Episode 1: "Winter Is Coming"
The Big Plot Stuff:
• Literally so much is set up here (I mean, of course — it's the first ep!).
• We get our first glimpse of the White Walkers (it's wild that they telegraphed them RIGHT FROM THE START but it kind of got lost among everything else happening).
• The Starks are happy and together (sob!), except for the minor fact that Catelyn hates Jon and there's tension between Arya and Sansa. We get to know their values — "winter is coming" and "the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword". We learn Theon is their ward (although tbh it took me a few episodes to really gather that the first time around!).
• We discover that Jaime and Cersei Lannister are twins who bang and that they probably had something to do with the murder of Jon Arryn – and definitely had something to do with Bran's fall (seriously, rewatching it is startling considering Jaime became one of my fave characters. HE BOINKED HIS SISTER AND PUSHED A CHILD OUT THE WINDOW!!! What has this show done to me?!). Meanwhile, Tyrion Lannister is a smart-arse who loves drinking and sex.
• King Robert Baratheon names Ned, his best friend, Hand of the King, and Ned is reluctant AF about it but accepts anyway after learning the Lannisters might have killed Jon Arryn. Robert also wants Sansa and Joffrey to marry. Oh, and he really, really hates Targaryens and was in love with Lyanna Stark.
• Daenerys Targaryen is young, naive, and timid (such a contrast to who she is now!). All she wants is to go home. Her brother Viserys is domineering, slightly mad, a little bit incesty, and obsessed with reclaiming the Iron Throne. He marries her off to Khal Drogo in order to access his army, and Drogo rapes Dany on their wedding night (ugh, how did I go on to ship them the first time I watched this?!). Ser Jorah Mormont gets on Dany's good side by giving her books about the Seven Kingdoms, while Illyrio Mopatis gives her three "stone" dragon eggs.
Symbolism and foreshadowing:
• The White Walkers make their first "artwork" and create a symbol in the snow using the dismembered body parts of the slaughtered wildlings. This image will crop up again in later seasons.
• The Starks stumble upon a direwolf and a stag that have killed each other, and Theon mentions a mountain lion might have been involved. It's almost on the nose it's all so obvious, but I love it. Then they discover the direwolf pups, and Jon notices there's one for each of the Stark children, plus a spare for him. The connection the kids have with the direwolves, as we know, is almost magical, and kind of a living metaphor for their Stark-ness. It's also important to note that when they find the pups, Jon says, "I'm not a Stark," unwittingly foreshadowing the truth about his parentage, something that is reinforced in his discovery of Ghost — a pup who is related and part of the pack, but separate and different.
• When they arrive at Winterfell and Robert heads straight for the crypts, Cersei says, "Surely the dead can wait," which pretty much sums up her whole character these days. Meanwhile, Robert places a feather on Lyanna Stark's statue, which crops up again in Season 5, and which we also saw in the Season 8 teaser. The conversation Robert and Ned have in front of her statue highlights Robert's hatred of Targaryens and is an early indication as to why Ned would need to protect Jon (Aegon!) from him.
• Sansa says being queen is "the only thing I've ever wanted." HMMMMMM.
• Benjen tells Jon not to rush to join the Night's Watch because he doesn't know what it really means to never father children. This could indicate that he knew the truth — and the larger implications — of Jon's bloodline, but at this stage it seems unlikely.
• When Daenerys enters her bath, her maid protests it's too hot, but Dany is unfazed — foreshadowing her magical fire immunity. Also, when Dany receives the dragon eggs, she immediately picks up Rhaegal's — the dragon who is named for Jon's father, and who Jon may just ride in Season 8.
• The shot of Ned deciding whether to become Hand, with Cat (love) over one shoulder and Luwin (duty/honor) over another is not only beautiful, it sets up one of the central themes of the series.
• The lead ranger in the cold open who gets killed by the White Walkers is Waymar Royce, son of Yohn Royce (you know, the old guy who is the leader of the Knights of the Vale).
• How did Will escape the White Walkers? That seems...impossible. Did they let him go? Also, imagine if ANYONE had taken Will seriously way back. Wow. He warned them from the start.
• Cat and Ned talk in the godswood — not too signficant in itself, but it's a visual that has popped up again since the Starks returned to Winterfell, and will no doubt return in Season 8.
• I appreciated the scene of Robb, Theon, and Jon getting haircuts. For obvious reasons. Like, uh, it was important to the plot.
• King Robert's arrival at Winterfell will be echoed by Jon and Dany's in Season 8, so that scene is worth a rewatch if nothing else.
• I can never get over how much Jaime looks like Prince Charming from Shrek.
• The conversation Tyrion has with Jon about being a bastard, where he tells him to "wear it like armour," is so important for Jon's arc and the growth he has had from being a sulky little boy.
Episode 2: "The Kingsroad"
The Big Plot Stuff:
• Ned, Sansa, and Arya leave Winterfell to go to King's Landing, while Jon heads north to join the Night's Watch. Before they both leave, Jon gives Arya Needle and tells her to "stick 'em with the pointy end" (I can't wait until they reunite in Season 8!!!). Meanwhile, Bran is unconscious after Jaime PUSHED HIM OUT OF THAT WINDOW, and Cat refuses to leave his bedside — until an attempt on his life. She discovers a Lannister hair in the tower Bran fell from and is convinced they're behind it all. She decides to travel to King's Landing to inform Ned.
