Game of Thrones Memory Lane 101: Winter Is Coming

Will

On April 17th, 2011, “Winter is Coming” aired on HBO. With the premiere of Game of Thrones, years of anticipation came to an end and a new fandom was born.

Fans of the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin had speculated and gossiped about the new TV series from the moment it was announced. We discussed potential casting and followed the filming of the pilot. HBO rolled out a phenomenal promotional campaign with The Maester’s Path, and we dove into it with enthusiasm. But until we saw the first episode and breathed a sigh of relief because Damn it was actually pretty great, until that point we were still ASOIAF fans.

Thanks to “Winter is Coming,” we became Game of Thrones fans as well.

Even before we saw the full episode, viewers were treated to a tease of the premiere. In a brilliant move, the first fifteen minutes of the series debut was made available to everyone.

There have been ups and downs in the series, and we’ve seen faces arrive, become beloved to us, and be brutally dispatched. Hands have risen and fallen, wars have begun, and dragons taken flight- but in the end, it all comes back to this: the true enemy, the threat from beyond the Wall. And House Stark, at the heart of the war in the North.

HBO did not mess around when it came to introducing the masses to Game of Thrones five years ago. The show brought with it a huge cast of characters, complex family histories, and a sprawling world that needed to be introduced very quickly. With that in mind, just before the onset of season 1 HBO rolled out a series of artisan, character, and house featurettes, along with the expected teasers and trailers.

House features playlist:

Character features playlist:

Other season 1 featurettes if you’re feeling very nostalgic.

The first episode premiered and was an instant hit, though it wasn’t without its hiccups, and fans of the books had their issues. I had a few tiny nitpicks of my own.

wigline

(Because when you’re friends with drag queens, there are some things you will always notice.) The wig work vastly improved over the first season and the ones to follow.

“Winter Is Coming,” written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and directed by Timothy Van Patten, established the style of Game of Thrones that we’ve come to know well. The mixture of complicated family dynamics and politics, with a taste of the eerie was set in place from the beginning.

Highlights

NW

Introductions: Everyone! My god, Jon Snow is practically a fetus when he’s clean-shaven!

Episode 1 deaths: The Night’s Watchmen Gared, Will and Ser Waymar Royce. The direwolf who birthed the pups taken in by the Stark children. Jon Arryn is reported dead. Dany’s Dothraki wedding is celebrated with the usual deaths.

Shockers: Lysa’s letter accuses the Lannisters of killing Jon Arryn. Bran goes climbing and gets an eyeful of Cersei and Jaime’s incestuous activities. Jaime proves just how far he’ll go for love, and pushes Bran from the tower.

Post-premiere, Game of Thrones quickly proved to be a creative inspiration to fans. Along with fan art, people were moved to cover the show’s main theme in a variety of ways. Here’s one that debuted a couple weeks after the premiere.

The Beautiful Death series, commissioned by HBO in 2014, depicts one death per episode. Ned’s execution of the deserting Night’s Watchman Will was commemorated with this stunning piece by Robert M. Ball:

sword

Over the next fifty days, until the premiere of Game of Thrones season 6, we’ll be sharing our memories and thoughts on one episode per day. You can look forward to rewatch reviews, pieces looking back with a fresh perspective and more.

We’ll also be live-tweeting our rewatching of “Winter Is Coming” tonight on our Twitter at @WatchersOTWall.

Here’s to fifty episodes of Game of Thrones, and to the coming season!

86 responses

Jump to (and Always Support) the Bottom

    1. It’s so weird to see the actors without facial hair, especially Robb and Jon. Jon’s pilot episode wig is also hilariously bad, bless his heart. It’s also so weird to see everyone so happy. I wonder if the original pilot will ever appear.

      Finally, the children are adorable. They’ve grown so much (especially Bran, who I doubt can now be carried around by Hodor). I wonder how they’ll work around that now.

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    2. This is such a great idea, to follow up on HBO’s GOT50 countdown to season six. A trip down memory lane, indeed!

