REVIEW - Game of Thrones S03E01

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Once again, it’s time to return to Westeros.

When I went into ‘Valar Dohaeris’, I knew that it was going to be tough to top all the drama in last season’s ‘Valar Morghulis’. This episode was more subdued because it had the tough job of both recapping what happened last time and laying the foundation of what we should expect this season.

This said, ‘Valar Dohaeris’ is a great episode. Though we do not wander far from King’s Landing, we get a good look at life beyond the Wall and insight into why Jon Snow has chosen to desert the Night’s Watch. With the addition of Danaerys’s attempts to rally a slave army to help her take the Iron Throne, we have a more focused storyline in the episode despite over five simultaneously occurring plotlines. It’s a pretty strong start to season three.

Granted, the Stark army and Stannis’s fallen forces were squished in there too, but it’s brief and relevant enough not to be jarring.

I don’t know if I simply never realised it before, but I couldn’t help but notice the prominence of house colours in certain storylines. For example, the brief look into what was going on with Stannis’s army was through a green filter, the Starks and the Night Watch got a dreary grey, Danaerys and her Dothraki were red(dish) and the Lannisters got that bright gold that they love so much. It was a handy tool to keep track of which set of heroes was on-screen.

Though the focus is on King’s Landing, we get more plot twists and new ingredients in the other storylines. As much as I love Tyrion and wanted to punch Tywin in the face after last season, there were all these tantalising little details dangling in front of me that kept getting yanked away to focus on the Lannisters. Then again, the focus on Tyrion and newcomer Margaery was hardly a letdown.

Danaerys has always seemed more passive than the other main characters and her only function so far has been to hatch dragon eggs. One of the things that I liked about this episode was we got to see her do more than complain and act entitled. Her reservation towards using the slave army and playing with the child at the end are small events in the hour long premiere, but I found myself caring about her storyline despite wanting it to go away last season.

Jon Snow is a character I’ve felt has a similar problem in terms of being self-entitled, but not to the extent that Dany is. We see him take action, achieve great things and grow into a mature adult. The part of his storyline that really shined last week was his speech about being on the side that’s stopping the White Walkers. Last season he was told to infiltrate the wildling army so the power of the speech is compromised, but it had me wondering just how much his defection was an act. Only time will tell.

Speaking of details, regular viewers might notice that there is not a smidge of sex in this episode. Yes, at one point we have Bronn talking into a woman’s crotch, but given the common complaints I get about Game of Thrones and sex, it was great to see an episode that doesn’t have any.

King’s Landing needed to be the focus after last season’s plot explosion, but I hope that the next episode will focus on something else…like what happened to the six other characters I care about. It might not have a lot in the way of the swordfights and sex that the show is known for, but it is a strong start to an interesting plot.

Review by Greta Rehak


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