Game of Thrones

Valar Dohaeris

Genre:CrimeDramaThriller

tv Review

SPOILER WARNING! It’s best not to read this review unless you have already seen Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 1

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We’ve had our first look at the third season of D.B. Weiss and David Benioff’s Game of Thrones, but was it worth waiting a whole year for?…Of course it was. This first episode feels less like a season opener, and more like a straight continuation of the story – and a little bit of a slow moving one at that. However, we get the unmistakeable feeling that the pressure is slowly building for something really big to go down in Westeros…

We begin with a pitch black screen. A blood-curdling shriek rends the silence in twain, and suddenly we are plunged straight back into the same zombie-infested wasteland in which we left poor Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) at the end of the second season. Stumbling blindly through the snow and wind in a desperate attempt to rejoin his brothers of the Night’s Watch, the first human being Sam comes across turns out to be frozen in a kneeling position, clutching onto his own severed head. Clearly, this season is starting as it means to go on.

Thankfully, after a bit of a wrestle with a Wight, Sam is delivered by Lord Commander Mormont (James Cosmo) and his surviving men, with a little help from Jon Snow’s (Kit Harington) trusty Direwolf, Ghost. Jon is with the Wildlings, throwing himself on the mercy of Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall (newcomer Ciaran Hinds). Beyond the Wall is a very different world, as Jon is fast learning; the true danger isn’t the Wildlings, but the Wights (and the White Walkers, whatever they may turn out to be). And, there are plenty of other things up north that the rest of Westeros seems to have forgotten about – like Giants, for example. One of the best shots in the episode involves Jon gawping in astonishment as a Giant pounds a colossal wooden stake into the frozen earth.

Meanwhile in King’s Landing, everyone is still getting used to the new balance of power following the Battle of the Blackwater, in which the Lannister-Baratheons trounced Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane)and his army with the inspired use of Wildfire (which is essentially napalm, only bright green, and even more dangerous).

Now that his ruthless father Tywin (Charles Dance) has rolled into town and taken all the credit for saving the city, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) is no longer Hand of the King, and has been bumped back down to his old status of being either ignored or ridiculed by pretty much everyone. Dance and Dinklage are two of the best actors in the entire show, playing two of the most intriguing and complex characters. In this episode we get to see them verbally spar with each other again, always a delight to behold, even when the conversation doesn’t quite go the way Tyrion wants it to (Tywin gives his son the usual; accusations of murdering his mother in childbirth, of not being his true son, and of generally being a malformed monster who should have been left on a mountain peak to die).

Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) is making her presence felt as King Joffrey’s (Jack Gleeson) new squeeze, incurring Cersei’s (Lena Headey) jealousy as she makes it clear that she knows how the game of thrones is played. Sansa (Sophie Turner), free of the terror of being forced to marry Joffrey (who had her father’s head cut off, and is a general psycho) is still trapped in the city. Help may be at hand in the form of Lord Peter ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish (Aidan Gillen), who offers to smuggle her out of the city, but as we know him to be a liar and a sneak, it probably won’t turn out well.  Davos (Liam Cunningham), who somehow managed to survive the Battle of the Blackwater, makes his way back to his Liege Lord Stannis, only to make the mistake of calling out the Red sorceress Melisandre (Carice van Houten) on all of her fiery occult nonsense.  He finds himself swiftly chucked into a cell.

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) has finally managed to secure herself a ship. She’s still lacking an army, but has plans to fix that problem as soon as she can. Arriving at the city of Astapor (looks like we’re going to be spared all that tedious ‘wandering in the desert’ stuff from last season), she looks over troops of the Unsullied, super-soldiers trained for fighting since birth, who will follow any order without question (their owner proves just how compliant they are by slashing a nipple off one of them – yeeesh).

She runs into a bit of trouble when the warlocks of Qarth (whose temple she burned last season when they tried to steal her precious dragons) send a creepy demon child to kill her. She is saved by none other than Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney), former head of Robert Baratheon’s (Mark Addy) Kingsguard, who was unceremoniously relieved of his position in season one once Robert had snuffed it (wisely, his back story is explained, as many viewers will have completely forgotten who he is). Oh, and her dragons are now the size of large dogs, and have learned the neat trick of plucking fish out of the sea and frying them mid-air.

Valar Dohaeris, while not among the most jaw-dropping of GOT episodes so far, is a nice solid start to what we hope will be the best, bloodiest and most gut-wrenchingly addictive season yet.

 

Best Line: ‘We have to warn them, or before winter is done you and everyone you’ve ever known will be dead.’ – Lord Commander Mormont

Best Kill: There’s only one onscreen kill in Episode 1, and that’s right at the very beginning when a Wight is savaged by Ghost and then roasted to a crisp. Not half bad, though.

Best Scene: This has to be the friendly little chat shared by Tyrion Lannister and his father Tywin.

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