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Game of Thrones: Hell of a First Season, Eh?

Okay, I sort of lied about not being able to do this recap-a-view-'nalysis while on vacation. But honestly, my mom told me I HAD to do it. So I did it... while on vacation. That means no benefit of a DVR to pick apart scenes again or get exact quotes, but I did my best. Here we go!

Spoilers for the show (but not the books) are comin' right up. Seriously, if you haven't already seen the Season 1 finale, get out now or I will hunt you down myself.

I'm guessing Game of Thrones has become a big part of people's lives now, because Season 1 was outstanding. Out! Stand! Ing! And I bet a lot of you who haven't read the books but saw last night's promo for Season 2—which read "Spring 2012"—immediately downloaded A Clash of Kings(the second book in the Song of Ice and Fire series) to your Kindle or broke into your local Barnes & Noble and ripped it from the shelves, drunk with lust and frothing at the mouth like a meth addict at a low point. I don't blame you.

Whether you decide to spend the off-season reading the books or not is entirely your call (my personal recommendation: do it). What the finale says about this incredible story is that it's just beginning, and unlike with most TV finales, you can start the next season right now, if you like. I'm very interested to hear what those of you who haven't read the books but have come to adore the show are going to do.

Though "Fire and Blood" was the finale, I still consider last week's "Baelor" to be the apex of the series so far. The beheading of Ned Stark will forever stick out as one of the most shocking moments in television, and "Fire and Blood" largely dealt with the aftermath of Ned's murder while setting the stage for Season 2 (which is consistent with my belief that, when it comes to great shows, the penultimate episode of the season is always the best episode of the season). But...

Dragons.

It was the scene that fans of the books have been waiting for—and it was awesome. Until Dany's trio of little monsters hatched, the Game of Thrones been largely devoid of magic, mystical creatures, and other stuff associated with the genre—and I'm glad it was. Seriously, I'm not really into all that and I didn't think Game of Thrones needed it. But I'll be damned if I didn't leap out of my chair when I saw Dany rise slowly out of the ashes with one dragon on her shoulder and two more covering her hoo-ha. Holy crap. That scene was absolutely gorgeous, and the dragons looked so good that for the first time in television history, horny teenagers weren't focused on the bare nipples on display.

Dany may have lost almost all of her Khalasar, save for a few loyal followers who remained behind, but she's never been more powerful. Who needs a host of barbarians when you have a dragon? And when you have three dragons, well, you can do just about anything you want. It blows my mind that even though Dany hasn't stepped foot in Westeros, we are already so incredibly aware of her threat to the Seven Kingdoms. Her storyline has barely intersected with the rest of the show, yet it doesn't feel like she isn't connected because her character development throughout Season 1 has been superb. Now that the season's over, I encourage you to revisit Episode 1, when we first met her, and look at her eyes—the eyes of a scared child—and compare them to the raw power that emanates from her in the finale's last scene. And she isn't even old enough to get a driver's license. Man, I love Dany (and Emilia Clarke, who's been wonderful all season long).

For everyone else, however, power has been shattered to pieces and spread out across the kingdoms. Stannis, Robert's oldest brother, is making a claim for the Iron Throne. Renly, for some reason, thinks he should be king. Now Robb Stark has suddenly been named another king. But making the calls in King's Landing is Joffrey, the most despised person on television right now. NOW do you understand why Book 2 is entitled A Clash of Kings? The dragons may have stolen the show, but the heart of the series' conflict is still the war among the great houses and the fight to sit on the Iron Throne, and that fight just became a Battle Royale. There will be no shortage of story for Season 2.

Just a few notes on the other characters, because I think many of their Season 1 stories actually wrapped up last week, and most of their involvement in the finale had to do with them taking the first steps in their journeys for Season 2:

... Jon Snow left to join Robb, but then returned because his Brothers in Black re-recited their oath. Come on, Jon, you can't be changing your mind every time someone reminds you of your past promises.

... Arya's got a new haircut (which I hate) and is off to The Wall with some new friends (Yoren, Gendry) and some new enemies (Porky and Blondie Smallteeth).

... Varys and Littlefinger had another GREAT conversation—will someone please give these two their own show? Maybe put them in an apartment together in Manhattan?

... Despite being taken prisoner and bloodied with rocks, I still really want to be Jaime Lannister. He's so f***ing cool.

... Cat continues to offer up some great reaction faces, like she did when Robb was named King of the North, and she had one of those "Oh boy, here we go again" looks on her mug.

