Stories titled Game of Thrones or something similar already should tell us two related things. First, power is not what it seems, power is not straightforward. Second, poetic devices matter. The first device is repetition. Things never repeat themselves exactly, & then the differences matter more than the similarities.
First, we see two soldiers beheaded. The first is as surprised as terrified to see the monster fall upon him. The second, who escapes the monster, as resigned to his fate as he is sure it would have been better never to have been born at all. The first takes place in a forest, suddenly, in terror. The second – at the assigned place of execution, at the hands of Lord Stark, for crimes confessed. But the wild & the laws seem equally harsh; what is a man’s life between them? Stark is a man of his word: he calls it his duty to kill those he sentences.
The lord Stark’s wife hates his honor. Why did she marry him, leaving her family & land? She says he has a choice, that men always do, but they lie to women. Bitter woman’s raging opposes honor to freedom, the public to the private life; this puts honor together with necessity: She makes men completely public. Private life – the family – is then defenseless. She wants him to choose his own & abandon the rest. But how is family – one’s own family – freedom, & not necessity? Stark obeys the king, moves to the capital, & takes the title the king’s hand: Now, he is a man of the king’s word.
The current & former ruling houses are introduced with two nude scenes. In the first, the dwarf prince of the newly powerful Lannisters goes to a whorehouse; his handsome brother supplies more whores. In the second, the deposed, exiled prince of old Targaryen denudes & examines his sister, preparing to marry her to a horseriding barbarian.
In the first, vulgar desires replace high duties. The dwarf’s grotesque orgy suggests that sexual passions, though private, are universal, unlike public duties. The dwarf rudely calls Stark’s bastard just that; but he sympathizes: He says his own father thinks him a bastard, as all fathers do dwarves. – The dwarf forgets self-loathing in the orgy: Sexual passions make us all forget ourselves.
In the second, petty intrigue replaces what we’d expect: Incestuous sex; the brother does not desire his sister; he loathes her; her body is merely a means to his dreamed-of crown. – This weak man uses a woman, obviously weak, to rule a strong man. This is his view of politics, a world of unlovely intriguers; apparently, its alternative is barbarians given to enslaving desires.
The most complex & entertaining story on TV.