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Reviewing the First of His Name

The episode’s done, and our episode guide for “First of His Name” has gone live with our initial analysis of the episode, as well as our book-to-screen breakdown and a number of HBO’s post-episode videos. Our own video—as well as our exhaustive recap—will have to wait until tomorrow this time around, as neither of us can stay up much longer out here!

But to tide you over, there’s always the forum, and HBO has also released the preview to the next episode, which you can find at the guide for “The Laws of Gods and Men”.

Interview with Christie and Coster-Waldau

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to interview a number of actors in London. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has been our most frequently interviewed actor, I believe—he’s always been quite game to talk to us!—but they’ve always been just with him. This time around, Gwendoline Christie joined him, and I finally got to see at first hand what the show is like as the two actors spark off one another, sending zingers one another’s way with much laughter. And sometimes the zingers aren’t just directed at one another, as you’ll see below ...

Interview

Nikolaj, since we spoke last year we’ve seen that your character has become more human and likable. Do you feel that progression continues this season?

Nikolaj: I think that the key here is that—what’s great about is that a show like this has so much time to learn more about the characters. There’s no question that at the beginning you knew nothing about Jaime Lannister, you just saw his actions, but you didn’t know why he acted like he did. Now we’ve learned a lot more, and a lot of things has happened. When we meet him at the start of this season, it’s a few weeks since he’s returned and he’s now Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. The whole Lannister family is there, and Jaime deals with his father’s expectations, with Cersei—and that’s of course quite complicated—and his brother is also in a very tight spot and he needs Jaime to help him. He has Joffrey, his nephew/son, who’s being a bit of pain… and of course he has to deal with Brienne, who keeps reminding him of this promise he made. And of course he lost his hand, which is quite a bit of a problem.
It defined him in his own eyes, and in the eyes of the world as well. He puts on a very brave face, if you will… Perhaps I shouldn’t give anything more away. Obviously, it’s very important him that people respect him, and even fear him in a pure physical way. It’s important that people believe he’s dangerous. But whether or not he still is, that’s another question.
As to whether he’s more vulnerable… yes, of course, he’s definitely changed quite a bit. He’s for the first time met someone outside of the family whom he thinks he can trust and respect. He’s not quite aware of that when we start this season, but it’s there. There’s a scene from the first season, where Tywin tells him he wants Jaime to become the man he was always meant to be. ... and maybe this season is about that; not necessarily the man Tywin wants him to be, but the man he wants to be.

Read the rest of the interview at the Feature page!

Headey, Coster-Waldau on Sept Scene

More than a week has passed since “Breaker of Chains” aired to some controversy, all thanks to the sept scene between siblings Cersei and Jaime, a dark moment between them made grotesque by the presence of their dead son’s body in the scene. Outrage was exceptional on many sides as a general opinion formed that what was depicted was a rape scene with Jaime forcing his sister. Matters were thrown into some confusion by certain remarks from director Alex Graves and actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, compounded by a very brief remark from executive producer David Benioff in the Inside the Episode featurette which were construed by some as being contradictory.

This week, however, a pair of new interviews with the actors involved in the scene sheds some further light on what they had intended to achieve. Speaking with Sweden’s Expressen newspaper, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau expanded (Google Translate version) on his earlier remarks, speaking forthrightly but with a clear acknowledgment that what viewers took from it was in many cases different from what he, Lena Headey, the director, and the executive producers had intended. Two brief excerpts:

New Series High

Last night’s episode, “Oathkeeper”, now takes its place as the highest-rated episode of the series to date, with a tremendous 6.9 rating according to HBO, as reported by EW’s James Hibberd. The premiere and the third episode each tied for the previous highest mark, of 6.6 million viewers, so that’s approximately a 5% increase. Hibberd also adds that across three viewings, the episode reached the 8.4 million mark viewing it on the day.

Oathkeeper Episode Guide

Our episode guide for “Oathkeeper” has been partially completed now, thanks to a mad scrabble of post-episode work. The most time-consuming part, the full recap, shall take awhile longer. HBO has also kindly released a number of post-episode videos, which you can find in our Extras section, while our own video discussion will be up some time tomorrow. It looks like there’ll be a lot to discuss.

HBO has also released the trailer for episode five, which you can find at our “First of His Name” guide.

Breaker of Chains Episode Guide

Our episode guide for Breaker of Chains is now live! Featuring the usual detailed recap, review, and book-to-screen breakdown, we cover all the bases.

One note, though: Youtube’s taking abnormally long to process our video (which was more in-depth than our previous episode-focused videos, in a try at a new format), so it’s not available at the moment. Apologies about that! We’ll try to include as soon as possible… which may be after we wake up, as it’s rather late here and I don’t think we’ll be staying up much longer.

The Lion and the Rose Guide

Another episode of Game of Thrones draws to an end, and we have a full recap, review, and book-to-screen breakdown—plus a bonus video—available over at the “The Lion and the Rose” episode guide!  And if that’s not enough for you? The A Song of Ice and Fire forum is already filled with discussion, so why not join the conversation?

