As HBO’s “Game of Thrones” comes to an end, it’s worth looking back at the magic trick it pulled off from the outset: never letting its genre fiction roots — Dragons! Murderous smoke babies! Faceless assassins with multiple faces! — outshine its compelling, and frequently heartbreaking, dedication to character development.
In fairness, viewers can’t say they didn’t know from the beginning that some weird stuff was going to happen on this show. The opening sequence of the pilot episode, “Winter Is Coming,” features three men of the Night’s Watch scouting beyond the Wall that protects Westeros from the terrors of the North, two of whom are killed by strange undead creatures (soon to be well known as the White Walkers).