... Ros, is there anyone in Westeros you won't spread your legs for? And if not, when is it my turn?

... Bran and his lil' bro Rickon are having crazy premonitions and gave us some pretty sweet history lessons in the crypts. Also: Rickon needs to train Shaggydog.

... Drogo died. Sad face.

... Cersei is having trouble containing Joffrey and taking the incest thing to the next level.

... Tyrion has been named Hand of the King in his father's place and is getting a little too attached to his new whore.

... And finally, Sansa may be the most screwed of them all, because she's still betrothed to the worst person in the world.

That may sound like a whole lot to keep track of, but somehow—and I'm still trying to figure out exactly how—Game of Thrones has managed to take this complex web of stories and make it easily digestible. Just step back and consider of how many things are going on, how many characters you've met, how everything is interconnected, and how far you've come to understand this world that is now impossible to remove from your imagination. It's a universe so rich and deep, with even its smallest parts described in the most specific detail, yet it's just getting started. And the real mind-blower is that it all came out of just one person's brain. Spring 2012 can't come soon enough!

Additional notes from the ravens:

... "They have your sisters. We have to get the girls back. And then we will kill them all." You go, Catelyn!

... I loved that in an episode that was largely gritty and serious, we still got to see Grand Maester Pycelle do some Jazzercise after bedding a whore.

... True Blood did itself no favors by showing that 8-minute preview after Game of Thrones' incredible final scene. What WAS that?

... Who do YOU think should be king of Westeros now? The correct answer can only be Stannis, right?


Follow Ser Tim Surette of House TV.com on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Honestly, I was getting rather bored with Dany. She has been too whiney lately. I thought the scene was ending perfectly with... well, now I forgot what was the funeral because there were damn dragons on tv. Great episode, can't wait for Season 2 to start... now!
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@trudelec

I just bought the first book and am almost done with it. So much better than the tv show! I can't wait to get the second book so I can start season 2.
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Fantastic finale, but still so saddening to see Khal Drogo go, he was one of my favorite characters in the show, especially after his epic "speech" in the hut about going across the ocean and tearing down their stone houses, driving his enemies before him, and hearing the lamentation of their women. So sad =(
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Jaimie\'s not cool! He's banging his sister! And I totally think Rob should be king
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This was an amazing finale. Did anyone else get the feeling that Arya and 'smith-man'/'bastard-son-of-Robert' are gonna be an item once she's older?
That and I'm kinda interested in why Pycelle is acting all feeble... I mean I get how that would lower peoples defenses and suspiscions about him, but what else..?
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well awesome wont give game of thrones its value game of thrones is indescribable moth***ering all time best show.
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The Iron Throne is the seat of the Dragon! Danerys Targaryen must rule.
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Best
TV Show
EVER!!!
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Great first season..... but where are Hoster & Edmure Tully???
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Amazing finale, and what an amazing first season. This is usually not my cup of tea, but all the characters and the stories are hard to resist. I havn't read any of the books, and think I'm gonna read the first one now, and then consider reading the next one after that. I don't know if I want the books to be better (which they probably are) because I love this show so much!
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Amazing ending to a truly engrossing series!
I plan to read the books this summer...starting next week.
Do we really have to wait such a long time for the next season while being inundated with the usual dreck that TV offers? Bummer.
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@PhilosopherBat... obvious trolling. I can't imagine someone hearing about this series, watching it and not getting exactly if not more (in a positive way) than they had expected.
This is better than BSG in my opinion which to me was the best thing on TV thusfar.
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philosopher Bat this is an awseome and great series ur a idiot
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"That scene was absolutely gorgeous, and the dragons looked so good that for the first time in television history, horny teenagers weren't focused on the bare nipples on display. " This made me laugh out loud!

