The Crafting Of An Epic: Game Of Thrones
Based on George R. R. Martin’s high fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire, the Game of Thrones episode list boasts a tapestry of finely interwoven plot threads and story arcs that have contributed to its success and critical acclaim. Currently in its third season, the series is lauded for its treatment of Tolkien-esque fantasy themes with the refined stroke of a thinker. The traditional elements of quasi-medieval epic fantasy are embellished with razor-sharp, savvy plot twists that exalt and devour character stereotypes.
Blood, betrayal, nobility, impetuousness, gallantry, patriarchy and even weakness bear testament to the clever and accurate treatment of human nature in a tale that is gargantuan in scope and highly nuanced in its telling.
The opening episode of Season 1, titled ‘Winter is Coming’ is a grand opening to a story that assures the viewer of the nuanced, complex saga to come. The fates of the eastern continent Essos, and the western continent Westeros are set to change with the appointment of Lord Eddard Stark (also named Ned Stark,) as principal counsel, or ‘Hand of the King’ to the reigning King Robert Baratheon. Eddard Stark is played by Sean Bean who remains reluctant to bear such responsibility until knowledge of certain dark events that surround the death of his predecessor and mentor Jon Arryn, begin to surface.
The season places Castle Winterfell as the epicenter of a growing maelstrom of power struggles, betrayal and bloodshed that threatens the stability of the Seven Kingdoms. Meanwhile, in the east, the exiles of House Targaryen plot to gain control over Winterfell and The Iron Throne. A notable characteristic of the series is that the development of its individual characters is never completely overshadowed by a plot that seduces, taunts and beguiles with adept changes of pace and plot direction. As the season draws to a close, it reveals the origins of failed relationships, flawed alliances and places House Stark Prince Joffrey Baratheon and Daenerys Targaryen on the road to war that is overshadowed with the ominous menace of the White Walkers — the sinister creatures of the unknown lands.
The tension and gathering clouds of the first season break open to unleash the fury of war where several new story plots diverge. As you watch Game of Thrones, the vicissitudes of war and the expanding scope of the storyline only serve to accentuate the humanity and fragility of its characters. As the dead king’s son is crowned and rules with a terrorizing hand, the house of Stark is revealed to have a legitimate son, Robb Stark, Lord of the North and an illegitimate one, Jon Snow. The reins of power are coveted by the dead king Robert’s older brother, the ruthless Stannis Baratheon and the inexperienced, but ambitious Renly Baratheon.
The powerful house of Lannister, its shifting alliance with House Stark, its support of Joffrey Baratheon and the dark secrets of murder, incest and treachery are revealed while elsewhere, the military might of House Tyrell intensifies the struggle for power. The intricacies of the plot point towards to return of the feared White Walkers whose numbers and power form the vast and mysterious undercurrent of the shifting balances above. The show’s focus on powerful feminine characters such as Queen Cersei Lannister, Princess Daenerys Targaryen and Lady Catelyn Stark is set against the struggles of Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, King Joffrey Baratheon and Lord Petyr Baelis.
As the White Walkers are revealed at the end of Season 2, Season 3 continues the saga of the established kingdoms and their individual quests for control, and authority. The plot seems to meander into the eye of a gathering storm, where some episodes allow you to catch your breath, but not without the foreboding of the impending conflict that lies ahead. The lives of several characters including Bran Stark, Jaime Lannister, Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow and Sansa Stark are held on a knife edge.
The attack of the fearsome White Walkers and the epic battles for supremacy only serve to heighten the tension of the court intrigues and sub-plots. Season 3 pits various factions who wish to rule from The Iron Throne against each other in masterfully crafted web of power, deceit, revenge, and ultimately, hope.