Hail the conquering hero.

HBO's Game of Thrones set a new ratings record last night in its seaon debut, which was watched by 4.4 million people. It marks a 13% rise from last year's season premiere.

That's particularly impressive because the episode was going to head with the season finale of The Walking Dead, a rival for many of the same eyeballs. The zombie series did some considerable damage, setting a hefty viewing record of its own, with 12.4 million people tuning in.

Cable crushed it on Easter night, with a further 11.7 million choosing the finale of The Bible on History.

If you've DVRed Game of Thrones, you may want to hold off on reading the rest of this item.

The episode got off to a rousing start, showing the carnage left by the White Walkers. It climaxed with a stunning tableau -- of horse carcasses spread in a wide spiral in the snow.

For the most part this was a table setter for later episodes, but it did introduce a promising addition: the startling ascension of  Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) who has King Joffrey effortlessly warpped around her finger (no mean feat), is able to best even Cersei at verbal dueling (ibid) and still shows a common touch that has been desperately missing from King's Landing.

She is clearly a character to be reckoned with.

There was a shocking death in The Walking Dead finale, but I won't even hint at a spoiler. And I'm certainly not giving away the ending to The Bible.

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