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    3. As a major science fiction and fantasy fan this series changed my life as did the emergence of the LOTR movies. Watching the show, and then theory favids and interviews and such about it led me to read the books and now the obsession is quite real. I honestly feel between both Tolkien and Martin’s different depictions of the genre and their subsequent adaptations to screen has set the visual and creativity bar so high that it is unlikely anything else will pull me into it as much as they have.
      (I’m not posting this comment to begin a debate between the two authors. Both are/were masters of their craft and are no way supposed to be pitted against each other. As I said, they had very different approaches and both are amazing in their own right. I’m just citing how much they mean to me and have affected my love for the genre.)
      🙂

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    4. Great idea to do these little pieces, and will help us deal with the wait.

      Winter Is Coming was a fantastic opener to the series (well, they did get a second crack at the whip). It does such a brilliant job of introducing the many characters, helps us to understand their personalties, and there were still loads of dramatic moments.

      I’ve watched this episode so many times, and it remains as magical as it did the very first time I watched it.

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    5. Wow – D&D have gotten a lot greyer! Also, you can see why GRRM has taken so long with writing. He was VERY involved in the production.

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    6. As a huge fan of the books and of the world that GRRM created, I was practically in tears during those first few episodes … seeing those characters and locations brought to life, so beautifully and majestically … that first view of the wall … holy shit!!!!

      Revisiting an episode a day is a great way to build up to the next season!

      Can we just, please, not get into the already discussed-and-argued-to-death bitchfests surrounding certain events when they come up again ( ahem … Cersei & Jaime, Sansagate …)

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    7. Ah, good times…

      Except, I didn’t get into GoT until late December 2013/early January 2014 when season 3 was aired on the freeview national broadcaster channel in my country.

      Some friends had given vague hints that it’s a good and interesting show, even for someone like me, who’s not interested in fantasy and watches very, very little TV. So I gave it a go… And was immediately hooked.

      Most memorable moment: Dracarys!

      My first introduction to Jaime & Brienne: this lunking great female knight pushes a sarky, snarky, ragged prisoner throught the hedge. I fell in love with Jaime then and there.

      It was kind of difficult to catch up and get to know who was who and what had happened – like everybody kept talking about Blackwater and I had no idea what it was. It did not take away from my enjoyment of the 3rd series.

      I then got the DVD set series 1-3 and watched them before S4 aired on a pay channel- the first time in my life I’ve subscribed to a pay channel. Then got the books and have read, and re-read them.

      But just look at S1 and the kids especially! They’re sooo young and little and innocent and adorable! Even Jaime looks like a twenty-something arrogant prick, and NCW was in his late thirties/forty by that time.

      I won’t watch an episode a day, I’ll binge watch after the S5 DVDs come out.

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    8. I was very late to ASoIaF and sometimes wish I had known about the books before I ever heard about the show, but I’m happy being a Game of Thrones fan first and ASoIaF second. I’ve been a massive fan of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series for over 20 years and pray to the Old Gods and to Gan that the movie version is treated with as much respect that Dan and Dave showed to GoT and its source material, yes even to most of things they changed. I’m really hoping that after I watch the DT movie I love both versions of the gunslinger and his ka-tet. Anyway, this was a great read and look forward to reading each one. Long days and pleasant nights. And TRAILER!!!

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    9. Ah the memories. In 2011, I knew nothing about the show except that it starred Sean Bean and Peter Dinklage, that it was based on a series of fantasy books, and that HBO was marketing the hell out of it. It was really the power of Sean Bean that got me to watch the pilot but it was the compelling story, beautiful cinematography, and just all-around excellent production values that kept me coming back.

      The first 18 minutes of the premiere were damn near perfect. Nothing but the North, the Night’s Watch, and the WW. And then, of course, the Starks enjoying some family time before the rest of the world intrudes and ruins everything. 🙁

      The premiere had sooooo much information for a newbie like me to take in but D&D and crew did an excellent job in doling out the characters and info without making it overwhelming. Even the power of Sean Bean wouldn’t have kept me interested if the pilot had been a mess.

      I do sort of miss the days of not knowing what was going to happen. My spoiler-free viewing ended around episode 4. I just had to know what was going to happen to my beloved Starks. Sigh.

