*Spoilers galore for Season 3*
Yep, for anyone who keeps a good track of my online movements, this is a day late. But ho hum, I really couldn’t get this done in time yesterday and honestly I wanted to do this phenomenal season justice. Because it is phenomenal. With little details, like starting with the title valar doharis in response to last season’s valar morghulis episode, absorbing conversations and some of the best quotes like “chaos is a ladder… the climb is all there is”. *Ooh shudders all round*. That line alone should explain why I love this season the most.
This is probably my favourite Dany season (I don’t know if I say that every week? Whatever, I loved Dany in all the earlier seasons). I absolutely love how she took on the Masters in this series… and wins! Her liberation of slavers bay is one of the most inspiring moments in the show- heck in TV history! And I love how she uses her wits as well. It’s at this point that I’ll admit my notes devolved into SHE IS A TRUE QUEEN. Plus, she has dragons, and all that dragon-y awesomeness has a tendency to take over my senses.
There’s also *amazing* scenes with Selmy and she gathers many advisors (Missandei, Grey Worm, Daario Naharis). The best advice comes from Jorah Mormont though: “Rhaegar fought valiantly, Rhaegar fought nobly, Rhaegar fought honourably and Rhaegar died.” And I also love how she says “I wish I had known him but he was not the last dragon.”
Anyway, Dany’s role in season 3 one of the reasons I see this as the best series that ever was or will be.
Speaking of heroes, one of my favourites, Davos, has chance to shine this season. Especially as he constantly opposes the Red Woman. Because she’s totes not evil or anything as she goads him about his dead son and casts her spell over Stannis (and his batty wife). She spends the whole using blood magic (always interesting to wonder how successful this is) and Davos spends the entire season standing upto her. Silly Gendry gets caught in her snare and it’s only thanks to Davos that he escapes. Incidentally, it’s also because of this that Gendry ends up rowing for three years…
And if you’re in any doubt about how much of a sweetheart Davos is, just rewatch those lovely scenes with Shireen, where she teaches him how to read.
Jon has a slower ascent to herodom this series. At the beginning of the series, he has to turn his coat and join the Wildlings. A lot of this naturally centres on his relationship with Ygritte (most notably in that cave). Her character is developed so much and they have that phenomenally romantic kiss atop the Wall… but it’s heartrending when he has to reveal his true colours…
Which is why we’re back to Jon McPoutyface by the end of the season.
While we’re still beyond the Wall, now would be a good time to talk about Sam, who has a fairly eventful season. Not least because he spends time getting cosy with Gilly (to be fair, he doesn’t have a lot of choice, they’d freeze to death if they didn’t stick together), but also as Ghost saves him from a Walker, he just about escapes the mutiny where Mormont is murdered (such a tragic end for that character, GRRM is amazing at giving people what they least deserve), and finally saves Gilly from a White Walker. Phew- that’s a lot for one sentence! Also it’s a massive testament to how important and interesting his storyline gets.
Still, there is one great mystery about Sam’s character that I’ll never fully understand- how does he spend all that time starving and doing any exercise and never lose any weight?
Annnd this character experiences the exact opposite of growth. He is literally broken down bit by bit. It is a sensational, shocking introduction to Ramsay’s psychotic mind games and Theon, stupid berk that he is, walks straight into every trap that he lays. Really, I didn’t have the mind to rewatch any of the torture scenes– they were too much for me the first time round- but the overall feeling is the same regardless. He loses everything of himself, his manhood, his name, and even his ability to accept help from his sister. He becomes one of the most tragic figures on the show. This is cemented by Ramsay’s enigmatic line: “if you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”
Yet another season of misery for Sansa. She gets played, like a fool, by all the vipers in the court. This includes Olenna, who ultimately betrays Sansa and sets her up for a fall later on… but we won’t get into that too much. Either way, we get to see all her hopes sail off, and is married off to poor old Tyrion- all thanks to Tywin’s endless scheming- speaking of which…
Oh my goodness, Tywin’s a shit to Tyrion. He bats aside Tyrion’s achievements and makes him master of coin. I’m also pretty sure that when Tywin paired him off with Sansa he never had any intention of keeping them both alive.
In terms of how Tywin’s plotting, it’s both genius and yet has an element of short-sightedness. As powerful as it sounds to say things like: “Let them remember what happens when the north marches on the south”, Tyrion rightly points out: “Every time we deal with one of our enemies, we create two more.” Still, Tywin’s pretty badass, recalling the story of Rains of Castamere and sending Joffrey “the most powerful man in Westeros to bed with no supper”.
Tyrion has his own tussles with Joffrey- and I do love his line: “Monsters are dangerous and just now kings are dying like flies”. Naturally, he has to backtrack a little and is smart enough to play dumb. And to my mind that still makes him the cleverest Lannister- which actually leads me onto one of my favourite scenes between him and Cersei:
Cersei: “You’re a clever man but you’re not half as clever as you think you are.”
Tyrion: “Still makes me more clever than you.”
I love to hate Cersei’s character. I mean, she’s a bit of a spiteful idiot and yet, there’s something compelling about her. Now, as Tywin puts it “I don’t distrust you because you’re a woman I distrust you because you’re not as smart as you think you are.” It’s very entertaining watching her trying to outcompete Marjery this season and I can’t help but root for her in these little contests (yes, this I am effectively saying “I have sympathy for the devil”). I guess this just shows how little I care for Marjery. I do like what the show did with Marjery- making her more active in the plot- still I often feel irritated by her shenanigans. Sure, she’s successfully manipulating Joffrey, however, it’s not like her ploy is genius. And I can’t root for her humanitarian actions, because she’s a complete phony and her motivation is bland. It says a lot how much more I am invested in Cersei than her.
