings, especially Cersei (The Queen). She’s skulking around Jon Arryn’s weird funeral, wondering what she might look like with a hump and an overwhelming desire for horses. Just then, one of the twins from Mama (Jamie), who also happens to be Cersei’s twin(!) sidles up and helps her plot stuff.

king robert

King Ralph

Back in Winterfell, The Starks find out that King Ralph is on his way to see them, which means he’s probably going to try to go bowling with some of their priceless antiquities. But Cat thinks the King is going to ask Ned to be his new Hand, which makes sense because Jon Arryn was his old Hand, and he dead. They’re both right! The King arrives and immediately wants to hang out in the Stark’s crypt, because the trip to Winterfell was very emotional, and he’s super deep. Down in the crypt, Ralph asks Ned to be his Hand while standing in front of Ned’s sister’s grave, because King Ralph loved her so much. Ned accepts, mostly because it’s honorable.

While this is happening, Cersei and Jamie’s little brother Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) is drinking and getting a blow job at the same time.

Meanwhile, Daenerys Targaryen and her brother Viserys are getting ready for a terrible wedding on the other side of the world. These two are the children of the king before Ralph, and Viserys is totally grossed out by his slovenly, commoner ways. They both have white hair like Steve Martin, only longer and wavier. Viserys is definitely the villain of the show, because he touches his sister’s boobs, and nothing is worse than that, not even beheading innocent messengers in the presence of children. Understandably, Daenerys needs a bath to take her mind off of the incest and arranged marriage, but someone says, “m’lady, the water is too hot!” She wades in anyway, foreshadowing that she may be a terminator.

Danarys is going to marry Karl Drogo, a Dothraki and one of the most badass dudes alive. The Dothraki are nomadic horse people, only with regular legs. Drogo has never been defeated in battle and like most tough kids who moved around a lot, has the rat tail to prove it. Viserys arranged the marriage in exchange for a Dothraki army, because he wants to rule the seven kingdoms, just like his dad used to. He tells Daenerys he’d let horses have sex with her if it got him closer to the throne, which is not the usual kind of teasing that goes on between siblings, so he may be serious.

Back on the side of the world where the other 99.99% of the characters live, Sansa (teen girl Stark) is whining because she wants something and yeah she’s rich, but she could be, like, really rich. Cat isn’t into it because she has to stay behind in Winterfell and doesn’t think she’ll ever see her daughters again, which is just so typical.

Everyone else in Winterfell is having a pretty good time though. They’re having a feast that doubles as a primer for their interpersonal connections to one another. Jon Snow is outside because he’s a bastard and might get germs on everything. Tyrion shows up and calls Jon a bastard, which is meant to be a compliment. Jon doesn’t get it and asks a dwarf, nicknamed “The Imp” what he knows about being a bastard, because he knows nothing. Tyrion gives him some solid advice, but it probably doesn’t stick, because Jon gets distracted by his uncle, who looks like David Thewlis.

Ned’s still moping about beheading that guy, which by the way, happened earlier that day. His brother, also part of the Night’s Watch, tells him that the man he killed was a solid ranger, basically an all around good guy, missed by all who knew him, etc. Ned’s a slave to the system, so he had to kill that man, but his deeply buried emotions are starting to hurt his feelings.

Other things happen. Cersei asks Sansa if she’s bled yet, followed by a request that she design a dress. Also, Ned and Jamie want to kill each other. It’s pretty great.

As is often the case on this show, bad news is relentless, so while Ned and Cat are cuddling in bed, an old man brings them a letter that touched a bird. The letter is from Cat’s sister, Jon Arryn’s widow, who thinks her husband was murdered by The Lannisters. Cat’s immediately certain of the letter’s truth, because crazy people don’t attach letters espousing conspiracy theories to birds, and her sister is definitely not crazy. She begs Ned not to fill in for the man who was maybe just murdered, but Ned beheaded his intuition for the sake of the realm ages ago and decides to go anyway.

dragon-lady

Later episodes are less incest heavy, but not drastically so.

On the other side of the world, two of the three characters we know are having a wedding that involves a box of snakes and a platter of sautéed horse hearts. Some of the wedding guests start raping the other wedding guests, one of them dies for that, and before you know it, a guy is making glib jokes about how there should be more murders at this wedding! Seriously though, I’m sure the rape victim found a ride home. Then, Ser Roger Moore arrives with books, the perfect wedding gift. He’s an exiled knight, so he has to be on the part of the show that takes place in the desert. His gift is immediately trumped by a box of petrified dragon eggs, which look like painted rocks.

But wait, there hasn’t been any rough sex, bordering on assault in over two minutes! So Drogo takes Dany to a cliff and renders any need for a porn parody redundant.

The episode ends with Bran climbing the castle walls and catching Jamie and Cersei in a moment of twincest. That’s like, pretty bad, so Jamie pushes Bran out of the window. And that’s the end of the episode!

Tune in next week for episode two: The Kingsroad!