(Billy Idol: It’s a nice day for a …
White Red Wedding!)
It’s funny – it hasn’t really been that long since I watched season three the first time, but as I looked forward to this re-watch, I was thinking it was all about “The Red Wedding” in the infamously blood-spattered ninth episode. But season three is so much more than that. So many more subtleties that I overlooked the first time, whether it’s Roose Bolton asking a hand-less Jaime “are you sure you’ve not overplayed your … position?” Or the stunned look The Hound gives Arya after she knocks out the man whose wagon they help fix on the road to The Twins. Clegane finally “gets it” – this girl’s a badass.
This season is full of instances of odd pairings, or “strange bedfellows,” if you will. Aside from the great story arc of the evolving relationship between Jaime and Brienne, there are also the couples Jon and Ygritte (a Crow and a Wildling woman? That’ll never last!).
There’s also the uneasy partnership of Osha and Meera Reed (natural rivals, yet united by their loyalty to Bran), the bumbling yet good-hearted Sam Tarly and Craster’s widow/daughter, Gilly. We’ve also got the two weddings Tywin arranges -two more odd pairings, Sansa and Tyrion, and Cersei and Ser Loras. Ser Barristan Selby having showed up in Essos to serve “the true heir” pairs him with Ser Jorah – they are united by their service to Daenerys, but both have left their homeland and NOT on their own terms. And of course sharing a storyline – and a horse! – are my favorite mismatched couple: Arya and The Hound.
One other thing. I rarely get caught up in a television series like I have with this one. The only other recent instance would be last year’s final season of AMC’s brilliant series, “Breaking Bad.” But that was different. I had read no book. I didn’t know what was going to happen. None of us knew what was going to happen, but oh were we happy to be along for that ride. It’s a testament to those who have produced the Game of Thrones series that a viewer might become swept away in spite of already “knowing” the story. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who hasn’t read the books but has enjoyed the tv series. That must be a different experience, eh?
Another somewhat amusing twist in this season is how fast these child actors are growing up. Bran hardly looks the same, and Sansa and Arya have also grown up a bit. Better accelerate that filming schedule, HBO! Oh well, I’m running out of time before the season four premier, so this post I’ll just take it an episode at a time, mentioning my favorite moments and observations on each.
Episode 6 “The Climb”
Lots of action in the north for this episode. I confess that the segments beyond the wall are not usually among my favorites, but the scene toward the end of the episode as the Wildlings – and Jon Snow – scale the ice is truly intense. Of course, this may just be due to my fear of heights, I don’t know. :-) But at least the view at the end is worth it for Jon & Ygritte.
(above: “Jonny and Ygritte, standing on the wall…”)
Also in this episode, Arya meets The Red Woman (Mellisandre) for the first time. Her assessment? “I don’t like that woman.” Good enough for me. Mellisandre warns Arya that “I’ll see you again…” Be careful what you wish for, there, Red.
(Melissandre tries to intimidate Arya. Good luck with that.)
Best comic relief of the episode, not surprisingly, goes to Tyrion as he and Cersei are musing about their upcoming and unwanted nuptials, and which of the four of them has the worst of it. Tyrion admits he supposes it’s Sansa, but observes that “Loras will certainly come to know a deep and singular misery.” Bwahaha! And speaking of Loras, I guess he’d be a runner up in the comedy category for his awkward and thankfully short-lived “courting” of Sansa.
And what was with the whole (weird) Petyr Baelish “Ladder Soliloquy” scene at the end of this episode? Sorry, Petyr, whatever it is you’re selling, I’m not buying it. You have what – as I learned in Psych 101 – are called “delusions of grandeur.” To me, you’re a piker, and you’ll always be a piker. (I kept waiting for the Wayne’s World overly dramatic “Oscar Clip” marker to start flashing on the screen.)
Episode 7 “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”
There’s a great early scene here with Tywin and Joffrey as the Lannister Patriarch begins to “manage” the young tyrant.
