Ominous music, screeching, blades clashing, and a black screen.
Game of Thrones is back! 😀 I and millions of other viewers (not to mention pirates) are definitely overjoyed that the greatest show in modern TV is airing again! The premiere episode of season 3 did not disappoint, although my favourite will still be season 1’s awesome chase scene. But anyway, here’s a recap slash semi-review of the episode.
DISCLAIMER: My opinions are exactly that, opinions. If you can’t respect them enough to recognise them as ideas, then take your ramblings and go graze other pastures.
Here we go:
If last season ended with a cliffhanger featuring the arrival (return?) of the White Walkers and their army of wights, this season started with a battle scene, or at least a battle soundtrack (budget concerns, obviously). Anyway, we see a bedraggled Samwell Tarly (John Bradley-West), huffing from exhaustion towards the Fist of the First Men. One of his “brothers” is dead, although we can’t really be sure by the way he held his head in his hands. Sam is attacked by a wight, but is rescued by none other than -gasp- Ghost! Is it just me or is Ghost really so awesome and fierce but cute?
Lord Jeor Mormont (James Cosmo) confronts Sam if he’d sent the ravens (an @mention version in Westeros), and because it’s Sam, the answer is NO (although he did fulfill his duty in A Clash of Kings). This scene somehow cracked me up. Old Bear basically said, “You had one job, Sam! One job!” Hi-la-ri-yus. Then, off to the Wall they go.
Elsewhere beyond North of the Wall, Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) marches with Ygritte (Rose Leslie), the Lord of Bones, and a few other wildlings to see the King Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder. And suddenly…a GIANT! That was cool, especially with Ygritte whispering in her husky accent, “I’ve seen them pound a man straight into the ground like a hammer on a nail.” Nice visual.
In the camp, Snow is welcomed with stones and mockeries of “Crow! Crow!”, apparently because he’s wearing a slightly darker cloak than all the rest of them. Inside the King’s tent, he mistakes a man named Tormund Giantsbane for Mance Rayder, even kneeling down to call him, “Your Grace”. You know nothing, Jon Snow. (Sorry, I just had to say it. 😀 )
Then, for the first time, we meet Julius Ceasar, I mean Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds), King Beyond the Wall. He doesn’t disappoint.
On to Kings Landing where, of course, we have our first sexposition. Hey, what were you expecting? This is HBO. Bronn (Jerome Flynn) is getting some tender loving care from a nice little whore. Just when he was about to reach the, er, goods, Podrick Payne (Daniel Portman) interrupts them, telling Ser Bronn that Lord Tyrion demands his presence.
Hover over to The Imp, where he’s lovingly staring at himself in a rather dirty mirror. And who should visit at this lovely hour than his gorgeous sister Cersei (Lena Headey) escorted by two gold cloaks. Tyrion is rather suspicious at first, but soon succumbs to letting Cersei into the room after being convinced that a wooden door wouldn’t stop her.
I. LOVE. THIS. SCENE.
Every Tyrion-Cersei-banter is enjoyable, primarily because they’re played by two amazingly talented artists, and secondly because their lines are always clever. We get another dose of sibling rivalry and hate here, which is so unbelievably awesome to watch. Favourite quote? “You’re not half as clever as you think you are.”-Cersei to Tyrion. “Still makes me more clever than you.”-Tyrion’s retort. Hi Cersei, what’s a fire and why does it, what’s the word, BURN!!!
Outside the door, Bronn is having a lovely conversation with Ser Teryn Mant and Ser What’s His Name. That was fun! Really. Bronn is cool!
More screeching of birds, and this time it’s Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham). Remember him? Yep, me neither. He was the loyal smuggler-turned-knight-but-maimed-of-his-fingers serving Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dilane) in the Battle of Blackwater. Apparently, he’s alive and he wants to -surprise, surprise- return to Dragonstone to see Stannis! Saladhor Saan, the pirate who rescued him, warns him against it, but of course he persists. (Cool sidenote: watch out for Mr. Saan’s accent, it’s kinda cool).
In Harrenhal, Robb Stark (Richard Madden), King in the North, and his army of Northerners (duh!) head over to the big burnt ominous castle. Upon entering, death and buzzing flies greet them. The buzzing sound was a great addition because it only made the scene more realistic. Here, “two hundred North men were slaughtered like sheep”, even the sheep.
The King looks around, Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) looks around, Roose Bolton and Lord Kartstark look around, basically they’re all looking around. Robb still assumes authority over his mother’s past offenses by ordering her to be locked up in a cell.
Jeyne Westerling Talisa Maegyr (Oona Chaplin) is tagging alongside Robb, where Greywind should be. Where’s Greywind? When suddenly, a man coughs and barks and stares wildly at all of them. Qyburn, as he so eloquently utters it, is a lucky man!
Return to Kings Landing, we see a parchment, a quill, and a hand (no punt intended) holding it (wutdahel am i saying?). It’s Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance). Hurray! I love this man. He is exceptionally talented.
But anyway, Tyrion has apparently asked for an audience with his father to demand for gratitude over his prowess in organising the defense of the city. Tywin promptly says, “Jugglers and singers require applause. You are a Lannister.” Cool. I’m going to discipline my kids this way. “Don’t do this. You are a Rosal.” “Be like this. You are a Rosal.” I’ll be the coolest mom ever.
But the real reason Tyrion is seeing his dear beloved father is to demand what is his by right, Casterly Rock. Tywin’s response?
“I will let myself be consumed by maggots before mocking the family name and making you heir to Casterly Rock.”
