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“Fire cannot kill a dragon.”
These chilling words from Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), first uttered as she stood before her squealing brother’s molten corpse, ended up being rather prophetic by the end of the first season of Game of Thrones. Seven years in the rearview mirror as of this writing, the episode — “Fire and Blood,” written by showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, and directed by Alan Taylor — makes good on Dany’s testament to the power of the Targaryen line, allowing the widowed Khaleesi to not only survive an overnight inside a burning funeral pyre but also introducing the first dragons back into the world in more than 100 years.
There’s no doubt that Dany rising from the ashes with three newborn dragons in tow stands out as one of the single most iconic images in Game of Thrones history. (Indeed, see below for even more of those iconic images.) It’s especially breathtaking to revisit several years down the line, given how much the landscape of Game of Thrones and the dragons at large have expanded in size and scale. The three infants crawling on the Mother of Dragons would go on to burn entire swaths of Westeros to the ground — including a massive portion of the Wall, in the case of the ill-fated Viserion.
Really, as much as the addition of dragons enhances the narrative, the subtraction of Ned Stark (Sean Bean) serves a similar purpose. “Fire and Blood” marks the first episode without Bean’s presence, unless you’re counting the man’s severed head atop a pike on the outskirts of the Red Keep. Just as it’s hard to imagine Game of Thrones without dragons in the mix, it’s very difficult to consider an alternate timeline in which Ned survives his trip to King’s Landing. (Difficult, but not impossible.) In this way, even though it’s the first season finale, “Fire and Blood” closes one era by launching Game of Thrones into the territory it will occupy for the next six years and counting — a critical episode by any measure.
In the latest episode of “Winter Was Here,” the Game of Thrones rewatch podcast partnership between The Hollywood Reporter and Post Show Recaps hosts Rob Cesternino and Josh Wigler (that’s me!), we discuss all of the ways the return of the dragons and the fall of Ned Stark impact the show moving forward. Other topics include:
• Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) and Varys (Conleth Hill) speaking in the Red Keep, and why the show missed out on providing closure for this riveting relationship;
• Julian Glover’s turn as Grand Maester Pycelle, revealed in this episode to be much more agile than he looks at first glance, even if the story turn is never truly paid off;
• Why Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) selects Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) as acting Hand of the King, and whether there was one pivotal way the Lord of Casterly Rock could have avoided his eventual fate;
• A survey of the Stark siblings (and their Half-Brother in Black serving among the Night’s Watch) in the post-Ned world;
• And more, including repeated shouting of the single greatest phrase in Game of Thrones lore: “DaKingInDaNorf!”
Listen to the podcast in the player below:
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