Fire and Blood (Game of Thrones)
|"Fire and Blood"|
|Game of Thrones episode|
Live dragon hatchlings emerged to close the season
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||Alan Taylor|
|Featured music||Ramin Djawadi|
|Original air date||June 19, 2011|
|Running time||53 minutes|
"Fire and Blood" is the tenth and final episode of the first season of the HBO medieval fantasy television series Game of Thrones. First aired on June 19, 2011, it was written by the show's creators and executive producers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and directed by Alan Taylor.
The title of the episode is the motto of House Targaryen, and alludes to the aftermath of the previous episode's climactic events. The episode's action revolves around the Starks' reactions to Eddard Stark's execution: Sansa is taken hostage, Arya flees in disguise, Robb and Catelyn lead an army against the Lannisters, and Jon Snow struggles with his divided loyalty. Across the narrow sea, Daenerys must deal with the blood magic that has robbed her of her husband, her son and her army.
The episode was initially viewed by 3 million viewers, a series high. It was well received by critics, who singled out the closing scene as a particularly strong way to end the first season. This episode was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series.
Like previous episodes, "Fire and Blood" interweaves action in multiple separate locations in and around the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
In the North
Crippled Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) has Osha (Natalia Tena) carry him into the Stark family crypt beneath Winterfell. There, they encounter the youngest Stark brother, Rickon (Art Parkinson), and his direwolf Shaggydog. Both brothers felt drawn to the crypts after dreaming about the death of their father Ned (Sean Bean). As they leave the crypt, Maester Luwin (Donald Sumpter) arrives to inform Bran of his father's execution.
In the Riverlands
At the Stark army camp, Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) counsels her son Robb (Richard Madden), who grieves over his father's death. Robb vows revenge on the Lannisters, but Catelyn reminds him that they must first rescue his sisters Arya (Maisie Williams) and Sansa (Sophie Turner). As the Starks consult their followers over whether to support Stannis or Renly Baratheon, both of whom have challenged Joffrey Baratheon's (Jack Gleeson) claim to the throne, Lord Greatjon Umber (Clive Mantle) instead makes the case for Northern independence. Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) and the others agree, proclaiming Robb the "King in the North." Later, Catelyn interrogates the captive Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). He admits having pushed Bran out of the tower window, but refuses to tell why.
At the Lannister army camp, Lord Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) and his followers discuss their recent setbacks: not only have they lost an important battle, and Jaime, to the Starks, along with his entire army, but both Baratheon brothers now also threaten them. Because his grandson's execution of Ned Stark destroyed any hope to sue for peace between the Starks and the Lannisters, Tywin orders his son Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) to go to King's Landing in his stead as Hand of the King in order to keep Joffrey under control. Against his father's orders, Tyrion brings the prostitute Shae (Sibel Kekilli) with him to the capital.
At King's Landing
Offering the bard Marillion (Emun Elliott) the choice between losing his fingers or his tongue, Joffrey sentences him to have his tongue cut out for composing a bawdy song about King Robert's death. Joffrey then leads Sansa onto a small wooden bridge at the top of a battlement and forces her to look upon the heads of her father and other Stark household members mounted on spikes. When Joffrey tells her his plans to add Robb's head to the collection, Sansa defies him by wishing to see his own head mounted there, for which Joffrey has one of his guards slap her. As Sansa contemplates pushing Joffrey off the catwalk, she is stopped by "The Hound," Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann), who wipes the blood off her mouth and tells her to obey Joffrey for her own safety.
Meanwhile, Arya, after being rescued by Night's Watch recruiter Yoren (Francis Magee), takes on the identity of the boy "Arry" (dialect for "Harry") to escape with Yoren and his new recruits. After being picked on by two boys who plan to steal her sword, Arya threatens to kill them until Gendry (Joe Dempsie), King Robert's bastard son who knows nothing of his parentage, chases them off. Arya and Gendry leave with Yoren's caravan, bound for the Wall.
At the Wall
Jon (Kit Harington) attempts to desert the Night's Watch to join Robb and avenge his father, despite Sam's (John Bradley) pleading. Pursued by Sam, Pyp (Josef Altin) and Grenn (Mark Stanley), Jon tells them to leave, but they convince Jon to return to the Watch by reciting their oath. The next morning, Lord Commander Jeor Mormont (James Cosmo) lets Jon know that he is aware of his attempt at desertion. Nevertheless he orders Jon to join him in an expedition beyond the Wall, intended to counter the threat of the wildlings and the White Walkers, and to find the missing First Ranger, Benjen Stark (Joseph Mawle).
Across the Narrow Sea
On waking up, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) learns from Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) that her unborn son died, his life used up in Mirri's (Mia Soteriou) spell that saved the life of Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa). Drogo has fallen into a catatonic state, which leads most of his followers to abandon him. Daenerys accuses Mirri of tricking her by not revealing the real price of her magic, and Mirri reveals that she sought to avenge the destruction of her village and her people. Unable to bear her husband's condition, Daenerys smothers Drogo with a pillow, killing him.
