I’m not sure where to begin with this review. The season is over, and I cannot believe it. It feels like just yesterday that it was Christmastime, and the Game of Thrones teasers were flashing across the HBO airwaves, and I was burying myself in ASOIAF lore in an attempt to sustain my fangirlish hunger until the show debuted.
A few months later HBO announced the premiere date: April 17. But that was still months away, so I had to trudge through internet message boards and Tower of the Hand essays to get my fix. And then the first episode premiered, and nine more episodes came and went. The last ten weeks have flown by, and now we have to suffer through an entire year without any Thrones. As the opening credits played for the Season Finale, I experienced a Pandora’s Box of emotions: anticipation, pride, excitement, fear, grief, despair, and longing. The theme song, which in the very least deserves the over-used adjective “epic,” made me feel like I was finishing the first leg of a terribly fantastic adventure.
I’ve been breaking down my reviews by location/character, but in order to preserve the power of the finale, I have kept this one chronological.
*As usual, this post contains spoilers for the Episode 10 and the ASOIAF books.
Sean Bean as Lord Eddard Stark
*This review contains spoilers for Baelor, Episode 9 of Game of Thrones, as well as the first ASOIAF novel, A Game of Thrones.*
Wow. And there it is, guys. For us book-readers, the one episode we’ve been anticipating all season. The instant we knew would shock, anger, drive away and reign in viewers who had not read the novels. A hallmark moment in A Song of Ice and Fire. Perhaps the most important sword swing in the series, and at least in the first book. The day that changed the course of Westeros forever, and the hour that cemented the fate of a widow, six children and a kingdom’s worth of commonfolk. Okay – you get it by now, right?
I’m writing a little bit late, as life has unfortunately kept me from finishing this review. But it’s been wonderful to see the reaction and be able to incorporate that here. I deeply, thoroughly enjoyed catching every “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!” or “HBO didn’t!” or “How COULD they?!” These seem like angry responses. And they are. But they also indicate passion – that people cared enough about Ned, or his children (or that they hated the Lannisters enough) to take to their Twitters or their Facebooks or blogs or Youtube channels and scream out their rage to the seven hells. Anger like that shows a connection. And if that’s the case, then we can say HBO has won. The biggest gamble going into Game of Thrones was whether or not viewers, especially those unaccustomed to fantasy, would care enough about the characters to wade through generation-long winters, packs of direwolves or schools of dragons, and a few ancient spells to keep coming back week after week.
I’m going to get into the actual review soon, but let me start off by saying I don’t know if this is the best episode. That’s a terrible choice to have to make, and I think the episodes from “The Golden Crown” up until now could all be in the running for the title. But in Baelor, there were scenes that clearly rank among the most emotionally poignant of the series to date. Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, this episode was an expression of the spirit behind this production. Although George wrote the story, and the design teams created the world, and the actors bring that world to life, it is the combination of David & Dan (D&D – I feel they must always be combined by an ampersand) that connects all the threads and weaves them into a tapestry. They are the cerebellum of the show – the seat of power that tells the feet where to walk and the hands what to grab and the eyes what to see and the mouth what to say. So, it was insightful and gripping to see what they chose to express on screen in their episode.
Maisie Williams as Arya Stark
I’ve written a book about this episode. But I felt like there was so much I wanted to say. I’m not sure if this was my favorite episode of the season (the last few weeks have been fantastic), but there’s no denying the excitement caused by the mere fact that George R.R. Martin himself wrote the screenplay for this hour. I imagine that opportunity was almost like a way to write “alternate scenes” or to change things GRRM may have thought he would have done a different way after having nearly 15 years to ponder his work (A Game of Thrones was first published in August 1996). For that reason, a lot of what I discuss demonstrates the differences between the text and show.
*This review contains spoilers for Episode 8 of Game of Thrones as well as the first four A Song of Ice and Fire books. Please proceed with caution.*
The long face and disheveled clothing says Arya, but it was the girl’s expression that really made me think of the younger Stark daughter. She is sad, shocked and lost, but she is not weepy. There’s a certain resoluteness behind her trauma.
Orphan Girl Seated in a Cemetery (1824)
French (born Charenton 1798 – 1863 died Paris)
oil on canvas
Musée Du Louvre, Paris
I watch Game of Thrones each week with my family. Sometimes awkward, I know, but as my sister often tells us, “We’re all mature adults.” My parents have no context for anything related to Westeros; this is all fresh for them. I, on the other hand, have launched a blog dedicated to ASOIAF, so clearly you know how I feel about the series. I didn’t think this would happen, but I’ve really enjoyed watching the show with people who don’t know anything about the books. Seeing their reactions to various events has been great.
But the most amusing part has probably been how my father has just renamed the characters to his liking. I’m not sure if he genuinely doesn’t understand their names, or if he’s being facetious, or if it’s a mix of the two, but so far, Sansa is Senza, Arya is Aye-eer-ah, and (my favorite), Ned has become Ednert. Ednert Stark, Lord of Winterfell. I can’t help but love it.
I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has experienced something similar, so if you have, comment and let me know!
*This post contains spoilers for all four ASOIAF books; please do not continue beyond the cut if you are wary of book spoilers.*
Some parents choose their children’s names because of their meanings. Others simply choose names they like and never bother with the significance. The name may end up fitting the child, or it may end up having an arbitrary meaning that doesn’t relate at all to the personality the child develops. Parents, when choosing a name, never know how their child will turn out.
Authors, meanwhile, do possess this knowledge before or during the naming process. George Martin, the father of ASOIAF, has a cast of hundreds of characters, all of whom he got to name. But what do characters’ names say about them? Do the meanings of their names match up with their personalities or deeds? In this article I will examine the etymologies of the names of several characters from the series and will analyze if and how the name fits with the character.
For this first batch, I have selected what is arguably the central family of ASOIAF: House Stark.
Note: All first names were researched using Behind the Name: The Etymology of History and First Names, unless otherwise cited.
Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, with her direwolf Lady, in HBO's Game of Thrones.
*This post contains spoilers for Episode 2 of HBO’s Game of Thrones. If you haven’t yet seen the episode, go watch it and then come back and read!
Last week, the first episode of Game of Thrones provided a foundation layer of exposition. The second episode, The Kingsroad, built upon last week’s setup and drove us further toward the series’ central plot.
Although the second half of the episode showcased a good amount of action, the first half was still very character-driven. Anyone who’s read A Game of Thrones knows the characterization is rich. However, for television, a good source book is not nearly enough. Great TV-from-literature requires world-class actors to breathe life into the pages, or else viewers will not believe what they see. Fortunately, Game of Thrones delivers this in certain abundance.