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.  

Game Of Thrones Winner: “The Rains Of Castamere”

Do you know how long I put off watching this episode again? A whole week of knowing I had to watch it and just not being about to do it. Also a year. I friggin waited a year to watch this season to avoid the Red Wedding.

Anyway, I have to pick a winner.

It’s Dany, I guess, because Daario, Jorah and Grey Worm take Yunkai for her. Good for you Dany.

Game-of-Thrones-Season-3-trailer-has-finally-arrived

Runner up goes to Roose Bolton, because he gets the best line, “The Lannisters send their regards.” And he’s married to Fat Walda, and we’re years away from her getting eaten by dogs, so there’s that.

This part of the show really is just no fun for anyone though.

Grey Worm and Missandei Watch

Grey Worm storms Yunkai with Jorah and Daario. Missandei is around but doesn’t do much.

Sansa’s Agency Watch

Sansa’s not in this episode, but she’s in King’s Landing, all, not being raped by Tyrion. So she’s in an OK space for the moment.

Arya Badass Watch

This is a tough episode for Arya. It’s not as bad as her chapter in the book, where I was sure that she was dead too. But still tough. She weathers it though. Hitting a dude in the face with a wagon wheel, and watching those Stark Men and then Grey Wind get killed. She’s a badass, end of story.

Robb Is A King And Kind Of Bad At It

Ah, so ends, Robb’s reign as the worst king ever. He has a plan to invade Casterly Rock, but him being a dumb butt and marrying Talisa all comes home to roost because his being a bad king gets everyone murdered at The Red Wedding.

Except Edmure who gets to marry the one hot Frey girl that Robb would have married if he weren’t such a colossal bone head.

Bran Starks Excellent Adventure

Bran learns how to Warg! He wargs into Hodor and then into Summer. He saves Jon from the Wildlings who are trying to kill him. He also sends Rickon to the Umbers. DON’T DO IT!!!!!!!!

Game Of Thrones Winner: “The Bear And The Maiden Fair”

Easy enough winner this time. This week’s winner is Jaime Lannister!

Game_Of_Thrones_-_The_Bear_And_The_Maiden_Fair_-_Jamie__Ygritte

Jaime has a nice long talk with Qyburn and realizes that he needs to go back and save Brienne. He does, and they fight a bear together, and then he says he’s taking her back to King’s Landing and so begins the best maybe a romance, but not really in all of Game of Thrones.

Runner up goes to Dany, who’s just being a boss all over Yunkai. She has zero time to for any of their bullshit.

Missandei And Grey Worm Watch

Missandei is doing very well in her stand next to Dany and recite titles role. Grey Worm is doing very well in his stand and look bad ass job. They are not in love yet.

Sansa’s Agency Watch

No agency for Sansa, Margaery does try to help her reframe her marriage to Tyrion. And also hits on her a little, I think? I’ve been spending too much time in feminist online forums I think.

Arya Bad Ass Watch

Arya has one badass moment in this episode. She states that The Red God is not her one God and when Thoros asks her who her god is, she says quietly, intensely, insanely badassly “DEATH.”

Chills.

Who Was Jaime A Dick To?

Jaime is a dick no more my friends. I’m going to have to get rid of this feature. I’m going to miss it a lot.

Robb Is A King And Kind of Bad At It

UGGGGHHHH. He’s going to the Twins, and he’s making Edmure marry a Frey. And it’s all SO DUMB. And then he’s all, having really hot sex with Talisa, and she tells him she’s pregnant and it’s just, so much NOOOOOOO!

Tywin Schools Joffrey

This is a new feature, because if I couldn’t talk about it in another forum, I would literally give Tywin every win. This time he basically tells Joffrey that he, Tywin is the one really in charge here. Joffrey is nothing. He’s garbage.

Game Of Thrones Winner: “Kissed By Fire”

I was all set to give this episode to Jon and Ygritte, because you know, sex in a hot spring cave, but alas no. Because I forgot how goddamn awesome Jaime Mother Fucking (Sister Fucking really…) Lannister is in this episode

jaimie

Jaime tells the story of why he killed Aerys Targaryen to Brienne and it’s, beautiful and heartbreaking and lovely. This is all after he’s a huge douche to Quyburn, but we’ll get to that later.

Jon and Ygritte get runner up though, because you know, sex in a hot spring cave.

Missandei and Grey Worm Watch

GREY WORM! He’s here, he’s pretty, he’s explaining that his name is lucky because it’s the name that he had the day he was freed. It’s so beautiful and special and awesome and I love it so much. OMG OMG OMG!

Sansa’s Agency Watch

Sansa tells Little Finger that she doesn’t want to leave with him. She should have stuck with that.