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    10. Ah, memories! 🙂 I remember watching that 15 minute preview of the series at least six times before I saw the episode itself. When I sat down to watch the full series premiere, I thought I’d be impatient to get to new material, but I found myself getting breathlessly drawn in all over again … because this time, it was for real. I had been looking forward to the show ever I read the first synopsis and laid eyes on this promotional image of Ned Stark (http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m9qhpjWTDU1qzytg1.jpg). As such, even though I read the first three books during the long wait for the premiere, I’ve never envisioned Ned as anyone other than Sean Bean.

      Every time I watch “Winter is Coming”, I remain in awe of how effectively and efficiently it establishes the world, the central characters, and their relationships to one another (that efficacy is even more impressive in light of Benioff and Weiss’s frequent admissions that the infamous first pilot failed to do any of those things). To this day, I have a couple of Unsullied friends who insist that the pilot is one of their favorite episodes of the entire series, largely for those reasons. I don’t know if I would go that far because the rest of the series reaches such incredible heights, but it’s a remarkable piece of work.

      As for my favorite scene in the episode … I think I have to go with Ned, Catelyn, and Maester Luwin in the master bedchamber after they receive Lysa’s (not entirely truthful) letter about Jon Arryn’s death. I love the way that Ned is shot so that Catelyn and Luwin appear to be standing in for the proverbial angel and devil on his shoulders, offering opposing counsel about what he should do – only they’re two angels (well, close enough), and there is no good choice for him to make. Meanwhile, Ned just looks haunted – no more so than when Cat warns him “Your father and brother rode south once on a King’s demand” and Luwin somberly replies “A different time. A different King.” There’s so much power and weight behind those words … I get chills on every damn viewing.

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    11. I discovered GoT only last summer, watched Season 1 overnight, and next 3 seasons in the 3 following nights. On the 5th night I watched 6 episodes of Season 5, and it was a pain to wait until the next 4 became available. Since then I re-watched GoT 3 times and now I’m really considering subscribing to HBO, though I’m not sure whether it will be possible in my country. By the way, maybe you could advice on how to subscribe? There are so many people who are forced to watch pirate copies, because they simply don’t know how to watch it otherwise, and it just seems unfair not to pay for such a wonderful work of art! HBO deserves every dollar and every euro-cent for what they do.

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    12. I didn’t get involved in this incredible story (and this passionate fandom) until after S1 had aired. My son came home from college and said, “Mom, you have to watch this show. You will love it.” Needless to say, my son knows me well.

      Jared:
      Every time I watch “Winter is Coming”, I remain in awe of how effectively and efficiently it establishes the world, the central characters, and their relationships to one another (that efficacy is even more impressive in light of Benioff and Weiss’s frequent admissions that the infamous first pilot failed to do any of those things).

      Completely agree. I still cannot believe how much was presented in this first episode. There was so much to take in and consider.

      However, I knew that I was “hooked” in the final moments of the episode – when Jaime pushes Bran out of the window. That was when I realized that this show would not be similar to anything else on TV.

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    13. One of my favorite moments of the series…
      Bran: Is it true he saw the WWs?
      Ned: The WWs have been gone for thousands of years.
      Bran: So he was lying?
      Ned: A mad man sees what he sees.

      Can’t get enough of that scene. So well adapted and quite telling. Poor honorable Ned…in that moment and later in KL, he couldn’t see the forest for the trees! I wonder if Bran will revisit that opening scene…?

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    14. Jeb:

      I’ve watched this episode so many times, and it remains as magical as it did the very first time I watched it.

      Yup, the magic is still there even after I’ve watch the pilot like a dozen times. Definitely in my top 5 of GoT episodes.

      Red Viper:
      that first view of the wall … holy shit!!!!

      I pretty much said the same thing when my unsullied eyes first got a view of the Wall.

      talvikorppi:

      Even Jaime looks like a twenty-something arrogant prick, and NCW was in his late thirties/forty by that time.

      NCW does look very young in the pilot. I thought he was in his early thirties back then.