• On the journey south, Arya chases off Nymeria and Ned has to execute Lady in her place after Joffrey is "attacked" (really he was being his usual asshole self). Tensions grow between Arya and Sansa as a result, and Arya's friend Mycah is killed by the Hound.
• Dany is miserable in her life with the Dothraki. Khal Drogo rapes her again. Doreah then gives Dany a sex lesson. Dany learns that she enjoys being on top — especially because it gives her her very first taste of power (shame it had to be with her rapist).
• We learn Ned wanted to behead Jorah for selling poachers to slavers, which is why he exiled himself (read: ran away).
Symbolism and foreshadowing:
• Jorah reveals the Dothraki believe a pale ghost grass from the Shadowlands beyond Asshai will eventually cover everything and bring the end of the world. Which seems very ~winter is coming~ vibes.
• Jaime says he'd rather have a "good clean death" than be crippled, which of course is the exact opposite of what happens to him.
• Jaime questions Tyrion's loyalty to House Lannister, to which he replies, "You wound me. You know how much I love my family." Big HMMM over that family loyalty thing going into Season 8.
• Jon says, "You Starks are hard to kill," which is, uh, questionable, although true for himself at least. Meanwhile, Robb tells him, "Next time I see you, you'll be all in black," and Jon replies, "It was always my color," which is extra symbolic because black is a Targaryen color. (Side note: This farewell made me cry.)
• It's significant that Ned was against Jon joining the Night's Watch until he himself was leaving Winterfell and would no longer be around to protect Jon. By joining the Night's Watch, Jon renounces any claims to family titles (in his case, the throne!!), so this is Ned's way of keeping him safe from Robert and his hatred of Targaryens.
• Jon and Ned's farewell conversation is super important when it comes to the whole R+L=J secret. Ned emphasizes Jon's Stark blood without saying he's his son. Jon is curious about his mother, and Ned says they'll talk about her "next time we see each other, I promise," which echoes Ned's "promise" to Lyanna and gives some weight to Jon being the "prince that was promised" (I mean, he literally is that). But, as we know, they never see each other again. It's all very devastating, tbh.
• More R+L=J goodness: Ned gets very angry when Robert talks about his hatred of the Targaryens (Ned's line, "You can't get your hands on this one," seems to apply to Jon as well as Dany). Ned is also very closed off when Robert asks him about Jon's mother. Robert, meanwhile, emphasizes Ned's honor and how unbelievable it is that he would ever cheat on his wife (because he didn't!).
• The Valyrian steel dagger used in the attempt to kill Bran is the one Arya will later use to kill Littlefinger. She still has it in Season 8, and it should come in handy against the White Walkers.
• Cat tells Robb he has to stay in Winterfell because "there must always be a Stark in Winterfell." We hear this line repeated throughout the series — and it's true things go from bad to worse for the Starks when they leave their home. Could there be more to this saying than just symbolic power? Is there actually something magical at play?
• Both Stark girls lose their direwolves in one way or another in this episode. They've left Winterfell, and already their ties to their family and the security that offers are weakening.
• Bran opens his eyes just as Lady dies, which seems SIGNIFICANT.
• It's oh-so-satisfying to watch Tyrion slap Joffrey. Repeatedly. Although it will come back to bite him.
• Tyrion is skeptical about White Walkers and doesn't believe in them. Oh, my sweet summer child.
• Cersei talks about having a child with Robert who she lost — "a little black-haired beauty." Some fans think this is actually secretly Gendry, but I don't buy it AT ALL.
• Cat mentions how betrayed she felt that Ned came back from war with another woman's son, and it KILLS me that she'll never know that Ned was always faithful to her.
• More than a month has passed since Bran's fall. It was much easier to track the passage of time in Season 1!
Episode 3: "Lord Snow"
The Big Plot Stuff:
• Ned and his entourage arrive in King's Landing. Ned is basically thrown straight into a small council meeting and learns that Robert is truly a terrible king who has left the crown severely in debt to the Lannisters. We also meet Littlefinger, Varys, Pycelle, and Renly for the first time. Sansa and Arya, meanwhile, are grieving the loss of Nymeria, Lady, and Mycah in their own ways and drifting further and further apart. Ned gets Arya a "dancing master," Syrio, to teach her how to use Needle.
• Cat arrives at King's Landing and Littlefinger brings her to his brothel, where she shows the dagger used to attack Bran to him and Varys. Littlefinger says it's his dagger but Tyrion won it from him, which implicates the Lannisters in Bran's attack once again. Of course, we know now that Littlefinger was behind it (and a bunch of other stuff!). Ned and Cat briefly reunite, and Cat urges Ned to trust Littlefinger (big mistake).
• Jon Snow is training at Castle Black and is better than everyone else, and he knows it. Tyrion tells him to check his privilege, and he amazingly does, bonding with Grenn and Pyp as a result. Jon also stands on top of the Wall for the first time, which is nice, but then he's disappointed when Benjen won't take him on a mission. Benjen says, "We'll speak when I return," which are famous last words on this show. Tyrion also takes his leave of Jon and the Wall, but not before pissing off the edge of it like he dreamed of doing.