Game of Thrones Gets 2 Year Renewal

In an impressive turn, HBO has skipped the usual “Lets wait 2-3 weeks” to announce renewal following news that Game of Thrones smashed ratings expectations in its debut this yea.

And even more impressively, HBO has confirmed what everyone pretty much knows: this show is good to go for at least 2 years, with season 5 and 6 now locked in place. This follows recent news prior to the premiere that executive producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss had renewed their contracts with HBO for two more seasons.

The full press release can be found below

Game of Thrones Smashes Ratings Record

EW has the scoop as always: last night’s premiere airing of “Two Swords”  reached the 6.6 million mark, and with repeat airings moved up to 8.2 million. That’s an amazing feat, a rise of over 20% from last year’s 6th episode.

Quite the climb for the show, and it seems quite likely that it could well continue to climb as it proceeds this year.

Two Swords Recap and Analysis

The first episode is done, and our guide to “Two Swords” is now online, with a detailed recap, some thoughts on the qualities of the episode, and a look at the adaptation from the perspective of translating the book to the screens. Still a bit sparse on images from this season—apologies for that, something we hope to correct soon!

Besides our own review, there’s a great deal of discussion over at the A Song of Ice and Fire forum, which we highly recommend for fans (there’s sections for those who have not read the novels at all, but be vigilant about not peeking too much at other threads).

Season 4 Impressions

We’ve been so busy these last weeks—with getting things ready for this new season, arranging the new server setup to handle the traffic load that we expect this season, and so on—that the thought of writing a season 4 early impressions piece, based on our viewing of the first three episodes (courtesy of HBO), never really crossed our minds. It was what we had done in past seasons, certainly, but each season seems to leave us busier and busier.

However, we had enough requests for our impressions that we decided to throw something together… but unlike the previous, written ones, this is a video that we’ve thrown up on Youtube. You can find it over at our Feature page, along with a great deal of other features we’ve done over the years, or you can see it below. These are basically spoiler-free general impressions, where we mull over various things that we felt were worth mulling over. For those who want hardcore spoilers, this will likely just be an exercise in frustration, so beware!

BBC One Looking for Cosplayers

Are you in the area of London? Do you have a great Melisandre, Arya, White Walker, Cersei, or Drogo costume? BBC One needs someone just like you to help them out! They’ll be filming a piece on Game of Thrones, with Charles Dance on board as a guest, and they’d love to have some cosplayers on hand who can dress up and help them convey something of the story.

Would-be cosplayers are needed in London for Monday, March 31st—yep, short notice! If you’re interested, see below for contact details:

Featurettes in HD

We’ve previously reported on exclusive featurettes for season 4 of Game of Thrones that Verizon and Comcast released, but it looks like HBO has now put them up on the official Youtube channel in 720p quality. Definitely worth a look, but beware spoilers (especially in the weapons and fighting video):


UK to Simulcast Game of Thrones

Well, this is a fascinating development: Sky has announced that every episode

the premiere episode of season 4 of Game of Thrones will air simultaneously with the premiere airing in the US. That means diehard fans in the UK will be able to watch it at 2AM, if they feel like it, right at the same time as fans in the US. The usual 9PM Monday airing will also take place, for those who prefer their prime time television at prime time.

[Edit: It’s come to my attention that I was off the mark on this—initial reports that all episodes would be aired at 2 AM appear to be incorrect, only the premiere will be simultaneously aired with the US airing.]

This may be a publicity stunt, or perhaps dipping a toe into the water to see what would happen—and if it works, it’d be a clear response to piracy of the episode in the UK. The economic arguments have been undercut somewhat: streaming packages offering Sky Atlantic, including the £15 monthly Sky Go and the £4.99 (introductory) price on NOW TV, are available without needing a full TV package. The other most common argument after that, however, was the fact that many die-hard fans want to be able to take part in the conversation after a new episode as soon as possible. They may not stay up to 3AM watching an episode, but there are many who’d get up a bit earlier in the morning to watch the show so they could immediately leap on to the forums, or at least be very happy to have the episode waiting for them when they get back from school or from work. Sky Atlantic’s 9PM airings prevented that, however, and the wait was simply too long…

But it may be that the future will invalidate that argument as well. It will be very interesting to see if this makes a dent in illegal downloads of the premiere of Game of Thrones in the UK, which was ranked as the country with the fourth highest illict downloads of the show last year.

Stockholm Premiere Contest

April 2nd will see the first episode of Game of Thrones receive a red carpet premiere in Stockholm, and in collaboration with HBO Nordic we’re offering fans the chance to be a part of it—and besides that, a chance for fans to attend a special fan event planned for the 6th of April. The winner of the competition will receive not one, not two, not four, but ten tickets to bring their friends along with them to the premiere; all other prize winners will receive pairs of tickets to the fan event.

See below for full details (in Swedish!), including instructions for how to enter the competition. Please bear in mind that the subject of the email should be exactly the same as noted below—makes it much easier for us to sort through entries!