Note: Mild spoilers follow. Read at your own risk.
Sunday, April 14th at 8 p.m. CST HBO finally started the final season of the TV epic, Game of Thrones. To say that this was anticipated is an understatement. We had to wait a WHOLE YEAR for this to take place.
However, this was rather a tease. Not much happened in it. I mean, no one significant even died (which is Game of Thrones hallmark). Now, while this may seem to be counter-productive to the series, I want to say that it is actually brilliant for a few reasons. Here’s why:
- It functions as an event and character recap. Like I mentioned before, it has been more than a year since the last season concluded. The Game of Thrones land of Westeros is already complex enough as it is (7 different kings???), so the producers did a good job of bringing people together and filling us in on who is who for those of us who haven’t rewatched the seasons to prepare. Slowly, we got to see how they are going to react to one another—for example, the dynamic between Sansa, Arya, and Daenerys. Those three will be women to keep your eye on throughout the rest of the season. It introduced us once again to plot points and other dynamics of interest like the fact that Samwell Tarly meets the woman (Daenerys) who killed her brother and father. At the very end it shows Jaime Lannister remembering who Bran is (the boy who caught him and his sister having sex). It reintroduces us to the threat of the Night King and the walking dead without going overly into detail. Cersei and her Golden Company has finally made an appearance. Euron Greyjoy is explained and finally is perceived to have sexual relations with Cersei as his prize for bringing her back an army. It will be exciting to see how all of these dynamics play out as the season continues. There are many plots and character dynamics that need to come to a conclusion (whether that be satisfying in a good way or not).
- It sets up the rest of the season to be crazy. This season consists of 6 episodes. In just one episode Game of Thrones has set up a very volatile cast and events that should produce quite the interesting final season. By having this crucial first episode with introductions and refamiliarizing us of the cast, dynamics, and plot, I suspect that the other episodes to follow are going to be absolutely crazy.
- It builds hype. When I was watching the episode at the bar, there were at least fifty other people watching it with me. This was also being played at two other locations. My roommate who has never watched Game of Thrones in her life decided to start watching the last season. This is rather interesting to me. But, really, it’s genius. Like I mentioned in an earlier blog post, people choose places because of the atmosphere. The environment. She doesn’t really care about the show, but she is still watching it because others are watching it. She may not understand why everyone watches it right now, or the significance of the characters, but because of its reputation already, she will continue to come back every week in order to be part of the “in” crowd. Game of Thrones has been one of the most talked about TV shows for the past decade, so now that “Winter is finally here” it’s time to see how things play out. Because not much happened in this episode, although we know there must be lots of things that have to happen before the series reaches a conclusion, it means the next episodes are going to be crazy (like I mentioned in point #2)
In fact, this episode kind of functioned like a trailer. As we know trailers are all designed to build our interest in seeing the movie that it is promoting, and this is just a longer version of that. Now that we know the characters, now that we are familiar with the plot again, now that we get a sense of the world dynamics, we are ready to see the film.
Needless to say, the next six weeks are going to be epic. I finally have something to look forward to every weekend (well, Monday in my case, as China is in a different time zone). Anyone who is a Game of Thrones fan and has been upset with George R.R. Martin not releasing another book can rest assured that the series will finish one way or another (although how similar that finale is compared to Martin’s vision is yet to be seen).
I’m not going to go into more details on Game of Thrones, there are plenty of other blogs doing it right now, but I knew I had to at least give an initial commentary on why having a “teaser” first episode is so important and what it does to the audience. Are there any other benefits that I may have missed? Have you seen the episode? Are you following along with the series? Let me know in the comments below.