*Review contains spoilers*
You can never experience a season of Game of Thrones without being shocked, wowed and captivated. It gave us twists and turns both unforeseeable and heartbreaking. Dealing with themes of leadership, the nature of power, and nobles vs their citizens. Game of Thrones handles these themes and its gigantic cast with such finesse, that it is hard to imagine this show any other way.
Granted it was not perfect, many of the flaws came from structure of the season but more specifically how George R. R. Martin’s third book “A Storm of Swords” is structured. The third book is more sprawling and more expansive with characters going in multiple directions away from each other. This makes it a lot harder to translate on screen. It is probably one of the reasons the third book got split into Season 3 and will continue next year into season 4. Splitting the book led to less jumping around from character to character, which was a big complain of mine coming out of season 2.
The one thing that will be on everyones mind, after this season, is the Red Wedding. It is the one moment that every book fan has waited for their friends (who haven’t read the book yet) to witness. From now on, you can guarantee that each season, episode 9 will be the one that holds the big shock or a game changing moment. What this show keeps hammering home to people is that there are no heroes in this world. Even Martin has said, he wants to defy people’s notions about certain story tropes. What the Red Wedding has changed, is that the war is over. The one main plot that was kicked off with Ned’s death, has now ended. Going forward, this show seems likely to focus on the journey of its characters then overarching plot points. Granted, there will still be a plot but each character will more likely have their own stories to tell and journeys to go on.
This show is breaking the mold that other shows adhere too. On any other show if a character made a mistake they would be on a road to redemption. But on Game of Thrones even a small mistake, such as, Rob marrying Talisa out of love and beheading Lord Karstark out of honour, served up his lesson with absolute brutality. The world that Martin and showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have created is a fantasy realm that is more realistic, with fantasy elements used as window dressings. On a side note, before Catelyn and Robb were killed, they gave each other this look of relief and despair. Almost glad that all of this was ending. All their victories and mistakes ended with a release from their continued cycle of misery. In that moment they lost all their fight, especially Catelyn.
If this show punishes its heroes than it redeems some of its villains. I’m sure people like Joffrey and Walder Frey are never going to makes us like them. On the other hand, you have characters such as Jaime and Theon who did a complete 180 this season. Especially Jaime, considering that the first thing we saw him do was push a boy out the window. I have now completely sympathized with him, to the point, that he has become one of favourites on this show. Jaime had the best storyline of the season, except for the way it ended. His journey with Brienne was thing of beauty. Being against her at times, then saving her at the cost of his hand. Then again, rescuing her from the bear pit. In the bear pit scene, Jaime leapt in to the pit without thinking about himself, he had no plan, he had no weapons; he just thought about her first before himself. Jaime getting his hand cut off might have been the best thing to happen to him. He had to get mutilated to get humiliated, this all lead to one of favourite scenes, in the episode “Kissed by Fire,” where Jaime explains his entire role and motivation in Aerys Targaryen’s death. Him breaking down in to, “My name is Jaime” was fantastic, as it was the character disposing off his Kingslayer identity.
I did say I wasn’t happy with the way his arc ended because there was no final closure between Jaime and Brienne. I would have liked a scene that would have addressed what he did and a few words exchanged between the two characters would have been nice. Instead, they departed silently.
Then there was Theon, who in books disappears for a while. His character vanishing without a trace on TV would not work, so the writers thought up a story for him and at first it was fun and terrifying but then it just got exhausting to watch. I hated him for what he did to Winterfell but watching all of those scenes of torture became redundant. By the time, he got his penis cut off, I had more than reached my fill.
I have to take some time to talk about one of my favourite characters on this show: Arya. She has gone through so much on this show, both physically and emotionally. She has not only seen her father get killed but now also saw the brutal aftermath of her mother’s and brother’s death. I felt sick just watching that Franken-wolf thing come down the road, imagine Arya realizing that it used to be her brother and his pet. You can feel her spiral into hate. She has learned the harsh reality of the realm better than anyone. Hot Pie left her and Gendry chose the brotherhood over her. She just wants a family because she was so close to reconnecting with her family only for things to go horribly wrong. Will Arya become a villain? I don’t know but the way this show adds layers to its characters is remarkable. You think you know who these people are, then the writers start peeling or adding layers to them.
The Tyrells took a more prominent role this season. Lady Olenna with her magnificent quips and Margaery with her powers of manipulation and seduction. She sees Joffrey and his cruelity as something she needs to put up with and work around, just so she can become Queen. This makes her an incredibly strong character, one who is determined to succeed at any cost.
Two more main characters I want to touch-up on before I wrap up. Jon Snow who had a much better storyline this season than the last one. The past two seasons Jon’s story was separate from everyone else but this season his close encounter with Bran, going over the wall and back and now Stannis is heading his way, is connecting him to everyone else. The whole Night’s Watch story has been captivating and tense this season. With Jon infiltrating the Wildlings and the whole mutiny amongst the Night’s Watch at Craster’s Camp.
Lastly, we have Daenerys, who is still in Essos, burning and killing people. The first half of her story was incredibly strong with her meeting Ser Barristan, then freeing all the slaves at Astapor while burning or killing their masters. Her riding out of the city with her dragons flying over her giant army was great stuff. After that, her arc kind of deflated. She is still one of my favourite characters but the rest of her story did not compare to what was going on in other parts of Westerois. As a character though she is great. She is the one of the few characters who would a capable leader. She knows how lead, whether it’s through affection or authority.
I found the finale this season to be weak. Dany’s final scene wasn’t as impressive as the one in which she amassed her army, so leaving on it was more anticlimactic. Too much time was spent with Davos and Stannis, more than was the entire season. The Tyrells were never mentioned, especially considering how big a role they played through the season. As mentioned before, Jamie and Brieanne not getting any final words was a letdown. That said, even a weak episode by Game of Thrones standards is still great TV.
A few weddings took place and a lot were arranged. Tyrion married Sansa (boy was that one a downer), Edmure Tully married the Frey girl (bloody ending to that one), and others were just arranged, such as, Cersei with Loras and Margaery with Joffrey.
Also, how great are those conversation scenes. Whether it is Tywin telling Tyrion, that he almost drowned him as a baby, or Varys telling Tyrion how he got his manhood cut off as a boy, or the incredibe “Chaos is a ladder” speech by Littlefinger. All filled with great acting and amazing dialogue. It is hard not to hang onto every word.
Overall, Game of Thrones ended another strong season. Season 3 was incredible, with Dany and Jon getting better story lines this time around. Everyone’s struggle felt very real. The Red Wedding happened and changed everything. Despite the weak finale and having to endure Theon’s continuos torture, season 3 was great. Three seasons in and it is still one of the best shows on TV. The grand scale of everything, coupled with amazing writing and acting, Game of Thrones is a must watch for anyone who loves good things.
Score: 9 out of 10