• Dany is embracing her power, much to Viserys's displeasure. Jorah and Rakharo both defend Dany against him. It's a big tipping point in changing their dynamic. Plus! Dany learns she is pregnant.
Symbolism and foreshadowing:
• When Ned walks into the throne room and sees Jaime seated on the steps in front of the throne, it must have reminded him of the time he walked in to find Jaime on the throne, with the Mad King dead at his feet. It's interesting that we very much (harshly) judge Jaime through Ned's lens in this scene, when we learn to sympathise with him and understand his actions later. In retrospect, Jaime seems to be attempting to connect and reconcile with Ned here. Ned, of course, has no time for it.
• Jaime also talks about the Mad King yelling "burn them all" as he killed him — a story he'll expand upon when he meets Brienne, a huge turning point for his character.
• Cersei tells Joffrey, "Someday you'll sit on the throne and the truth will be what you make of it," which is totally how she rules herself.
• Ned says to Arya, "In the winter we must protect ourselves. Look after one another. ... We cannot fight a war amongst ourselves." Jon repeats almost these exact words to Sansa in Season 6 — he really does take after Ned. He even chokes Littlefinger just like Ned does.
• Old Nan tells Bran about the White Walkers and their GIANT ICE SPIDERS. It'll be interesting (read: terrifying) if we see those in Season 8.
• Dany is wearing a Dothraki outfit and has her hair braided for the first time. She's learning to look like a khaleesi as well as act like one.
• Upon learning Dany is pregnant, Jorah has to go for a ride, which is NOT SUSPICIOUS AT ALL.
• Maester Aemon warns Tyrion about the White Walkers and begs for more men from King's Landing. They really were warning us the whole time.
• The talk of the tournament made me almost nostalgic for a Westeros that wasn't at war, when they had time for entertaining frivolities like tournaments.
• Cersei seems smarter and more strategic here than she has been in recent seasons — more human, too. I guess it's before the grief monster got her, not to mention the Walk of Shame.
• The scene when Ned tries to give Sansa a doll and she refuses it BREAKS MY HEART. I can't take it.
• The fact Ned organizes for Arya to get fighting lessons also breaks my heart, but in a good way. He was such a good dad.
• It's so upsetting to watch Ned and Cat say goodbye, knowing it's for the last time.
• Robert can remember the face of every man he's killed, and yet he can't remember what Lyanna looks like. Priorities!
• Lancel Lannister looks SO different in these early days as Robert's squire.
• I was surprised at how full of rage Jon is in these episodes. He thinks he's better than everyone and is mad when others don't recognize that. I'd forgotten how arrogant he was.
• There are a lot of parallels in Dany and Jon's journeys, one of them being that they're both mentored by members of the Mormont family — Jorah for Dany, and Jorah's father, Jeor (the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch), for Jon. In this episode, it's moving to hear Jorah talk about how he felt like he'd failed his father.
Episode 4: "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things"
The Big Plot Stuff:
• Bran gets a vision for the first time: the Three-Eyed Raven (in bird form) leading him into the crypts at Winterfell. Hodor becomes Bran's designated ride. Tyrion is surprised by the frosty welcome from Robb at Winterfell, but gives Bran a design for a saddle that will allow him to ride a horse without the use of his legs.
• Sam arrives at Castle Black and tbh he's hard to like, but Jon tries anyway and forces everyone else to be nice to him, especially after he learns that Sam's dad wanted to murder him. Ser Alliser Thorne is NOT impressed.
• Ned learns more about Jon Arryn's death — including that he kept repeating "the seed is strong" and he was looking into a book of lineages and histories of the great houses of the Seven Kingdoms before he died. He also learns Jon Arryn's squire has been seemingly rewarded since his death. To top it all off, Ned finds Gendry (!!!) and realizes he's Robert's bastard.
• The tournament begins and Littlefinger ingratiates himself with Sansa. Ser Hugh, Jon Arryn's former squire, is killed by the Mountain and the murder mystery plot thickens. Littlefinger tells Sansa and Arya the story of how the Mountain shoved the Hound's face in a fire when they were kids.
• Dany tries to make Viserys more comfortable with Dothraki life and he responds by hitting her. She fights back and tells him "the next time you raise a hand to me will be the last time you have hands". It's extremely awesome.
• Cat runs into Tyrion at the Inn at the Crossroads and calls upon her father's bannermen to arrest him for his part in the plot to kill Bran. It's a powerful moment, but also truly the beginning of the end for her family, so it hurts to watch.
Symbolism and foreshadowing:
• When Tyrion sees Theon again in Season 6, he's quite harsh to him, suggesting Theon was rude the last time they met. But that meeting was in this episode, and it's actually Tyrion who was rude to Theon.
• Viserys and Doreah have a conversation about dragons in the bath and it's all very interesting, but what is most interesting is that Doreah spills some wax on Viserys' chest and he cries out in pain – foreshadowing he is no true "dragon".
