Game of Thrones
I finished watching Season 1 of Game of Thrones. And yes, I have never read the books, so my opinions of this are solely based off the TV series.
So it’s not bad. I enjoyed myself while watching it, but I may have enjoyed it solely because it’s a dark fantasy world filled with blood, stabbing, and naked women. I think they did a reasonable job at creating all the characters. You really come to like the Stark family and their struggle for justice, while hating all the ruthless, political schemers. There’s a good amount of development for the main characters, and you get to really see them change as time progresses.
The story lines are solid. They are interesting and filled with twists to keep you guessing. I will say the story of the Black Watch was completely pointless, but my guess is that they will play a bigger role in future seasons. Right now, they just seem like a huge waste of time. But otherwise, everything was definitely entertaining and kept me wanting to watch the next episode.
The one thing I did have a problem with is the sheer number of characters and the difficult of keeping track of their long, difficult to pronounce names. I’m still not sure exactly who everyone is and the relations between them, particularly for the non-major characters. I feel like I need to keep the wiki page open while watching so I don’t miss anything.
Establishing The Boundaries of the World
Spoilers by the way
When you create a fantasy world, you need to quickly establish what is valid and what is impossible. While a fantasy world can contain magic, dragons, and super human abilities, it still needs to follow rules. Otherwise, everything quickly loses meaning and it’s impossible to build tension in a scene. For example, everyone understands physics and what is impossible in the real world. If you have a normal man fighting a dragon, you expect the man to get instantly crushed because a real human could not hope to compete with the sheer size and speed of a dragon. So in bad movies (e.g. Transformers) you would have the man impossibly dodge and evade the dragon’s firebreath, claws, and tail. Then somehow they manage to run up without getting blown to smithereens and slice off it’s head (or put some stupid allspark in their chest). Watching something like that is frustrating, stupid, and constantly has you asking “Did that really just happen?”
However, if in the first 10 minutes you show that the man can dodge, jump, and shoot magic bolts, then you’ve established that in this world, the laws of physics do not apply. This world has magic, dragons, super powerful men and that’s just the way it is. You don’t need to explain how anything works or how it came to be. It’s just accepted.
For most of the series, everyone is pretty normal. People fight like real, clumsy humans in heavy armor. They get easily hurt and die to single sword slashes. There is mention of some zombie like people called “white walkers” in the first episode, but they never really reveal them so we don’t know if they are truly zombies or just a bunch of savage people who pretend to be ghosts to scare you. There is no signs of magic or supernatural beings, outside of some legends and superstitions mentioned in passing. You get the feeling that this world generally follows the laws of physics and is realistic enough.
But towards the end of season 1, things start getting weirder and weirder. The white walkers are revealed as being real zombies who rise from the dead. A woman uses “blood magic” to save someone from death. A woman walks into a fire and is unburned. Even dragons show up in the final scene. You have this radical switch where the world goes from the middle ages to Dragon Age the video game.
The problem I have with this is that for the entire season, people have been established as normal humans, struggling with mortal issues in a real world. As soon as you introduce dragons and magic into the mix, it shatters everything you thought you knew and trivializes everything you’ve already seen. Imagine a movie about World War II, where a platoon of soldiers is fighting on the street. They use teamwork, courage, and ingenuity with the tools at their disposal to slowly work their way towards a goal, maybe killing some machine gun nests or tanks along the way and losing some men. Then all of a sudden a Gundam shows up and blows everything to smithereens. That’s how I felt at the ending of Season 1.
Maybe all of this supernatural stuff won’t matter much and the dragons (which are still babies) are just there for symbolism or something. I hope that the series will continue to focus only on men fighting men, and never bring dragons or magic into the picture again. And despite how well done most of the series is, all I can think about is the ending and how stupid it is.