Arya Bad Ass Watch

She lunges at the hound when he kills Beric, but of course, Beric comes back, and resurection by the Lord of Light gets explained. This is important. Also, Gendry decides to stay with the Brotherhood, and he tells Arya that she could be his Lady and guys, I ship it SO HARD.

Who Was Jaime A Dick To?

This may be the last installment, unless he starts being a dick again in season 7, anyway, Jaime is a dick to Maester Quyburn which is like, totally warranted. He’s also king of dick to Brienne, but then he turns that one around.

Robb Is A King And Kind of Bad At It

So Greatjon Karstark killed Not-Tommen and the other one and Robb killed him for it. This lost him half the north. So he has to go suck up to the Freys. At least now he realizes that he’s really bad at being a king. That’s nice.

 

Game of Thrones Winner: “Dark Wings, Dark Words”

God, it’s hard to pick winners this season, because most of these people are dead and I know that, but I also just want to give Margaery every win, because she really is the absolute best this season.

But I can’t do that, so I think I’m going to have to go with Brienne!

Brienne-of-Tarth-game-of-thrones-31362150-639-960

I mean, she and Jaime do get captured by the Boltons and that’s not great, but she also manages to beat him in a sword fight and puts up with his whining for most of the episode. I know they aren’t in love yet, but I just love them. So much.

Runner up goes to Sansa, who got to feel like a normal human for once while she was hanging out with the Tyrells.

Missandei and Grey Worm Watch

No Dany, thus her peeps were not around. This is very much a bummer.

Sansa’s Agency Watch

Shae reporting to Tyrion that she’s worried about Sansa is my favorite thing in her storyline right now, but it was also adorable to watch her to try to flirt with Loras. Just, so cute and so awesome. Sansa also realizing that the Tyrells could be the thing that keeps her sane, and tells them the truth about Joffrey.

Arya Bad Ass Watch

Arya finds herself face to face with Thoros of Myr and The Brotherhood Without Banners. She stands up to them, saves Gendry and Hot Pie from them and even almost fights Thoros. Oh, and The Hound recognizes her. So that’s pretty great.

Who Was Jaime a Dick To?

Jamie was a Dick to Brienne! Obviously! And those Bolton men that found them.

Robb Is A King And Kind Of Bad At It

Robb is fighting with the Karstarks and also is bringing his whole army to Riverrun, and is too busy having sex with Talisa for it to make much of a difference.

Bran Stark’s Excellent Adventure

He sees Jojen in a dream and then they meet up with Jojen and Meera. I didn’t even realize until he showed up, how much I really missed Jojen.

New Feature! Lady Olenna Said An Awesome Thing

“Loras is very young and very good at knocking men off horses with a stick, but this does not make him wise.”

 

Game of Thrones Winner: “Valar Marghulis”

This is also a great episode (not quite as good as good as “Blackwater” but still very good.) full of lots of people doing cool bad ass things. That is not to say that there isn’t a clear winner. There very obviously is.

Duh

Duh

Danerys wins because, let’s talk about what she does. She makes her way into The House of The Undying, which, by the way, doesn’t have any doors. Once inside she has a few visions. The first is of The Iron Throne, the entire throne room covered in snow. (Winter is Coming and all of that.) The second vision, is of Drogo holding their son.

I love this scene, particularly how she lets them, and the dream of that life go. It’s heartbreaking and perfect.

After the visions, she finds the dragons. (Yay!) Then, just as The Warlocks think they have her trapped, she kills them with dragonfire.

Oh but the one true queen isn’t finished yet. She goes back to Xaro’s and finds him in bed with Doreah (BETRAYAL!) So what does she do? She locks them both in Xaro’s vault, and strips his house of all his riches to buy a ship.

Runner up goes to Brienne, who goes out of her way to give a burial to a bunch of women murdered for supposedly sleeping with Lannisters, kills the men who killed them, reminds Jamie who exactly is in charge around here and reiterates that she’s loyal to Catelyn not to The Starks in total.

She’s the best.

Missandei And Greyworm Watch

You know who would never betray Dany and sleep with the dude who was trying to have her killed?

If you answered Missandei, you would be absolutely correct.

Sansa’s Agency Watch

Hey! Sansa doesn’t have to marry Joffrey because Maergary is falling on that particular sword for the time being. That’s pretty great news for Sansa. But as Little Finger reminds her, she’s not quite out of the woods yet. But it’s still good.

Arya Badass Watch

Arya turns down a big badass chance to go to Braavos and become a faceless man. Bummer that we still have two seasons before that’s a thing.

Who Was Jamie A Dick To?

Jamie was a dick to Brienne! Also those Starks they killed. Obviously.

Robb Is A King And Kind of Bad At It

In this episode Robb marries Talisa.

Dumbass.

