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Just when you think you’ve got Game Of Thrones figured out, the opening credits change

Screenshot: Game Of Thrones
Season OneGame Of Thrones season one

Month of Thrones

We’re counting down to Game Of Thrones’ final season by distilling the fantasy epic to 30 essential moments. This is Month Of Thrones.

The moment

A new location is added to the main titles.

The episode

The Kingsroad” (season one, episode two)

Like the map helpfully nestled between a fantasy volume’s front cover and its table of contents, Game Of Thrones’ main titles situate the show’s action in something approaching real-world geography—just try not to get too hung up on how long it ought to take the characters to traverse that clockwork diagram. In a glimmering, stentorian sequence created by prolific creative studio Elastic, the premiere episode introduces critical settings like King’s Landing (capital of the Seven Kingdoms), Winterfell (home of the Starks), and The Wall (stronghold of The Night’s Watch)—and then, the following week, it sped across the Narrow Sea to give us another locale, the equestrian camp of the Dothraki. Adapted from a series of interludes that would’ve been wildly disruptive to the narrative flow, the Game Of Thrones titles have become both an Emmy-wining calling card for Elastic and a sign of how much of any given episode can be fast-forwarded through. (Sorry, people of Dorne.) But as early as the second episode, this first of now 20-plus variations on the main titles signaled the ever-expanding scope and unpredictable nature of Game Of Thrones. Also, all those turrets and parapets just look cool building themselves from the ground up.

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What we said then

You might be thinking to yourself, “Well, this is kind of minor.” And we don’t necessarily disagree with you! At the very least, the alteration didn’t merit notice in The A.V. Club’s “Kingsroad” recap, though another, subtle flourish caught Todd VanDerWerff’s attention: “I really like how the series is indicating the passage of time by showing the direwolves growing. I’m almost sure that there were two different wolves playing Arya’s pet (which I’m not even going to try to spell) in tonight’s episode.”

Elsewhere in the episode

As alluded to above, this is The One Where Nymeria Attacks Joffrey, thus separating Arya from her recently adopted pet and paving the petulant prince’s path to the younger Stark daughter’s kill list. Jon Snow departs for The Wall, with Tyrion Lannister among the party accompanying him there. After Bran witnessed Tyrion’s brother and sister doing things brothers and sisters ought not do, the Lannisters send someone to finish the boy off, though the assassin is intercepted first by Catelyn, and then by Bran’s direwolf, Summer. The services of the hounds do not go unpunished, sadly: In Nymeria’s stead, Cersei orders the execution of Sansa’s wolf Lady, which Ned carries out in his noble, bound-by-conflicting loyalties way.

Previously: The Night’s Watch encounters a White Walker
Next: Cersei tells Ned Stark, “When you play the game of thrones you win or you die.”

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About the author

Erik Adams

Managing editor, The A.V. Club