We’re living in an age when people are just sort of throwing around the word “epic,” aren’t we? It’s almost lost it’s meaningfulness and last night’s Game of Thrones event at Barclays Center didn’t do anything to help.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It was highly-entertaining and a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but it wasn’t epic.
The phone-snatching began right off the bat and by phone-snatching I mean they made us all turn in their electronic devices—which, yes, they told us they would well ahead of time—outside the stadium. Still, how am I supposed to brag about it on social media, if I’m disconnected from the larger world? I guess it made the experience “purer.” Anyway, we handed our phones over and from there, we went through a series of lines: one to get through the front door and one to get through the metal detectors.
And then, we were finally inside.
The first thing that came into view was a prop display, but I doubt very many people saw it because the pressure to get in a line—for food, drinks, GOT-related prizes and opportunities, really, anything—was immediate and crushing. Prop displays be damned.
Quick question: Have you ever been to Disney World or, really, any kind of amusement park? If not, then how about an airport? Then you, and presumably the folks at HBO, should know the power of clearly delineating space for long lines. That didn’t seem to be the case last night. There were some barriers set up to aid people who were very close to say, the Iron Throne or the front of the t-shirt line, but the great majority of the first hour before the screening was spent wading through confused masses of humanity.
Wait, what’s this line for? I’ve been in line for twenty minutes for a t-shirt!? I thought this was the line for the Iron Throne. What do you mean there are four Iron Thrones throughout the stadium? What do you mean you’re cutting off the line here?
I wish I could say this was an internal monologue, but it wasn’t. There was a whole lot of wondering aloud on everyone’s part because with the exception of the various restaurants there were no clear markers indicating what was what.
Over the course of that first chaotic hour, it became abundantly clear that our best bet would be to find our seats and wait for the show to begin at 7:15 p.m. with hopes that our seats would be close enough to the exit to run to an Iron Throne immediately after the screening. More on that later.
In a Red Wedding-esque twist, the screening actually started on time. Right at 7:15 the lights were dimmed and we were told to take our seats, all of which pointed toward a gigantic projection. To give people time to settle in they played A Foreshadowing, which included cast interviews and shots from behind the scenes, but the greatest takeaway from the mini-documentary was realizing that actress Gwendoline Christie, who plays Brienne of Tarth, is a wee bit spastic in real life. It was charming.
Around 7:35, the lights dimmed again and then a drumming sound rose from behind the stage. Out came two lines of kids in marching band uniforms, none of whom were old enough to attend the 18+ screening. After a pause, they began playing the theme from Game of Thrones! You could barely hear them from where we sat, but it was endearing nonetheless and I think people really enjoyed it.
Then, the lights dimmed again and a voice announced, “Here to perform his song “The Ladder” from the Catch The Throne mixtape…Common!”
That garnered enough applause. I mean, people do know of Common at least, but it was all downhill from there. My sister’s roommate leaned over and described his performance as “career-ruining.” I’d say, it was near-ish to rock bottom, but then again some girl behind me enthusiastically screamed, “There go my baby daddy,” so what do I know? Let’s just say the amount of people who are both hardcore GOT fans and hardcore Common fans were in short supply.
That point was only driven home by the fact that the crowd absolutely lost it when they introduced Kristian Nairn—best known for playing the mentally-impaired stable boy, Hodor, as the evening’s host. People were basically frothing at the mouth for a guy whose only line has ever been “Hodor.” Sorry, Common.
After explaining in his Irish brogue that this event was for the fans and that he loved us, he introduced the evening’s Beyoncé circa 2004: a vest-clad, newsboy cap-wearing George R. R. Martin. Yes, the man, the legend. Even though the fans of the books (who were there in no short supply) are terribly frustrated with him, he received a much-deserved standing ovation. Mr. Martin did his own little song-and-dance, thanking us all for coming, before introducing three actors from the show: Sibel Kekilli (Shae), John Bradley (Samwell Tarly) and the Game of Thrones fanbase’s Beyoncé circa 2014, Maisie Williams, who plays perennial badass—and budding cold-blooded killer—Arya Stark.
All five Thronies participated in a 20-30 minute Q&A with lots of fun tidbits, but here are the main takeaways:
- George R. R. Martin “is working on it.” “It” being the sixth book in the Song of Fire and Ice series.
- John Bradley is disarmingly charismatic. He’s funny, articulate and has a good bit of smarm to him. He was easily the most entertaining of the speakers.
- Maisie Williams is sweet and believes her character’s theme song would be Beyoncé’s “Flawless.”
- And finally, some poor S.O.B. from New Jersey named Mike Ross won a full scale replica of the Iron Throne. No one was jealous, everyone pitied him. That thing was huge.
Next came the screening, which I will say nothing about because (1) I don’t want to be the M.I.A. to HBO’s NFL and (2) common courtesy. You’ll all be able to see it on April 6.
As for our ironclad Iron Throne strategy? Bam!
Follow Nikita Richardson on Twitter @nikitarbk