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The Speedwatcher’s Guide to Game of Thrones

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When it comes to Game of Thrones, I’m one of those people who watched the first episode last year, admired it, and concluded “there’s no way I can possibly watch this every week and expect to be able to follow it.” But I heard good things, and I put it in my “to catch up with” pile, which has included Deadwood for at least five years.

Around the time of the second season premiere of Game of Thrones, I figured it was as good a time as any to start catching up, so I started watching the first season. However, with the arrival of my second child (to go with our two-year-old) as well as the time-consuming launch of this website and other responsibilities, I found myself with not a lot of extra time, so for most of April and May I was watching about an episode a week, if that.

Well, around Memorial Day weekend something clicked, and I was firing up HBO Go to watch it again, and again, and again. By the middle of last week I was done with Season 1, and then, between Friday and Monday, I cranked out all ten episodes of Season 2, finally watching the finale just after midnight the night it debuted.

I watched the episodes on the miracle that is HBO Go, both on my Roku box and iPad; I also watched one episode on demand, and DVR’d the finale (I paused between episodes 9 and 10 to watch this week’s Mad Men, a show I’ve watched since the start)

If you’re planning a similar catchup, and not reading the books themselves, it’s not as daunting as it sounds. For one thing, there’s only 20 episodes so far (ten per season.) Plus, they’re only between 50 and 55 minutes each- you won’t believe how short HBO shows get when you strip out the “previously on…” and “next week on…” segments.

If you watch I recommend having various wikis handy. If you’re having trouble keeping straight the various characters, houses, geographical regions, and what “Khaleesi” means, you’ll find most of the answers in the Game of Thrones Wiki, A Wiki of Ice and Fire and the show’s Wikipedia page.

I also, for every episode, looked up Alan Sepinwall’s episode reviews, the process I also followed for my previous catchups on Freaks and Geeks, Breaking Bad and Friday Night Lights. There’s a reason why Sepinwall’s name shows up in a whole lot of Google autocompletes for these things.

Not caught up yet? Luckily, you’ve got almost a year before Season 3 starts. In the meantime, I think I need to watch that amazing ninth episode again, not to mention check out a few more Tyrion Lannister quote mashups. 

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