      I love the entire pilot but one of my favorite scenes is the one between Ned & Bran after Will’s beheading. I love that Bran’s interest in the WW is already evident. And of course, Ned’s “the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword” line that would shape the actions of Robb, Jon, and Theon in later seasons.

      So Ned has a personal quiet moment with Bran in the pilot and in the next episode he has one with Jon. Is my memory failing me or did he not have a moment like that with Robb?

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    15. I’ve also been re-watching the past seasons, it gets better and better. Watching it again and knowing who’s not going to make it is sad. Makes me want to yell at them “No, don’t do that”

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    16. Inga:
      [snip] Since then I re-watched GoT 3 times and now I’m really considering subscribing to HBO, though I’m not sure whether it will be possible in my country. By the way, maybe you could advice on how to subscribe? There are so many people who are forced to watch pirate copies, because they simply don’t know how to watch it otherwise, and it just seems unfair not to pay for such a wonderful work of art! HBO deserves every dollar and every euro-cent for what they do.

      It depends where in the world you are. Your nic suggest a Nordic location. You’re obviously online. In the Nordic countries it’s HBO Nordic, and you can get GoT on your computer/TV, though only 24 hrs after it “airs” (streams) in the US. Just get a subscription from your net provider. In my country, it costs 9.95 euro per month, first month free, and you can cancel whenever without any damages, so watching a season costs less than 20 euro. Just google HBO Nordic, or see what your net provider has to offer in their “entertainment” tab.

      But you do have to pay. I don’t mind, I’m glad to pay for this quality and exciting TV.

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    17. I didn’t find GOT until the end of season 3 and the beginning of season 4. Needless to say, I had to binge watch 30 episodes to catch up and I never got the chance to experience these season 1/episode 1 promotional videos. Great idea as usual Sue – Txs for all you do.

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    18. Great idea guys, looking forward to it. In my country we get a Sky pop-up channel for the month before the new series starts replaying all the GOT episodes, and behind the scenes featurettes, 24/7. I’m really looking forward to re-reading all these posts as I re-watch all the episodes in the lead up to S6. Who needs a trailer when we have Watchers on the Wall ?! LOL.

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    19. I only discovered GOT after S1 aired and I immediately read all 5 books after watching it. I really envy you guys who’d been fans from way back. The hype around the announcement of the TV series as well as all the casting news, photos etc. leading up to (and during) the first airing must have been incredible to be a part of. 🙂

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    20. Had to laugh at the mention of the wigline. I admit I have always had love/hate feelings for the Daenerys wigs. Sometimes the hair looks amazing… sometimes not so much. I personally think it looks better disheveled than neatly pulled back with ringlets. Maybe it’s really just the ringlets that irk me haha! Anywho! Great video clips! 😀

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    21. Cersei’s wigs….WOW!

      I came late to the party. Around the end of S2, a friend recommended the show to me because of the costumes. (That’s my thing. I love to make costumes!) Hooked immediately. Binged watched to catch up and have been obsessed since.

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    22. BunBunStark:

      So Ned has a personal quiet moment with Bran in the pilot and in the next episode he has one with Jon. Is my memory failing me or did he not have a moment like that with Robb?

      Been a few years since I watched the episode but I don’t believe Ned and Robb were ever seen to speak to each other.

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    23. I discovered the series just before season 3 aired. I saw a picture of Ned Stark in an article on GOT and I was wondering what Boromir was doing in another show. So I went to Youtube to search for a clip or trailer, but was lucky to find the complete first episode. I planned to watch only a few minutes just to watch Boromir. But the very first scene just got me hooked and I forgot why I had started watching. It was so magical. I couldn’t understand a thing: Rob, Jon, Theon. It was all very confusing who was who, so I started checking information on the internet (and got spoiled about certain events). That same day I bingewatched the whole first and second season. A few days later season 3 started. After season 3 had aired, I bought and read all the 5 books in English (my native language is Dutch). Funny thing is I knew Carice Van Houten because she played in some of my favorite Dutch movies, but I hadn’t recognised her at all. When I read she was also in GOT, I had to look up wich character she played. I thought it was some small role in one episode. So surprised she was playing Melisandre.