• Septa Mordane takes Sansa to the throne room and says "one day your husband will sit there and you will sit by his side." She's talking about Joffrey, which obviously doesn't happen, but it's worth remembering as we head into the final season. It may come true after all!
• Ned and Arya discuss Bran's injury, and how he can no longer be a knight of the kingsguard as he wanted. Ned says "he might raise castles, like Brandon the Builder", which is fodder for "Bran is EVERY Bran" theorists (I don't think it's true, but it's interesting!
• Littlefinger tells Ned "distrusting me was the wisest thing you've done since you climbed off your horse", and it's the truest thing he says in the whole damn series.
• Gendry's line about his mother having "yellow hair" is often used as evidence that Cersei was his mother, but I think it's just a coincidence.
• Jaime and Jory (Ned's right-hand man) have a conversation about fighting together in the siege of Pyke. Jory says he nearly lost an eye, which is FORESHADOWING. They also mention Thoros of Myr and his flaming sword – we'll meet him in Season 3. On top of all that, Jory describes Theon as a "good lad" and Jaime says that's doubtful, which shows a lot of foresight considering Theon's later actions.
• Jon mentions to Sam that his father would never talk about his mother, and admits he's never had sex because he didn't want to father a bastard. I wonder if he'll marry Daenerys when she learns that she's pregnant (which she definitely is), or if the whole aunt thing (or, you know, the end of the world) is going to get in the way? Also: in this scene, there's what looks like an R and an L carved into the pole near Jon's head.
• Jorah tells Dany "your brother Rhaegar was the last dragon" which is not truuuuuuue.
• One of the bannermen Cat calls in to help with Tyrion is a Frey. Ew! Also, Bronn is there and that's how he ends up working for Tyrion later.
• Jorah mentions his wife is alive but "in another place with another man". Where is she? Who is she with? Is she still alive?
• Sansa still being mad at Ned for killing Lady is both understandable and absolutely gut-wrenching, given what's ahead.
• I never realised before, but so much of Season 1 is basically a murder mystery.
• Jon actually smiles and laughs in this episode, it's wild.
• Also Jon's hair is so curly and pretty and luscious, as much as I love the man bun, it is nice to see it out here.
• GENDRY!!!! That is all.
Episode 5: "The Wolf and the Lion"
The Big Plot Stuff:
• At the tournament, Ser Loras Tyrell goes up against the Mountain and wins thanks to his mare being on heat. The Mountain is furious and CUTS OFF HIS HORSE'S HEAD with a single swing of his sword. We get a mini Cleganebowl (GET HYPE) when the Hound jumps in to protect Ser Loras from the Mountain's wrath. The latter storms off. Later, Loras and Renly share an intimate moment and Loras convinces Renly he'd be a great king and suggests the Tyrells and all their gold could back him.
• On the road to the Eyrie, Cat and co are attacked by hill tribes. Tyrion kills his first man – with a shield – and bonds with Bronn over it. Cat arrives at the Eyrie and discovers her sister, Lysa, is not quite the woman she remembers (she's frankly lost her mind). Tyrion is put in the TERRIFYING Eyrie dungeon.
• We get a lot of talk about Theon's dick in a sexposition scene with Ros...which is weirdly relevant to his plot.
• Varys tells Ned that Jon Arryn was murdered with Tears of Lys and that his squire poisoned him. Thanks to Arya chasing a cat into the dungeon and hiding out in a dragon skull, we learn that Varys is secretly meeting with Illyrio and the two of them are trying to stir shit up between the Lannisters and the Starks in order to destabilise the realm and make way for a Targaryen resurgence.
• Ned resigns as Hand in disgust when Robert orders the death of Dany after learning she's pregnant. Ned is packing to go home to Winterfell and is SO close to leaving when Littlefinger interrupts him to drag him to the brothel and show him another one of Robert's bastards who was born to one of the sex workers there. It's there that Jaime attacks him over the fact that Cat has Tyrion. Jaime's men slaughter Ned's, and Jaime kills Jory by STABBING HIM IN THE EYE. Ned is injured and Jaime runs away.
Symbolism and foreshadowing:
• Bran says "I'll never shoot another arrow" which is probably him just being sad but I don't know, what if he somehow defeats the Night King with an arrow out of nowhere?! Very slim chance I know but at this point I've got my tinfoil on and am looking for foreshadowing in everything.
• Arya escapes the dungeons through a secret (?) passage out of the Red Keep, which she'll later use when Ned is captured. She's stopped at the gates by two prick guards, which will happen again in Season 7 when she returns to Winterfell. When she finally does get in, she meets Yoren in Ned's office, which is relevant for what goes down in Episode 9.
• Ned's anger at Robert isn't just his general disgust at murdering a "child" – he has a personal stake in preventing Robert from wiping out the Targaryens thanks to Jon.
• Jory assures Arya that Ned is definitely safe in the capital, which is frankly rude of the show.
• Lysa mentions Jon Arryn's last words were "the seed is strong". She claims he was talking about his son Robin (the breastfeeding little letch) but we all know he was talking about Robert's seed and its magical black hair-giving abilities.
• Robin Arryn calls Tyrion "the bad man". With them both on the same side in Season 8, I wonder if this will come up at all.
