TV Review: ‘Game of Thrones: Winter is Coming, The Kingsroad’

Game of Thrones
Episode 1 (Winter is Coming) & 2 (The Kingsroad)
Directed by: Timothy Van Patten
Written by: David Beinoff and D.B. Weiss adapted from George R.R. Martin
Starring: Mark Addy, Alfie Allen, Sean Bean, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Fairley, Aidan Gillen, Jack Gleeson, Iain Glen, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Issac Hempstead-Wright, Harry Lloyd, Richard Madden, Rory McCann, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams

I’ve got a confession to make.

I haven’t read a single book in George R.R. Martin‘s A Song of Fire and Ice series.

Unlike last year’s big literature-to-television adaptation, Walking Dead (of which I’ve read every issue), I wanted to go into Game of Thrones fresh, without any prior knowledge or expectations of the series. I wanted to see how a 694-page book would translate over to HBO. I’ve seen the big-screen adaptations of fan-favorite fantasy novels like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, but I was interested in seeing how showrunners David Deinoff and D.B. Weiss would handle Martin’s material on a week-to-week basis without confusing the hell out of everyone.

So far, they’ve done an outstanding job.

From the chilling introduction of the White Walkers, to the surprise cliffhanger endings, Game of Thrones has proved to be more than engaging. When I sat down to watch the first episode, “Winter is Coming,” I was worried about being able to keep track of the various families, alliances, and kingdoms, but Weiss and Deinoff did a great job of introducing not only these characters, but the vast and beautiful world they inhabit.

Speaking of the characters, I love how nothing with these people is black and white. Everyone is shades of gray, whether it’s Ned’s unfaithfulness that brought Jon Snow into the Stark household; Cersei and Jamie’s love affair; or Viserys’ horrible treatment of Daenerys, everyone has something that they want. And that want seems to be the throne and the power it holds. But more importantly, I already care about each one of these characters. Even early on, each has such a dynamic and striking personality that they each pop off the screen in an incredibly vibrant way.

There’s a certain amount of character and world building that has to occur in these first two episodes, but none of this exposition feels forced. The pacing proceeds in a manner that never overwhelmed me, which was one of my major concerns going into the show. Overall, I think these first two episodes do a solid job of introducing the world and how our characters will play their selective roles within it. I’m looking forward to getting into the real meat of the series now that most of the set-up has already been accomplished.

Winter is coming and I’m eagerly anticipating its arrival.

Quick Thoughts
– Do I plan on reading the books? At some point. My goal is to read the books once the corresponding stories or season has ended. If Season One covers all of the first book, I’ll sit down and read that book once it’s over.
– How brilliant is Maisie Williams as the young Arya Stark? She has a lot to work with, especially in “The Kingsroad,” but she shows she’s more than capable of hanging with the big league actors.
– I have a feeling I’m not alone here, but Tyrion is a fascinating character. I can’t wait to learn more about him.
– I literally let out a gasp at the end of the first episode, for not only the reveal of Jamie and Cersei’s extracurricular activities, but the resulting consequences that Bran faced because of it.
– It’s my understanding that the scene in “The Kingsroad” between Cersei and Lady Stark doesn’t actually occur in the book. I hope this means that while the core of the story won’t change, we’ll get little scenes here and there that seek to bring characterization (or in Cersei’s case, humility) to the established cast.
– Interesting how the opening credits seem to change up depending on where the main action is going to take place on that’s week episode.
– Having Jon Snow go off to the Wall doesn’t bode well for his future, me thinks.
– I want a pet direwolf.
– The location scouts and set designers need raises, ASAP. The look, feel and design of this show is fantastic.

I wanted to give just a general overview on what I thought of the series thus far. Once next week rolls around, I’ll start going into more specifics of the episodes. Until that point, what do you think of Game of Thrones so far?

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  1. I’m really enjoying this show. They’ve done a great job. George RR Martin went to the set and he said it was like walking into one of his dreams. That has to be a great compliment.

    Comment by Will — April 27, 2011 @ 8:07 pm

  2. Having read the books… i think they’ve hit the nail on the head… if you think you’ve seen some shocks so far… you ain’t seen nothing yet. I got goosebumps several times in Episode 2… I simply cannot wait to see the twists and turns in action… and even better… the people who haven’t read the book’s reactions… :)

    Comment by Pete — April 27, 2011 @ 6:08 pm

  3. It’s a fair representation of the series. I am not disappointed at all. That said, I fear so much that helps define the sub-plots will be lost in the adaption. But this was to be expected. I was glad to hear that HBO signed on for a second season already, that gives me hope. I impatiently await the fourth episode…

    Comment by Waerloga69 — May 5, 2011 @ 11:37 pm

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