Final Note:

I’m going to be taking a break from this rewatch for a little while. Among other things (I’m so behind on my weekly shows and podcasts, NaNoWriMo, desire to just watch The X-Files and nothing else) these weekly watches and write ups are starting to feel like a chore and one of the joys of not being beholden to anyone else in this space is that when something starts to feel like a chore, I can back away from it and come back when it feels fun again. I have every intention to go through and name winners, catalog Sansa’s agency, Arya’s badassness and everything else for season 3, but my guess is that I’ll do it after the Holidays, when I’ve finished with X-Files and have a little more weekend leisure time to get ahead of things. For the next few weeks, I’ve decided to black out on Wednesdays, which gives me one night a week (at least) to just work on NaNoWriMo and not blog.

Game of Thrones Winner: “The Prince of Winterfell”

Blah, I hate this run in the series. The beginning of this season is so strong and this is when things start getting really stupid. That said, a winner must be picked each episode, because I made the rules.

This episode, the winner is Yara Greyjoy!

Yara_arrives

Yara rides into Winterfell, tells Theon he’s an idiot, and reminds him that he doesn’t belong at Winterfell. He doesn’t listen, of course, because Theon is the worst, but hey, at least she makes the effort. And she tells him that killing “Bran and Rickon” (not Bran and Rickon) was a terrible idea.

Runner up goes to Davos, who gets his job as Stanhnis’s hand. This is the most thankless job in the seven kingdoms, but I mean, it means a lot to Davos and he’s great.

Missandei And Greyworm Watch

There wasn’t even much Danerys this week. But, well, from a shipping watch standpoint? Ygritte saved Jon, so that’s pretty cool. Because she’s pretty great. That’s about all there is to say here.

Sansa’s Agency Watch

No Sansa this week. I didn’t miss her.

Arya Badass Watch

Arya, with the help Ja’quen, breaks her friends out of Harrenhall. Also she tells Ja’quen to kill himself because she’s angry. She gets that temper from Cat, I think.

Who Was Jamie A Dick To?

Jamie was a dick to Brienne. This will continue for a little while, and I’m pretty excited about it. I love these two. Both separately and together. But mostly together. They’re great together. Brienne is also great with Pod. Brienne is great with everyone.

Robb Is a King And Kind of Bad At It

Robb puts Catelyn under guard. This was actually good. Good Kinging Robb! He also bones Talisa in his tent. This is not so good. Because we all know where this leads.

Also Roose Bolton talks about “his bastard” taking Winterfell again. MAYBE WE DON’T DO THAT ROBB.

Game of Thrones Winner: A Man Without Honor

Oh God, this was a really easy pick, and, I keep forgetting how much I love this season. Just in general, it’s all so wonderful.

But by far, this winner is Cersei.

Cersei Lannister

Which isn’t really fair, since it isn’t so much that Cersei won, so much as Lena Heady is so good in this episode that it’s impossible to ignore.

First off, Sansa gets her period and Cersei is vulnerable and honest with her for probably the first and last time ever. She tells her that she doesn’t need to love Joffrey, but she will love his children. This is neither the first nor the last time that Cersei points to motherhood as woman’s refuge from, well, everything.

She also talks to Tyrion about their loss of control of Joffrey. I’m just saying that this is when I started really admiring they way they made Cersei human around this time. She’s still evil, but she’s not a monster, she’s a person. I’ve described her as someone who’s been banging her head against a patriarchal brick wall, and failing miserably. It’s why she’s so threatened by Margaery, who easily navigates through those waters.

But we’re not there yet.

Runner up is Shae, who tries to help Sansa hide her period, so that she doesn’t have to marry Joffrey. Shae is the best.

Missandei And Grey Worm Watch

Good Handmaiden died when Dany’s house was raided. Doreah is missing. Her blood riders are dead. She needs the two best now. In other shipping watch, Ygritte is trying real hard to get into Jon’s pants in these episodes. Ygritte is great. Jon is adorable. So much love.

Sansa’s Agency Watch

Sansa is have PTSD dreams about her attempted rape, which isn’t fun, but she does try to hide her period from Cersei. With Shae’s help. Her conversation with Cersei is an incredible exercise in grace and poise though. Sophie Turner, also really good in this episode.

Arya Bad Ass Watch

Arya comes up with a cover story so that Tywin stops trying to figure out who she is…I’m pretty sure he knows who she is. He mentions that Arya reminds him of Cersei. This is meant as accomplishment, but Arya does not take it as one.

Who Was Jamie A Dick To?

Oh, just everyone. There was that cousin, who he killed. Then the Karstark kid, who he killed. Then Cat, who he antagonized before she set him free. Just, he’s a huge dick to everyone.

Robb Is A King And Kind of Bad At It

Uggghhh, more stupid Theon stuff that’s the result of Robb being terrible at being a King. And he brings Talisa to a surrender meeting. Which is a dumbass move of the highest level.

Game Of Thrones Winner: “The Old Gods And New”

So, we’re entering that stage of Game of Thrones where nobody wins because everything is terrible.