• Cersei and Robert have a conversation that includes him telling her "only a fool would meet the Dothraki on the open field" (relevant in Season 7), and her saying "what harm could Lyanna Stark's ghost do to either of us?" (*cough* JON SNOW *cough*).
• This episode really showcases how important Tyrion is to Jaime. It'll be interesting to see them back on the same side in Season 8. Also, when Ned fights with Jaime, the latter disengages when one of his men dishonourably injures Ned. Honour is central to Jaime's arc so it's great to see the foundation of that being built here.
• I never thought I'd say this, but I miss Robert Baratheon. BRING ME THE BREASTPLATE STRETCHER.
• I wish the story about what happened between the Hound and the Mountain hadn't been given to Littlefinger in the show. It would have made the mini Cleganebowl (GET HYPE) even more meaningful if Sandor had told his own story.
• I forgot how good Theon is at archery. I wonder if it will come back into play in Season 8, especially as he reclaims himself more and more.
• Ned and the girls have been in the capital a month at this stage.
• Varys is a little bitch!
• Littlefinger is an even bigger little bitch! I do NOT miss him.
• The conversation between Robert and Cersei is one of my fave scenes of the series. It's wild that it wasn't in the original script. I get the sense from it that Robert didn't love Lyanna so much as he wanted to possess her.
Episode 6: "A Golden Crown"
The Big Plot Stuff:
• Robert tells an injured Ned he must become Hand again, then he leaves to go hunting.
• While Bran tries out his new saddle he gets attacked by three wildlings – two men, and Osha. Robb kills one of the men while Theon shoots the man holding Bran with his bow and arrow. Rob chastises him, saying "you don't have the right", which plays into Theon's insecurities about being an outsider in the family. They take Osha prisoner.
• Tyrion demands a trial by combat at the Eyrie, and Bronn becomes his champion, defeating Lysa's knight and winning Tyrion his freedom. Thus begins a beautiful (business) friendship.
• Lancel Lannister plows Robert with wine on his boar hunt, while Renly gets mad at him for his rose-coloured view of the "old days".
• Ned, acting in Robert's stead, orders Lord Beric Dondarrion (played by a different actor here than in later series) to take 100 men and find and execute the Mountain, after he and his men raid a village. Ned also summons Tywin Lannister to court to answer for his the Mountain's crimes, since he is his bannerman. This is another step closer to outright war between the Lannisters and the Starks..
• Joffrey starts being nice to Sansa just in time for her to be upset that Ned wants to send the girls back to Winterfell for their safety. Arya also wants to stay in King's Landing. That sound you hear is me screaming at them to JUST GO HOME! YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING. Anyway, something Sansa says makes Ned put all the puzzle pieces together and realise Joffrey is Jaime's son and not Robert's.
• Dany eats a horse heart as part of a Dothraki ceremony and her unborn child is prophesied to be "the stallion who mounts the world". Viserys is jealous and angry, and drunkenly demands Drogo give him the crown he was promised. Drogo delivers by pouring molten gold onto his head, killing him. Dany doesn't mind because Viserys threatened her baby, and he was basically dead to her as soon as he did that.
Symbolism and foreshadowing:
• Cersei says to Robert "I should wear the armour, and you the gown." Armour later becomes a part of her gowns, and we'll see more of it in Season 8. This early reference sets it up as a symbol of power for Cersei.
• Dany puts Drogon's egg on hot coals and isn't burned by picking it up, unlike her handmaid Irri.
• Bran has his Three Eyed Raven in the crypts dream again. I know it was foreshadowing Ned's death, but I also wonder if something significant will happen in the crypts this season – especially given the fact the teaser placed emphasis on the location.
• Osha mentions Mance Rayder, who will become a prominent character in later seasons.
• Syrio says his famous line to Arya, which sets up a lot of her arc: "There is only one god and his name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death. Not today."
• While "confessing" to Lysa and Cat at the Eyrie, Tyrion starts his story, "I once brought a jackass and a honeycomb into a brothel..." This line will come up again, and it's a running joke that Tyrion is never able to finish it. Here's hoping he gets to before the show is over!
• Sansa has started wearing her hair in the southern style like Cersei – the first of many hair changes that indicate where her allegiances and influences lie.
• A lot of people who ship Jon and Sansa take Ned's line that he will find her a match who is "brave and gentle and strong" as signficant. I personally don't reaaaally think it's going to happen, but it's worth noting! You know, just in case.
• Viserys says about Dany's unborn child, "He won't be a real Targaryen. He won't be a true dragon." Which is very interesting considering she's almost definitely going to be pregnant with an extra "true" Targaryen this season thanks to Jon! Meanwhile, Dany herself became "the stallion who mounts the world" – she united the Dothraki and took them to conquer other lands. Here's hoping some of them survive this season!
• As soon as Robert slaps Cersei I stopped missing him.
• When Bran says "I'm Brandon Stark of Winterfell" I teared up. I hope he gets some of his old personality back in Season 8.
• Renly is one of the most progressive characters in the series and he would have probably been a great king.
