Features and Columns · TV

Game of Thrones: How We Got to Where We Are Now

By  · Published on April 2nd, 2014


Of course there are spoilers here. How could we even begin talking about the roadmap of Game of Thrones and its first three seasons without talking through some spoilers? It could be like therapy, though. Perhaps we engage in longform conversation over the legacies of those we lost in The War of the Five Kings. We could perhaps even spend an entire 1000+ word article on the aftereffects of The Red Wedding. But let’s face it, we’ve got all of season four to work out those emotions, just as the denizens of Westeros have all of season four to work out their revenge schemes.

As we sit on the precipice of another season of Game of Thrones, it’s important to look back at how far we’ve come since episode one, when Ned Stark taught his children about the justice of the world. A justice many of his children – bastard, borrowed or otherwise – would never find before being struck with tragedy. We could spend word upon word walking through just how tortured this Stark clan is, but we don’t have to. The good news is that the Internet is doing the work for us. So let’s watch some video.

Seasons One and Two: The War Begins

In their official recap of the first two seasons, HBO was able to bring everything together in this handy 10-minute featurette. We can look back at the beginnings of many ends, from Ned Stark’s decision to become Robert’s Hand to the marriage between Danaerys to Drogo. But let’s not overlook that one moment, which set this entire storm of swords in motion: the death of Ned Stark. From there, everything began to spiral out of control. Five Kings – Stannis Baratheon, Renly Baratheon, Joffrey, Robb Stark and Balon Greyjoy – set forth to conquer all of Westeros, unaware of a blonde girl and her dragons on the other end of the world. When season two ended, somehow four of these kings remained. Somehow plenty of Starks survived, as well. As readers of the A Song of Ice and Fire books would smugly think, that wouldn’t last long…

Season Three: Death and Destruction

The official recap video of season three from HBO clocks in at 25 minutes. Why? Because so much happened in that third season, much of which was then blotted out of our consciousness by the terror of The Red Wedding in episode 9, that it’s important to go back and remember the details. We may not remember all the details about Dany’s rise as a breaker of chains, or Jon Snow’s journey among the wildlings, or the positioning of the Tyrell family in King’s Landing, or the existence and emergence of Wargs (people who can throw their consciousnesses into animals). These are all pieces that have been placed now so that they can come back and be important in the future.

But hell, The Red Wedding. If Ned Stark’s death was the inciting event of the war, The Red Wedding is the defining moment of its unravelling. It’s also an important narrative shifting moment for author George R.R. Martin. The Red Wedding isn’t just about the killing of a great majority of your favorite characters, but a turning of the rules of the greater “Game.” It informs the audience that no one is safe, no rules are sacred and that in the world of Westeros, all men must die. As much as it’s a massive gut-punch episode, it’s reverberations are likely to be far more sinister.

Season Four: All Men Must Die

My official preview of season four will be up for you tomorrow, including some first hand thoughts on the first three episodes (spoiler free, of course). But it’s worth sharing this fan-made trailer one more time, as it’s absolutely perfect for the tone of what season four will undoubtedly deliver. Many pieces have fallen off the board, but this game of thrones rages on.

Bonus: The Honest Trailer

“It’s the abusive show that keeps you watching no matter how many times it hurts you.”

Since we’re into some video time, it would be unwise to ignore this newly minted “Honest Trailer” for Game of Thrones, which pokes fun at a number of overarching themes. Death, characters whose names we can’t remember, and boobs. Although for my money, I can name all of those characters – that’s how a real fan rolls. RIP Ser Rodrik Cassel, you deserved better than Theon’s hack-job.

Illustration by CreaSdOutliner on deviantART.

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)