You Win Or You Die: Game Of Thrones Seasons 1-4

I rewatched the first four seasons of Game Of Thrones this past week. I’d told myself I wasn’t going to but then I started reading “get caught up articles,” and decided that I’d just watch again, because I have a problem, and also I’m out of Marvel movies, so you know what? Fine.

I hadn’t wanted to rewatch because it felt a little like a chore and I’m trying not to do that sort of thing anymore. And it’s not as though I haven’t given Game Of Thrones it’s due on this blog.

I’ve given hours upon hours and post after post of attention to Game Of Thrones. Once when I was late with getting a write up done because I was away on a Sunday night, a friend texted me and said, “Hey, I’m sure you’re busy but I really need to know who won last night!” I’ve had friends stop talking to me entirely during the season because I’m so bad at keeping in my excitement about upcoming plot points. (Hi Greg! Hope you’re having fun on your honeymoon!)

I’ve read the books twice and listened to their audio versions once. I’ve seen each episode of the TV show more times than is normal. (I’m still on the low end for nerds, but for normies, I’m basically a walking encyclopedia) I’ve dressed up as Maergary Tyrell and Sansa Stark and am currently considering investing in Daenerys Targaryen.

love Game Of Thrones. 

But last year, we all took a break. And I realized, this weekend, that rewatching to get back into the headspace of Westeros after nearly a year off, that I actually really needed the revisit, if I didn’t want to spend the seven upcoming Sunday evenings scouring my old writing for details, because there was some shit that I forgot about.

First of all, Seasons 1 & 2 of Game Of Thrones are so astoundingly well written, shot and acted, it’s really no wonder the show gained such traction. It’s really really stinking good. Season 3 is around when the seams start to crack. It’s still quite good, but it’s also probably my least favorite season, which might contribute to why I think it’s where the show changes from tightly written to a bit more sloppy. Season 4 is wonderful. It’s goofy and kind of dumb and really really into itself, but wonderful, and I love it very much.

But let’s start with season 1. The Westeros stuff is a tightly plotted mystery, tense, full of shifting alliances and bad choices and deep regrets from long ago shaping a present and future that’s completely untenable for a new generation. The Stark children and Joffrey Baratheon can’t breathe let alone thrive,they’re crushed by the weight of their parents guilt and secrets. It’s a hell of a way to start a story. Meanwhile, Danerys Targaryen is just learning that she’s a person, not a commodity or a accessory and it’s a wonder. Plus there are zombies and NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT IT.

Season 2 is equally excellent, if harsher. We’re at war now, and it’s brutal, bloody and complicated. I love Season 2, not only because it contains my all time favorite episode of television, “Blackwater.” Everything that builds to that moment, Renly and Stannis’s conflict, Arya and Tywin at Harrenhall, even Jon’s escapades north of the wall and Dany’s adventures in Quarth, makes the tension of the episode better. “Blackwater” is a perfect episode of TV, and everytime I watch it, I’m reminded of why.

I really don’t like season 3. I mean, I like it fine. It’s still got some good stuff, mostly the Jon and Dany action. But Robb’s storyline is all wrapped up in Talisa, which is a bad bad storyline, we get the Theon being tortured by Ramsey stuff, which is important but dull and repetetive, Sansa’s misery is at it’s peaks and valleys worst. (She’s doesn’t have to marry Joffrey! He’ll probably rape her anyway. She’s going to marry Loras and escape to Highgarden! She marries Tyrion instead. Tyrion’s looking out for her though! Little Finger keeps whispering in her ear to get her away.) Dany’s time in Slaver’s Bay is wonderful, fully pushing her brutal black and white sense of justice to the edge. And Jon’s storyline, working with the Wildlings and his affair with Ygritte is the best he gets over the course of the whole show.

I think there’s also some weirdness for me watching these early seasons again because my time with the show really started blooming in Season 4. That’s when I started crowning winners, really tracking the show in the kind of regular fashion that y’all have become accustomed to. Which was actually fun for me, as I started Season 4 on Monday. I smiled, as the familiarity with those episodes sunk in. The things I’ve come to love in the back half of the show, Missandei and Grey Worm, Cersei’s further unraveling, King Tommen The Adorable, #NotAStark, these things come into focus really quickly in Season 4.

Season 2 is my favorite season of the show, with 1 and 4 vying for second place. Next week I’ll talk about the final three seasons and we’ll all have some fun there. If you’re interested in my Game Of Thrones writing, there’s a shit tonne of it.  

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