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    24. Excited for memory lane! My favorite scenes from the premier were Will’s execution, the arrival of the King and company, and the shot introducing the stark girls- I love how the camera pans around the table, taking a nice long look at Aryas perfectly done hair, as she’s distracted by the ruckus in the yard. Such great foreshadowing to the moment Yoren cuts her hair off to end the season.
      And it’s always tough to see the Starks happy and together in Winterfell…

      Looking forward to revisiting the episodes day by day

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    25. Apollo: The hype around the announcement of the TV series as well as all the casting news, photos etc. leading up to (and during) the first airing must have been incredible to be a part of.

      It was. But then again the wait for the premiere and then the waiting a week between episodes was (is) maddening. In some ways I wish my first viewing was a binge session because I think GoT is the perfect show to binge. In most ways though I am glad I watched it the way I did and grateful for WiC/WotW for making the waits more bearable. Thanks to their review roundups, I remember spending hours reading/watching the various reviews out there in the days between eps, which really helped me see the episodes from different perspectives and pointed out things I may have missed. The episodes really had time to sink in, which lead to a more enjoyable viewing experience overall I think.

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    26. Chilli: Funny thing is I knew Carice Van Houten because she played in some of my favorite Dutch movies, but I hadn’t recognised her at all. When I read she was also in GOT, I had to look up wich character she played. I thought it was some small role in one episode. So surprised she was playing Melisandre.

      Interesting. Does she really look that different in GoT? I’ve only seen her in one other thing, Black Death (oddly enough, also starring Sean Bean). From what I recall she was pretty similar to Melisandre in that.

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    27. I’ve watched GOT since it first aired in 2011 (via UK Sky Atlantic) and was totally drawn into it and have been ever since. Must have seen all 5 Seasons repeated probably some 5 times now. I’ve never get bored re-watching it and often pickup bits of information which I may have missed previously.

      Took me a bit of time to follow at first and get into it with all the different plot lines, but all that comes second nature now. Some of the quotes especially when Tyrion is using bad language really creases me up – Like “Why are gods such vicious cunts? Where is the god of Tits and Wine!” I rolled up LOL when I heard that 😀

      I hope when Season 6 airs there will be some more classic Tyrion lines like that 😉

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    28. What a great idea. I love the pilot so much. It’s so lovely and cinematic. My BF was not a book reader at the time so I got to sit and chuckle in fiendish delight as he experienced all these things for the first time.

      My favorite scene in WiC is one of the first. Bran with the bow and arrow in the courtyard, being helped by Robb and Jon, watched by Ned and Cat and upstaged by Arya. Love my Stark babies.

      Wigs almost never bother me. The main thing that bothers me every time I rewatch this ep, is “I Eddard, of House STORK.” 😛

      I honestly had no idea there was such an obsessive fandom for the books/show until about two years ago. I used to read Tower of the Hand religiously and never really ventured to any forums or sites. It was quite naive of me, to say the least. I wish I’d known you were all out “there,” wherever you are, much sooner. I would have loved to annoy the hell out of you with my undying love of

      LSH

      years ago! 😉

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    29. hexonx,

      I’ve also seen her in Black Death, but that role is similar to the role she plays in GOT. Her Dutch movies are completely different, more romantic feelgood movies and in Dutch. I hadn’t heard her in English before GOT.

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    30. Nice write-up Sue! Those were some exhilarating times indeed, seeing the world of ASoIaF materialize in front of us. That first view of The Wall blew my mind away, and till this day, I still find “The things I do for love” one of the best lines/scenes of the series, as it perfectly set the tone for all that was to come.

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    31. Hodors Bastard: Hah! Chaos is a ladda…

      … and imaginative ones, too. 🙁

      Apollo,
      Same here. I’m kind of angry with myself that I didn’t jump on the hype train sooner. When I heard that the series was coming shortly before it aired I figured a fantasy TV show had to be cheap looking and slightly campy, as fantasy shows usually were. So I passed on it.

      Then, after the first season, I started to hear how gritty and realistic looking it was and I figured I should give it a try after all. After the first two minutes I switched it off – all that dark gloominess gave me the creeps. I decided to see if it would improve on that front so I chose another episode and switched it on right in the midde – to see a little girl being forced to look at a severed head by a little boy. Yeah. Took me a while to actually give it a chance, but once the storyline gripped me, I couldn’t stop.

