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‘Game of Thrones’ Breaks TVs Rules

Sean Bean, Peter Dinkledge
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

If you’ve become engrossed with HBO’s blockbuster medieval fantasy drama, ‘Game of Thrones,’ welcome into the gritty world of author George RR Martin.  The ‘Game of Thrones’ series is based on the best-selling novels by Martin.  Fans of the novels learned early on that these books would not follow any fantasy standards.  This is no rote hero’s quest.  TV viewers new to the world of Westeros are finding that out.  I wondered how the viewing public would react when their standard expectations of fiction are shattered.  Not surprisingly, the internet exploded Sunday night followed that episode’s shocking ending.

**Warning-Spoilers follow the break**

Sunday’s episode, ‘Baelor,’ was the one I’ve been waiting for all season.  The struggle between the warring families, the Lannisters and the Starks, has grown to bloodshed.  The head of the Stark clan, Lord Eddard, has been the lead protagonist throughout the initial 9 episodes of the series, so of course now is the time for the hero to shine and bring the realm to rights, right?  Eddard is played by Sean Bean, arguably the biggest star attached to ‘Game of Thrones.’  So every standard of fiction and television tells you that you build a series like this around a strong lead character.   That’s exactly what happens until Lord Eddard is suddenly and cruelly beheaded.

And that’s when everything turns on its head for the unsuspecting viewer.  After all, when does a series build up a fan base for a strong character like Eddard Stark played by a top star like Sean Bean only to have him knocked off 9 episodes into the first season?  I knew it was coming, but I was still outraged on your behalf.  If last night left you upset and speechless, all I can tell you is this-stick with it.  The story is so rich, full and amazing.  Read on, watch on and you’ll see where this story goes beyond Eddard’s rolling head.

The beheadding is also the moment the blogosphere exploded.

“The only reason we watched [Game of Thrones] was for Sean Bean,” groused EW reader Steve. “Way to go HBO, time to switch to Showtime.”

That’s a pretty common reaction among some viewers after watching Sunday’s episode of HBO’s fantasy series, especially among those who didn’t read theThrones novel by George R. R. Martin. With the show’s ninth hour taking the unprecedented step of killing off a drama series’ main character (and its best known actor) in the first season, some fans are threatening to never watch the program again.

Read more of the outpouring of anguish from Entertainment Weekly’s Inside TV blog.

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