The 'A Song of Ice and Fire' Domain


HBO First Look Trailer Breakdown

It’s now HBO Go! And boy, this is full of new material, that’s to say the least. 1:50 long, it contains new lines from the season, and new images—including our best look at Nonso Anozie as Xaro Xhoan Daxos, our very first look at a CGI Direwolf, our first scene featuring Qhorin Halfhand, a hot and heavy moment featuring the mysterious Jeyne, and a lot more.

Here’s a scene-by-scene breakdown of the clip. Spoilers ahoy:

Here’s a rundown of the scenes:

  • Jon Snow looking out at the lands beyond the Wall—scene before. “The cold winds are rising. The storms come and go. The big fish eat the little fish,” is the narration, from (I believe) Stephen Dillane as Stannis Baratheon—ah, this is in fact first delivered by Lord Mormont, and then the last two sentences are from Varys (and are, in fact, straight from the book). Also glimpses of Dragonstone and Stannis walking amidst the firey statues. All things we’ve seen before.
  • The Hound smashing a knight down from the wall, in the single combat we’ve seen before. However, the shot follows the knight as he crashes down to the ground and falls heavily.
  • Littlefinger speaking to a weeping, red-haired woman (Ros?): “Sometimes those with the most power have the least grace”, followed by a glimpse of Cersei with a goblet of wine.
  • Tywin states: “The War of Five Kings they’re calling it,” as we get glimpses of the war, including the Hound cutting down an enemy in the night as battle rages around him. Arya Stark with Needle in a shot we’ve seen in photographs previously. “Nothing matters but how it ends,” Tywin concludes.
  • A Dothraki rider in the wasteland, a shot we’ve seen before. Dany with Xaro, and then telling Jorah: “The time to strike is now.” It’s clear she’s now learned for the first time of the death of King Robert and the War of the Five Kings. There’s another look at the parley before Storm’s End.
  • Stannis telling Renly, “The Iron Throne is mine by right,” as Melisandre looks on. Renly responds: “No one wants you for their king, brother.” It’s quite forcefully delivered—definitely a different take than the novel’s version of the parley, where Renly is extremely confident and flippant.
  • Robb Stark in silhouetted against the sun, than moving across a battlefield in a shot we’ve seen before. “You have inherited your father’s responsibilities,” Catelyn says to him, with Brienne of Tarth standing behind her in her armor. “They come at a cost.” Then Robb stating to Catelyn in a separate scene, “I love her,” with the “her” in question being revealed to be Jeyne in a look at a night scene in a tent as they kiss and embrace.
  • Tyrion stating, “I want to know what Cersei’s doing. Who she sees, everything.” Glimpses of Cersei follow, and then Littlefinger looking book from a door, perhaps responding to someone in the room as he’s leaving.
  • Bran talks about the comet—which we glimpse as it streaks across the sky!—and Osha telling him that it means one thing only: “Dragons”. That’s a far more explicit line than in the novel, where she instead says that it means, “Blood and fire, boy, and nothing sweet.” As she says it, we cut to Dany walking in the waste with her people, one of the dragons riding on her shoulder.
  • Flames on a ship as men aboard it run. Cersei demands from Tyrion what he knows about warfare, and Tyrion responding, “Nothing. But I know our enemies hate each other almost as much as they hate us.” This must be a version of the scene in the novel where Tyrion attempts to comfort Cersei regarding Renly and Stannis, and what his father is preparing to do.
  • Qhorin Halfhand stating to Lord Mormont and other men of the Watch, “They’ll hit us in force. And they won’t run away when he hit back.” This is followed by a shot of Jon another man of the Watch creeping past a rock—possibly the ambush of the wildling sentries?—and then Lord Mormont grabbing Jon’s clothing and pulling him close to tell him, “Do you want to lead one day? Then learn how to follow.” This is almost certainly outside Craster’s Keep.
  • Cut to Dany in the waste in a shot we’ve seen before. She’s stating, “When my dragons are grown, we will lay waste to armies and burn cities to the ground.” Shots of the Qartheen delegation greeting(?) Daenerys, in a scene we’ve glimpsed in the last trailer, and it seems as if this is something Daenerys is telling the Qartheen before they give her admittance.
