GAME OF THRONES: The Denver Premiere

Our Chase Branch has already seen the Game of Thrones premiere and he wants to rub it in…err…share the experience.

There’s only one week left until viewers around the world finally get to return to Westeros. Can’t stand the anticipation? Well, if you were one of the lucky few who attended Denver’s Season 5 premiere this week, then your wait is over.

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That’s right. I, and 500 of my closest friends, have already seen the Season 5 premiere. But I’m not here to rub that fact in your faces (well, maybe a little…) — instead, I’m here to give you an inside look at a wild night where hundreds of die-hard fans gathered together to celebrate HBO and George RR Martin’s magical creation.

I’d like to pretend that my fabulous writing for Fellowship of the Screen earned me a press credential for this event, but that’s simply not true. My mother works for Comcast and got tickets to the VIP reception through work. Thus, Tuesday night found hundreds of people gathered around Denver’s Ellie Caulkins Opera House eagerly awaiting a chance to get inside for the festivities. Fans were divided into three lines. The majority were general admission, but there was also VIP. A third line labeled “Super Fans” featured contest winners, several of whom were dressed in elaborate costumes.

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The backstage area was dressed for a party straight out of the North. The room was decorated with both luxurious cushions and wooden benches and chairs draped with fake animal skins. Most of the lighting came from hundreds of battery powered candles scattered across the room. A fake stone bar served up both “Three Eyed Raven” beer and the finest wines imported from The Reach. The whole décor was a sight to behold, and an obvious labor of love from designers who know the look of Game of Thrones. It was a chance to have a drink, eat some catered food, and mingle with a group of dedicated fans.

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What really struck me was the diversity of the fans I encountered. They ranged in age from college students to the elderly. There were retirees and young professionals, with everyone eagerly talking about what they hoped to see in the premiere. “I just can’t wait to see Peter Dinklage. My husband knows that he’s my boyfriend on the side,” a woman told me laughing before showing me pictures of her kissing the star’s face on a sign. “I just love Tyrion.” Who doesn’t? Everyone had a favorite character they wanted to discuss: Tyrion, Daenerys, Arya, Jon Snow, Littlefinger, and many more.

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But there was also an air of nervous concern from book readers; was it true that the show was finally prepared to surpass the storylines from the books? Were characters going to die on screen that are still alive on the page? But those concerns were largely dampened by the excitement of seeing the new episode, and a feeling that you were in on a secret. Everyone knew someone who wished they’d been able to attend, and we were the lucky few who did. We got complementary Game of Thrones beer glasses and pictures with Daenerys’s dragon, Drogon. It was a blast.

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After a while mingling, we were led into the theater where we took our seats. A midday studio host from the local Fox affiliate – dressed in a wonderful King Joffrey costume – was the night’s master of ceremonies, whipping the crowd into a frenzy telling off-color jokes and trying to start house rivalries. The crowd was a pretty even split of Stark and Targaryen fans, as you might have expected. Even the costume contest came down to a Jon Snow/Daenerys Targaryen final. Jon Snow won, of course. Jon Snow always wins the costume contest. Black leather, swords, and animal cloaks are just more impressive than a blue dress. Kit Harrington’s dour pout is well known, but our victorious Jon Snow couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear when he was awarded a complete set of George RR Martin-autographed hardback A Song of Ice and Fire books. Even the losers made off with some incredibly cool Unsullied Helmets. We cheered. We laughed. We all sang the show’s theme song together.

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But, finally, we made it to show time. An audio message from Varys, the Master of Whispers, reminded us that we would be gruesomely executed if we were caught recording or taking pictures during the show. Laughs all around, and a few nervous glances towards HBO’s hired security. Our final message came from George RR Martin himself, who thanked Denver’s fans for their devotion to the show in a prerecorded message. “I wish I could be there with you all, but I’m currently hard at work writing The Winds of Winter,” he said to a roar of applause from the audience. Then the house lights went down.

I won’t spoil the premiere for you, but I’ll give you a few things to watch out for:

  • Every Game of Thrones premiere is a primer for the stories to come over the season. Season 4 began with Tywin Lannister melting down the House Stark greatsword, Ice, as a final symbol of that house’s destruction, and then we spent a season watching Tywin’s eventual downfall. Jorah Mormont issued Daenerys a warning that dragons are wild creatures and could not be tamed, and in the finale we watched as a woman who calls herself the Mother of Dragons locked those same ersatz children in chains. Where does Season 5 start? And what might it tell us about what’s to come?
  • Updated credits with new locations!
  • Is the show missing something now that two of its greatest characters, Tywin Lannister and Sandor “The Hound” Clegane are gone? Are there new personalities to fill that void?
  • CGI dragons are incredible, but they sure look expensive.
  • Is the addition of Jar Jar Binks to the show a mistake?

If you want more than that, you only have one more week to wait! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. So cuddle up with your Season 4 DVDs and make sure you’re caught up. Winter is coming, after all! You’d better be ready.

David McGinnis will return next week with his regular, wonderful recaps to give you all a rundown of the premiere.

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