Way Back Machine – Game of Thrones Episode One

It can be nice to revisit things with the same headspace we had when we first found them. It can help us appreciate the way things are now or yearn for the old days. Let’s hop in the Way Back Machine to take a look at a seminal moment in television.

A little background – Game of Thrones is a television show about a scary blonde lady who has dragons that hates another scary blonde lady who has a zombie bodyguard while the guy from hit HBO mini-series Gunpowder broods. Also, Aquaman was there for a little bit looking like a whole four course meal.

It’s basically the best show I’ve ever seen.

When it first started however, we were frantically hopping back and forth between not knowing people’s names or relations and getting absolutely blindsided by jump cuts to full frontal nudity. It was confusing and erotic.

With this wildly special program coming back Sunday, April 14, it feels like a good time to revisit its beginnings with that same precocious sense of wonder that’s lightly tinged with the knowledge of what comes next.

*Spoilers ahead for the Game of Thrones season one episode one, Winter is Coming. Vague spoilers for later stuff too, I guess.*

Open in the woods. Three dickheads all dressed in black are wandering around talking junk about each other and the rest of their brothers. They all get absolutely worked by a bunch of scary snowmen, except for one of the guys who runs away. (He is the only rational character in the show.)

Cut to a big castle. Someone’s dead and the writers make it very clear that the two beautiful blonde people who might have something to do with it are brother and sister. That will come up later. The sexy siblings are going up north to see an old friend of the king.

We meet the main character of the show, Boromir, and his big happy family. The lady who will marry Joe Jonas is one of his daughters but has not married Joe Jonas yet – she’s like 12, sicko. His other kids are the guy from HBO mini-series Gunpowder we mentioned in the first paragraph; Joe Jonas’ future wife’s best friend; a little boy that can’t shoot a bow for shit (and won’t age for shit either) but is good at climbing; a little boy who will get exactly four lines of dialogue in the show; and Richard Madden who reminds me of a lithe, bearded Nathan Fillion and will get respect put on his name accordingly.

All of those kids find some big weird dogs. Gunpowder gets the runt because he’s a bastard child. That sounds like a pretty sweet gig considering what will happen to bastard children later in the show but, hey, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Boromir chops off the only rational character in the show’s head. The kid who can’t shoot gets to watch.

Some hot guys get haircuts. One of them is Lily Allen’s brother and kind of a shithead. She wrote that song “Alfie” about him.

The king shows up. He’s a portly man and a little bit rough around the edges. The hot sister from early on is his wife and the hot brother is one of his guards. Other characters give the two snacky siblings the labels “Hot Chick” and “Sword Jock” so the audience knows what they are good at doing, which is being hot and fighting with a sword, respectively. There’s plenty of evidence for the former throughout the series, but barely any of it comes from him. Sword Jock is anything but middling at best at fighting. People like to hype him up. He’s a real David Carr type.

The prince is introduced. He’s the worst.

The king and Boromir go down to the crypts below Boromir’s castle. They talk about love and trust and a bunch of stuff that makes the king look very relatable and like he might be a good guy. We will go on believing that for about five or six more episodes, tops. The king wants Boromir to be his right hand man. He tells Boromir he’s doing the best he can and he knows it’s a lot to ask for Boromir to leave behind the world he knows. Boromir kneels and accepts. The king tells him to rise up.

We get a mention of a guy named “The Imp” who we assume is a magician or something infernal. Turns out it is Peter Dinklage who is a magician of sorts… but in no way infernal. He’s actually quite delightful. He gives us some of our first full frontal nudity of the series and lots of it. Thank you Mr. Dinklage. I’m sorry you had to be in Pixels.

We head across the ocean where the future scary blonde lady with dragons isn’t all that scary, yet. It’s probably because she doesn’t have any dragons at this point. Her brother, who looks like Draco Malfoy’s dad mixed with Tom Hiddleston, is a prick. He wants to sell her to Aquaman. The creepy Malfoy looking mother fucker makes her show herself to him in a naked way. It’s extremely uncomfortable unless you’re a real sicko. The poor lady, who just got felt up by her brother, gets into a boiling bath as a metaphor for washing the ick off with the audience. She’s told by a handmaiden that the water is too hot. It doesn’t burn her. There is mystery in the air.

We then meet Aquaman. His dialogue in this scene is far and away better than anything he’s done with Warner Brothers or DC Comics. He likes what he sees from squeaky clean Emilia Clarke and rides his horse away. He apparently would have murdered everyone if he didn’t like her so it’s a good thing she took that bath.

JUMP CUT. We’re back on the other side of the world. There’s going to be a feast! The future Mrs. Jonas wants to marry Prince Sneersalot but her younger sister, who ends up being her best friend IRL, throws food at her. It’s hilarious. Gunpowder thinks so too, but then his not-mom gives him a look and he boogies on out of there with his sort-of-sister.

Gunpowder runs into his uncle and tells him he wants to join the Border Patrol (who are those same idiots from earlier, the one rational character on the show worked for Border Patrol). His uncle doesn’t fight it very hard. Sword Jock bullies Gunpowder for no discernible reason. Apparently, he has some sort of insecurity to hide and likes the prospect of fighting people.

The next day that kid who can’t shoot is climbing walls again. His big dog, who we learn is named Summer, is worried about him getting in trouble with his mom, but the pup should be fetching him a trampoline. The littlest mountaineer turns a corner into a tower and sees two people going to town on one another’s giblets.

It’s Sword Jock! And his sister! Gross! At least we know why he’s always trying to fight people. They stop copulating and Sword Jock approaches the child who just saw two people raw-dogging one another for the first time. Instead of answering any questions, Sword Jock delivers a witty line (“The things I do for love”) and DJ Jazzy Jeffs the child’s ass out the window.

The screen cuts to black and viewers immediately start the second episode.

Knowing what we do now, this episode either set in motion or introduced the building blocks what we know and love about the series now. It built a world founded in reality with a vague aura of fantasy surrounding it – the outer skin of a sweet Vidalia onion we would get to know and enjoy for the next seven years.

Enjoy season 8 and if you spoil anything for me, I swear to the Old Gods and the New I will strangle you with your own guts.


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