The first season of Game of Thrones seems like a distant memory. When the show debuted it didn’t have the coverage and build-up of this season, nor the legions of followers desperate to see what unfolds and if/how/when Jon Snow is revived. It had to introduce us to many characters, families and places; an entire world. The lack of bloody action and shocking twists that featured in following seasons have given it a bad reputation with some fans, even if it was the most faithful to the books. However, a closer inspection reveals a series full of groundwork that created such a continuously compelling story. Here are ten moments you might have forgotten or missed from the first season that foreshadowed future events of the show.
1. Arya and “the real seeing”
The beginning of season 6 sees Arya - as all had suspected she would be - blind and begging in the streets. It’s a subtle call back to her position following Ned Stark’s execution in season 1. Enter the Waif, Jaqen H’ghar’s right hand woman, to attack and perhaps cruelly train Arya. This scene harks back to her last sword lesson with Syrio Forel (also from Braavos) in King’s Landing. In the moments before Meryn Trant arrived to try and take her away and kill (or not kill) her teacher, Syrio began to teach his young student about “the real seeing”. The Braavosi swordsman was distinguishing the difference between just watching your opponent, and actively seeing and anticipating. His lesson could have simply been about ‘swordplay’ but it may be a lesson Arya will soon have to remember if she is to find her feet and learn to cope and fight without her sight.
2. Cersei’s (and now Jaime’s) ambition
Cersei’s defining characteristic, throughout the five seasons, is thrown into sharp focus when she tells Joffrey: “Everyone who isn’t us, is an enemy.” Cersei is equally blunt with her enemies. She casually threatens Ned twice in season one, once saying the classic line “when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.” The second occasion is when she recognises that Ned was never meant to lead as his brother Brandon had been, but instead was a brought up to be a soldier. When Ned says “I was trained to kill my enemies,” Cersei unnervingly replies: “As was I”. The first episode of season 6 sees her twin brother echo what she told Joffrey. Having witnessed his daughter Myrcella die in his arms and the grief it caused Cersei, he told her: “F*** everyone who isn’t us. We’re the only ones who matter, the only ones in this world. And everything they’ve taken from us we’re going to take back and more. We’re going to take everything there is”. The narrative of Jaime and Cersei vs The World - which began in season 1 - will likely be a big focus of the current series.
3. Jaime predicted Theon Greyjoy’s betrayal
Jaime Lannister is a goldmine of clever quips and hints about what is to come. The Kingslayer discusses war stories with Jory Cassel in episode four, and Jaime brings up Theon, comparing him to a “shark on a mountaintop” as an out of place ward at Winterfell. When Jory tells him Theon is “a good lad,” Jaime is quick to riposte: “I doubt it.” His opinion was probably based on little more than an inkling or a typical Lannister looking down on a family such as the Greyjoys. Whatever his motive, Jaime unwittingly foreshadowed Theon’s betrayal of Robb Stark when he reestablished himself as a lord of the Iron Islands and seized Winterfell, before having everyone believe he burned Bran and Rickon.
4. Bran’s connection with Summer and animals
Bran’s affinity with Summer was hinted at constantly in season 1. Since then, we’ve learnt of his ability to warg into and control not only animals but even Hodor. All of the Stark children appear to have close connections and relationships with their direwolves - Bran, Jon and Arya were all saved by their wolves at some point. Bran’s potential talents are quite strongly hinted at during the first season by his peculiar dreams and the appearances of the three-eyed raven. But the strongest suggestion that his link to Summer is more than that of pet and owner, is when he wakes up as Sansa’s wolf, Lady, is slain by Ned.
5. Trouble loomed for the Starks and Baratheons from the start
Symbolic imagery has played a big role in translating the depth of George RR Martin’s books to television. One of most ominous uses of imagery is when Ned Stark and his sons find a dead stag in the the Wolfswood. The stag represents trouble for King Robert Baratheon and his brothers, Renly and Stannis - it being the sigil of their house. The Starks continue on to find a dead direwolf, rarely seen south of The Wall. The wolf has a stag’s antlers impaled into it, suggesting impending danger for the Starks too. The imagery may go even deeper than that, when you consider that it is Robert who brings Ned south, eventually to his death. Also, Joffrey who was a Baratheon in name at least, ordered Ned’s execution. Another scene also features Tywin Lannister skinning a stag. Tyrion’s trick with the wildfire gave King’s Landing a fighting chance against Stannis’ army and fleet at the Battle of the Blackwater. But without Tywin and the Tyrell’s timely arrival, the city may have been taken and Cersei would have committed suicide and killed her children. The Lannisters were also responsible for the death of King Robert.
6. The King’s Hands rarely last long
Our introduction to Jaime and Cersei comes with them looking on at Jon Arryn’s dead body in the Great Sept. Here Jaime highlights just how much of a poisoned chalice the office of Hand of the King is when Cersei suggests it should be him in the role. Jaime is indifferent, jesting that it’s an honour he could do without because “their days are too long, and lives too short.” If we include Jon Arryn, then three of the five Hand of the Kings that have been appointed in the show so far have perished in office. The Kingslayer’s wise words don’t give much hope for the future of Tywin’s brother and incumbent Hand, Kevan Lannister.
7. You’re a wizard... Sam
Samwell Tarly never quite fitted in with the Night’s Watch. The closest he has come to having a purpose at Castle Black had been in his assistance to the late Maester Aemon (Targaryen). He’s also given vital shreds of information to his brothers through his reading such as the appearances of whitewalkers and the ability to destroy them with dragonglass. We left Sam in season five just as he was leaving Jon and train to be a maester at the citadel. In what seemed a throwaway line when the two high born stewards talked about their aspirations in season one, Sam confessed how he had always wanted to be a wizard. Short of becoming a red priest like Thoros of Myr or Melisandre, perhaps his impending path to becoming a maester isn’t too far from his childhood dream, especially given what we have seen of Qyburn’s abilities.
8. Tyrion always knew Bronn would sell him out
Tyrion and Bronn’s friendship or mutually beneficial arrangement, whatever you want to call it, was one of the more pleasant things in Game of Thrones before the delightful duo finally parted company prior to the Imp’s trial. When Tyrion hopes he might call upon Bronn either as a witness or as his champion in yet another trial by combat, the sellsword lives up to his label. Bronn ditches Tyrion for the promise of money, titles, a young wife and a castle - all in exchange for agreeing with Cersei to stay out of proceedings. Tyrion was less than surprised, and even appeared to understand his friend’s decision. He might have always known though that the day would come when someone offered Bronn more than he could, telling him as they walked free from The Eyrie: “If the day ever comes when you're tempted to sell me out, whatever the price, I'll beat it”.