Just in time for the holidays, the press release says, you can own all eight seasons of Game of Thrones in 4K HD. But what is even more ironic is that on the day of Election 2020, you can own all the espionage and court intrigue of one of the best shows to tackle politics and politicking, even if it’s about Westeros, not the United States.
Back in 2011, HBO delivered the first season of the epic, sprawling adventure crafted by George R.R. Martin as A Song of Ice and Fire, a saga that Martin himself designed to be un-adaptable. He made it so violent, so sexualized, so Game that he never imagined anyone would ever have the panache to recreate it on any kind of screen. They began by adapting the first novel, A Game of Thrones, and continued on, even after the unexpected twists involving everyone’s favorite “good” ruler, Sean Bean’s Ned Stark. From the jump, readers of the novels knew that HBO wasn’t going to fade too far from the novels’ inspiration, and non-readers knew that no one could predict otherwise how the stories would play out.
By season two, the focus was on family dynamics, a quest for power, the way it destroyed those who pursued it and those they manipulated. Niccolo Machievelli would’ve been proud by the ways that those seeking crowns or thrones moved others around the board, even as a parade of characters become those we loved and those we hated. Sometimes, they changed position over time!
After the first season, I wrote, “after the death of several key ‘glue’ characters die in the first season and the remaining lesser rulers vie for control of the kingdoms that remain. The key families are the Lannisters and the Starks, one initially painted as “evil” and the other “good,” but with all of Martin’s characters, you’ll see it’s not quite so clear. All you need to know is that various characters represent different areas, and the elements vying for absolute control of Westeros.” This turned out to be true … and false … about the way that all of it would play out over the next seven seasons.
We watched Cersei, Joffrey, Tyrion Lannister the dwarf, Sansa, Jon Snow, the list goes on and on. And of course, it wasn’t long before we began to see that the Dragon Queen, Daeneyrs Targaryen, was important to the story and would inspire Halloween costumes in little girls who’d never seen the show. Characters came and went, but the struggle for family and power continued, all against a backdrop of expansive world-traveling cinematographers.
Of course, Winter did come, the North did rise, the Wall did fall. All of this seems prophesied and easy enough to guess IF you formulate your thinking in the way of Martin — which is no small task. But the life lessons of the early seasons remained when the fire fell and the last sword plunged through a heart after the eighth season: “for each of the individuals who grasps power cruelly for themselves, they find that when they are deposed, so is their power, and no one is left to speak for them when they fall.”
Ironically, while the iron fists crashed and people died, there was still something to be said for the good people, the sacrificial people, who struggled and wrestled with their decisions, unlike those who just gave in to their baser impulses. We see that there is still joy and honor to be gained by choosing good, but all of that seems so much more diluted than the distilled influence of the angry, powerful voices that ripped families apart and crashed against each other, vying for land and authority. It’s ironic as the voting results begin to come in, that we might see the ways that words and deeds line up, and fight, and wound.
The carnage was magnificent in its brutality, but the nobility of one (or is it two?) of the characters still shines – still leaves me with the most surprising of un-Game of Thrones-like ideals: hope. Of course, Jon Snow is still my guy, the leader who doesn’t want the titles, doesn’t want the drama, can’t kiss a woman he’s not supposed to kiss, who tries to stop a war and even defends the defenseless. But the show raises questions for our real lives, like, What pain is too much? How do we acknowledge our anger in a healthy way? Does the “winner” of this game of thrones prove to be the one who best handles, in a most healthy way, their pain and anger? What happens when this plays out in real life in halls of our statehouses and our national powerhouses? Who remains standing?
Now, for the first time, this deluxe set of episodes, all of them on 4K HD disc and available for watching anywhere via HD, lays out the entire series for you to watch again, without waiting, and in all of their spectacular visual glory PLUS the special features, some of which you’ve probably never seen.
First off is the “Game of Thrones: Reunion Special,” a reunion show shot in Belfast, Ireland, with the cast, hosted by late-night talk show host and comedian Conan O’Brien. In two parts, the show provides us a look at the Houses of Lannister, Stark, and Targaryen, and lets the actors speak to what they saw over all of those years running around Westeros. Add in a documentary by Jeanie Finlay called “Game of Thrones: The Last Watch,” a look at the last season, plus the animated “Conquest & Rebellion” history of the seven kingdoms, audio commentaries, deleted scenes, and behind-the-scenes exploration of the show.
For those seeking something to tide them over in the long winter months – or a great gift for another fan this holiday, the Game of Thrones: The Complete Collection is the one gift to rule them all.