Tim I love your writing, I have read every article of Game of Thrones you posted.
Thank you
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Wouldn't know since that arch spoiler, Murdoch, put it on Atlantic and denied it to me and tons of other fans. The spoilsport SOB. Waiting for it to come out on DVD.
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I plan on buying the books ASAP.
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fantastic ,great and awesome season finale
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... So we all agree, right? Winner of Best Drama at the next Emmys or this already joke-of-an-award show lose even more credibility, correct?
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I've already started reading the books 3 episodes ago ... spring 2012 is to far away. I'd recommend reading the books so you can get some more details about the history of Westeros and what drives this noble houses i battle.
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Why are commentators asking the community to read the books while they are appreciating the TV series?!? You're supposed to discuss the television program right? I thought this was TV.com not Tim's book club.
It's not like there aren't other great books to read, I recommend the Dark Tower series by Steven King, oh wait a minute that's slated to be made into a feature film... bitten by my own snake.
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I love this show.
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After seeing the writer's handling of this series, I'd LOVE for them & HBO take on Anne McCaffrey's Dragons!! Or better still, Frank Frazetta's Death Dealer!!
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I couldn't care less about the king of the iron throne. THE KING IN THE NORTH!!!!!!
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I think the very best thing about this show are the performances! And I know everyone\'s said that already, but I think dispate certain corny-ness that every fantasy thingy has (ok, in GoT the corny-ness is very, very slight... but it\'s still there), the actors, and the way their characters are written are great! I mean, I read the book, and I hated half the characters a lot more than I do in the show, like Cercei (you think she\'s a **** try reading the books!) and Theon! And I actually care a lot for others that were completely indifferent to me. To BIG examples: Dany and Rob. I mean, Dany IS a major character, but I never really cared much for her... but in the series she\'s awesome!! And Rob! OMG, he\'s even more awesome!! He\'s not such a big character in the books (he\'s mostly seen from Bran and Catelyn\'s perspective), but in the series I just want more scenes with him in them!! Of course, Littlefinger and Varys\' conversations are great as well, and the kids do a great job (but again, I always liked Arya and Bran). Jaime is also great, and at first sight much less shallow than his literary version. The only one that\'s kind of disappointing is Jon... And he has a hell of a part to play, but the actor just doesn\'t get to me that much (and Jon did). So all in all, I think the series and the books each stand on their own, because they have completely different strengths (of course the books are more detailed and you get more involve because you spend more time reading them than watching the series!). Anyway, this was a really long way to say I loved this show! And you reviews, Tim!! I\'m glad you took a little break from your break to write for us :)
More+
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**potential spoilers, but I'm not mentioning specific events**

Addressing the comments of the size of the books and presumed length of each season--- at the end of this episode we actually got a little teeny bit of the second book, as far as showing the direction of the various journies of the characters. Book 2 is about 100 pages longer than book 1... but honestly there\'s not a lot that actually happens in book 2 until a very memorable scene about halfway through, after which Martin seemed to realize his story bloat was killing the pacing and the rest of the book moves along well. Book 3 has its share of bloat as well, but it earns its length more than book 2 since a LOT of stuff happens including more \'oh **** moments. Personally I\'d like to see the content of book 2 wrapped up in 7-8 episodes and immediately jump into book 3 content. The would keep the pacing from dragging and would give the book 3 events more time to breathe.
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I really liked the dragons hatching scene. But I still focused very much on Dany's nipples. And I have left my teenage years behind a long time ago. I think we have to agree that some people just prioritize differently.
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Awesome... it just get's boring after the tenth time. More and more political fights, it's like watching the news.
Not a fan of the realism in the books myself. Adventure, dragons and epic battles is what I crave for. Very few moments of that kind in the next three books.

