Fresh on the heels of what I erroneously called HBO's first full trailer for Game of Thrones last week . . . comes the actual and official full trailer! Hmm, I guess that previous one was just a glorified teaser, then. As you may recall, in that blog entry I broke down the footage to clarify some of the more important scenes we were getting glimpses of. Well, after watching this brand new trailer now, I see that the previous one was meant more for fans of the books as this one below seems to be more easy to follow for newcomers.
Feast your eyes on the new footage, then, and I'll provide my thoughts after the cut:
Click here if the above video doesn't work for you.
Glorious, eh? Well, I think so even if you don't. Before I detail what were for me the highlights -- did you guys see the Wall at the very beginning? OH. MY. GOD!!! The effects are amazing! I might have briefly explained it before, but in George R. R. Martin's books, the Wall is what separates the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros from an ancient, deadly foe that has been kept barricaded to the north for the better part of 8,000 years. It is nearly 700 feet high and runs 300 miles wide, made mostly of ice and permafrost. Beyond the wall, winter is eternal and some very strange creatures are rumored to exist there. Along with outlawed nomadic bands of humans who shun civilization, that is. But the Big Bad beyond the wall is a mysterious, perhaps alien race, known only as the Others. No one knows much about the Others, except as they exist in scary stories to frighten children at night. It is rumored that they are made of ice, or that perhaps they are ghosts given form to drag men to their graves . . . and beyond.
The Wall is manned by convicts and bastards who swear an oath and "take the black" in order to defend Westeros against invasion. Once a Brother of the Night Watch swears his oath, he is forbidden from ever leaving his post. Only a Ranger can move away from the Wall, and only on urgent business as directed by the Lord Commander of the Watch. Anyone else found abandoning their post is automatically guilty on penalty of death. Any lord finding a deserter on his lands is granted license by the King to effect the death sentence by beheading.
So I hope you now understand the weight of Ned's actions at the beginning of the trailer, and why his son, Bran, is asking so many questions. This isn't supposed to be some random beheading or meting of justice. Ned doesn't want to have to do this, but he's a man that follows the law of the land to the letter. Perhaps too much so, which is what almost all of the drama of the first book hinges upon -- this man's duty to law and order in the face of times that are changing. Should he bend or stand firm against the foreboding winds of war that are just beginning to blow across the land?
And now you know why such a veteran and esteemed actor like Sean Bean was given this role. The show, just like the first book, lives or dies by how well this character is fleshed out. I for one think the role is in great hands!
It also seems that the Others are being called "White Walkers" in this series, which is different from the books but still evoking of the right imagery you want people to have in their heads for what these creatures are.
As for the other important items gleaned from this official trailer? Well, let me list them in order in terms of what I thought were particularly squee-worthy as a fan:
"Lord Eddard Stark, I would name you the Hand of the King." This line between King Robert Baratheon and Ned was included in the last promotional video. But this time we see the body of the previous Hand, Lord Jon Arryn and the husband of Ned's sister-in-law, lying on a table with painted stones over his eyes. As I mentioned before, this is the moment that changes everything. On this one decision, the fate of the Iron Throne will teeter and the kingdoms will be thrust into brutal war. Along the way many, many people will be betrayed, exiled, and murdered before the first season comes to a close.
"That's what men always say when honor calls." I mentioned before how Ned is a black-and-white kind of guy. In his world good is good, and bad is bad. He believes that he must always answer the call of honor and duty. His wife, Catelyn Stark, however sees the world for what it really is -- gray. She has a bad feeling of where this will all lead. Despite her best judgment, they will pack up their household and move to the capital of King's Landing. I love this part of the trailer because for once we get to see almost all of the Stark children (minus the youngest, Rickon) in quick fly-by shots. In order, you have: Arya, Sansa, Jon and Bran, and finally Robb. Each one of these children will have a very tough and trying journey ahead. Each one too, in their own way, will have important roles to play in the drama about to unfold.
"You might not have my name, but you have my blood." Aww, this rocks! I love this line. This is Ned speaking to one of his sons, Jon Snow. He's the product of an affair Ned had with another woman of low birth when he was called away to help his best friend and future king, Robert, take the throne. Jon was born only months before Ned's legitimate son with Catelyn, Robb. But because he is a "bastard," he has no claim to the hereditary seat of Winterfell, the Kingdom of the North. Ned and Jon's relationship is extremely warm despite this, as are his relationships with all his children in fact. However, Catelyn has been indifferent and even cold toward the boy for all the years he's grown up at Winterfell alongside her own children. Now, on the brink of moving the family south, Ned arranges for Jon to "take the black" and perhaps rise to a higher station along the Wall than he could ever achieve in any of the civilized kingdoms where illegitimate children are scorned and ridiculed.
