Dragons. It just had to be dragons. After 10 episodes of stunning television, head-chopping, impromptu nudity (male and female), horse-slaying and more shock twists than you can shake a Stark sword at, Game of Thrones season one ended with an almighty cliffhanger this week.
Robb Stark has been hailed as King of The North. Everyone’s favourite sex-mad, booze-loving imp Tyrion has been packed off to take care of the vile, snivelling King Joffrey. Jon Snow was prevented from abandoning the Night’s Watch by his band of brothers and Lords Varys and Littlefinger are still bickering like a right old pair of housewives.
However, the finale belonged to Daenerys Targaryen. Unable to save her lover Khal Drogo from a coma, she placed his body on a funeral pyre and joined him in the flames. Luckily, there was just enough time before the fade-to-black for Emilia Clarke to emerge from the embers, naked – of course – with some new fire-breathing friends on her shoulders. The dragons have arrived, goddamit!
How are we expected to wait another year for part two of Game of Thrones? I want to see Joffrey burnt to a crisp by Daenerys’s new pets. I want to watch Tyrion living happily ever after and open up a pub with his new lady friend Shae. I want Robb Stark to be all noble and Sean Bean-like, but manage to keep his head. I also want to watch all of these things not happen and still find myself utterly engrossed and enthralled by the Seven Kingdoms.
Of course, I could spend the next 12 months reading up on George RR Martin’s Ice and Fire books. The main benefit being that I wouldn’t look like an idiot the next time a major character is killed off. However, I’m not going to read the books. Not yet anyway. I want to absorb the world and story that HBO’s David Benioff and DB Weiss are creating without my own prejudices about how it should be done.
It is Game of Thrones’ biggest achievement that even TV viewers, this one included – who would normally run a mile from a show involving swords, magic and Mark Addy boasting about his sexual conquests – have found themselves shedding their fantasy prejudices. Brilliant acting, classic HBO violence and random shagging scenes – they’ve even earned the critical TV term sexposition – and some of the most lavish worlds ever created on the small screen have combined with awesome results.
I’ve even found myself picking sides (Are you a Lannister or a Stark? Or maybe even a Dothraki?) and the stories, growth and emergence of Tyrion, Daenerys and Robb have meant that the shock exits (well, it was a shock to people who hadn’t read the book) of Sean Bean and Jason Momoa haven’t shaken the view that this is the best new TV show of 2011. Bring on the dragons.