Hello boys and girls, welcome to season 3 of Game of Thrones. I have been tasked with attempting to explain the excellence that is this series. This season will be comprised of half the book of A Storm of Swords, while season 4 will take on the other half. The title is Valar Dohaeris, which means “all men must serve”. It becomes obvious that it references the last episode of last season, Valar Morghulis, which means “all men must die” but also sets the stage as to where loyalties must lie and who is behind which true king (or queen) of the throne. I’ll try not to recap too much, because you seriously need to watch the episode instead of me spouting it back to you, but I can tell you this, while slow due to setting the table for the season, this was still a damn good way to begin the third year.
The episode starts with Samwell running for his dear life in the thick grasp of winter north of the wall. He just saw a White Walker army last season and that gave great reason to run. Unfortunately he is all alone as he runs into what used to be his good buddy. He gets rescued by the Night’s Watch (or more accurately Ghost – Jon Snow’s Direwolf) and they are now tasked with warning the citizens of the south before everyone pretty much dies. Meanwhile, Jon Snow gets acquainted with a giant and the Wildlings and their leader, Mance Rayder (Ciarán Hinds). Snow does manage get a great welcome with a few stones thrown his way, but that will soon change as he is welcomed once he manages to relate himself to Rayder. Can I also add that Hinds is a great addition and he is awesome in everything he does, with Rome being the first thing that comes to mind. They definitely deserve an A+ in casting him.
Kings Landing seems to remain awesome as we open with the gratuitous nude scene that has become the hallmark of the series. Of course, it seems to be in stark contrast with Tyrion’s current condition, as he has been banished to a small room with his broken ego and scar. He gets a nice visit from his sister, Cersei and he’s naturally fearful because he lost the title of the King’s Hand to his father and he feels he is ripe to be taken out. Can we say that Dinklage is the man? He is brilliant as Tyrion and they way he owns the screen and lets each word sink in shows how brilliant an actor he is and that the main billing on the title card is well deserved. His one on one with Headey shows the brilliant casting of the series and they play well off of one another with little jabs here and there. Tyrion gets his meeting with his father, his replacement as the King’s Hand. It’s a heartwarming talk between father and son. Tyrion wants some land, Casterly Rock to be precise, which happens to be the Lannister stronghold, but Tywin isn’t having it. He still holds his ‘imp’ responsible for the death of his wife and a disgrace to the family name, what with all the whores that Tyrion deals with. Dinklage and Charles Dance have a great exchange. Again, casting goes a long way and although we have a plethora of characters we must keep track of, each of the actors makes everyone memorable. We also get a Sansa update, as Littlefinger approaches her with a proposal for the young Stark girl. She might just finally get away from King Joffrey.
Speaking of that bastard, Joffrey makes an appearance in this episode as he makes his way through the city, under heavy guard so as to not incite yet another attack from the lower class. He then notices in a separate caravan that Lady Margaery (Natalie Dormer) has exited her protective shell and has made her way to an orphanage through the disgusting and dirty slums of Kings Landing. Apparently she already does the political part of playing the Queen quite well as she visits with the children and gives them hope for the future. This leads to a great exchange between her, Joffrey and Cersei at dinner concerning the poor and how she went out of her way to make sure they felt welcome. Apparently Joffrey is starting to warm up and stands up to his mother in aid of his future Queen’s actions. Obviously this doesn’t sit so well with Cersei.
We also learn that Stannis is licking his wounds with his redhead mistress Melisandre. Apparently she definitely has his ear as he avoids everyone else. His former advisor Davos has survived the Battle of Blackwater Bay is determined to take her out, thinking that Stannis has been led astray. Apparently burning bodies alive makes her out to be one not to be trifled with. Meanwhile, Robb Stark runs into a slaughtered Harrenhal where the dead deliver a message to the King of the North. They find one survivor is Qyburn, who ‘lucks’ out of being amongst the dead. Robb also throws his mother in a cell for her releasing the Kingslayer Jamie Lannister in order to get his sisters, her daughters, back in exchange. The morale is low with his bannerman’s homeland being sacked and witnessing this scene and throwing his mother in a cell probably shows his desperation in trying to get a grasp on his footing in the war he fights. On both fronts of Stark and Baratheon, it looks like they are struggling to figure out what the next move is.
Hey, guess what? Dragons can fish. They can also grill a mean fish on the spot too. They are grown up and pretty badass. Daenerys has her ship, her growing dragons, and she just needs her army. She’s a bit impatient in getting what she feels is rightfully hers. Daenerys gets to shopping for her army in the slave city of Astapor. She finds a seller of an army of 8,000 but of course, the owner is a bit of a douche apparently. He goes out of his way to show that men don’t need nipples. Also damn, he is one disrespectful person to the rightful heir of the Iron Throne. Daenerys starts to have second thoughts about getting her army this way, especially upon learning that their rite of passage happens to be baby killing. The idea of slaves sickens her, but she knows it might be a means to an end and that her treatment of them might reverse the cycle. She also becomes a target that needs protection in this city as a small child of the warlocks has decided make a play for her life. However, an old friend shows his face as he swears to protect her. Naturally I won’t tell you but damn, that’s a great way to end the episode and tease it, right?
Overall, this was a great episode to set the stage for the upcoming season. Yeah, it can be a lot of exposition but being the first episode, we still get enough elements suspense, drama, a bit of horror and great acting amongst the cast. It is going to set up for an exciting season of Game of Thrones as we make the march towards the battle for the Iron Throne.