Of course, Cersei is not a character I ever grow to like, unlike Jaime. And this is the season where that finally happens. I won’t say that even here my feelings about Jaime changed overnight- it develops as slowly as his relationship with Brienne. To me, this is one of the greatest relationships on the show and personally I never see it as romantic. It’s simply touching how they come to appreciate and understand each other. They come to each other’s rescue and one of the finest scenes is with Jaime taking a bath, vulnerable and injured, telling her the truth about saving King’s Landing from Aerys Targaryen. At last we get to see that he’s not the evil man he pretends to be, his only fault is pride.
It is this pride, which has cost him his reputation, and is inevitably one of the causes for him losing his hand. Partly, it’s repayment for him saving Brienne (and by GRRM rules, heroic deeds have a price), partly it’s thanks to Tywin’s arrogance doing a deal with the devil (oh we’ll get to that), yet mostly, in that moment, it’s because he never sees that he could come to any harm. And that’s what angers his lowborn captors. They teach him the lesson that no one is safe in Westeros. The thing is, this outcome was easily avoided had Jaime only been a bit cooperative (or had he been as smart as Tyrion, who has a habit of surviving such encounters, just sayin’). Anyway, Jaime’s tragedy is that he is always kind of doomed to always be viewed as the villain, especially when you take moments like this out of context:
As we all know Season 3 was Robb’s most eventful season… and his last (*sobs*). Things kick off with trouble brewing in his camp and the Karstarks completely out of control. They antagonise him, saying “You lost this war the minute you married her” and murder a couple of boy prisoners… so all in all, not good. But things go from bad to worse when Robb decides to execute them, even though he hypocritically didn’t kill Jaime for the same crime. So yeah, this bit of injustice is followed with Karstarks infamous last words: “Kill me and be cursed. You are no king of mine.”
But if you think that’s bad politicking, it gets so much worse. Because despite all the advice I retroactively gave Robb in my season 2 post, Robb’s foolishness knows no bounds when he thinks he can ask the Freys for help. Again, he goes from a position of weakness: “I’ve won every battle but I’m losing this war” and seeks his mother’s “wise” counsel. Cat does have a moment of clarity early in the season when she says (somewhat superstitiously): “All this horror that’s come to my family, it’s because I couldn’t love a motherless child.” That doesn’t make her change her ways- she still thinks the best course of action is to “show them what it’s like to lose everything you love”. For some reason the best course of action they come up with is to have Edmure marry a Frey and then walk in there for a marriage feast… riiiight. Robb, helpfully, also decides to lock Greywind up outside.
Now, I can’t entirely blame Robb or Cat for what comes to pass– you have to be straight up evil to do what comes next. It’s very deliberately shown how Walder offers his food to the northerners and invokes guest right. So even with the sarky clapping from Walder and crudity as Edmure marries miss “Frey” (is it a Fray? I never know for sure), it’s not like they could see what “The hospitality you deserve” would entail.
And oh man this is the hardest thing to watch/rewatch/read about. Cat is the first to see the song change. She notices the mail under Bolton’s clothes. She does try to act, but alas, it’s too late. As you watch, the music and mood changes from jollity to the sombre notes of Rains of Castamere. What makes this such compelling TV is not whether you know it’s coming or not (in fact I avoided this episode for a couple of weeks when it originally aired, because I knew what was going to happen), it’s that it never gets easier to watch. Far from just shock value, you get added details like Talisa and Robb being in love, celebrating her being pregnant… and ach it’s just too ghastly! All the while Walder Frey drinks as they die and the last thing he hears is:
Catelyn’s last gambit of grabbing Walder’s wife comes to nothing and her scream is the last thing we hear before everything fades away. I actually always feel sorry for her in that moment (yes, despite everything I’ve said about her). That silence at the end of the episode is incredibly powerful. And that is why all of us GOT fans are still traumatised by the Red Wedding.
The person I feel sorriest for this season is Arya. She is both terribly lucky not to be reunited with her family and devastatingly unlucky. Yes, she’s fortunate to get out of Harrenhal before everyone there is killed, but that means she just misses Robb getting there. Yes, she gets away from the Brotherhood and end up in the surprisingly safe company of the Hound, but her anxious excitement over seeing her family is dashed. The upside is she gets to live; the downside is she outlives a lot of her family.
It’s agonising when she sees the betrayal and the symbolic moment when the wolf is killed. It’s heartbreaking to see what happens to the north men. And poor Arya witnesses it all and has to listen to all the horrible things that happens to her family. But don’t mess with Arya Stark- when she meets some Frey men on the road she shows no mercy…
I don’t much feel like talking a huge amount about Bran’s journey- he’s not one of my favourite characters- and his journey into becoming an ALL POWERFUL warg (the most special of wargs) never interests me as much as it should. I quite like the Reeds, but I’ve little time for Rickon’s painful acting, apart from *that one scene we all know about in season 6*. What I do like is the story of the rat cook, killing a guest beneath his roof and being doomed to eat his own for all eternity- which is a nice bit of foreshadowing for what will become of the Freys…
But that’s enough *hint hint, nudge nudge* for one review! This is obviously one of the most harrowing seasons in TV history, but it’s probably my favourite (I have no idea what that says about me). What do you think of season 3 of Game of Thrones? And are you still scarred by the Red Wedding? Let me know in the comments!