40 episodes of Game of Thrones. 40 days til Season 5. Here’s a recap of how it all started: S1E1.

Thanks to a tweet by @MercurialJane, I was informed we are 40 days away from the premiere of Season 5 (as of yesterday). There are 40 existing episodes. Though I debated watching one each day and blogging a recap, I decided it would be a really ridiculous effort to make. Instead, I went back to Season 1, Episode 1 to recap how it all began. I’ll have more GOT stuff over the next 40 days, maybe even discussion posts for each episodes. In the meantime, if you want to watch an episode a day, let me know how that goes.

Here’s my recap of Season 1, Episode 1…

I still remember the thrill of the opening of this first episode. I vaguely knew the show was about swords and knights and possibly magic but the opening was unlike anything I’d expected. The Night’s Watch beyond the wall. The spooky little girl. The blue eyes. I was hooked. The first time I saw that scene the show was already a couple of episodes in. It was about 10pm and I actually stopped watching because I knew I’d just binge watch until I’d finished all the episodes.

It’s a long intro. This isn’t just a brief “cold open” (get it?) and credits. It’s an extended sequence with a ton of information.

Then we’re in Winterfell meeting the Starks. Arya being Arya and Bran being Bran in the yard. I liked her from the beginning. Didn’t we all?

“The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.”

Man, how cold a line from Eddard. I still think this scene is particularly harsh but it was necessary to set the stage of Eddard’s code of honor and the issue of sentencing.

The direwolves. In an instant, we get all the Stark boys’ personalities and the relationship between Theon and Jon.

Then we’re at King’s Landing and, honestly, this jump is murky to me to this day. I mean, I know what is happening since I’m a reader but watching the show I didn’t get who the dead guy was. I’m not asking for the dullness of a network show with subtitles and too much exposition but this was… confusing.

Back to Winterfell, where Cat approaches Ned in the Godswood polishing Ice. Cat gives him the news of Jon Arryn so that piece gets put in place but still. I stand by my impression. The scene with Jaime and Cersei in the room with Jon Arryn’s body was confusing.

My other main question as the season progressed: how did the King get to Winterfell so quickly and take so damn long to get back to King’s Landing?

Game of Thrones has become a sort of memory game to me where what I thought I knew from the books gets questioned every time I watch (and re-watch) an episode. Right now, I’m wondering about Bran climbing. Aren’t there like 100 pages of him climbing in the books before…you know?

So then the King is galloping into Winterfell. The Hound comes flopping by with his weird helmet. I mean, yeh, it’s scary but he actually looks scarier without it. Jim Gordon’s little boy looking all smarmy like at Sansa. Arya late to the line-up. That first moment between Ned and Robert where Ned simply cocks his eyes to Robert’s belly to break the tension. It’s another great introduction to the relationship between the two characters. Robert telling Bran, “You’ll be a soldier.” More terrible irony. And Cersei. Cersei. Man, you can see she’s a bitch right from that look she gives Cat.

It was probably around this point in the episode where I began to get confused by all the accents. I didn’t know if it was intentional that they all had different one. And right then Tyrion appears with his ridiculous accent. He calls Roz a “clever girl” and I was like, NOW BRING IN THE DINOSAURS!

There’s also a great foreshadowing in the crypt when Robert tells Ned, “In my dreams, I kill him every night.” Foreshadowing in the sense that it’s a clue about the Stark/Targaryen/Baratheon relationship.

Then we’re meeting Danaerys and her awesome brother Viserys. He touches her inappropriately, displays his ridiculous entitlement, and uses the phrase “wake the dragon” all in one brief scene. You forget how young Danaerys looks in the early episodes. It’s downright disturbing in light of the arrangement that’s about to be made with Khal Drogo.

Honestly, the entire arc of Danaerys bored me up until Season 4. In the books, it has bored me through all 5 books. I hate the entitlement of the Targaryens. I don’t like the brutality of the Dothraki. And the travel across the desert is super fucking boring. I appreciate how the show has shown Dany go from being the chattel of her brother and Drogo to being a liberator. But I don’t have to like watching it.

Another cool detail here is the arrival of Benjen (who has a different accent from his brother Ned). He’s like the raddest character in the episode and he just disappears (I mean, unless he’s Coldhands. j/k). The conversation between Tyrion and Jon is a great bit of characterization as well. I think at the time I was like, “why are we bothering with Jon?” but you know, hindsight…

The scene of Cat and Ned in bed shows the great equality in their marriage. It’s also quite telling how Ned defends the King while Cat is the rebellious one. Maester Luwin interrupts them to deliver the note from Lysa. In the book this is the start of the first mystery: who killed Jon Arryn. Having stopped watching the show in order to read book 1, I was a little disappointed how this mystery wasn’t played up much in the show. I understand why obviously but I loved the texture that the mystery lent to the books.

Ugh the desert and the marriage scene. And all the gross ass food. If I’m going to make it through 40 days of this, I’m going to start skipping all the Danaerys stuff. At least until she’s cool. You know, in retrospect, I would really have loved for Viserys to have become Khal and led this mongrel horde into Westeros. And what do you know, it’s the Spider’s little spy and his nerd gift for Dany. Beware of people who bring books to weddings. Fortunately, there is no word for “thank you” in Dothraki.

So that ending scene with Bran and the… you know… It only lasts two minutes. That was such an amazing ending for the first episode and such a harbinger of the unexpected to come.

1 down. 39 to go. The things I do for love…