Dark Wings, Dark Words
Walk of Punishment
And Now His Watch Is Ended
Kissed by Fire
The Bear and the Maiden Fair
The Rains of Castamere
The world’s biggest fantasy show returns for a third season more deeply focused on growing each of the key characters than ever before. Most of Season 3 feels like a deep breath; the episodes work to build up tension and suspense before the ultimate pay off next year as the show continues to grow and improve. Unlike last year, there really isn’t a whole lot of action here until very late on with one episode in particular providing a massive shock. Ultimately it’s the emphasis on deeper character exploration and interesting changed perceptions of key people that really make this such an intriguing season. There are a few slow episodes and vast stretches of this season see many characters simply travelling to different areas around Westeros but Game Of Thrones continues to defy expectations with another incredible season of entertainment.
With Kings Landing still reeling from the Battle Of Blackwater, the third season begins with Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) lamenting his Father’s indifference at his involvement in the defence of the city. As Tywin (Charles Dance) flexes his authoritarian muscle, a growing union between the Tyrells and Lannisters causes much tension to build up between the two houses. As Margarey’s (Natalie Dormer) wedding with Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) draws ever nearer, Sansa’s (Sophie Turner) woes are far from over as she’s forced to wed Tyrion, much to both of their displeasure. Cersei’s (Lena Headey) scheming continues although most of this is overshadowed by Tywin announcing Cersei is to be wed to Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones) which neither of them take too kindly to either.
Outside King’s Landing, Jon (Kit Harington) continues his arduous task of infiltrating Mance Rayder’s (Ciarán Hinds) army beyond the wall. As his relationship with Ygritte (Rose Leslie) grows, the line between right and wrong blurs and he struggles over his commitment to the Night’s Watch and feelings for Ygritte. Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) continues her campaign of freeing slaves and liberating various strongholds. Along the way she come across a strange group of soldiers called the Unsullied before setting her sights on Yunkai.
The Stark children continue on their separate paths with Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) experiencing visions from the mysterious Three Eyed Raven and Arya (Maisie Williams) becoming entangled with the Brotherhood. Once free from their company she winds up captured by a familiar face who plans to sell her back to Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) and Robb (Richard Madden) for a handsome fee. The young King Of The North continues on his crusade to avenge his father Ned but Catelyn’s depature to attend her Father’s funeral in Riverrun leaves him and his army vulnerable. After taking the hand of a field nurse, Talisa (Oona Chaplin), in marriage snubbing Walder Frey’s arranged marriage proposal, his foolish actions cause devastating consequences for the young King and his army in one of the most shocking, harrowing episodes in Game Of Thrones history, The Rains Of Castamere.
Perhaps most interestingly this year is the journey of Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who manages to subvert expectations throughout the series, evolving from outright villain to anti-hero. More of Jaime’s past including why he’s called the Kingslayer and his dedication to the Lannister name in the face of adversity really helps flesh his persona out this year and arguably makes him one of the stand out characters here. It certainly helps that his growing relationship with Brienne is interesting and equally as fleshed out as the Kingslayer. Theon (Alfie Allen) finds himself captured and tortured in some excruciatingly painful ways while Stannis (Stephen Dillane), fresh off his defeat at King’s Landing, plots his next move with the mysterious red witch Melisandre (Carice van Houten).
As all of these plot lines continue to grow and build this year, the deeper characterisation and developing of relationships is ultimately what makes this such an endearing season. The deeper lore around the White Walkers and Melisandre’s Lord Of Light continues to exude the fantasy elements of the series but Game Of Thrones itself is still very much a methodically paced, political drama first and foremost.
Once again Game Of Thrones continues to impress with another thoroughly developed, absorbing season of politically charged fantasy. The deeper exploration of characters really helps nail both the aesthetic and tone of the series which improves in almost every way over last year. The impressive array of characters are well fleshed out and given enough screen time although, understandably, some storylines are more interesting than others. The episode The Rains Of Castamere is sure to leave a lot of people shocked and perhaps some of the allure with this wildly popular show is just how much Game Of Thrones defies expectations with some of its storytelling but it’s also very difficult to fault the work done here. Incredibly Game Of Thrones continues to get better and better which certainly bodes well for future seasons to come.
Verdict - 9.5/10