Game of Thrones - Review - Part I - ADULTS ONLY
Updated: Dec 7, 2019
This was probably the first time I was ever left unsure about how to feel about a specific form of entertainment.
There's entertainment that falls flat on its back and fails to entertain, and there's entertainment that outdoes itself and leaves its mark on history. But Game of Thrones? I honestly am bewildered by what I saw from it, and here I am, trying to collect my thoughts on the entirety of the show an align my instinctive judgements accordingly.
But let's start at the beginning.
Based off of George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy saga, A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones chronicled the lives of a select handful of people from the Middle-ages inspired land of Westeros, as they pushed their ways through hardships, adversities, and obstacles to find common ground amongst the civilians of Westeros, and even amongst the houses of Westeros, while the others did everything they could've in their power to take hold of the most prized title in Westeros: the Iron Throne. Made out of the swords of the deceased soldiers who have been killed off by the Mad King, Aegon Targaryan, anyone who sat in it would've been granted power and rulership over all the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. And so, the select handful of people who knew about it tried to brave their ways through unspeakable and unimaginable obstacles in pursuit of the responsibilities that came with the Iron Throne.
Meanwhile, other people in Westeros, especially those who were volunteering in The Wall, located in the far north, became suspicious and fearful of the looming dangers that were quietly crawling back into Westeros: a horde of arctic zombies called the White-Walkers, and their ruler, the Night King. Because these creatures ventured out into Westeros to take control of the world through icy massacres, this had the civilians who were seeking the Iron Throne thinking twice about their pursuits, since they would have to put them aside if they were to ensure the safety of Westeros and prevent a potential frosty apocalypse.
Originally, when my father started to watch the show, he was about two episodes in before he invited me to join up with him to watch the rest of the show with him. I was hesitant at first, the only reason being that I haven’t read any of the original books the show was based off of. But soon, I decided to just join him on the ride and see what the show had to offer.
Some of the biggest strengths of the show is just how huge it is. Not only does it hop from one character to another as their day-to-day lives in Westerns were being chronicled, but as we invest our attention onto them, we see more and more of Westeros itself as seen through the eyes of the characters. The many tribes, the many civilizations, the many communities that existed within this world. In fact, this world was so huge, that the original book series was meant to be seven doorstopper books long...at least, it will eventually. Only five books have been published as of this writing, and yet, so many people were enthusiastic about the massive world and the characters the series has given us. And...yes, I'm kind of on the same boat, too.
I'm gonna start with the characters, because Lord, I could talk about them forever! Another one of the biggest strengths the series had was how much time it dedicated to fleshing them out and making them feel like real, flesh-and-blood people, and it was only intensified by the fact that there are so many of these characters to choose from. So, here are brief descriptions of some of the most popular ones:
Initially frowned down upon for longing to be a fierce knight with swordsmanship skills instead of a princess, she was a feisty, strong-in-willpower young lady who looked in the face of adversity and knew just how to combat against it head-on every chance she got.
The eldest sister in the Stark family, she initially wanted to be a princess, but after going through plenty of unfortunate circumstances and being subject to harassment and usage by other people, including Lord 'Littlefinger' Baelish, she continually developed a will of iron, just like Arya, and did the best she could to survive in the many predicaments into which she was thrust, while, in the process, developing a more careful sense of trust in light of it. If you're looking for a good textbook example of how to take a stereotype and inject fresh personality into it, this character is a pretty freaking good place to start.
The youngest brother amongst the Lannister family, he dealt with constant prejudice from his peers for him being a dwarf. Because of that, and after developing a sense of courtesy unto those who were just as mistreated as he was, as well as a clever and cunning sense of strategy, he plowed through every challenge thrown in his way with determination and the instinctive desire to not let his enemies underestimate him based on his size. Unsurprisingly, he became a hallmark character in the eyes of fans, and to me, for those reasons.
Adopted into the Stark family, he was at first unsure of where he fitted in life, mostly because he was a bastard son. But after venturing up North to volunteer in servitude at the Wall, he would have become more aware of the greater dangers lying ahead and found himself at odds over whom to put his trust on, especially after meeting the Wildlings.
The elder sister in the Lannister family, she always felt neglected by her relatives, just like Tyrion, whom she despised with all her heart for killing their mother when she gave birth to him. She was also haunted by a prophecy given to her by a witch, who said that she would have been killed by her future lover. As a result, this gave her a great hunger for power, especially the power that came with sitting in the Iron Throne. In secret, she also had an incestuous relationship with...
Famously known as the Kingslayer, as in, he murdered the Mad King himself, he was a handsome man torn between who to trust and who to place his faith in. After his family's quarrels with the Starks led to him losing his hand, he underwent a personal odyssey, especially with Brienne of Tarth, as he searched deeper and deeper into himself to find out who he was and what cause he should have been fighting for.
