Game of Thrones Season Premiere Review: The Hand of The King

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On the season premiere premiere of Game of Thrones, we saw the Starks and their home of Winterfell invaded by an old friend and the King looking for a new Hand. We also met the Lannisters, who lack an understanding of moral fortitude, even amongst themselves.

We were introduced to the siblings Viserys and Darnerys, as the former plotted to take over the throne, stolen from his father 17 years earlier. There were a multitude of characters, houses and lands thrown at us in the first hour, which might have made it confusing to follow.

But thank you, HBO, for providing for us a viewers guide that can help make sense of all we encountered.

Game of Thrones is perfectly cast and carries a high production value. Each episode is like watching a movie, full of color, light and a deluge of scenes to stimulate the senses. So much of what is conveyed is done with a gesture or a look. To remove your eyes from the screen for one second could leave you in the dark for the next 15 minutes as you try to catch what was said without words.

"Winter is Coming" opened with men from the Night's Watch on the Wall as they encountered the mystical Wildlings. Although the Wall is an integral position acting as protection from the land of Westeros, it has also become somewhat of a joke.

It has become the place where those who don't fit in the world go to protect those inside the wall from what is outside. Time has melted the fears of those not familiar with what lies beyond the wall like and the possibilities have become more akin to fairy tales than reality. When they say Winter is Coming, it holds connotations for what lies behind the wall. Have the people of Westeros literally let their guard down?

The oath of the wall is sacred, and the punishment of breaking it is death. Our Lord Stark is responsible for the Wall and for what happens to those who break the oath they have taken. His children learned a lesson about that responsibility when Eddard took the life of a deserter. To Eddard Stark, punishment you inflict, you must be willing to carry out yourself. Such is the integrity of the Starks.

The Stark moral code is in complete juxtaposition to the offer he received from King Robert to be the next Hand of King. The title itself requires that the Hand carry out the King's wishes, the direct opposite of how Ned has chosen to live his life and teach his children.

I fear this journey as the Hand of the King will require more of Ned than he is ready to give. While the King is his lifelong friend, there is no love lost between the Starks and the Lannisters, and it's unfortunate that the Lannisters are more present at the side of the King that any of his own family.

The Lannisters were a pretty family, but short on distinction. It was noticeable on young Prince Joffrey, who never spoke a word, but held a look on his face that had me seething with dislike. Sansa was caught up in the idea of a handsome lad that will enable her to one day be queen. I dare say she doesn't even know what that means at the age of 13. Cersei, the Queen, can give the impression of a kind, high bred noblewoman, but we learned her secret, one that threatens the entire dynasty.

The Targaryen siblings are somewhat frightening. Viserys seemed a little off in the head and it doesn't seem like his future will be what he believes, even though he has sold his sister to the Dothraki in the hopes of regaining the crown. The Gods help them all if that 'man' ever makes it to the Throne.

Daenerys seemed to be everything her brother is not, loving, kind and regal. To walk into a marriage with a native people such as the Dothraki must have been (as her tears verified) terribly daunting. Something tells me she will remain strong. Viserys may say she slouches, but to me her head is held high.

In one episode, the ways of the Starks and Lannisters were forged and we learned a lot about who we can and cannot trust in the two main houses.

In the end, the episode offered scarcely more than the 15 minute preview HBO showed last weekend, practically teasing all that is to come with the mere hint of what will be. As each character graces the screen, we are viewing the world through their eyes, giving us many different perspectives to learn about Westeros, The Seven Kingdoms and the free city of Pentos.

Did they hook you with this method of storytelling? What characters stood out for you and leave you yearning for more? Discuss below!


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (135 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


I know, I know, exactly FOUR years later! Potentially binge-watching Season 1 to re-familiarize a friend with Season 5. Even now, it's breathtaking. Amazing how young the characters looked just four years ago, particularly Tyrion...


When I watched this show, all I could think is that I cannot wait to see the next episodes. Game of Thrones is one of my top favorite shows now. I have and work at DISH Network and if are interested in this show too, I recommend checking out extra behind the scenes content. Plus, you can also check out other shows that may catch your interest.


I have been anticipating this series for ages (probably since the last Winter) and boring my family to tears in the process. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it met/exceeded my expectations of what whether they could capture the magic of the books. I had to watch it twice, once with my finger on the "pause" button so I could stop and answer all my family's questions about who was who and why they did what they did etc. And then an second time uninterrupted. My only issue? The sex/nudity. I know that this is mostly faithful to the book. But while my 13 year old son had no problem with reading the book he found the screen transcription too graphic.


Good Episode,I'm Hooked.


Mathew Sewel: I was going to post a comment but you nailed it all so well and with such passion that adding anything to it would be a shame. For those new to the series if you think it's good now believe us when we say things have only just started warming up. The series is a literary juggernaut and just keeps rolling harder and faster.


Sure, he may be plotting to take over the "thrown", but what of the secret of the high "bread" queen in this Game of Homonyms? (Response from the writer: Did ya ever just have one of those days?? I did. Thanks for point them out - Carissa)


This was in a word AMAZING. I cannot believe that I have to wait a whole week for the next episode!


I fell in love with the books before finding out that HBO was going to bring it to life and I couldn't have been more impressed. I completely agree with Kangaroo, those 3 are my fave characters too and are all perfectly cast. Arya steals every scene!


Hi mathew, I have read through book two but am trying to write without giving too much away. Very difficult! My favorite characters are matching up with you guys. How a writer can make so many favorites is a mystery. Next week the real fun begins. Hope you will keep reading along!


I was 14 when A Game of Thrones, the book, came out. My father bought it for me while I was in the waiting room of the hospital my grandfather was staying in. It has been a momentous part of my life, for half of my life now. To say that my expectations for this series were high is an understatement the likes of which the English language cannot properly encapsulate. It's like trying to describe the sun to a blind man. But not only were my expectations met, they were exceeded, destroyed, and left bloody on the floor. I am enthralled by the world they have created in this show. It is so...perfect. It cuts through many of the intrigues and sidestories and blasts straight at the heart of the books. The casting is brilliant. My favorite characters, like Kangaroo's, are Arya, Jon, Tyrion, as well as Eddard and Daenarys. All of them are PERFECTLY cast. Not exactly as I imagine them, or have seen them, but they breath a life into the characters that I was unable to share with anyone before now. Trying to describe the books to friends and family is almost impossible, but showing them this first episode is like giving them a glimpse into this world that has existed in my mind for half my lifetime. I am well hooked. I am ecstatic. I am assuming, by your review, you have not read the books. I'll leave only a tiny little hint for you of what is to come, something to somewhat confirm a little thing you wrote. Daenarys does keep her held high. Very high.

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Game of Thrones Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

Tyrion: Let me give you some advice bastard. Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.
Jon: What the hell do you know about being a bastard?
Tyrion: All dwarfs are bastards in their father's eyes.

Ned: You understand why I did it.
Bran: John said he was a deserter.
Ned: But you understand why I had to kill him.
Bran: Our way is the old way.
Ned: The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.