Winter in July? Who could be so thrilled by such an absurd prospect? Answer: The record-breaking 10.1 million viewers who watched the Season 7 premiere of Game of Thrones (GoT) on Sunday night.
Alas, as GoT obsessed fans mentally prepared for the long awaited episode (by silencing their cell phones, warning others in the room to remain utterly quiet—"or else," and re-confirming the 9 p.m. start time just in case it had changed), I planned on sticking to my usual Sunday night routine that includes wallowing in self pity as I dread going back to work the following morning.
While I have never had much interest in GoT, I also recognized that I had never given it a chance to woo me as it has its many millions of viewers.
And so, I changed my evening plans to take part in this impressive phenomenon that has been garnering mass audiences since its 2011 genesis.
To start, I must note that my lack of knowledge as to what has occurred throughout the past six seasons of GoT has a direct limiting affect on my ability to provide fact-based insight. Thus, this review is purely a collection of face value reactions to the newest episode.
The first aspect of the show that comes through quite blatantly is the championing of various powerful female characters. From a young girl defending her right to join the effort to protect the North from the looming war that everyone seems to be unbelievably preoccupied with, to Arya Stark's solo pilgrimage to King's Landing to defend House Stark's honor, the episode distinguishes the show as one that is definitely in the business of displaying incredibly strong, powerhouse women.
Already the quote of the season (and the last line of the episode), "Shall we begin," sets the scene for the following episodes. Who better to deliver this jaw-dropping, hair-raising line than the fearless and feared Daenerys Targaryen, who is repeatedly referred to as the "dragon queen" (whatever that means). Clearly a very powerful character, Daenerys is the primary figure who is meant to exhibit the female power theme in the series.
While I have a sneaking suspicion that most of the main characters have changed drastically throughout the preceding seasons, and perhaps each powerful figure has taken certain actions (perhaps even impure actions) to get where they are, it is easily recognizable that each character is carrying a lot of baggage. Mention of traitorous family members, slaughtered villages, and death threats lead me to conclude that viewers can expect much more violence, death, and power shifts in the following episodes.
So why such widespread interest in this intense, fictional world? With such a vast audience, it is impossible that each viewer remains loyal to the show for the same reason(s). Some may enjoy the violence and constant action, some may feed off of the power struggle and the complex storylines that accompany it, and some may latch on to the theme of women rising to power as the fuel to their wholehearted dedication. Regardless of each fan's motivation, the show has and will likely continue to be a success.
The season 7 premiere proves to anyone—viewers and newbies alike—that there definitely isn't room in the seven kingdoms for so many power-hungry forces. What this means for the rest of the season, I can not say; however, viewers do now know a few things for sure: winter is finally here, war is inevitable, and Ed Sheeran's acting career doesn't seem promising.