"Next time I see ya, you'll be all in black." This line is delivered to Jon Snow by Robb Stark, Ned's oldest trueborn son and heir to Winterfell. Despite the fact that Jon is a bastard and maybe even, though indirectly, a threat to Robb's legacy, the brothers have always been warm toward one another, if not the best of friends even. The one thing to remember before going into this show is that the entire Stark family is a close-knit and fairly functional one compared to the other noble houses of the Seven Kingdoms. This is why they are the central focus of the novels, despite all the crap that eventually befalls them and everyone else in this mad-dash world.
"You were never afraid?" Cersei Lannister to her twin brother, Jaime the "Kingslayer" -- the best swordsman in all of Westeros. If you go by the editing of the trailer, this conversation appears to take place after Ned and Jaime have their little sword duel. But I believe it's actually referring to another incident. I might be wrong, my memory's a little hazy. As I said in another blog entry, the Lannisters are a conniving bunch. Because of Cersei's marriage to the King, their House has risen greatly and seen much prestige in recent decades. But, of course, Cersei has larger designs in life, and her twin is more than happy to provide the muscle behind her plans. I swear, this actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is going to OWN this role! I can already see the brilliance he brings to what's going to prove a very huge character evolution over the course of the show. Can't wait!
"If the Targaryen girl convinces her horse lord husband to invade . . . we won't be able to stop them." I mentioned in my breakdown of the previous trailer how the Targaryen siblings were exiled to the East after their family's Dynasty was destroyed and Mad King Aerys II flung off the throne. Now, dreaming of vengeance, Viserys Targaryen has given his sister, Daenerys, over to the bed of a Dohtraki warlord by the name of Khal Drogo (portrayed by Jason Momoa). This "horse lord" is the key to Viserys regaining his father's throne. He intends to use the legendary horsemanship and sheer manpower of the Dothraki raiders in his campaign to strike the Seven Kingdoms while they are too busy scrambling to see who among them will grab control of Westeros. With all these factions at play for the seat of power, you can start to see why the first book and the television show are both aptly titled "Game of Thrones." And for the record, I would just like to say that I am absolutely smitten by the young actress portraying Daenerys "Stormborn" Targaryen, Emilia Clarke. I predict that she, too, is going to own this role. Although I do have some reservations in, this, her first major screen role. How such a wet-behind-the-ears thespian is going to pull off some of the more risqué and also heart-wrenching scenes the character requires further down the line remains to be seen. But I have faith. Daenerys is one of the more major characters in the series, btw.
"I'm a purveyor of beauty AND discretion." LOL! You know, I had almost forgotten this line from the book! This is, of course, Petyr Baelish--aka, "Littlefinger" portrayed here by Aidan Gillen, who I absolutely loved in a previous hit HBO show, The Wire. I went into great detail during the discussion of the previous trailer why Littlefinger is the man to look out for in this whole affair. As the king's Master of Coin at the Red Keep, he has his (little) finger in a LOT of pies. And one of those pies, as this clip hints at, is that of brothel owner. I guess you can call him the "pimp daddy" of King's Landing. Har-har, I crack myself up! Anyway, I like how you get a glimpse of Baelish doing what he does best: manipulating things behind the scenes. He's a sneaky little bastard, that one! Ned had better watch his back.
At this point, we get a lot of glimpses of other great scenes to come. If you look really close, you'll see pint-sized Arya training with her swordmaster, Syrio, at the 2:09 minute point. Mark my words, any scene with these two in it will be PURE GOLD! Us fans are all but frothing at the mouth for this, as Arya is perhaps the most beloved character out of all the others. She has true spunk, that little one. Or, in honor of that recent Coen Brothers' movie, perhaps I should say she has "true grit"? She'll make her father proud!
And so, there you have it. I hope watching the first full official trailer for Game of Thrones has made you even more excited to catch this show when it airs next month. Some of you have already expressed your own enthusiasm, so I'm happy to see I'm in excellent company here.
WINTER IS COMING!!!