Daenerys and her remaining followers build a funeral pyre for Drogo. Daenerys places her dragon eggs atop the pyre, and she orders Ser Jorah to tie Mirri to it. Having set fire to the pyre, Daenerys declares herself queen of a new khalasar, freeing those who would remain with her. Despite Jorah's worries, Daenerys steps into the pyre herself. By daybreak, Jorah and the khalasar are surprised to find her unharmed in the ashes, carrying three dragon hatchlings. Amazed, they bow to Daenerys as one of the hatchlings clambers onto her shoulder and lets out a screech.
The episode was written by the showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. Like the rest of the first season, it adapts the plot of A Game of Thrones, the first novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. The episode covers the novel's chapters 66 to 73, that is, Arya V, Bran VII, Sansa VI, Daenerys IX, Tyrion IX, Jon IX, Catelyn XI and Daenerys X. It also covers part of the second novel, A Clash of Kings: Arya I (chapter 2) and part of Catelyn VII (chapter 55). Scenes added for the adaptation include Catelyn and Robb receiving news of Eddard's death, the revelation of Cersei and Lancel Lannister's relationship, as well as interactions between Grand Maester Pycelle, the prostitute Ros, Varys and Littlefinger.
The dragons featured in the episode's finale were implemented by Bluebolt, UK, the lead VFX agency for the first season. VFX supervisor Angela Barson confirmed that the CGI dragons were among the most stressful effects, prompting sleepless nights. Commenting on the episode's climactic scene where the hatchling dragons are revealed, actress Emilia Clarke told VH1, "You see the relationship that Dany has with her eggs, and you see that grow and grow and grow and kind of the intuitive connection she has with them, you see that develop really beautifully." Clarke also hinted that she expected to "get to play with some more dragons!" in the second season, based on her conversations with book author and executive producer George R.R. Martin. "VFX Data Wrangler" Naill McEvoy has confirmed that dragon presence will be increasing in season two.
In the scene where Joffrey forces Sansa to view the heads of Ned and his entourage on spikes, one of the prosthetic heads briefly seen in profile is that of former U.S. president George W. Bush. In their commentary on the DVD release of season 1, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss explained that this was not meant as a political statement, but rather because the production used the prosthetic heads that happened to be at hand. Following media reports in June 2012, HBO apologized for this shot, which their statement described as "unacceptable, disrespectful and in very bad taste." The statement also said that the shot would be edited for any future home video production and TV broadcasts. HBO removed the episode from digital download services until the scene was edited. In the edited scene, the head now bears no resemblance to Bush.
Airings and ratings
"Fire and Blood" was first aired on HBO in the U.S. and Canada on June 19, 2011. The episode was the most watched episode of the season and was viewed by an estimated 3.041 million viewers and received a 1.4 share among adults between the ages of 18 and 49. This means that it was seen by 1.4% of all 18–49 year olds at the time of the broadcast. With repeats, the episode brought in 3.9 million total viewers.
"Fire and Blood" was nominated for, but did not win, the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series. The contributors cited in the nomination were lead visual effects supervisor Adam McInnes; 2nd lead visual effects supervisor & visual effects supervisor Angela Barson; lead visual effects producer Lucy Ainsworth-Taylor; CGI supervisor Raf Morant; lead visual effects compositor Henry Badgett; lead matte artist Damien Mace; special effects supervisor Stuart Brisdon and special effects supervisor Graham Hills.
"Fire and Blood" received positive reviews, and much critical acclaim for the closing scene.
Matt Fowler of IGN wrote that "'Fire and Blood' wasn't exactly a powerful roar of an episode, but that book fans would definitely appreciate the small parts of the second book, A Clash of Kings, that got included to help set up season two next year." He rated the episode 8.5 out of 10. Todd VanDerWerff of the A.V. Club gave it an "A-," commenting:
- "The series, especially, has shown that it’s willing to stretch some of these emotional or philosophical moments out, to really get the most out of the actors’ performances and give them scenes where they can expand their characters beyond what’s on the page. In a finale that could have felt too scattered—we drop in on every major character of the season who’s still alive—that sense that cooler heads would rather prevent greater war but were thwarted by hotter, younger heads was what united the story".
David Sims, also writing for the A.V. Club, called it a fitting end to the season, "leaving absolutely everyone salivating for season two." Writing for the Star-Ledger, Jenifer Braun praised the episode for its set dressing ("I have to say, it’s a pleasure just to look at all the shiny stuff the HBO set dressers came up with for Tywin Lannister's tent") and the authenticity of the baby dragons ("And wow, HBO, seamless special effects here. Baby Dragon looks every bit as real as the series’ dogs"). HitFix said it "Wrapped up its terrific first season...it was damned entertaining along the way--with the finale as possibly the most entertaining so far--and we know that at least one more season is coming. And if the creative team can keep up this level of quality, it's hard to imagine HBO shutting things down anytime soon, even with a budget that only figures to get higher. Dragons aren't cheap, but they're also amazing."
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- Fowler, Matt. "Game of Thrones: "Fire and Blood" Review". IGN. Retrieved June 19, 2011.
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- Sepinwall, Alan (June 19, 2011). "'Game of Thrones' - 'Fire & Blood':Reviewing the season finale". HitFix. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
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