But there is someone who sort of wins in this episode, and it’s someone we never met before.

Ygritte! Ygritte won the Game of Thrones tonight.

Ygritte

While she has yet to remind Jon that he knows nothing, she does manage to get her whole “kissed by fire” thing going and thus spoon with him, and prevent him from chopping off her head.

I really love Ygritte, and she’s a figure of some controversy in our house because my sister really, really hates her but most specifically she hates Rose Leslie’s accent. But I really like her and I specifically love Leslie and Kit Harrington’s chemistry, so I’m glad she’s on the scene and that Jon didn’t cut off her head.

Runner up goes to Tyrion, who slaps Joffrey around a little bit, which we’re all always glad to see him do.

Missandei and Grey Worm Watch

WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS?????????

Sansa’s Agency Watch

When the peasants attack everyone coming back from seeing Myrcella off to Dorne, Sansa almost gets raped and murdered. This is by far the worst thing to happen to Sansa so far, but not the worst thing that will happen to her. She does slap the guy and then get rescued by The Hound, which is nice. She’s also nice to Tommen, when he’s sad about his sister leaving, saying that Rickon cried when she left. D’awww. Oh, and she realizes that she can trust Shae. Sansa, marshalling allies.

Arya Bad Ass Watch

Arya names her second name, this time to save her own skin, as she’s pretty sure that the guy is going to rat her out to Tywin. It still bugs me that stupid Little Finger doesn’t grab her and take her back to Cat or The Eyrie or whatever at this point, because I hate Little Finger, he is the absolute worst. Anyway, more Jaquen and Arya stuff to come, and I’m going to miss it all so much when it’s gone.

Who Was Jamie a Dick To?

No Jamie. But Tywin does tell Arya that Jamie is dyslexic, which is a detail I had forgotten about and I like a lot.

Robb Is A King and Kind Of Bad At It

Robb flirts with Talisa. Bad. Robb finds out that Theon took over Winterfell, because he made the terrible decision of trusting Theon. Robb then trusts Roose Bolton to take Winterfell back, or to trust his Bastard to do it.

Oh hey guys, we’re about to meet Ramsey.

Who’s excited?

Not me. Obviously. No one is ever excited to meet Ramsey.

In A Totally Unrelated Story:

I fly off to Disney World Tonight!! Watch my Facebook for pics, random though updates and general joy. I’m unbelievably excited, but a little bummed out about not being at NYCC! Have a good Con, those who’ll be there.

Game of Thrones Winner: “The Ghost of Harrenhall”

love this episode so very much. I don’t really know why, nothing terribly huge happens in it, but it’s a completely wonderful episode.

The winner of this episode, is, no surprise, the ghost himself Jaqen H’ghar

jaqen

I love Jaqen, but this episode, particularly is a great one for him, where he and Arya speak again and he introduces her to the idea of death needing to be repaid. He mentions “The Red God,” which I’m pretty sure he never does again, and also leads me to believe that while giving “The Kindly Man” (as he’s called in the book) Jaqen’s face was a good call visually, it makes it clear that he might not be the same guy.

Anyway, his win comes from beginning his work as “The Ghost of Harrenhall,” the episodes title character!

Good for you Jaqen.

Runner up goes to Catelyn who saves Brienne from being tried for Renly’s death and then earns her as a protector and vassal, this is good for Catelyn. Kind of wish Brienne had stuck with her rather than going on Jamie guard dealing.

Missandei and Grey Worm Watch

Dany send Doreah to have sex with dudes in Qarth to find out about Xaro, because men talk when they’re “happy.” I feel like she would never do this to Missandei, because Missandei is better than Doreah, and she’s also matured by the time. The other hand maiden who’s name I can’t remember is very defensive of Dany losing her Dorthraki identity. You should listen to that Handmaiden Who’s Name I Can’t Remember Dany…

Sansa Agency Watch

No Sansa this week. So, no agency to check up on.

Arya Bad Ass Watch

She teaches Gendry how to fight, or gives him tips at least. Not going to lie, I ship these two a little. Too bad they’ll probably never see each other again and Gendry may or may not be dead? Who knows. Anyway, she also serves Tywin, effectively lies about her identity (although I still bet that Tywin has an inkling about who she is.) and gives Jaqen the first of the names.

An excellent hour of badassery from Arya.

Who Was Jamie A Dick To?

Still no Jamie. I mean, I know the second half and next season are great for him, but wow can’t believe how long it’s been since we saw him. Tyrion was a dick about him to Lancel, so I guess that counts?

Robb Is A King And Kind Of Bad At It

No Robb this week. But in “Theon is a Person and Kind Of Bad At It” news, he comes up with his stupid invade Winterfell plan that ruins a lot of things. And this is a result of Robb being terrible at being King and sending Theon home.