And I have the bad feeling that Martin will ruin Jon's character in the next book and I'm out...
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QueenBee, Drogo also dies on the book.
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GREAT SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BUT DID YOU HAVE TO KILL OFF DROGO!!!!!!!!!!!
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I almost stopped watching the show when Ned Stark died. Glad I didn't, it's the greatest show ever!!! Emmys for everyone!!!! (And Robb will rule the planet, until the dragons are babies...)
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I suggest to read the books... this series was the most faithful adaptation from a book I've ever seen, I usually hate adaptations (Legend of the Seeker... yuk, so awful!!!)... this one rocked!
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i'm torn between reading and not reading the books. cause if i did, i'd be comparing them when i rewatch season 1 and when season 2 finally comes out. though it might take too long to wait for the series to finish before starting on the books.. on the other hand, by that time, there might be more stocks of the books since most people would have already bought them. haha!
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I'm not going to read the books...probably! At the moment it's really hard to resist, my first thought after watching the season finale was to log straight on to Amazon. But if I do that I doubt I will feel the same about the series (I pretty much hate every book adaption I have ever seen), I'm sure I won't feel quite so bad after a couple of months, I'm just going to have to use my willpower.
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Bang on... you missed the fact that they guy that was fiddling Cersei Lanister is her COUSIN (i've not read the books but i'm starting tonight). I mean is there anyone she's slept with outside her own flesh and blood?
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I'm definatly reading the book. I admit, at th beginning i cheated a bit by Wikipedia it. It's pretty accurate i have to say. I'm normally not squirmish when seeing a decapitated head, but at the scene when Joffrey drag Sansa to look at ~tears~ Ned's head i covered my eyes and cried. I know - I'm such a p*ssy.Even though i knew he's going to get his head chopped off i just..couldn't...sigh...Dany..yeah...the 'Rise To The Ashes With 3 Dragons' was e-pic! Beautiful scene. I'm campaigning for her to be the rightful ruler of 7 Kingdoms! Yay DANY!!!
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Awesome finale!!! Can't wait for season 2!!!!! I'm still not sure if I should read the books now or wait 'til Spring for season 2... I'll probably just read A Game of Thrones and then watch the next season before reading the second book! I really enjoyed watching this first season without knowing anything from the books, so I guess I'll do the same with season 2...
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Yeah I love Varis and littlefinger (even though he betrayed Ned >.>.) "Do you lie awake at night fearing my gash?"
Personally, I'm gonna read "A game of thrones" but not "A Clash of Kings." I want to go into the new season not having been spoiled at all. I'm not sure who Stannis is, but I'd like Robb to be king.
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I'm just gonna come out and say it...
I was a bit disappointed with the season finale. I hope it's not some of my disappointment from The Killing bleeding over, but I really expected something big. I think the final shot was cool, but he episode lacked the intensity that I felt the previous two episodes were building up. Maybe they just set the standard too high?
Of course, I understand it's based on a book, so the producers couldn't just "make up" a more exciting ending, but I was expecting to some kind of actual combat between Robb and Goffrey's forces - an epic, bloody battle. None of the main characters would even need to be there. We just needed to see some blood shed for what happened to Ned.
All in all, it's a fantastic show, full of surprises, and I can't wait to see what happens next.

In the meantime I've started watching the Sharpe films to tide me over. At least we know Sean Bean will stick around in that series!
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kudos KyYellowDog! Thanks for for the advice. What a dilemma. I need to get a spot on the crew, maybe make the coffee's on the sets or something. At this point I am willing to do it for free, anything to shorten the timespan!
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SVALIAS - LOL! Whatever you decide, do NOT try reading just a few page and stopping. You. Will. Fail. :-)
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Best. Ending. Ever!!!!! Cannot wait for the next season. I'm holding out on the books until I finish watching the show, just in case I'm one of (what seems to be) a few who will feel disappointed in the show after reading the books. Or maybe I'm going to read the books now...just because this "waiting" may drive me mad. But then I might regret it. Or maybe I should read a few pages only, just to get a feel for the book and the way it is written. Or maybe....bloody hell!!!
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awesome first season, loved it and cant wait till next one, i will die by spring 2012 waiting
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I will read the books now, my boyfriend has been on at me to read them for years but this season of great tv has sealed it for me. As usual Tim I've enjoyed following your reviews throughout. I'll be back for your thoughts on True Blood trying to hold it's HBO crown. Not sure it can after GoT though?!
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Will magic be back in season 2 now, since dragons live again i wonder. I don't feel like waiting till next year to see what happens but i also don't feel like reading the books. That Martin guy is a genius and to think he wrote that years ago. And about who should be the king, i think Renly or Robb should hold the title because so far they seem the most honorable.
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To all those who want to start reading the books after the first season. If you start with book 2, you'll be confused. The show, while great, has left much of the back story and the mythology and many minor characters out, but there will be references to them in book 2. You really should start reading from the beginning and then continue with book 2.
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Lyanna Stark of course.
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HERE BE SPOILERS
Jon Snow, or should I say, Jon Targaryen, son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Snow. This idea stuck in my head after a few hints from Martin and I will be sorely disappointed if proves otherwise. Also, I am half-expecting Martin to kill Jon as soon as it's revealed, just for the sake of his wicked fun in killing all my favourite characters.
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The legitimate heir is Stannis but I think the only person suitable to be king lost his head in episode 9. So until we find some new characters and see how they act once they have power I can't decide.
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Nice ending by showing the dragons at the end of the 1st season. This would significantly indicate that they will be fantasy elements in the next season.Still reading Book 1 though. Should I continue to read to the point after season ending 1 or should I wait for season 2? Not sure if i am patient enough. Who should be king you say? Maybe there should be a Queen of Westeros..
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epic series.......thats all i can say......the dragon scene was WOW
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