• Sansa accidentally drags Joffrey, saying, "I don't want someone who is brave and gentle and strong, I want him" – and there's a really lovely moment where Ned and Arya exchange amused looks.
• Before Viserys dies, he screams "Dany, please!" It's the last time anyone within the show calls her "Dany" until Jon does in Season 7.
• On Viserys death, Dany says "he was no dragon. Fire cannot kill a dragon." Some tinfoily theorists take this as evidence Jon isn't really a Targaryen, since we've seen him get burned. But Viserys was also a Targaryen – he just wasn't a "dragon", i.e. one with super special fire-immunity like Dany. She's a rare case, even amongst Targs.
Episode 7: "You Win Or You Die"
The Big Plot Stuff:
• We meet Tywin for the first time! The Lannisters are preparing for war. Yikes.
• At the wall, Benjen's horse returns with no rider, but Jon believes he's still alive (he's not wrong – kind of). Jon officially joins the Night's Watch as a steward, much to his disappointment – until Sam convinces him that being the Lord Commander's personal steward will be advantageous. When Jon and Sam go beyond the Wall to say their Night's Watch vows, Ghost finds a frozen dead body.
• Jorah receives a royal pardon from Robert/Varys for his spying on Dany, but he's become attached to her and is just in time to rescue her from a Westerosi wine supplier who tries to poison her. Drogo is enraged by the assassination attempt and finally gives in to Dany's desire to travel to/conquer Westeros.
• Ned confronts Cersei with the truth about her and Jaime's relationship and the parentage of their children, and tells her she needs to leave the palace because he'll tell Robert everything as soon as he's back from his hunt. Big mistake. Robert returns injured, and Ned doesn't get a chance to tell him anything before he dies. He does, however, write down Robert's will and changes the name "Joffrey" to "rightful heir", which is maybe the sneakiest thing Ned ever did (except, you know, concealing a secret Targaryen in his home for 17 years). Ned sends a letter to Stannis revealing the truth about the line of succession, and enlists Littlefinger to get the gold cloaks to help him depose Joffrey and Cersei. Littlefinger betrays him, the gold cloaks slaughter what's left of Ned's staff, and Littlefinger gleefuly captures Ned himself with a dagger to his throat.
Symbolism and foreshadowing:
• Of course our first introduction to Tywin Lannister is him skinning a dead stag. Incredible. He also says to Jaime, "before long I'll be dead and you and your brother and your sister and all of her children." I know he was just talking about how everyone dies but, like, he wasn't wrong about the "before long" part.
• Cersei says "when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die", which is the only time the name of the show is mentioned in the show. Also Cersei is currently the only one still ~playing~ (although Dany intends to get back to it if she can survive the White Walkers).
• There's a long piece of sexposition in the brothel which the show became famous for in the early seasons. It's a bit much, but it weirdly does fit Littlefinger's character and reveal a lot about him, if you can actually pay attention to what he's saying. He talks about his history with Ned, Cat and Ned's brother Brandon, and how being defeated by Brandon in a duel gave him his first lesson in needing to be underhanded. "I'm not going to fight them. I'm going to fuck them," he says. It's so satisfying to know he was the one that finally got screwed over in the end.
• Osha talks a lot about the threat of the White Walkers and needing to get further south. Everyone should have paid more attention to her.
• It's jarring to see Jaime out of kingsguard armour for the first time. Also, Tywin tells Jaime he needs to become the man he was always meant to be, which feels like exactly what he's finally doing now.
• I totally forgot that Robert relented on his desire to murder Dany right before he died.
• The scene where Dany does Drogo's hair is really cute – or at least it would be if they hadn't had him rape her repeatedly earlier in the season. Or had him talk about wanting to rape all the women of Westeros "for" her.
• Some Night's Watch steward named Dareon gets sent to Eastwatch. I wonder if he made it out okay in the Season 7 finale.
• I've always been puzzled by the popular idea that Jon isn't ambitious. In these Season 1 episodes he burns with ambition. He wants to be a prestigious ranger, and only begrudgingly accepts the idea of being a steward when Sam plants the idea that Jeor Mormont is grooming Jon for command.
• I'm so glad Arya killed Littlefinger with a knife to his throat in Season 7 as payback for the way he betrays Ned in this episode.
Episode 8: "The Pointy End"
The Big Plot Stuff:
• Ned is in prison, and is visited by Varys, who says he serves "the realm". Each of the Stark girls are able to run away from the Lannister men thanks to the protection of Septa Mordane and Syrio. Arya manages to leave the Red Keep altogether, but not before reclaiming Needle and making her first kill. Sansa, meanwhile, is at the mercy of Cersei and the small council, who manipulate her into publicly begging for mercy for Ned, and also writing a letter to Robb telling him to bend the knee. Robb sees through it and immediately calls his banners. War is on. He leaves Winterfell (for the last time, SOB) with a host of 18,000 men. Cat leaves the Eyrie and joins him.
• Tyrion and Bronn encounter hill tribes on their way out of the Vale, and Tyrion makes a deal with them so they won't kill him. He brings them to Tywin's army camp.
• Jon and Ghost save the Lord Commander from the (un)dead body they found in the previous episode, which turns out to be a wight. Jon burns his hand. Sam reveals what (little) he knows about the White Walkers thanks to a book he found in Maester Aemon's library.
