HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones, Season 3, Ep. 1: “Valar Dohaeris”

Winter is over and Game of Thrones is here. How excited are you? Did you do anything to celebrate the season premiere? In fairness, the Wine of Courage was flowing very freely at my house. But it is my sworn duty to review these episodes no matter what.

We picked up right where season two left off, with Samwell staring down a White Walker. Poor Sam—he can’t even do the one job he was given. Can you blame him for not sending a raven? When was he supposed to find the time?

I loved the little touches in the opening credits; Winterfell was smoking! The Harpy overlooks Astapor!

Beyond the Wall, Jon had an eye-opening introduction to the wildling camp. Ygritte was having way too much fun introducing Jon to his first giant. (Very impressive looking.) After Jon mistook Tormund Giantsbane for Mance Raydar, the King Beyond the Wall seemed to find himself intrigued with Ned Stark’s bastard. Though we haven’t seen the late Lord of Winterfell since season one, he casts a long shadow. You really get a sense of “legacy” in this show. But in the books, Jon’s excuse for deserting the Night’s Watch was because of his bastard status, yet here, it’s more pragmatic. “I want to fight for the side that fights for the living.” While he may be on an undercover mission, Jon’s loyalty already seems in question to himself. Convincing Mance was all too easy.

Down south in King’s Landing (no, that’s not a euphemism for Bronn in the first of what is sure to be many brothel scenes this season) motives are much clearer. We find Tyrion scarred from battle and stripped of his title as Hand of the King While it’s probably for the best, longevity-wise, I wouldn’t have expected Tyrion to be so wounded by his father’s lack of attention, but so it is. Everyone has their weakness and aside from his favorite whore Shae, Tyrion’s is still hoping for his father’s approval. At least he can count on Bronn being Bronn.

I really liked Tywin and his scenes with Arya last season, but now we’re reminded that he is a true Lannister and ergo a jerk.

Also having a rough season opener is Davos, cursed with nasty blisters and sanity. Sad fool. I want to say he’s lucky to be alive but… his son is dead and his lord Stannis is still under the sway of the most irritating sort of religious zealot. I hate Melisandre almost as much as Cersei. She’s even more smug. Davos reminds me too much of Ned, which can’t mean good things in this world. If I were him, I’d just hide out with Salladhor and his pirates, but then, I’m not half as honorable as Davos. “And you drank with me on four of my wedding days, but I don’t ask you for favors.” Ha! Pirates get the best lines.

There are so many kings in Westeros, it was almost easy to forget about the current king, Joffrey (the little bastard.) Margaery is a cunning businesswoman. Seeing her console the orphans of Flea Bottom put me in mind of an old-timey Angelina Jolie. She knows exactly what she needs to do to manuever and build up her public persona. How smooth she was in her awkward dinner with Cersei and Joffrey. Cersei’s wise to be wary of her, but for viewers, it’s pure schadenfreude to watch the fading beauty become threatened by a younger, more popular model.

Loved that little moment between working girls Shae and Ros. If anyone exemplifies the voice of the common people, it’s these two upstarts.

Not so unlike Tyrion, you’d think Dany has earned her self-styled high status, but without an army to back her power, she’s still just a girl with a ragtag khalasar. But with eight thousand newly purchased Unsullied soldiers behind her, she seems to be on the right track out of the gate. I mean, these guys can get their nipples sliced off without even flinching. It was chilling to see the broker describe, so matter-of-factly, what act of cruelty it takes to complete their training. Is this “means to an end” worth it to Dany?

I cheered when Barristan Selmy reappeared across the Narrow Sea. I was a bit surprised that they outed him so fast but a) viewers would recognize the actor when Dany would not and b) not a lot of big moments happened in the beginning of A Storm of Swords, so this was a cool note to end the episode on. In the greater theme of serving a greater cause, few men are as loyal to their ideals as Selmy. You can see Jorah turn green with envy.

I was so excited for a new episode that I almost forget we still need to catch up with Arya, Bran, and Jamie. Next week’s episode is promising to be just as exciting.

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9P.M. E/PT on HBO.


Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com, covering True Blood, Game of Thrones, and gaming news. Follower her on Twitter @tdelucci

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