Let's talk about what actually happens before Game of Thrones — its title sequence. Many have poked fun at the credit scroll since it seems to drag on and on (as if it were a 5,000 page book), but it's fascinating to watch regardless. Also, that music is spot on, and currently my ringtone since I've been gearing up for Game of Thrones Season 5 for quite a while now. But putting aside its length, and its music, ever notice how the Game of Thrones title sequence changes? It's a really subtle change, but it's there, and it changes from week to week. There's a reason for it.
If this is the first you're hearing of this neat Game of Thrones credit trick: Yes, it does in fact change each episode. The reason for this is that the opening credit sequence reflects where the action will take place each episode. So, think of it like a little foreshadowing as to what's going to happen in the episode. Honestly, it's not even something I picked up on until last season (listen, the credits are long and that's usually when I grab my Game of Thrones snack), but as soon as you realize it's happening, it's hard not to see it. It's also a dead giveaway as to whether or not we'll see Dany in an episode. Oh, no Meereen in the opening credits? No, Dany, ugh.
There are a few locations that have appeared in every episode, or have at least been included in every opening sequence. These are Kings Landing (obviously), but also Winterfell and The Wall. Then there's a location like The Twins that have only appeared three times over the last four seasons. And then sometimes a location is shown and we don't show up there at all — I mean, there's plenty of time to kill with an opening sequence that clocks in at 1:42.
The original idea behind all of this was to show a map each time our characters moved to a new location. According to the studio behind the title sequence, Elastic, they were asked to make these location markers because people were "confused." (Understatement of the century) However, using these maps every time a location changed got too jumbled and it was jarring to break away from the action so often. Instead, why not combine everything together in the beginning? Hey, it now seamlessly works for us, and we're mostly able to figure out wherever everyone is at any given time.
When the new season returns on Sunday, be sure to pay close attention to the locations springing to live on the moving map, because it will clue us in to what might happen in the episode. Or, it'll just confuse us more with a handful of new locations to figure out. Either way, you end up humming the theme song for days.