Note: The following review contains spoilers for Season 3 of Game of Thrones. If you have not completed the season, read on at your own risk.
Slit throats and severed hands.
I haven’t read any of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series, on which the HBO show Game of Thrones is based. So, to those of you that have read the series, I’m going to sound like a fool bumbling around in the dark. But I’m O.K. with that. I love the show and want to continue to be surprised by it week after week. And so far, the showrunners are doing a really great job. I’ve been watching GoT since the beginning and have loved every bit of it. With so many storylines to keep track of, I’m going to tackle this review piece by piece.
I loved this storyline. While it didn’t take up a lot of screen time in this season, I was so intrigued by the mystery of Theon’s (Alfie Allen) torturer, yet reviled by what was happening on screen. In a way, I feel so sorry for Theon. He’s such a tragic character. We got a glimpse of this last season when he returned to Pyke and his unwelcoming father, Balon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide), but here we really see him degraded to a husk of a man (pun intended). Iwan Rheon portrayed Ramsay Snow, Theon’s torturer, fantastically. Not many actors could pull off that sausage scene (you know the one) and terrify me so much at the same time. And it wrapped up with a nice bit of tragedy, Theon getting a new name (Reek) and Theon’s sister, Yara, coming to the rescue.
I’m so torn when it comes to Bran’s (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) character and plot. In one sense, with his newfound warg powers, he is going to become a force to be reckoned with in the future. There’s no way he won’t be a badass. But on the other hand, it’s just so boring watching him get there. This season, we only saw him meet new friends, decide to go north of the Wall, and begin to hone his powers. It’s a bit like Star Wars, I guess: Luke Skywalker was pretty lame until Return of the Jedi. Rather, he was interesting, but just kind of a wuss.
Similarly, Bran is stuck in that situation for now. I look forward to the future of his character, but thus far, there are far more interesting things going on in Westoros. As far as Rickon (Art Parkinson), I tend to forget that he exists. But now he is the heir to Winterfell, since Bran has given that up, so maybe Rickon will become more prevalent in the future.
Also in this story arc is Hodor, and what more can be said about him than “HODOR!”?
This right here. Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) has always intrigued me from the beginning. After spending all of Season 2 locked in a muddy cell, we finally got to see him transform. The removal of his hand was the second-most surprising moment of this season (I’m getting to No. 1, don’t worry). The torture he withstands from Locke and the Bolton clan is horrendous, and the way he opens up to Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) about the death of the Mad King truly humanizes the man. And when he arrives in King’s Landing and sees Cersei for the first time again, we know he is a changed man. This was one of my favorite story lines, and the actors’ performances are perfect.
The Tyrells gained a lot of power throughout this season. Loras (Finn Jones) is a bit boring, to be honest. He’s just kind of there, but now he’s engaged to Cersei, so that guarantees some entertainment. Margaery (Natalie Dormer) is beginning to show promise as she continues to manipulate Joffrey. And let’s be honest: Anyone who can undermine that guy deserves a medal. But if I had to guess, these two characters really aren’t as prevalent now as they will be in the following seasons. As far as entertainment value, Olenna Tyrell (Dianna Rigg) stands out. The matriarch of House Tyrell is a riot on screen. Everyone loves an old lady who doesn’t sugarcoat anything.
Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) just proves this season that scars are sexy, but only after being stripped of all power and rank following the return of his father, Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance). I love the power struggle between these two. Tywin despises his son for merely being what he is, and Tyrion despises his father for never giving him respect and not considering him a part of the family. Throw in the fact that both characters are portrayed by amazing actors and you have a recipe for a great story. Cersei (Lena Headey) still manages to be bitchier each season, and Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) is working toward becoming the most reviled character in all of television history. And Tyrion’s marriage to Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) will become drastically important in future seasons.
This plot is a bit like Bran Stark’s. I realize that the wildlings and the White Walkers are going to become a force to be reckoned with: We spend so much time worrying who is on the Iron Throne, but it won’t really matter when ice zombies are invading Westeros. But getting to that point is just so boring. Jon Snow’s (Kit Harrington) transformation into a wildling was a bit interesting, but I just don’t feel myself caring about this as much as I do about most of the other characters in the show. It has been foreshadowed that a “great battle in the snow” will take place, but that battle just can’t come soon enough. I will say that Tormund Giantsbane (the bearded ginger) made me laugh on one or two occasions. So I guess we had that.
Arya (Maisie Williams) continues to be such a tragic, entertaining character. Every time she gets close to her goal, it is taken away from her. I can’t wait for her finally to go to Braavos and train with the faceless men. I think she is going to become the equivalent of a ghost. She’s just going to become a ghost, travelling around and killing everyone on her ever-growing kill list.
Stannis (Stephen Dillane), Davos (Liam Cunningham) and Melisandre (Carice van Houten) are a compelling trio of characters. The way Davos and Melisandre act as two opposing advisors leads to great drama. As far as actual action, not too much occurred this season. Stannis has been brooding in Dragonstone after his defeat. He only acts in allowing the capture of Gendry (Joe Dempsie) and using him to destroy the usurpers to the throne. This plot arc is definitely smaller than it was in Season 2, but ends with the charge to go north and fight the White Walkers. I am thrilled to see that happen.
Khaleesi (Emilia Clarke) is doing the same thing she’s been since the end of Season 1. She’s gathering armies, ships and so on to take the Iron Throne. And we did have some developments this season. She not only took down two cities and gained an army of nippleless mutes, but also she gained Barristan Selmy, the former Kingsguard. But this is another one of the arcs that is going to be much more relevant in the seasons to come. When she lands in Westeros with her armies and dragons, all hell is going to break loose. But in the meantime, her progression is slow, even if it isn’t exactly boring. Her personal transformation leads as the most exciting part of her journey, from scared little girl to stern leader with a gentle heart.
And finally, we arrive at this. The Red Wedding. Now that I’m not curled up in the fetal position weeping uncontrollably, we can talk about this. These are the moments of television that I live for. We’ve followed Robb Stark’s (Richard Madden) transformation as the naïve heir of Winterfell to the feared King of the North. Right as he’s about to do one of the most badass things in the show, attack the Lannisters’ Casterly Rock, he is murdered by Walder Frey (David Bradley). The beauty of a move like this is, with so many characters, as sudden and heart-wrenching as this moment was, the story won’t suffer at all. Over the three seasons of this show, the only thing that really measures up was the death of Ned Stark (Sean Bean). And Michelle Fairley definitely deserves an Emmy for that performance.
So after all of that, where are we? This was an exceptional season of television. HBO has had a great reputation for decades now, but they just keep knocking it out of the park. The acting this season was fantastic, and the fact that the show can keep dozens of characters relevant is a feat in and of itself.
Where will the show head now? In seasons 2 and 3, most of the conflict was derived from the War of the Five Kings (Joffrey, Renley, Stannis, Robb, and Balon Greyjoy). Renley and Robb are dead. Stannis is marching north to fight the White Walkers. The Lannisters definitely have taken the lead in this war. Joffrey sits on the throne with fewer and fewer challengers. I feel that Season 4 will consist of more conflict in the north. The Greyjoys have taken over most of that territory, and the Wildlings and White Walkers are becoming more prevalent. I’ve heard many people theorize that Balon Greyjoy and Joffrey will be killed soon, but I just don’t see it. Joffrey, while we hate him, is such a rich, entertaining character; we can’t just let him die so soon. I think he’s going to be around for a while. But don’t worry; a day will come when that little pisser gets what’s coming to him.