  • Varys speaking about power, as from the previous trailer. Tyrion holding a green jar of wildfire which we’ve seen before in a production shot, but which is not so neon-green and glowy on camera as it was in the behind-the-scenes footage. As Varys says power is a trick, a shadow on the wall, a hand pulls a burning sword from a burning statue (yes! Stannis’s sacrifice is being used for his attempt to acquire Lightbringer), a glimpse of Davos behind a gate looking back at something, the naked Melisandre (a new angle from the scene we’ve seen before) giving birth to a shadow.
  • A quick glimpse at Catelyn in a night scene, and then Brienne drawing her sword in Renly’s tent, followed by a scene we’ve seen before of the Knight of Flowers cutting at her with an ax in the foot combat at Renly’s camp.
  • Cersei telling someone: “This is what ruling is: lying on a bed of weeds and ripping them out before they strangle you.” Probably a scene of boats pulling armed men across the water, probably the Battle of the Blackwater. This may suggest they’ll keep the fundamental idea that Stannis’s attack has two prongs: forces on the far side of the Blackwater, and forces carried into the Blackwater by ship.
  • Tyrion stating, “The king is a lost cause. It’s the rest of us I’m worried about.” Glimpses of Joffrey, Tyrion in his armor, and our very first look at a CGI Grey Wind as it snarls and approaches the imprisoned Jaime Lannister. Hard to tell how effective the CG is in that brief moment… but that it’s CG is clear enough. It’ll be interesting to see how it works in extended sequences. To expect complete photorealism would be asking too much given time and budget, but so long as it’s used effectively to convey the terror and power of a direwolf, some CGness isn’t going to be a problem (for me, anyways!)
  • A shocked Jon saying, “I saw it. I saw ... something” to Lord Commander Mormont, and Mormont replying that he’ll see it again. This must be outside Craster’s Keep, and ties in to reports that Jon witnesses Craster exposing an infant… and having that infant be collected by an Other. This is hinted at in the novels, but Jon never actually witnesses it, and the birth of the child actually takes place in A Storm of Swords. Is this supposed to be Gilly’s child, born already? That’d be a big change. On the other hand, perhaps it’s some other of Craster’s wives, and Gilly herself is well on the way to giving birth as well…
  • A quick series of images: Jon leaping down a hillside, a gold cloak stabbing someone, Arya running, the drowned priest pouring seawater of Theon’s head, Sansa turning away from someone or towards someone, Bran sitting up in his bed looking frightened or startled, Shae kissing Tyrion, archers on the walls of King’s Landing preparing to loose arrows down at the enemy, a host of soldiers running across the ground, Gendry killing a Lannister guardsman as others are fighting, the Hound again defeating a knight on the walls, the shot we’ve seen before of Margaery disrobing in front of Renly, Shae rolling naked in bed, Dany cradling the head of a dark-haired woman by the looks of it (gosh, I hope that doesn’t mean they’re killing off Irri instead of Doreah, as we’ve seen that Doreah makes it to Qarth…), Arya running, a ranger of the Watch loosing an arrow, Brienne of Tarth unarmed atop a fallen Loras Tyrell and pummeling at him with her gauntleted fists, Tyrion punching or slapping Joffrey again (this would be the scene after the riot, I expect, where Tyrion does slap Joffrey, and then proceeds to push him to the ground and start kicking him until he’s restrained), and the final image of Jon Snow bringing his sword down with a great big overhead cut.

Pretty good, all in all, even if there are some bits that concern me to lesser or greater degree. No real surprises, though, nothing we’ve not at least heard rumors of from the production or the actors themselves, except perhaps that the Lightbringer sacrifice remains. Will Stannis’s sword glow as is described in the novels? That we still don’t know, but I’ll be quite interested in seeing how they go with it. It certainly does look like it’s going to look very, very good visually… especially the epic battle of the Blackwater, which certainly featured in a handful of the shots.

HBO has indicated it’ll be a couple of days (at least) for the video to be released via HBO.com and their Youtube channel. When it does, we’ll have the link, and of course there’ll be plenty of screencaps. And speaking of those… tomorrow I’ve some screencapping work for the last couple of videos. Stay tuned!