Game of Thrones
The Complete First Season
Noblemen of respected houses plot, scheme, and bicker to achieve higher title than their rivals. Meanwhile, everyone else in the seven kingdoms grovel, scurry, and die at the whims of their lords.
In the ‘from book to television’ feature included in the Blu Ray (which is basically just a five minute circle jerk, by the way), the producers said that they wanted the series to have no heroes of villains; that is, for everyone to be a shade of gray.
Tyrion Lannister probably optimizes that concept the best. While he uses his family’s vast wealth to buy people (prostitutes, bodyguards, and companions), his actions are not motivated by a lack of respect for human dignity, but by a lack of respect for himself. He doesn’t seem to think that anyone would want to be with him for him, and so paying them, making them indebted and dependent on him, gives him a sense of security. Despite being servants, Tyrion treats his paid friends extremely well, at least when compared to other noblemen-to-servant relations in the series.
It’s hard to see anything villainous in Ned Stark. There’s a debate later in the series about the sometimes opposing duties of family and honor. Ned straddles both sides of the argument over the course of the season, and depending on your personal position, you could say that he was right or wrong at the time, but never is there any malicious or selfish intent on his part. At worst, Ned is guilty of naive idealism.
By contrast, it’s hard to find anything heroic about Cersei Lannister. I suppose you could say that everything she does, she does for her family; but the evil she commits to that end makes it hard to classify her as ‘good.’ Unless, of course, you subscribe to the philosophy of Ayn Rand that declares selfishness to be the highest of all virtues. All of her problems stem from one choice; her relationship with her brother. The irony is that had she simply been a good wife to the king, she would have gotten everything she ever wanted, without having to kill anyone.
Daenerys Targaryen, the daughter of the deposed ‘mad king,’ wants the throne as well, and yet, she’s more sympathetic than Cersei. The series opens with her brother whoring her to a barbarian king, in exchange for the use of his horde in retaking his father’s throne. Unfortunately for him, Daenerys blossoms in her role as barbarian queen, and learns to take control of her own life. In this way, her quest for the throne is not, like Cersei’s, a quest for power or title, but is tied to her own personal growth, it is a quest for victory over her past abuse and self-doubt.
There’s a lot I haven’t gone in to, but Game of Thrones is a complex, surprising, and sexy series. Equal parts political intrigue, bloody action, and naked women covered with mythological creatures. It is dirty and opulent, and very entertaining.
The Blu Rays look and sound perfect. Some people have reported playback problems, which I did not experience myself, but it might be worth looking them up.