It aint safe in Westeros, watch the throne
It’s a story good enough to dethrone vampires.
HBO’s announcement last Monday that their highly rated fantasy saga Game of Thrones (GOT) would continue into a fourth season was no surprise. Strong international DVD sales, a plethora of domestic illegal downloads, a diverse cast, twisting storylines and magnificent filmography puts GOT on the road to knock the vampire saga True Blood aside as most popular HBO show of all time.
Love for George R. R. Martin’s novels-turned-prime-time premium series is running at an all-time high. Season three premiered on March 31, to much anticipation, and a heavy promotional campaign. Faces of the cast and a shadowy dragon showed up on buses, in subways, on skyscrapers and even on a two-page spread in the New York Times.
It appears to have paid off. TorrentFreak, a popular site for downloads of questionable legality, reported that the Sunday night premiere set a new record. More than 163,000 people simultaneously shared a single torrent, beating a 2008 record for the show Heroes. GOT is already famous for being the most illegally downloaded TV show in all history.
How did the first episode of this season pan out for critics? Many praised “Valar Morghulis,” the title of the first episode. Some, like the New York Times’ Mike Hale felt that the premiere was a bit over-hyped, and felt the story-telling method was too similar to other HBO shows. However, Hale has the snobbery and fuss of the Times to live up to. Did the premiere live up to the hype, or was the bar set too high?
I, for one, thought “Valar Morghulis” was an excellent way to get back into Westeros. While we didn’t get to see too much in depth of any of the characters, the premiere did a good job of catching us back up on what’s going on.
Joffrey’s got a girlfriend and future queen who might actually help him keep the throne while his mother Cersei simmers in jealousy behind the limelight.
Tyrion Lannister continues to struggle to serve a family who shows him no gratitude.
Robb Stark arrives at Harrenhal sullenly, and still hasn’t forgiven his mother for freeing Jaime Lannister last season.
Sansa looks visibly older in the capital, surrounded by danger and intrigue. I have a feeling this Stark will be the one who knows her way around court, if she lives that long.
Daenerys Targaryen is still across the sea, looking to build an army to retake her father’s throne.
In the north, both the Night’s Watch and Jon Snow, who has gone undercover with the wildlings, look to combat the return of the White Walkers.
Stannis Baratheon retreated back to his castle and inside his mind after naval defeat last season, and his companion Melisandre looks to be even more lethal than ever.
I did miss hearing about what’s going on with Arya and her brothers Bran and Rickon. Both are on the run, and I’m sure they’ll have interesting adventures. Also missing were Jaime and his captor Brienne, but I have no doubt they’ll have plenty more screen time in upcoming episodes.
GOT is popular among fans for many reasons. The strength of the story lies in realistic characters, who can be good or bad, according to your perspective. Everybody’s fighting for themselves, which is something people can relate to. Best of all, we get to watch the War of the Five Kings from our own perspective, and not that of the victor.
GOT appears poised for their best season yet. If the numbers or my words don’t prove it for you, turn on your TV and find out why.