NOTICE: I have NOT read any of the books in the Song of Ice and Fire series and I do not plan to! For once I’m going to try and consume an adaptation without reading the source material first. So please don’t spoil future stuff.
One of the things that led to my dissatisfaction with season 2 of Game of Throneswas the shows instance to not be like the majority of other serialized dramas. The first season was a much smaller operation that lent itself to a normal style of pacing. Themes were carried through and closed, as a whole you could tell where things were going. Season 2 upped the ante and spent most it’s time introducing new characters and separating all the parties involved. In their discrete groups you could see their goal, but as a whole episodes felt disjointed or uneven with time distribution. Some groups were more entertaining than others, Daenerys “WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS?” Targaryen vs well anything else from season 2. That’s why S2 Ep09 “Blackwater” was such a good episode, it focused on one major conflict and nothing else mattered. “Blackwater’ is obviously an exception, one this show doesn't seem able to afford often.
"Valar Dohaeris" is like the majority of Game of Thrones episodes jumps across Westeros, the seas, and beyond the wall. It has a nominal cliffhanger ending, the first time I felt any real tension in the episode, but it doesn't put any sort of proper cap on “Valar Dohaeris”. It just leaves you wanting more. In a lot of ways Game of Thrones is from The Wire school of plotting, little moments played as big ones.
“Valar Morghulis" left Sam and the Nights Watch in a rather precarious spot. Three horn blows means White Walkers. Finally we were shown these ice zombies out in the open bearing down on Sam. With that kind of powerful imagery being the last shown it is only fitting that season 3 begins on a black screen with just the screams of men. When things finally stop being all radio, things pick up right where they left off: Sam lost in the blizzard trying to escape and send Ravens warning of the impending doom. The once proud, but diminished, Nights Watch have no choice but to retreat back to the Wall. Ice zombies can’t climb walls right?
Game of Thrones is a show where there are dragons and ice zombies. Yet I’m still left surprised by the existence of giants. Mance Rayder(Ciarán Hinds) and his coalition of the free folk are very open about new members. It’ll be interesting how the show treats the wildlings now that they will be shown, presumably, on a weekly basis. It’ll provide a nice counterpoint to how the “good guys” organize their society. Despite being proclaimed King Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder doesn't have anyone bend the knee. Even an enemy crow like Jon Snow. Mance wonders why Jon suddenly wants to join the other side. Snow lies about wanting to be free, something Mance sees through. Back at Craster's Keep, Snow saw Craster leave his child in the woods. Something took that child. I had always thought it was the wildlings, using the new son to swell their ranks. Apparently the child was taken by Walkers and Lord Commander knew about it all along. Jon Snow does want to be a hero gain some sort of honor. With the threat of the White Walkers maybe Mance Rayder isn’t just planning to scale the wall and invade Westeros, he might be fighting for the side of the living. That’s the reason Jon Snow gives Mance for his want to join these free people. Of course the best lies are ones wrapped in truth. Either way Snow seems to be in good with the free people for now.
It is fitting that our first return to Kings Landing is a sex scene. Sadly no Little Finger to provide a sexposition monologue about the way of things. No one seems to remember that only a short while ago a lot of good men were knocking at their door ready to kill them. Least of all the man responsible for their continued existence. Since getting his face split open Tyrion is rather weary to open the door for his sister the queen and her two shiny gold knights. Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey trade barbs and not so veiled threats was fun in season 2 and it still is in season 3. Apparently someone can’t just go see their father without having a very good reason.
On some level Tyrion and Bronn (Ser Bronn of the Blackwater now) are friends. But Tyrion is still a Lannister and Lord, while Bronn is still a sellsword with the right to charge double now. “I’m a sellsword. I sell my sword. I don’t loan it out to my friends as a favor.” Hanging out with Tyrion has given Bronn the taste of the good “respectable” life so now his services will cost him double. Not that Tyrion knows what double means in the first place.
The Seven Kingdoms are supposed to be a place governed by laws. These laws are supposed to make things equal. The title of knight should bring respect, but in the case of Bronn he isn’t getting any from his fellow knights. Once Tyrion finally meets Daddy Tywin , he tries to use the laws to be named heir of Casterly Rock. Casterly Rock should be his by right. Jamie has forsaken all claim to heir and title as a member of the Kings Guard. Leaving Tyrion as the rightful heir. Social mobility and laws be damned. Tywin quickly shuts down Tyrion's play. He doesn't consider Tyrion his son but can’t stop him from wearing the Lion or having the Lannister name. But he’ll be damned if the Imp gets Casterly Rock.
