To prepare for Season 6 of Game of Thrones, I’ve been rewatching the series. During October, I rewatched the first season. This is the first time that I’ve watched any of the episodes since the first time around, so I was excited to go back to the beginning. I was very surprised by how many things I had forgotten, and how many details I noticed the second time around. A couple of things that surprised me in comparison to later season were seeing so many killed-off actors’ names in the opening credits, as well as a mere 4 locations in the pilot. Here’s a little bit more about what I noticed about season one the second time around.
Things that are easy to overlook (and that I had forgotten happened)
I had forgotten about everything that had happened with Ned Stark’s brother and father, especially the very important fact that his father was burned alive by the Mad King. There are so many references to this during the first season, and I don’t really remember many in the following seasons. With all the other drama and warring that has been going on, it’s easy to forget that before the current monarchy, they were living under a truly terrible king. It also explains a lot about Ned’s character and the Stark family’s decisions.
I also forgot about the entire opening sequence beyond the Wall. I forgot that it existed at all, and also how damn creepy it was! It made me wonder, have we seen the White Walkers arrange body parts into a rune since this scene? It’s fun how the Walkers have evolved from shadowy figures with blue eyes into the icy giants they are now, but as far as I can remember, there is no mention of them arranging bodies into shapes, just resurrecting them. Perhaps the writers didn’t know where the White Walkers were going story-wise.
Characters, characters, and more characters!
The first season had the difficult task of introducing us to a seemingly unending number of characters and backstories. It’s much easier to remember them upon rewatching. Here are some of the more notable interactions.
The Starks were introduced really well, and seeing them interact with one another instantly gave us a very good idea of their relationships and their characters.
The introduction of Hodor in particular is fantastic. Theon calls for him, and he answers with “Hodor.” Theon gives him an instruction, and Hodor answers with “Hodor,” and then does what he is told. It’s a perfect exchange, because it’s completely natural to the scene, and we instantly understand that this man is a huge, loyal, simpleton.
I really loved the introduction of The Small Council. There is an unspoken rule that a good way to introduce your audience to a character is to introduce a character to that character. That way, the introduction is natural. When we meet the Small Council, Ned Stark is meeting people for the first time, and also reuniting with people that he has not seen in years. Turns out, reuniting characters is also a great way to naturally have an intelligent conversation that introduces the audience as well.
An interesting narrative choice was to wait and share a lot of backstory later in the season with a conversation between King Robert, Barristan Selmy, and Jaime. It’s a little clunky, because it’s not a really natural conversation. When Jaime shares the story of when he killed the Mad King, and how his last words were what he “had been saying for hours; ‘burn them all,'” it really cements how terrible the Mad King was, and also how messed up everyone’s loyalties are. In the current season, we have forgotten how terrible the Mad King was, because we’ve been blinded by how equally terrible Joffery, and now the Sparrows are.
As I kept watching, I realized that a lot of characters I love have died. While I found it incredibly frustrating to watch Ned Stark navigate court, I really enjoyed watching him interact with his daughters. He is so cute when he is reacting to their outbursts, you can tell he is hopelessly confused.
Khal Drogo is the best, and I really miss him and Daenerys together. They were so happy together and had so little time as the ultimate power couple.
I really miss Benjen Stark, and I hope we eventually get to find out more about him!
While I find Viserys really creepy, I do find him fascinating, and I think that the actor portrayed his complexities perfectly.
What makes Season One stand on its own
One thing that I think the current seasons are missing, is the sheer terror that accompanied the stories that everyone tells about the last winter. Brandon’s caretaker, and some men at The Wall, tell truly horrifying stories about the White Walkers, people freezing to death, and children living their entire lives in darkness. It was also mentioned in these stories that the White Walkers have packs of pale spiders as big as horses. We have not seen any such spiders yet, and I hope that we don’t. Spiders are the worst, and if the show runners drop giant freaking spiders on us on top of all the other horrible things that have been going on, I will lose it.
Plot points worth noting
I was surprised this time around by how much the writers were setting up for later seasons. There is a scene where Arya is being a BAMF and hides inside of a dragon skull while she is chasing cats. While hiding, she overhears a conversation that Varys is having, that is actually setting up his future support of Daenerys. In later seasons this is a bit of a plot twist, but the wheels are in motion from the very first season.
The last scene of episode three is so perfect. Arya is in the middle of her first “dancing” lesson and the sound design is amazing. The sound of the wooden swords slowly turns into the sound of steel swords and as Ned Stark continues to watch, the sound of swords is joined by the sound of screams and shouting. It is a really fantastic ending.
When Robb Stark decided to call the banners of The North, there is a shot of all of the ravens leaving Winterfell, as they carry their messages. That shot was so beautiful and a really brilliant way to visually show the huge implications of what Robb has just done.
Season One: Behind the Scenes
It was crazy to see how the budget has changed! It was already considered a high-budget show, but there are a lot of little things that made me realize just how much their budget exploded. For example, in Season 1, Jon Arryn was laid out in the existing set of the throne room, while in Season 5, Tywin Lannister was laid out in The Great Sept of Baelor. Their locations have expanded drastically. Not only are there a lot of different cities in play, they’ve also expanded the sets in each individual city. For example, in King’s Landing, a lot of action that took place in the throne room now takes place in different character’s personal chambers.
The costumes are consistently amazing, and they were on point from episode one! I love Cersei’s feast costume at Winterfell, and the hairstyle differences in the North and the South. I also noticed later in the season that all the Frey’s wear the same cap. I love how many little details there are in the costuming that really show the separate customs and cultures of the different houses.
What was your favorite thing about season one? Let me know in the comments! Are you rewatching any of the past seasons of Game of Thrones? Chime in on the forums if you are, and I’ll be back next month to talk about Season 2!