Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 1 Review and Recap
As this is a recap, there are SPOILERS.
“Valar Dohaeris,” the season three premiere of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” doesn’t miss a beat from the chilling finale of season two. We’re shown Sam (John Bradley) sprinting north of the wall shortly after seeing the terrifying white walkers. He catches up to the surviving members of his party sans Jon Snow. The rangers’ hopes are dashed when Sam reveals he failed to release the ravens. The commander then turns to his men and sets the tone for what I expect to loom heavily in the background for season three: if the rangers’ horrifying story arc involving their arduous journey back to the wall fails, then every person they’ve ever known will be killed by the white walkers. This opening was executed flawlessly and director Daniel Minahan is to be commended.
Following the perfectly queued opening titles, Jon Snow (Kit Harington- Silent Hill: Revelation) makes his first season three appearance as Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds- There Will Be Blood, Munich) makes his first series appearance. Snow pledges his allegiance to Rayder, King Beyond the Wall, because of what he witnessed in season two. The initial meeting between these characters and their arc of discovering the mystery of Knights’ Watch’s involvement with the white walkers hooked me. This is already my favorite subplot of the season. (BTW, for true blue GOT fans, I’m of the camp of Jon Snow conspiracy theories).
We then catch up with Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage- upcoming Knights of Badassdom) as he legitimately worries for his safety in King’s Landing as well as attempts to bargain for the Lannister family home, Casterly Rock, with his father, Tywin (Charles Dance, Alien 3). Tyrion’s negotiation goes way south of what he had hoped and is last seen with his tail between his legs speaking with Bronn (Jerome Flynn). I didn’t care for Tyrion giving up so easily to his father. Are his oedipal issues so construed that he lost his trademark pluck?
Stannis Baratheon’s right-hand man, Davos, is rescued at sea following the death of his own son during battle in season two only to be thrown in jail by Stannis himself (Stephen Dillane- Spy Game, “John Adams”) due to Davos’ direct defiance to the red witch (Carice van Houten- Valkyrie). Following Stannis’ and Davos’ rocky friendship should prove interesting this year.
Robb Stark (Richard Madden) falls upon Harrenhal and is greeted with rotting corpses and a bunch of advisors advising him not to imprison his mother, Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley). Robb Stark’s arrogance is so annoying at times that he’s unbearable to fathom — even if he is just a fictional character.
Perhaps the most bizarre event of the season three premiere was Margaery’s (Natalie Dormer- Captain America: The First Avenger) clinic that she put on for Westeros. I’ve never seen fantasy and politics blend so well. She could be an American first lady. Puppet King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson- Batman Begins) continues having to play the one-note character of skinny-fantasy-version of Eric Cartman. I wish he had more to work with as a character other than a taste for blood, whining and sadism.
The premiere ends on a high note with the audience following Danaerys Stormborn’s introduction…which is pretty epic. We first witness our beloved Khaleesi standing on the top deck of her ship as her annoyingly-CGI dragons fly, play and fish in the ocean. Danaerys and Ser Jorah visit the Unsullied: the perfect army. Danaerys is visiting to place a bid on the trained mercenary army in order to have a greater force to add to her seasick Dothraki. The episode builds to an exciting conclusion following an attempt on the Khaleesi’s life thwarted by her father’s failed Commander of the Guard, Barriston Selmy (Ian McElhinney). His promise to her: he won’t fail her this time. Will Ser Selmy stick to his word? I intend to check in every week for the next ten weeks to hold him to that.