In more fallout from Blackwater Ser Davos finally returns to the land of the living. Rescued by friendly pirates. Once again despite being friends and having shared drink at weddings the social class comes into conflict. Davos wants to return to King Stannis and kill that fire witch if he has to. His pirate friend sees going to Dragonstone as a bad idea since Melisandre is burning people deemed “servants of darkness”. Davos was a smuggler he is a pirate that would put them in the servants of darkness category.
Ser Davos won’t give up on his King. Even if he dosen’t care for his families social mobility now that his son is dead. He still swore to serve Stannis and that is what he will do. Probably should have pulled a knife on Melisandre at the first chance. He only just got back to the land of the living, it doesn't seem like a long stay. Stannis for his short time in “Valar Dohaeris” looks broken.
It’s easy to be pessimistic about the people of power in Westeros, they are largely asswholes. Making it even more interesting when someone appears to be doing something actually selfless and kind to the lower folk. Margaery Tyrell does some good PR for her future husband, Joffery, by visiting orphans. Some more recent than others thanks to the Battle of Blackwater. She actually looks like she cares about these people. Over dinner Loras mentions that Margaery has done this kind of thing before. Margaery Tyrell was characterized as the same kind of political operator Cersei is. So what if Renly didn’t love her, she would get to be THE Queen. Maybe as Queen she will be good, not that it would be hard being better than Cersei. Nothing in Game of Thrones is motivated by completely selfless intentions.
The catch phrase for Daenerys Targaryen(henceforth Danny) last season was “WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS!?!”. Season 3 it appears to be “WHERE ARE MY WARRIORS!?!”. Danny makes port in Slaver’s Bay and goes shopping for an army. Looking over the Unsullied warriors, a band of eunuch mercenaries. Even with their prowess in warfare they are nothing but slaves to their master. Having this new language be translated through subtitles off and on proved to be rather entertaining. What was he saying when it wasn't being shown? If Danny buys an army of slaves does that make her no better than their former master or the men in Westeros? Jorah Mormont rightly points out that she wouldn't cut them to pieces make them kill babies, she would make sure they are fed and sheltered. A better existence than most. Like her these people have been wronged, time for them to join the club and fight for their rights.
“Valar Dohaeris” provides a nice little fake out in it’s final scene. As Danny walks the boardwalk a man in a black cloak is following behind them. Black cloak in a hot place like this clearly an assassin. A point made clearer when he is shown drawing his knife. Instead of stabbing, Mother of Dragons, he kills the freaky scorpion thing sent by the remaining Warlocks of Qarth. The protector turns out to be Barristan Selmy, former head of the Kingsguard for her father, Robert Baratheon and Joffery. He failed her family and now it's time to make amends. Danny just picking up older men left and right.
Game of Thrones has a lot of pieces to set before things get going. It seems like the show is still missing half the cast. Still the areas visited were the places I’d want to see in the first hour back.
The Bits At The End
If I misspelled any names or places tell me and I’ll try and change them in a timely fashion. Dyslexia + crazy fantasy words not exactly the best mix.
MIA: Jaime and Brienne, Arya, Theon (never thought I’d miss him), HODOR and the Little Lords. Most of them seem to come in episode 2.
Valar Dohaeris translates to all men must serve
I have no idea who Diana Rigg is. According to wiki she was a sex symbol at some point. All I know is she shows up in episode two as Olenna Tyrell, the "Queen of Thorns". With a codename like that how could she not be awesome?
Still set to appear is Thomas Sangster aka Liam Neeson’s Titanic obsessed son from Love Actually. Sangster will play someone named Jojen Reed. He’s also in Phineas and Ferb
What was Joffery thinking when he saw Margery walkthrough all that shit? Man I could learn to love her or That Bitch is Cray Cray? Probably the latter.
Re-watching this on HBOGo was hard immediately afterwards, guess everyone else was trying to do the same. Also apparently if you don’t have good enough connection they will cut the video but give you audio. That’s just great when you are attempting to watch a scene that has subtitles.
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