• The Dothraki raid a village in order to take slaves to sell so they can fund their campaign to Westeros. Dany is horrified to find them raping all the women, and she brings as many as she can under her protection, including Mirri Maz Duur. When Drogo's bloodrider Mago gets mad Dany took away his conquests, Drogo sides with Dany, resulting in a fight with Mago that leaves Mago dead and Drogo with a scratch. Mirri Maz Duur "treats" it at Dany's request.
Symbolism and foreshadowing:
• Tyrion says he wants to die "in my own bed, at age 80, with a belly full of wine and a woman's mouth around my cock". I've got a bad feeling about this.
• Ser Barristan is dismissed from the kingsguard and angrily proclaims "I shall die a knight", which he did. :(
• It's interesting to see Bran praying to the old gods in the godswood, considering that's where he spent a lot of time when he returned home in Season 7, and where no doubt major things will happen in Season 8.
• Bran tells Rickon the family will be "back soon". "No they won't", Rickon replies. He was the smartest Stark, let's be honest. At least until the whole zig zag debacle.
• It's touching that Jon's first thought upon learning about Ned's arrest is the safety of his sisters.
• When Robb says "tell Lord Tywin winter is coming for him", I felt that.
Episode 9: "Baelor"
The Big Plot Stuff:
• Cat makes a bargain with Lord Frey in order to allow Robb and his army to cross the river at the Twins. Robb must take on Olyvar Frey as his personal squire and marry a Frey girl, while Arya is betrothed to Waldron Frey. We all know how well that plan turned out...
• The night before going into battle, Bronn introduces Tyrion to Shae and she gives him a night to remember. Tywin sends Tyrion and his hill tribe to the frontline. Tyrion is knocked out and misses the whole thing, but the Lannisters win. It's too bad it's not the main fight – Robb has reserved most of his troops to attack Jaime at Riverrun. They win, and Jaime is captured and held hostage.
• Jeor gives Jon the Mormont family sword, Longclaw, after having the pommel made to resemble a wolf rather than the Mormont bear. Jon is nevertheless tempted to leave Castle Black when he hears Robb has gone to war. Maester Aemon lectures him about his duty, and Jon realises Aemon is a Targaryen. What neither of them realise is that Jon is, too.
• Drogo's wound becomes infected and Dany asks Mirri Maz Duur to save him. Mirri Maz Duur tells her "only death pays for life". Dany goes into labour and Jorah carries her into the tent where Mirri Maz Duur is performing her blood magic.
• Varys visits Ned in prison and urges him to confess to being a traitor in order to save his life – or at least his daughter's lives. It's the latter consideration which eventually leads Ned to "confessing", but of course Joffrey is a right royal prick and orders his death anyway. It's brutal to watch, every single time.
Symbolism and foreshadowing:
• The conversation Maester Aemon has with Jon is quite significant. Aemon talks to Jon about honour vs love, and having to do your duty even when those you care about are at risk. Jon says Ned would always do "whatever was right". Aemon reflects that's easier said than done, because "what is honour compared to a woman's love? What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms?" This conversation really highlights what Jon doesn't know about Ned – as honourable as he is, he does choose love, again and again. Most significantly when he sacrificed his own honour for the love of his sister and her newborn son – Jon himself. Ned also chooses love over honour when he lies about being a traitor in order to protect Sansa and Arya. It'll be interesting to see if the love vs honour and duty themes come into play now that Jon has a woman he loves and is likely facing the prospect of becoming a father while the world crumbles around him. One other thing to note in this conversation: it's kind of surreal to hear Aemon talk about his brother Aegon, unwittingly speaking to the boy that was named for him (and the other Aegons in the family).
• Jaime offers to fight Robb one-on-one to end the war immediately, and Robb refuses. In Season 6, Jon offers Ramsay the same deal, and this time it's Ramsay who refuses. Robb and Ramsay don't have much else in common, but there's that.
• I'll probably be wondering what Ned's final words are until the day I die. Some fans think he says "I kept my promise", but I've watched this scene MANY times and it's impossible to tell. I doubt we'll ever get an answer.
• Tyrion tells the heartbreaking story of his first wife, Tysha. I wonder if she's still alive and out there somewhere. I'd love to see more closure around this storyline, but I doubt it's going to happen.
• I can't help wondering if Jon ever looked back on the decision to stay with the Night's Watch rather than ride to Robb and Ned's aid with regret.
• It's truly bizarre to watch this episode, in which TWO battles happen off screen, and consider the fact they had no budget for battles back then – in contrast to now, when they're promising the biggest on-screen battle EVER in Season 8. I mean, I can't believe they got around the lack of budget by knocking Tyrion out and then having Robb ride out of the trees looking dirty (glorious, but dirty), and we just let them.
• It's pretty sickening to watch the negotiations between the Freys and the Starks, knowing what happens as a result.
• It's also kinda sickening to think about the fact Robb sacrificed 2000 men in order to win against the Lannisters. I still love him though.
