Recurring Cast: Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Richard Madden, Michelle Fairley, Iain Glen, Kit Harrington, Natalie Dormer, Jack Gleeson, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Liam Cunningham, Stephen Dillane, Carice Van Houten, Rose Leslie and Charles Dance
Season Three of Game of Thrones throws us right back into the action. Robb Stark still continues to chip away at Tywin Lannister’s armies. Tywin, hoping to double his numbers, arranges several marriages between his and house and the Tyrells, whom Cersei Lannister struggles to trust. Her twin brother and secret lover, Jaime Lannister, makes his way to King’s Landing, escorted by Brienne of Tarth, an unlikely friendship beginning to blossom between the two, especially when they are thrown into less than ideal circumstances. Meanwhile, things begin spiralling out of control beyond the Wall. The White Walkers are returning and the Night’s Watch are beginning to doubt their own cause, creating unrest in the camp. Jon Snow remains in the hands of the Northerners, surprised at how much he emphasises with them. On top of that, both Stannis and Khalesi Daenarys Targaryen are rebuilding their armies and are beginning to look like a severe threat to the Realm.
Game of Thrones is a strange creature. It hasn’t really changed its style, ever since the first episode, yet for some reason it has really grown on me. Maybe it is because I have started reading the actual novel and now I feel I truly understand these characters so much more. Maybe, after throwing myself into three seasons of Game of Thrones back to back, I finally understand the hype surrounding this show. There is something astonishingly great about a show that, at first, you might frown at, yet it stays true to its course, knowing that, eventually, we will all come around. And now, I begin to actually look forward to these slower monologues. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, after pretty much being absent for most of the second season, is given a great speech, where suddenly we understand that his character is more than a shallow killer. Charles Dance uses every Shakespearian bone in his body to verbally destroy most of the cast, Tyrion, Cersei, even King Joffrey. Some of the finest moments are not the battles, where we Sandor Clegane brutally slice through his enemies, but the more direction-heavy scenes. An early episode shows us power play in the Hand’s meetings using placement of chairs. Game of Thrones has earned itself as one of the most talked about shows on TV (maybe just losing the top spot to the Walking Dead or Breaking Bad), simply because the direction and story is so masterful.
One thing clear about the story is that this show is playing the long game. Sure, we are getting twists, character deaths and game-changing shocks every other episode, yet there are still so many narratives yet to form. For example, Jaime Lannister has spent two seasons, simply getting home. While we actually get some White Walker fights for once this season, they still remain in the horizon of the show, rather than taking the front-stage, as most of us secretly want them to. I also liked how new narratives open up (Littlefinger’s overall plan is laid out and I ended up cackling at his malicious cunning), throwing even more potential story into the pot. The best example of this long game approach to the story is probably the Stark family. Most of the characters haven’t seen each other for years. When you sit back and reflect, you realise that Sansa hasn’t seen a friendly face, since the very end of the first season. Jon Snow and Arya have been separated from their siblings, since the very beginning and no one even knows that Bran and Rickon are alive. Sometimes, their paths come horribly close to crossing. In fact, the show teases at a reunion between a fair few characters, yet they never quite get to each other. I know that is down to George R. R Martin’s novel, but I must applaud the writers for highlighting that important aspect of the show.
The third season is remembered for being the best yet and I think I will have to agree with that. The best thing about it is the shock factor. A show like ‘Game of Thrones’ needs to find new ways of shocking, especially after an unexpected twist at the end of the first season. It shows it at several points along the way. Characters will get abruptly killed off midway through the season, without warning. You will never predict when they will leave and that is part of the brilliance. I was told that Episode Nine contained a wedding sequence that would probably drive me to fits of anger and surprise. I was prepared for anything, yet not quite what Game of Thrones threw at me. It is one of the most surprising, horrifying, amazing pieces of television I have witnessed in quite a while and I am sure that it is the lasting effect of that one scene, once again proving that the penultimate episode is always the best of the season, which boosts the third season to its popularity.
Yet, it’s not quite perfect just yet. Despite what people keep telling you, there is still a little more work left, until we hit that flawless Game of Thrones season. The main problem is the large cast list. As you can tell from what is probably the largest ensemble in the Recurring Cast section that my blog has produced, there are a lot of narratives to get through. I haven’t even touched upon what happened to Theon Greyjoy or Samwell Tarly. Certain sequences aren’t quite getting the time spent on them that they deserve. Emilia Clarke is one of the most talked about characters on the show, a fan favourite, yet her character arc is always an after-thought. She lays two sieges this season and we only ever pay them lip service. She should be one of the more exciting parts of the season, yet we never fully embrace that. Other scenes are cut short before they reach their potential. The last time we see Jaime Lannister should have been extended by about ten seconds, just to let the full effect of that moment sink in. Petyr Baelish hardly features. The last episode of the season feels far too rushed and it always throws a dampener on the whole affair. Yes, this is Game of Thrones at its best yet, but I think there is better yet. Just out of reach, around the corner. Season Four, perhaps?
Final Verdict: Shocking, bloody, beautiful: Game of Thrones remains one of the best TV shows we have at the moment. Always satisfying.