Last night, HBO began airing Game of Thrones, the much-anticipated series based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books. Missed an episode? Have no fear! Each week for the next thirteen weeks, I’ll be bringing you recaps of the show for your catching-up convenience. Enjoy!
HBO kindly informs us that the show is rated MA for Violence, Nudity, Adult Content, and Adult Language. Thanks, HBO; good to know you’ve got our best interests in mind.
The scene opens on a couple of blokes in black standing before a forbidding-looking iron gate. Meet the Wall, the thing in which the gate is embedded: Running around the northern perimeter of the country of Westros, the Wall guards the land from all the ghoulies, ghosties, and long-legged beasties that lurk outside of it. this far north, it never gets warm enough for the snow to melt, and subsequently, the Wall is built entirely of ice and snow. It’s guarded by the aforementioned blokes in black: The Night’s Watch. Here, we see our intrepid Watchmen ride out from the Wall to do some recon in the nearby forest. It’s cold, dark, and snowy, so naturally, everyone’s got a very bad feeling about this…
Uh oh! Heads on pikes! Dismembered bodies! The snarky young guy in command seems to think the Wildlings– the wild tribe-like people who live in the woods– and therefore nothing to be afraid of. A nuisance, but nothing more. Too bad he doesn’t see the crazy blue-eyed monster lurking behind him. Oh, look– there goes Snarky Young Guy’s head. I guess someone’s getting a promotion. The rest of the recon party is similarly mauled, with the exception of one smallish young guy, who manages to escape. Welcome to Westros.
Meet the Starks: Lord Eddard Stark, known as Ned; his wife, Lady Catelyn; their sons Robb, Bran, and Rickon; their daughters, Sansa and Arya; and Jon Snow, Ned’s bastard son. The Starks rule Winterfell, Westros’ bastion in the north. Smallish Young Guy On The Run has been captured by Ned’s forces and brought in as a deserter. The penalty for breaking the oath of the Night’s Watch? Death. Smallish Young Guy knows what’s coming to him, but insist that he deserted for a very good reason: The reappearance of something called the White Walkers. Ned brings Bran and Jon with him to the execution– “Bran won’t be a boy forever,” he tells his disapproving wife– and beheads Smallish Young Guy. Ned asks Bran if he understands why he had to be the one to swing the sword; Bran suggests that it’s because of “the old ways,” but Ned sets him straight on the matter: The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. In other words, executioners are for cowards. When Bran asks what Smallish Young Guy meant about the White Walkers, Ned says not to worry, because they’ve been gone for thousands of years. Famous last words.
On their way back from the execution, Ned, Jon, Bran, and the rest of the execution team discover a dead elk with its innards torn out. Ned thinks it was mountain lions. Hint: It’s not mountain lions. However, they also find five direwolf puppies feeding on the elk’s innards. Awwww, how cute! As direwolves are dangerous creatures, Ned is all ready to put them to death when Jon stays his hand. His bastard son remarks that there are five pups, one for each of his legitimate children, and that they’re the sigil of House Stark. “You were meant to have them,” he says. Ned relents, telling Jon and Bran, “You will train them yourselves. You will feed them yourselves. And if they die, you will bury them yourselves.” Cheerful. Just as the posse is getting to ride off, however, they discover a sixth pup– the runt of the litter, with snowy white fur. Looks like Jon Snow is getting a wolf, too!