Game of Thrones: Season 3, Episode 1 (“Valar Dohaeris”)

Jon Snow (Kit Harington)
Jon Snow bravely faces Mance Rayder

SPOILERS: Don’t read this review if you have not yet seen or don’t want to know details from the season premiere of Game of Thrones  

Jon Snow (Kit Harington) has left his “brothers” of the Night’s Watch and traveled a long way with Ygritte (Rose Leslie) and her fellow Wildlings.  He meets the much-discussed Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds), who was once a ranger, but is now “the King Beyond The Wall.”  (It’s great to see Hinds on a weekly series; many of my regular readers will know him from Persuasion, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Rome, and more recently- Political Animals).

Tyrion with Ser Bronn and Pod
Three unlikely heroes of the city: Tyrion, Bronn, & Pod

In Kings Landing, the recovered Lord Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) still has the loyalty of his (newly knighted) sellsword, Ser Bronn of the Backwater (Jerome Flynn), and young valet Pod.  Too bad that his older sister and father still hate him,  There is a great scene between Lord Tywin, the new Hand of the King (Charles Dance) and Tyrion, where both actors get to shine and reveal more about their characters.  The son is rejected (once again) in a cruel manner.

Ser Davos strikes out at Melisandre
Ser Davos strikes out at Melisandre when she mentions his dead son

We see that Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) is alive after the terrible battle which claimed his son Mattos.  (I was especially waiting to see this fine actor return!)  He’s picked up by his old smuggler friend, Salladhor Sam (Lucian Msamati), who advises him to stay away from Dragonstone.  (Recall what Davos said to his son in Season 2?  “You want me to have a god?  Fine.  Stannis is my god.  He raised me up and blessed me with his trust.  He gave you a future I could never have imagined.”)  The very depressed Lord Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) sees no one but the “the red woman,” Melisandre (Clarice Van Houten).  We get the impression that she’s running things, even burning prisoners who reject her god (“the Lord of Light”).  Unfortunately, “The Onion Knight” is unable to persuade Stannis that Melisandre is evil, so is placed in the dungeon. 

The dragons are growing fast while Daenerys sails in search of an army
The dragons are growing fast while Daenerys, Jorah, and some of the Dothraki sail across the Narrow Sea

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) is worried about finding an army.  Her dragons are growing up.  Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) is still by her side, though he’s skeptical about the future.  (Glen doesn’t get to do much in this episode, but it’s great to see him, as usual.  Let’s see him in some new/snazzy outfits!)  The Dothraki are very uneasy at sea (“the poison water”).  Jorah thinks that the eunuch/slave army, the Unsullied, are worth a look.

Littlefinger comes to have a private talk with Sansa
Littlefinger comes to have a private talk with Sansa; her loyal handmaiden Shae watches on with suspicion

Lord Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aiden Gillen) brings Lady Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner, now 17) a bit of news about her mother and little sister, Arya.  He says that he can help her escape- soon.  The disenchanted Sansa is still part of the royal court, though King Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) has chosen Lady Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer from The Tudors) as his future wife/queen.  The Tyrells of Highgarden joined with Lord Tywin’s army to defeat Lord Stannis’ army (end of Season 2.)

Margaery visits the orphans in Flea Bottom
The politically savvy Margaery visits an orphanage in Flea Bottom, giving kids presents… and hope

I especially liked the dinner scene where we see Queen Cersei (Lena Headey) being supplanted by Margaery in the eyes of Joffrey.  (Choosing an experienced actress like Dormer, aged 31, was a smart move after all!)  Cersei can no longer control Joffrey, but perhaps Margaery is up to the task? 

VIDEO: Interview with Liam Cunningham re: Season 2

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