Brienne of Tarth
A very unusual kind of soldier, that being that she was a lady with lots of skill in knighthood and swordplay, she was tasked by the Stark mother, Catelyn, to search for Arya and Sansa after they've separated. Only, during this venture, she crossed paths with Jaime, and from there on, she tried to expose the best out of Jaime and out of herself in the process.
A loyal companion to Jon Snow, up at the Wall, what he lacked in body image, he made up for with smarts and a strong sense of loyalty. His smarts would eventually have been put to the test after he crossed paths with the dreaded White Walkers, a herd of arctic zombies who seeked out world domination. This aesthetic made him quite an easy guy to like and to root for.
The second youngest of the Stark children, he was immobilized after being pushed out of a window by Jaime after he spotted him and Cersei making out. But, after meeting the Three-Eyed raven, he seemed to learn more about his powers and to see if he could have used them for the greater good. But in doing so, he would eventually have discovered the true origins of the wars going on and of the White Walkers themselves.
Also adopted into the Stark family, just like Jon Snow, he felt like an outcast, because he was a Greyjoy in a Stark family, and he came from an abusive background (I think). This ultimately let to Theon committing some unforgivable crimes in pursuit of Winterfell and becoming intertwined with Ramsay Bolton, whose nasty treatment of him caused him to reexamine his values and know whose side to stand by when the situation called for it.
Sandor, AKA the Hound.
Formerly one of the guards for the Lannister family, the left side of his face got burned after his brother, the Mountain, pushed him in a scuffle in the fire. Thus, Sandor had a lust for vengeance against his brother for it. His moralities would eventually be put to the test after being paired with Arya Stark, who also had vengeance in her heart at the time.
And finally, Daenerys Targaryan.
The latest in the line of Targaryans, she reflected on the reputation of her ancestor, Aegon Targaryan, with disgust, and, after being involved with a tribe called the Dothraki, and most of all, becoming the mother of three dragons, who hatched under her care after their species went extinct hundreds of years ago, Daenerys ventured out into the world to use her forces for good, starting with freeing slaves and the abused from further discrimination, while also setting her eyes on the Iron Throne.
Every single time you invested in these characters, you are given a good idea of the personal struggles each of them were going through and from the beginning of the series to the very end, you also watch them grow in front of your eyes. I love that.
The acting is every bit as good as you could imagine. The performances each actor gave their characters not only added layers to them every step of the way, but they also guaranteed their acting finesse was just the beginning of a promising acting future laid out for them. Kit Harrington as Jon Snow, Sophie Turner as Sansa, Maisie Williams as Arya, Lena Heady as Cersei, and especially Emilia Clark as Daenerys and Peter Dinklage as Tyrion, to name a few, were acting powerhouses in their own right, and made the characters as iconic as they have become now.
The visual effects were just as stunning, too. Being that Game of Thrones is a high-scale fantasy series, there's clearly gonna be some make-believe aspects that will glide alongside the otherwise realistic world of Westeros. But sheesh, the end result was so pitch perfect that you could've sworn that what they brought to life in the show may actually have existed before. The White Walkers as well as their leader, the Night King, were presented with an uneasy, sickening appearance that highlighted their dangerous natures, and of course, they looked like another species of human beings that existed before. And let's not forget the dragons, which I believe were probably the best looking and most realistic looking that I have ever seen. Their presence in the show added a sense of epicness to the show, and they were given enough focus from time to time to be perceived as creatures with sensibilities, and that in and of itself, is a home run.
Speaking of epicness, there battles were just breathtaking. Much like the dragons, they added size and weight to the fantastical world of Westeros, and took chances in emphasizing the personal stakes that each of these battles carried for those fighting in them. I think the highlights include the Blackwater fight at the end of Season 2, the Wildling fights at the end of Season 4, the Battle of the Bastards at the end of Season 6, and...I'll admit, even the battles in Season 8. Their sheer spectacle alone, even by television standards, are just sights to behold.
And you know what else is a sight to behold? The world building. For a fantastical world such as Westeros, the series treated us to a rich variety of different organizations and cities present in Westeros, and they added to the complexity of the series, among others. King's Landing, Winterfell, the Wall, The Hall of a Thousand Faces, Dorne, etc. They all gave off so many details to the vastness and history of Westeros, just like the vastness and histories were being developed off of them, and as we, the viewers, explored them further, it reached a point where the whole world of Westeros seemed bigger than the series itself.
And finally, one of the series' greatest accomplishments is its overall commitment to storytelling. Because there are so many characters in the show, and because the world of Westeros was just so huge, it would've taken a lot of time and focus to display focus on the many important factors in the series that did matter. And clearly, as you can tell by what I'm reflecting on here about the show, it nailed it out of the ballpark, as did, I can tell, George RR Martin in writing the original books.
So, all in all, the series hit too many right notes for us to deny its place in history or its reputation, hasn't it? The characters, the acting, the visual effects, the world-building the epic battles, the vast storytelling...nothing could possibly go wrong for this show, right?
Join me for Part 2...