“Why? You ask that? You who killed your mother to come into the world. You are an ill-made, spiteful, little creature full of envy, lust, and low cunning. Men’s laws give you the right to bear my name and display my colours since I cannot prove that you are not mine. And to teach me humility the gods have condemned me to watch you waddle about and display that proud lion that was my father’s sigil and his father’s before him. But neither gods nor men can ever compel me to let you turn Casterly Rock into your whore house. Go. Now.”
Oh. My. God.
I just have to say, if Dance and Dinklage won’t win any awards or Emmy’s this year, I’m gonna cry and bury myself under 5 piles of pillows (like that’s gonna help). Every expression, movement of eyebrows, quiver of mouth, twitch of fingers, glazing of eyes, etc. have a purpose. Dance is remarkable as the ruthless Lannister patriarch and Dinklage is amazing as the wounded, witty, and emotionally tortured Lannister Imp. *slow clap*
Then, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner). Poor Stark girl, she is seriously growing weaker and weaker. Dependent, meek, naive, she is everything a Stark isn’t. Or maybe I just hate her character. Lord Baelish (Aidan Gillen), on the other hand, continues to creep me out. He looks at her like he’s, well, you know what I mean. A sad little script-adder here include Ros, a whore, and Shae, another whore (2 whores!).
And here’s my favourite part…
Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion are flying now. Woohoo! They soar around Khaleesi’s ship, with a little hunting exhibition from Drogon that is beyond awesome. Again, this is why I’m rooting for Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). Dragons are game changers!
Sadly though, they’re not growing fast enough for Dany to win back the Iron Throne. She needs an army, and Jorah Mormont (Iain Glenn) suggests that she can get them in Astapor at Slaver’s Bay. You know, that bay where there are a lot of, er, slavers. (Sidenote: it still bothers me that Dany’s eyebrows are brunette while her hair is pale blond. Details, HBO! Details!)
Over at Dragonstone, Stannis welcomes Davos with a, “heard you were dead?” statement, as good friends should. Davos convinces Stannis to continue fighting for the Iron Throne BUT without the help of the red priestess, Melisandre (Carice van Houten). Mel has other plans though. With ominous background music, she reminds Davos that she is not the enemy and that she could’ve saved all of them at Blackwater if she were with them. Adding more salt to the wound, she whispers, “Do you hear them screaming? All those burning men in the water? Crying for their mothers? For their gods? …What I told your son is true. Death by fire is the purest death.”
Like the logical sunbaked man that he is, Davos pulls a knife on her in the presence of the Kingsguard, after which he is taken to the dungeons.
Back at Kings Landing, two boxes, er, carriages are being marched down Flea Bottom, each bearing King Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) and his betrothed Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer). Marge stops the carriage, smiles gaily like she’s in Enchanted, and flits gleefully down muddied shit-ridden streets. Joff doesn’t know what to make of the situation.
Next, we see Marge talking to orphaned children and giving away toys and food, a really sweet gesture if not for the subtle purpose here of grabbing their allegiance to her bid as future Queen. She emerges from the establishment, holding hands with the children, laughing, and having the time of her life. An absolute fairy tale, and Joff doesn’t know what to make of his future Queen.
Some time later, Margaery and Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones) joins Joff and Cersei for dinner. Everything goes well; they’re all smiles and happy conversations. But again, subtlety is how you play the game of thrones. When Marge comments on Cersei’s gown with the lovely embroidery and metal work, she is actually nitpicking on why she would wear armour to dinner. When Cersei agrees that Marge knows what charitable work is, she is actually acknowledging that Marge does know how to play and be cunning. When Marge comments how hundreds of wagons of wheat, apple, barley, and what not come to Kings Landing because it’s their duty to support the capital, she’s actually saying that the city won’t survive without their aid.
See? Some hints here, a few underlying meanings and eyebrow twitches there. It’s an awesome game.
Lastly, a backless Dany and Jorah stroll with Kraznys mo Nakloz, a slave master in Astapor, and his servant Missandei to evaluate the Unsullied army. Kraz is speaking in Valyrian, though already mixed with Ghiscari and other foreign tongues, unlike the High Valyrian that Targaryens used.
Here, we see the most graphic scene of the episode, a man cutting off another man’s nipples. Until now, I can’t bring myself to look without blinking or wincing. When Dany finds out that each of the slaves have killed at least one baby and survived a rigorous deathly training, she rethinks her decision. Obviously, slavery is something she can’t stomach, although this bit of sympathy did stab her in the back. Remember Mirri Maz Durr?
She consults with Ser Jorah during a stroll around the pier, where curiously a hooded man is following(?) them. But Dany is too preoccupied chase-smiling a small girl. Le small girl stops, rolls a ball to Dany, and motions for her to twist it open. Just when she was about to, le hooded man swoops in and attempts to grab the ball. Ball drops, twists, and reveals, a large green-silver-ish scorpion with a creepy screaming face in its tail. Le scorpion lunges for Dany but is quickly stabbed by le hooded guy.
Good! Dany thanks the hooded guy who reveals himself as Ser Barristan Selmy. Remember him? Good. In the books, he’s supposed to reveal his identity much later. But it wouldn’t make sense on TV because people would immediately recognise him playing Arstan Whitebeard who’s supposed to be Barristan Selmy. I enjoyed his presence in ADwD, mostly because he told stories about some of the Targaryens, like Rhaegar. Hmmm…Rhaegar *swoon*
Overall, I’d give this episode an 8.5 out of 10. The dialogues were excellent, the visuals were stunning, the plotlines were in place, although some were a bit dragging or halfbaked. It’s understandable though because we DO have to visit the important characters from various locations, move their story forward, make everything seem cohesive, AND still establish overarching themes. That’s quite a lot of baggage for an episode under an hour.
Kudos, HBO! Kudos, Weiss and Benioff! Kudos, Martin!