Game of Thrones, by A Fucking Idiot: S8E1: Winterfell

by thethreepennyguignol

Hey, hey, hey, have you heard of this show? It’s called Game of Thrones. It’s pretty niche, so I don’t even know why I’m writing these recaps, but I figured I would introduce it to my esteeméd blog audience to –

Yeah, okay, enough with that. You all know Game of Thrones is here, and that it’s final season started last night. In the time between this recap and that broadcast, you’ve probably seen dozens of well-written, beautifully-researched, gorgeously-analytical pieces of writing on the show and what it means for popular culture. Too much of that, some might say. So what if you wanted something different? What if you wanted to read Game of Thrones recapped by, say, a fucking idiot?

Look no further, dear friends. I’m a casual non-fan of Game of Thrones, but it’s one of those shows that I have absorbed through the sheer power of cultural osmosis. I can’t turn around without running into someone blubbing about some door-holding Hagrid rip-off or fapping their cock off over Emilia Clarke’s CGI tits. For somefuck, like me, who enjoys writing about TV so much, not engaging with Game of Thrones (beyond Jon Snow shitposting) seemed like an oversight. And that’s why I’m going to be recapping the final season, right here, at The Cutprice Guignol.

And might I say now: if this is a show you truly love and don’t want to see snarkily nibbled at over the next six weeks, these recaps aren’t for you. My brilliant writing/life partner (who has been exasperatedly trying to get me to actually properly watch the show ever since I told him I was doing these recaps) covers the show over on Cult of Whatever, and that’s where you should be headed for analysis that isn’t going to be the review equivalent of a thousand-word Rick Roll. I’m writing these recaps because I don’t like Game of Thrones very much, and I frankly thought it would be immensely funny to try to review a show that I have barely ever actually watched that also happens to be one of the biggest televisual events on the planet. “It seemed like a laugh at the time” was how I ended up publishing a book called Rape Jokes, so, you know, this isn’t exactly an approach that has failed me in the past.

So, with that all said, let’s actually take a look at the first episode of season eight of Game of Thrones, Winterfell. As I said above, while I have never religiously kept up with this show, major plot points have been pretty hard to avoid, especially living with someone who writes about the show for a living. And so, having skim-read a couple of Wiki articles and scrolled through a Twitter feed while my cat walked on the keyboard, I feel like I’m well-poised to actually have something to say about everything that’s going on.

And the first thing I want to say is this: Game of Thrones Cannot Fucking Do Romance. In case you didn’t know, I have an illustrious  a successful  a career writing romance and erotica, so it was kind of cute to see the show take on a variety of different romantic and sexual subplots over the course of this episode. We got Arya (a much-improved-from-the-last-time-I-remember-seeing-her Maisie Williams) and Gendry (Chris from Skins, at about the same level of talent) making what I assume were heart-eye emojis to each other over weapons blueprints, Cersei (the only Queen I recognize) and Euron Greyjoy shagging it out, and, of course, the searingly romantic incest of J*n Sn*w and the Khaleesi (bold of you to assume that I was going to actually look up how to spell her name).

And, now, the first of these is fine, in a sort of sexless teen romance kind of way, even if there were a dissapointing lack of sword-cock comparisons, and even if it just seemed slammed in to give Arya some romantic prospects late in the game. But that Cersei plot…look, I get that the Greyjoys are pretty ineffectual at all things, but I do believe that Euron’s dialogue was plucked entirely from the emotionally need but yet vaguely emotionally abusive playbook of every Hot! Alpha! Bad boy! Billionaire! romance novel ever created. And, while I suppose that the notion of Christian Greyjoy might be appealing to some, watching the brilliant Lena Headey have to gurn her way through seductive (?) dialogue while this Joshua-Jackson-alike basically pleaded with her to tell him that she came at least once gave me Fifty Shades flashbacks.

And that of course brings us to J*n and Dany, and their incestuous dragon-voyeured fuckpuddle. Now, one of the main reasons that I’ve never really connected with this show is because I find both of these characters vaguely unwatchable, but at least I thought the show would have the good graces to do the interesting thing and put them at war with each other for at least a little while before they descended into boning. But, no, God forbid Kit Harrington get anything good to work with. What’s more thrilling than two boring actors than two boring actors snogging in colour-contrasted clothing to show how different they are but, you know, the same?

I get the feeling I’m meant to be invested in this romance, but when it feels like sub-Outlander eyelash-fluttering matched with overlong dragon-flight foreplay (men will do anything to avoid going down, I tell you), the grounding just isn’t there. It doesn’t help that Clarke and Harrington have a flat-out zilch in the chemistry department, either. Though maybe that works with the incest angle? I don’t know. Sansa (who is my stone-cold favourite, and who I will Be Getting To in a big way in later recaps) and Dany are meant to hate each other, but I honestly thought they were flirting because their chemistry was much more impressive.

Of course, I would be remiss in my recapping duties if I didn’t point out the fact that yes, there were good things about this episode. The frustrating thing about Game of Thrones is that there usually are: it’s a show packed with great actors, some cracking direction, excellent world-building, and also Brienne of Tarth. While this episode was mostly set-up, it was a chance for the show to check in with how far it had come and how much these characters have changed over that time. Seeing-All-Bran, as he shall henceforth be known, acted as a great framing device for the set-up of the story for this season, while the check-ins with Tormund (the only man worth shit in this show? All signs point to yes) were delightfully sinister if ill-lit. I’m never going to be the asshole who stands there and says that Game of Thrones is a bad show, because it patently isn’t, even if it’s one I don’t care for that much.

And yes, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to seeing how this whole great mess resolves itself. For all that I dislike the show (and I do – hi, thanks for putting three naked women in for no good reason at all just to remind us that you’re Adult, GoT!), it’s a cultural phenomenon unlike anything I have seen before (maybe Breaking Bad came close). I’m here, if not out of curiosity about how the story will come to a close, but about what effect this ending will have on pop culture and how the enormous fanbase will react to the end of one of the most famous stories of all time. Come for the snark, stay for the cogent cultural impact, that’s what I say. And I hope you’ll be up for joining me on this ill-fated journey into the heart of incesty dragonville. And hey, even if you’re not – at least a show I don’t like will finally be off the air when this is all done. And I can’t get too mad about that, can I?

If you enjoyed this post and want to read more stuff like it, check out some of my other recapping projects – I’ve looked at Stephen King’s Carrie and the first Harry Potter book, as well as writing episode-by-episode recaps of Riverdale, Doctor Who, and American Horror Story. I also run the film site No But Listen, where you can find my musings on movies along with writings from my brilliant co-editor. If you liked this recap and want to support me, you can do so on Patreon!

(header image via NME.com)

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