      I read the books between seasons 2 and 3 because I couldn’t wait to know how things would progress. Ever since, I’ve been as big a fan of the books as I am of the show. I love the fact that neither takes away from the other.

      But I keep wondering how I would have reacted to the casting and design choices if I had read the books first. I even went back to the archives on WiC to see what the fan reactions were back then. I would love to read about your memories of that – expectations (and fears) and in what ways they were met/not met/improved upon.

      Ooh, this is going to be fun!

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    32. Like a lot of people, I didn’t catch Game of Thrones at the very beginning and only got caught up a couple of months before season 3. I’ve never been so hooked on a show before! After season 3 ended, I literally counted down the days till season 4 and watched it over and over again. It’s really amazing how I had the self control to not look for spoilers on the web (I had tried reading the books but felt the world of the book colliding with the show so I had to stop – it always amazes me how people can keep them separate).

      It’s funny that they’re doing this promotion because this is exactly what I’ve done the past couple of seasons – I chart out the exact amount of days needed and then watch an episode per day so that I finish the last episode of the most recent season a day before the premiere of the new season. I’m happy others will be doing it along with me this year.

      As for the pilot, what a masterpiece. Gorgeously shot, scored, written, acted. Such amazing sets and locations. I’ve watched it so many times and it never gets old.

      Look forward to discussing future episodes with you all and thanks for the great work on the site.

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    33. hexonx: Interesting.Does she really look that different in GoT?I’ve only seen her in one other thing, Black Death (oddly enough, also starring Sean Bean).From what I recall she was pretty similar to Melisandre in that.

      That film is depressing as hell.

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    34. Chilli:
      hexonx,

      I’ve also seen her in Black Death, but that role is similar to the role she plays in GOT. Her Dutch movies are completely different, more romantic feelgood movies and in Dutch. I hadn’t heard her in English before GOT.

      Well, I woudn’t call Black Book a romantic feelgood movie, buy maybe it’s just me. 🙂

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    35. dee,

      Ooohhh yessss,could not agree more. I came to the show after season 2 and often wondered if Nikolajs nose would have bothered me or which other actors/actresses I would have picked. Now it seems impossible to imagine someone else portraying Arya or any of the other characters. I would love to read other fans initial reactions in regards to casting choices?

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    36. Thank you for this “down the memory lane” feature. I actually rewatched all 50 episodes in January/February and noticed a lot of small wonderful details that I had overlooked when watching the regular season.

      As for this first episode, I have a complicated history with it. Some friends kept telling me about this show GOT and that it was the bomb. So I started watching the pilot and could not understand a thing, too much context and history references missing, just could not follow it through the end. So I gave up. Some time between season 2 and 3, more friends kept raving about GOT so I gave it another chance. And when I saw Bran thrown out of the window and the credits roll up I was hooked, and immediately started watching episode 2 and then binge-watched all of seasons 1 and 2.

      Then season 3 came, Jojen and Meera magically appeared in the middle of forest out of nowhere and I was like, I NEED context. So by S3E2 I was reading the books and then I got completely fanatic about a fantasy work. I finish all five books by the end of that summer. Then I started looking for fan websites in the internet and found you.

      I am more of a sci-fi fan, I like fantasy but casually. And though I religiously watch my LOTR marathon over Christmas time every year, for me it was GOT and ASOIAF that made me a true fantasy fan!

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    37. Just after celebrating Swedish midsummer in 2011 (for those who know, or care, it always ends up with a major hangover the following morning), I started watching GoT. Somewhere in my foggy memory of the night before I recalled my friends urging me to see it. I also remembered someone called Ned would died in the end, thanks for that spoiler “friends” … However, after binge watching season 1 in a day, it became the best hangover of my life! I bought and read all the 5 books that summer and been hooked ever since. I’ve gotten some of my friends to read the books, but none of them is as fanatic as I am 🙁

      It took me until the start of season 5 to find this site – and thank you all, admins and fellow readers, for contributing to this great community! Reading the articles, discussions and great insight from so many fans is both fun and interesting. Without you, my thoughts and theories would feel so lonely..

