The Season 4 premiere of Game of Thrones aired last night. It’s pretty difficult to talk about the show at this point without giving away a few things. Anyone can die and anything can happen in any given episode, so if you’re not caught up, be aware that characters and events will be explicitly mentioned here.
Let me start off by saying how much of a fan I am of this series. With the majority of TV shows and movies that are based on books, I typically like the book significantly better. There are a few exceptions. For example, I love the Lord of the Rings movies as much (or more) as I enjoyed the books. When it comes to Game of Thrones, I appreciate the depth and complexity of the books, but I also like the way the the TV series takes the most critical story lines and gives us a strong serialized show. And the casting is pretty perfect. It’s great that, for the most part, the actors look and feel exactly like I had imagined them in my head, and I’m not taken out of the experience by seeing someone who completely defies my expectations. When I watch the show, I want to punch Joffrey in the mouth just as much as I did when I read the books.
One of the most interesting things about this show is how gray everyone is. This is not a show about good vs. evil. The so-called “good” characters often do horrible things to protect themselves or their families. And those who initially felt like villains often have the best interest of their people in mind. Granted, there are a few characters like Joffrey or The Mountain that are just awful people, but the rest of the ensemble are flawed humans who are trying to do what they think is best for those they care about. Is House Lannister the villain because Twyin and Cersei are such strong, powerful schemers? Then why do I like Tyrion and Jaime so much these days? As we learn more about Jaime and why he’s done some of the things he has done (like slay a king), we see that he may be one of the more noble characters. He just hides it to protect this false image that he has created. Tyrion keeps up a facade of being sarcastic and uncaring, but he probably does more to truly benefit the people than any other character.
Oberyn Martell was introduced in the premiere and that man is a viper. They did a great job of taking a secondary character from the books and turning him into a very threatening menace. I loved the dialogue between Oberyn and Tyrion. These are two men who are tired of playing the game and want to be real. Oberyn is cocky, confident, and incredibly violent. It will be fun to watch everyone walk on eggshells around him.
We also got to catch up with Daenerys on the other side of the sea. Her dragons aren’t a cute little sideshow anymore; they are growing and they are dangerous. I think that the biggest reason that Game of Thrones has gained such a big mainstream audience is that there are few fantasy elements in the show. At its core, the show is a political drama that takes place in a medieval setting. Occasionally, we see White Walkers (aka frost zombies) or Eastern mystics. But the only regular fantasy element is the dragons. As they get bigger, it helps to flesh out the history of the show because it illustrates why the Targaryens and their dragons ruled for so long. I can’t wait until Dany and her dragons inevitably come face to face with her foes in King’s Landing.
By far, the best part of the episode was the last scene with Arya and Sandor Clegane, “The Hound”. I love seeing these two together. The Hound is one of the funniest and scariest characters on the show. The conversation between the two while they are watching one of Arya’s former captors was hilarious, and in the same scene we witness a brutal pub fight. Watching Arya and Clegane’s scenes sometimes makes me feel like a crazy person, laughing at a joke and then gasping in the next moment. Arya is not a child anymore. She is one of those good people doing horrible things to protect herself.
Also, Natalie Dormer (who plays Margaery Tyrell on the show) will be at Salt Lake Comic Con Fan X, so check back next week for our updates from her panel.