Over the past four years, since making it’s debut in April 2011, Game Of Thrones has grown to become a true worldwide phenomenon; it’s the most popular show HBO have ever produced (a true accomplishment for the network which gave us The Sopranos, The Wire, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire and Rome), and being based on the worldwide best-selling novels of George R.R. Martin it’s not hard to see why.
Based on Martin’s series of Fantasy novels A Song Of Ice And Fire, Game Of Thrones is set in the sprawling fictional world of Westeros, where great families go to war for control of the Seven Kingdoms, each vying to gain power, control, and hoping to secure the infamous iron throne for their own ends. It’s a show embroiled in intrigue, mystery, and fantastical elements where sex and violence are part of everyday life, everyone has an agenda, a score to settle, and not one of your favourite characters is ever safe.
So without further ado, ahead of the Season 5 premiere on April 12th in the US (on HBO) and on April 13th in the UK (on Sky Atlantic), we present the first of our Game Of Thrones “Best Of” features, celebrating the top ten moments from Game Of Thrones Season One (episode by episode).
Needless to say, massive spoilers follow.
Season one episode one, it’s the first time we’re introduced to Westeros, the first time we see Sean Bean as Ned Stark, meet Tyrion Lannister and even see the white walkers. Though nothing can compare to the first time you hear the Game Of Thrones theme tune (we’ve been humming it for four years solid).
Leaving the comforts of Winterfell, Jon Snow journeys towards The Wall and begins an unlikely friendship with Tyrion (which gives us Tyrion’s brilliant quote: “a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone”), while Ned heads south to Kings Landing, and it’s along The King’s Road where we have our second series highlight; the incident with the butcher’s boy. When the insufferable Prince Joffrey happens upon a young Arya Stark play fighting with a commoner, sees fit to attack him, get walloped by Arya, gnarled by Arya’s direwolf and is left crying in the grass after Arya hurls his sword into the nearby river. Sadly, in the end, all doesn’t end well for the Stark’s, the direwolf, or the butcher’s boy.
After two episodes of proving he’s possibly the worst brother to come out of Westeros (and that’s saying a lot) Viserys gets his first taste of what it might mean to tangle with the Khalessi when he’s whipped by a Dothraki rider stripped of his horse and made to walk in the dirt. Episode three also gives us one of the best quotes from the entire saga thus far when Cersei tells her son “anyone who isn’t us is an enemy”, but neither of those events come close to the wonderfully uplifting scene which sees Arya Stark have her first lesson with sword-master Syrio Forel – a brief moment of happiness in an otherwise troubled world.
It wasn’t the taking of Tyrion (at the hands of Catelyn Stark) or the arrival of Sam at Castle Black which proved the most memorable moment of the fourth episode, but rather a chilling tale of brotherly love; the tale of The Mountain and The Hound. Where Littlefinger told Sansa the tale of how The Hound received those horrible burn scars, not only terrifying the young woman further, and letting everyone watching know why The Hound is so scared of fire (a key point in several episodes down the road), but also letting us know what a vicious monster The Mountain really is.
And following on from the previous episode, where we learnt how vile a creature The Mountain was, he throws the most epic of tantrums in the history of the Seven Kingdoms; getting in a mood because he lost a joust at The Hand’s tournament and proceeding to lop the head off his own horse, and try to kill the knight who beat him before his brother stepped in to stop him.
With key plot points occurring in just about every theatre, we have the incident with the golden crown (where Viserys finally gets his comeuppance for treating Danerys so harshly), Tyrion’s trial at the Eyrie and the combat which follows, there’s one scene where rest of the season is decided; Eddard Stark is left to sit on the throne while the King is off hunting, and proceeds to make a decision which while ultimately right, and completely reinforcing him as the only honourable man in Kings Landing, only heightens his troubles with the Lannisters (by condemning Jamie and The Mountain).
We’ve got betrayal (Eddard certainly learns who he should and shouldn’t have trusted; probably best not to trust anyone in Kings Landing), amazing quotes (again coming from Cersei – “When you play the game of thrones you win or you die”), and Khal Drogo finally agreeing to invade Westeros. Though nothing, literally nothing, can compare to seeing Tywin Lannister cut up a deer. It’s the first time we’ve ever seen this immensely powerful figurehead, a cold and calculating man who will remain one of the most influential figures in the Kingdoms for years to come, and in an instant he not only cuts down Jamie Lannister (a man who until this point has been completely unflappable, cocky and charismatic) with his razor-sharp wit and analytical mind, but does so all while gutting and carving a deer. Why? Because he’s Charles Dance Tywin Lannister! That’s why.
Syrio shows his prowess with a sword and a dead man attacks Commander Mormont, but the highlight of episode eight? Our first look at the dynamic between Tyrion and Tywin Lannister; as Tyrion walks into the Lannister war camp, and is instantly belittled by his oppressive and commanding father – giving us our first glimpse at one of the key relationships behind the entire series,
In an episode which includes witchcraft, a large (though sadly unseen) battle, and a great deal of plotting and turmoil in every theatre, there is one moment which truly stands out above all others; a foundation-shaking, jaw-dropping, shocker of an event which has not only sent ripples throughout Westeros spreading further than any TV viewer has seen thus far, but left every unsuspecting viewer dumbfounded, and proved that in Game Of Thrones no-one is safe. In that moment we lost our hero, we lost the show’s figurehead, we lost the only honourable man in the kingdoms – it has to be the execution of Ned Stark.
With everyone still reeling from the loss of Ned Stark, and Khal Drogo, we have a wonderfully emotional scene with Robb Stark hacking away at a tree in grief, Tywin showing a glimmer of respect for Tyrion (by sending him to Kings Landing in order to keep a leash on the unruly King Joffrey), and Arya escaping the city (under the protection of Night’s Watch-man Yoren, but the defining moment of the season one finale has to be the closing scene; where Danerys steps on to her husband’s funeral pyre, only to rise like a phoenix from the ashes the following morning, brandishing three baby dragons; the staple of the show ever since, her symbol of power, and her tickets to reclaiming the throne which was stolen from her father.
Agree with the list? Think there’s a glaring omission or something which has no place being on any ‘Top Ten’ list? Or simply want to talk about the show? Get involved and let us know in the comments section below.