      The pilot got me hooked right away. Just as someone mentioned earlier in this thread, after Bran got pushed put if the window I felt right away that this was something special. It was a little bit confusing with all the characters but I must admit that I am impressed that D&D made it work at all!

      This “Memory lane” -thing is a good way to control my patience until it’s time for season 6! 🙂

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    38. dee,

      Hiya – I wrote a huge response to your question but it didn’t load properly and disappeared into the black hole. Sigh

      Anyway, gist was that I read and loved the series years ago, heard HBO was making the series, was nervous about it being well made and then – was so impressed with S1! So happy they pulled this off and all my family and friends are in on it. Now I have lots of folks to discuss theories!

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    39. This is a nice wee post everyone remembering how they first got into the show /books.

      I was very late to the game! I had heard of the show in passing and I remember my colleagues talking about how confusing the books got and watching the stream on Sky News of when the Queen went to the studios in Belfast.

      I had an upcoming holiday (between season 4 and 5) so decided to buy the first two books (it was buy one get one free!) and devoured the two of them in a week!

      I then watched the first 4 seasons. It’s funny I didn’t realise it before I watched the series but I must have caught some promo material beforehand because when I read the books I pictured Tyrion, Dany, Jon, Ned and Cersei exactly as the actors look who play them!

      I read the rest of the books before season 5. I love both the books and show but generally think of them as different entities.

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    40. I was quite late in catching up with the show too… and I wasn’t even able to finish season 1, I found the first season a little bit boring too be honest, not being a book series fan or anything… And then I had my first baby who was such a quiet little thing bless her heart, that I had SO much time at my hands while staying at home. So I watched up to season 4 included, and can’t get away ever since!
      But talking about this first first episode, as a non reader and a non fantasy fan, well… at the time I found it dark and confusing… And a little scary as well!

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    41. Cersei’s Brain,

      Shame 😉

      So what did you think of the individual casting choices? Was there anyone you thought was miscast? Did it bother you that they had aged up everyone? And did you imagine it quite as bleak?

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    42. With everyone getting nostalgic, I went through my Gmail and Skype to see when I started watching and, shortly thereafter, obsessing about Game of Thrones. My earliest mention of GoT, which I then referred to as GoP (Game of Porn), was on June 27, 2012, when I said I’d finished watching the first season. Being summer, I imagine I finished within 2 to 3 days of starting the season.

      My Harry Potter friend asked if I planned on reading the books. At the time, I wasn’t sure, but two days later, after finishing Season 2, I see where I purchased GoT for the Kindle. And so it begins.

      I love re-reading my initial reaction to Ned’s death.

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    43. Cersei’s Brain:
      dee,

      Hiya – I wrote a huge response to your question but it didn’t load properly and disappeared into the black hole. Sigh

      That really effing sucks, CB. I mean, we made fun of George for it that one time on New Year’s, but I think it has happened to all of us. Using the back button has saved me 90% of the time when this happens. It may only be Chrome that stores answers in its cache for when users click back, but it would be worth a try next time if you need to recover a post.

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    44. I am watching all 5 seasons in reverse …..starting with season 5 episode 10…
      my favorite is the battle of blackwater bay ..I was like damn yeah…when bronn shot that arrow and it was like boom…..and that look on ser Davos ‘ s face…..that will always live. …deep in my memory

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    45. Ginevra,

      Thanks a bunch – I will definitely try that next time. Also, keep telling myself to draft over on Word and then cut & paste but then don’t. Doh.

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    46. dee,

      As to casting choices, I really was not familiar with any of the actors other than Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage and Mark Addy. Of course, was really happy with Bean since I loved the Fellowship. Also, knew that Dinklage and Addy were very good actors. I also did think it was a good idea to cast unknowns for the kids because this helped head off preconceptions as to how the characters would develop. When I actually saw the happy Starks and the Targaryeans in E1, I was very impressed with that casting. Thought it was good to age everyone up since I was familiar with some of the more risqué aspects of the story. The only characters that didn’t match my imagination were Cersei and Jaime – but the show characters have really grown on me over the years (esp Lena – love her).

