The second season of Game of Thrones ended this week, likely as most of us expected: with only a modicum of “closure” and placing us in melancholy consideration of how to get through the next nine months of television without it.  The sadness of this will fade, I know, as it always does: into resignation, distraction, and, come 2013, anticipation as the new season approaches.

I thought this a good opportunity to go back to where we started.  I had vague recollections of the first episode, but, unfamiliar with the books, or anything more than the basic premise, I did not know enough in April 2011 for anything much from this episode to stick.  It was only as the series moved along that it became somewhat clear who people were.  And by that time, I did not remember how they were introduced.  All I knew was that this was the best television I’d seen in a long time.

So I watched the show that started it all, titled “Winter is Coming.”  And it was bittersweet – to see the Stark family all together (all fully-mobile and fully-headed); to see the bond between Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark; to remember – as I had not – that Robert had loved Ned’s sister.  The coming of the king was obviously not a joyous occasion, but there was possibility there, possibility that would not necessarily end in bloody war.  Then-prince Joffrey displayed none of what he would become know for; in fact, the role of prissy heir to the throne was filled by ViserysTargaryen who, though self centered and arrogant, seems, in hindsight, to have possessed only a fraction of Joffrey’s demons.  Tyrion Lannister was displayed as somewhat of a bumbler with very little, save his one conversation with Jon Snow, to hint at the bravery and decency to come.  It is telling that the first significant act we see from Lord Stark is a beheading (this I remembered).  And his comment that it  is important that he who passes sentence must swing the sword stands to subtly foreshadow the distinction between his character and that of the one who passes Ned’s own sentence – as if such a thing were necessary later.

I have found this show to never let me down.  My only complaint is that, twenty episodes in, the plotlines have become so numerous that the course of a one-hour show has only minutes to give to each.  While the momentum and excitement of each episode are unquestioned, it seems as if, come 10:00 p.m. each Sunday, its individual parts have moved forward only in inches, and not in strides.

Yet, when the inches are as captivating as these, I am happy to crawl along, always wanting more.

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