• It's REALLY sickening watching Ned Stark die all over again. Why do I do this to myself every year?! Also, this year I watched it with captions on for the first time, and I never realised Cersei was saying to Joffrey "my son, this is madness" after he orders Ned's execution. Meanwhile, Sansa is screaming "daddy". Just when I thought the scene couldn't get more heartbreaking! Bless Yoren for protecting Arya from watching, though.
• I miss Ned. :(
Episode 10: "Fire and Blood"
The Big Plot Stuff:
• Bran tells Osha about his raven dream again, and how this time he saw Ned in the crypts. Bran gets Osha to take him down there. He tells the story of how Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna (or so everyone thought!), and then they run into Rickon and Shaggydog who "came to see father". Luwin then breaks the news of Ned's death.
• Cat and Robb grieve Ned's death together and vow to get the Stark girls back and then kill all their enemies (if only). Robb is crowned King in the North, and Cat attacks Jaime but leaves him alive, even after he confesses to hurting Bran. She's playing the long game.
• Jon really does run away from the Night's Watch after he learns of Ned's death, but Sam, Grenn and Pyp bring him back. Jeor convinces him the more important war is the war against the dead (it really was right there from the beginning!), and they all go beyond the Wall in order to investigate Benjen's disappearance and learn more about the wights and White Walkers.
• Joffrey tortures Sansa by forcing her to look at her father and Septa's heads displayed on the Red Keep's walls. The Hound prevents Sansa from pushing Joffrey over the edge (damn).
• Yoren disguises Arya as a boy and takes her with him on his trip north. Arya meets Hot Pie and (more importantly!) Gendry, who are joining the Night's Watch.
• Tywin starts strategising how to get Jaime back from the Starks, and reveals that both Stannis and Renly Baratheon have taken up arms. Tywin appoints Tyrion Hand of the King in his absence, recognising his intelligence for the first time. He instructs Tyrion to return to King's Landing to manage Joffrey and Cersei, but tells him to leave Shae behind. Tyrion disobeys the last command.
• Dany wakes up to find her baby is dead, Drogo is in a vegetative state, and most of the khalasar has abandoned them. Dany is forced to kill Drogo, then she chains Mirri Maz Duur to his funeral pyre and burns her alive. Both the dragon eggs and Dany enter the pyre, with Dany emererging ~unburnt~ and the dragons hatching.
Symbolism and foreshadowing:
• Both Osha and Hodor are afraid of the crypts. I'm so curious about whether more will come of the mystery surrounding them. Also, when Bran sees Rickon and Shaggydog in the crypts and says Shaggydog should be chained up, Rickon says "he doesn't like chains". Which is very ominous considering he'll later be murdered by House Umber, whose sigil is four linked chains.
• Robb's King in the North scene is later mirrorws when Jon is declared King in the North. Also, when Greatjon Umber proclaims Robb King in the North, he says "it was the dragons we bowed to, and now the dragons are dead." I am so interested in how the North will react not only to Dany and her dragons, but also to the news that their leader, Jon, is actually a Targaryen too.
• Arya clocks three prisoners in a carriage, one of whom has his head covered. We'll learn in Season 2 that that is Jaqen H'Ghar. Some people believe that he's secretly Syrio in disguise! But I don't think that's true – at least in the show.
• Mirri Maz Duurs tells Dany that Drogo will return to her "When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east, when the seas go dry, when the mountains blow in the wind like leaves." This is also when Dany believes she'll get pregnant again (i.e. never). I subscribe to the theory that this prophecy/curse has already come to pass (it's clearer in the books), and also that it doesn't mean Drogo will literally return to her, but that she'll find love again (hello, Jon).
• The shape of Drogo's funeral pyre resembles the circular patterns we see associated with the White Walkers.
• The position of the dragons after they've hatched is interesting. Drogon, the leader and Dany's favourite, sits on her shoulder, while Dany cradles Rhaegal (the dragon most associated with Jon) close to her belly/womb. Viserion, the first dragon to die, is on the bottom of the hierarchy, clinging to her leg.
• Watching Cat's desire for vengeance, I wished for about the 1000th time that the show had kept the Lady Stoneheart plot.
• Despite knowing it'll all go to shit, the King in the North scene gets me EVERY TIME. It's so good.
• The scene where Sam, Grenn and Pyp recite the Night's Watch vows to stop Jon from deserting is also very moving. And it's nice to see Ghost just chilling in the background. I miss those days. You know, when he was actually in the show.
• Sansa's encounter with Joffrey is the first indication of the steel beneath her delicate exterior. It's a powerful moment. Also, it'll be fascinating to see the Hound reunite with Sansa in Season 8 and see how much she's changed.
• Jeor sent Thorne to King's Landing with the wight hand to prove to Joffrey that the dead are coming. This literally never gets addressed again. Hmmm.
• Lancel and Cersei's relationship is gross on so many levels.
• There are many characters to hate on this show, but Pycelle is one of the worst.
• Did Rhaego actually look like a dragon or was Mirri Maz Duur just being a bitch? Also, did Jorah carrying Dany into the tent kill Rhaego, or would he have always died anyway?
• All in all, this season ends on such a triumphant and exciting note. I feel like I was such a sweet summer child the first time I watched it. Now my soul feels how Mel looks without her necklace.