      As to the bleakness and grittiness – I was hoping that the show would do justice to the books in that aspect. Actually, the sets and the music really exceeded my expectations. I was so impressed by the production! However, I was afraid it wouldn’t catch on and would be cancelled for the first couple years. That’s why I turned on SO many people to it. And guess what? They all love it!

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    47. I wasn’t familiar with the books when I saw the first ads on HBO. Hmmmmm, medieval fantasy story in a winter setting with Sean Bean??? I’m in!!! So the first episode greedily sucked me into the GOT world. But it wasn’t until the beheading of Ned that I ran to the books. I just couldn’t believe they killed him off and immediately after thee show I was Googling like crazy to find out if they also killed Ned in the books. I was so pissed when that was confirmed. The next day I bought the first book and so started my complete immersion into GOT and ASOIF!! Been here ever since, so thanks HBO for my favorite series of all time.

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    48. I saw this over a month ago at the outset of our annual binge-watch. It’s really a very, very solid first chapter, which is critical in these sorts of series where you are telling a story over a whole season.

      Sad but true: after watching it, I got online to order the recent SoI&F books, as I had not read one since Crows. I was both amused and unamused to see that this led me only to a preorder for Dragons…… (I actually “remembered” that it came out shortly after Crows, but that I had not gotten around to reading it. In my defense, I had moved twice and had a kid in that interval of time, as well as doing [and finishing, George] several research projects. But, still…. )

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    49. Wimsey,

      ?? Feast came out in Fall 2005 – DwD was released in Summer 2011- that is not close together but time probably flew for you as it appears your life was very busy. Have you started reading DwD yet?

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    50. Cersei’s Brain,

      I read DwD on a plane flight to Oz: in fact, I think that the book came out on midnight of the day of my trip, so my iPad had it waiting for me! (That’s a long plane flight: approximately one Martin novel and 2 naps long, in fact.) I did like Dragons quite a lot. But I was really surprised that it was not already out, or that the series had not been completed in the 6 years since Crows.

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    51. The saddest part of this episode, which you don’t even realise is so poignant at the time (that is, unless you’d read the books), is when Ned, Robert, Robb and co are setting off for the hunt and Ned spots Bran standing in the courtyard, gives him a nod, to which Bran replies with a smile and nod of his own, before they head their separate ways, never to interact again.

      Even despite what happens to Bran at the end of the episode, the poignancy of that briefest of interactions between father and son still isn’t fully realised until many episodes later.

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    52. Ginevra,

      Even more fantastic: San Francisco!

      I’ve done the USAustralia trip many times, and it’s never much fun. That trip was a bit less awful simply because I found Dragons to be pretty gripping. (On other occasions, I’ve watched the entire Lord of the Rings extended series. But sometimes the sleeping pills actually work and I get some sleep….)

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    53. I started watching right before season 3 aired. I had never heard of it before then! I watched season 1 and 2 in about 4 days. Since then I have been watching as they air. I have rewatched each season multipleeeee times. Love it 🙂
      I’ll read the books after book 6 comes out.

        Quote  Reply

    54. aahhhhh, sweet episode 1! I got into the show first, after season1 had already aired and right before season 2 started. I wasn’t really interested in the books at the time; my uncle had been reading them and they looked waaaaaay to big for me! But after the Red Wedding, I read the first 3 books….and then after season 4 started i decided NOT to read anymore till after the series was over. I found myself waiting and watching to see which events or characters from the book were gonna make it to the show thus taking away just a little bit of the awe and excitement of the show. Plus I barely started Feast and was not digging having to get accustomed to all these new characters right off the bat. I have seen all the seasons multiple times and just cannot get enough! This idea of going back thru all the episodes is just warming my heart during this looooooooonng wait for winter!
      The 2 things in that premiere episode that REALLY got me were, as many others have said, Bran out the window at the very end; also when Viserys was telling Dany that the entire khalasar AND their horses could have their way with her!! I was like, “DAYUM!! This show ain’t messing around!!” 😉

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