The Most Important Scene in Game of Thrones, Season 1

The White Walkers are coming! The White Walkers are coming!


Note: I haven’t read the books. This post is solely based on the TV series, though I’m told the pilot matches the beginning of the book quite closely.

I’ve had this theory ever since I finished watching the first season of Game of Thrones that the first scene of the pilot was the most important in the whole first season. Why? Keep reading. Spoilers after the break.

The first scene consists of a bunch of the Night’s Watch getting slaughtered by the supernatural beasties known as the White Walkers. This sets the tone, and expectation, for the whole rest of the first season. Imagine the show started with Ned executing the deserter–all you’d know is that there was a deserter spouting theories about seeing something at night in a forest, and as viewers we wouldn’t know whether to believe him or not. Having the information beforehand–that the threat is real, and shit is about to hit the fan–colours our, or at least it coloured my, views on a lot of things from the season.

Seeing Dany and her dragon eggs, knowing that there was indeed some magical stuff going on the world, led me to believe that there was more going on than just a bunch of old petrified eggs. And while we learn later on in the season, and in the finale, that the eggs were clearly not just relics, knowing that the world of Game of Thrones was indeed supernatural changed how those early scenes were viewed. I knew more than that the eggs were important: I knew they were magic in some way.

Same with any scenes relating to semi-magical plotlines, such as characters denying the continued existence of the White Walkers, Bran Stark’s strange dreams about the weird crow, etc. I would have read each and every one of these scenes differently without seeing the White Walkers in the pilot. Bran’s dreams might just be dreams, the Night’s Watch might not have been as important as its members took it to be, I wouldn’t have known whether the deserter of the pilot was lying or not, etc.

Dead girl walking

Yep, that's damn creepy

I would have preferred not to have seen that scene with the Walkers in the pilot. Leaving the existence of magic or not up to the imagination of the viewers leads to more tension and suspense in scenes that related to the supernatural. When two characters argued about it, knowing who was right left those scenes slightly cold, as well as allowing me to predict that at some point in the season, I would see magic come into the world. It was as though I had been spoiled on future developments by the show itself.

Foreshadowing or spoiling?

The first scene could be considered just foreshadowing the supernatural elements of the season, but I think it did much more than that because of the certainty it provides viewers. Even though the White Walkers don’t appear again, knowing they exist changes the perception of many events throughout the season. But what do you think? Are you glad that scene exists, or would you prefer it didn’t?

One Response to “The Most Important Scene in Game of Thrones, Season 1”
  1. Teshi says:

    Mmm. I wonder if beginning with deserter Ned making claims would be enough or if it would seem vague and uncommitted. Sometimes a vague opening can be a huge weakness as the entire plot ends up balancing on something uncertain (which I suppose could be a strength but would be much more difficult to pull off well and without losing frustrated people who want to know something concrete).

    In addition, given that at least some of the audience already knew that the White Walkers did exist (and that there was magic in the world: I always assume there is in sword-and-sorcery stories even if it isn’t obvious at first) it was probably done to ensure that everyone was getting the same experience. An is-it-isn’t-it tv show would give a vastly different experience to a viewer than a straightforward plot unfolder. (And I suspect the fact that people already knew on the internet would mean that it would be assumed/researched by the majority of people even those who didn’t have prior knowledge.)

    And finally, I didn’t watch the show but nothing is ever “just a bunch of petrified old eggs”.

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