I was going to recap the whole publication history of the Song of Ice and Fire books, so that everyone would have some context for this show. But then I decided that might involve more research than I was willing to do, which was basically "hit a Wikipedia page." So: the first book in the series was 15 years ago, and it was called A Game of Thrones. Since then, four more books have come out, the most recent being six years ago. The next one is allegedly due out on July 12, but I don't think anyone is entirely confident about that. And then there are two books after that. And they're all really long. So you'll find people who will tell you that this is the greatest fantasy series of all time, but keep in mind that reading it is something of a major life decision.
Okay! Enough talk about books. Let's get this thing going. We start with the sight of a metal gate opening. As it rises, we have plenty of time to think about what we're getting ourselves into. The metal gate represents patience. Or the fall of international Communism. Or the Teapot Dome scandal. Or something. Look, I just thought it would be fun to try to make up some kind of bogus symbology for the story. You know, the way some people claim that The Wizard of Oz is about the gold standard. But it turns out that's harder than it looks. Especially if you try to do it on a minute-by-minute basis. Eventually, the gate gets out of the way and we get to see three dudes dressed in black furs. They ride their black horses through a tunnel that appears to be dug through solid ice. At the end, there's another gate. They ride out and dump their torches in a convenient torch bucket. The tunnel turns out to have been through an enormous wall of ice. It's probably not all made of ice, since it's got a lot of snow on it and appears to be a couple hundred feet high and stretches off into the horizon.
These three men don't have names. Well, they have names in the book, but we're here to talk about the show. So: there's a young, arrogant, lordly one; a crusty, bearded one, and a twitchy one. I don't want to give out any spoilers here (well, aside from the basic concept of telling you everything that happens), but these guys aren't the stars of the show. So I'll be calling them Snooty, Beardy and Twitchy.
After they get through the tunnel and dump off their torches, they ride into a snow-covered forest (everything on this side of the wall is snow-covered) and split up. Twitchy creeps up to a mound of snow and peeps over it to see an abandoned campfire. Well, that's not so creepy. So he also sees a few human heads on sticks. Oh no! Those are supposed to be attached to human necks, not branches stuck in the snowy ground. There are a few human torsos, but they're limbless and headless, so they're pretty creepy too. I don't know if you saw the movie Thir13en Ghosts, but one of the ghosts in that was called "The Torso." It was just a torso wrapped in barbed wire. It wasn't that menacing (although I guess it would hurt if you tripped over it), but it was creepy. But the thing that makes it especially creepy is that the torsos and body parts appear to have been arranged in some kind of eldritch symbol. So, you know, this wasn't a case of a bunch of people being chopped up for no reason. Somebody needed an eldritch symbol on the ground and didn't have any sidewalk chalk. Twitchy backs up and turns around. And he comes face-to-face with what appears to be a young girl nailed to a tree. This is quite enough creepiness for him, and he bolts.