Before ‘Game of Thrones’ Returns, Let’s Revisit Season 1 – New York Times

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You may have heard that “Game of Thrones” is returning to HBO on July 16. To prepare for Season 7, we’re reviewing and reassessing the first six seasons of the show, with the benefit of hindsight. Each article will have spoilers for all six seasons. We’ll look at Season 2 next week.

“Well, this curious show is finely wrought,” an HBO viewer might have mused way back in 2011, “but will fans of ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘Mad Men’ ever give dragons, icy zombies and magic a chance?”

‘Game of Thrones’
Where to watch: HBO

We know the answer now, but it’s easy to forget that such skepticism was fairly common in the early days of “Game of Thrones.” A network known for prestige antiheroes had just given many millions of dollars to unproven showrunners for what was, at first blush, a naughty Ren Faire featuring innumerable characters with un-spellable names in an impenetrable story fueled by indecipherable grudges, wars and myths. (“If you are not averse to the Dungeons & Dragons aesthetic, the series might be worth the effort,” The Times wrote.)

Things worked out O.K. What’s striking now is how coherent the vision for such a sprawling tale was from its very beginning. Look no further than the opening moments of the premiere episode, written by the series creators, David Benioff and D. B. Weiss.

In that first scene, a group of luckless rangers from Castle Black encounter the White Walkers, the ur-villains of the show, who in quick order reveal their existence, their annihilating tendencies and their zombifying M.O. (A murdered girl reappears shortly after her corpse was discovered, reanimated with eyes of electric blue.) It’s a brief moment of terror before the story moves on to politics and power grabs, efficiently setting up the stakes of the story as well as it’s central allegory — about the destructive folly of fighting wars over furniture in the face of a true mortal threat.

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