Joffrey whines: “But I haven’t been counseled by anyone about this!”
Tywin: “You are being counseled at this very moment.”
Heh heh. Joffrey’s still afraid of his granddad it seems.
(above: Harrenhal – the cursed)
Also in this episode, Arya escapes the brotherhood but runs straight into the clutches of The Hound. A blessing for the viewers, if not for her. The best scenes in this episode, though, involve Jaime’s decision to return to save Brienne from Locke. Riding to King’s Landing, Jaime realizes that in a way it is his fault that Locke refused – and felt insulted by – Brienne’s father’s offered ransom. He turns around and rides back to Harrenhal to save her, finding her in a pit, forced to fight a gigantic bear with a wooden sword. It seems Jaime’s developed a consience – that almost makes me forget the thing he did for love at the start of “this damn series.”
And Locke. What an evil character he is. Such a mercenary. I can see no redeeming qualities in him. It’s a wonder he’s not working for King Joffrey.
(below: Locke. Don’t you love to hate him too?)
Episode 8 “Second Sons”
Tyrion and Sansa’s wedding is “the social event of the season” (a title it will only hold until the next episode is watched, though). Joffrey does his worst to ruin everything, removing Tyrion’s stepstool so that he cannot “cloak” Sansa, and snickering at Tyrion’s embarrassment. Oh, ever the romantic, Joffrey also threatens to rape the bride if Tyrion passes out from drunkenness. Charming.
Robb determines he needs the Freys to win the war so he decides to apologize to them. Meanwhile Arya learns from the Hound that he is taking her to the Twins also in hopes Catelyn and Robb will pay a ransom.
We spend some quality time with Daenerys in this episode too, as she plots to take another of the seemingly countless cities in Essos. This one is protected by a trio of mercenaries, however, who she invites to a parlay. Two are rude to her, but one is apparently smitten, and it seems we’ll be saddled with Daario Naharis (or “Fabio Face” as I think of him) for many episodes to come…
Good hearted Sam Tarly has his best moment in this episode too, as he is leading young Gilly and her baby back south of the wall and to safety, only to find a white walker in the way. Thankfully, he has a dragon glass (obsidian?) dagger on hand to disintegrate the walker to smithereens!
Episode 9 “The Rains of Castamere”
The history of television is rich with many on-screen weddings. The one in this episode would instantly make any top ten lists in that category. It’s certainly the bloodiest since that night in May 1985, when virtually the ENTIRE CAST of the nighttime soap hit “Dynasty” were attacked and seemingly gunned down by terrorists at Amanda’s Moldavian(?) (made up country) wedding. Or am I the only one old enough to remember that?
But before we get to the blessed event. A few other things are happening in this episode…
On the road to the Twins, The Hound decides to appropriate the wagon of a pig farmer so that they more easily will gain admittance to the wedding feast. The Hounds knocks the farmer out and draws his blade to kill him but Sansa pleads with -and stops – him. She even goes so far as to tell him “I know a killer. A real killer. You’d be like a kitten to him.” Um, and this is The Hound she’s talking to. I think it’s in this same episode where she tells him, “Someday, I’m gonna put a sword through your eye and out the back of your skull.” God I love that “little girl.”
(above: The Hound – did that little girl really just knock that guy out cold?)
As for the wedding, well the Freys (mostly Walder, who looks just like the guy with the cat (Filch) at Hogwarts in Harry Potter – oh, it IS the same guy! Actor David Bradley. What range!) have ostensibly accepted Robb’s apology for marrying someone besides one of the Frey girls as he’d promised. I can certainly understand why Walder was so upset, seeing how he doesn’t even know all the girls’ names. Things seem to be going well at the ceremony. Robb’s uncle Edmure is pleasantly surprised that he seems to have found the one attractive Frey girl for his wife. Drinking and merrymaking abound, until the bride and groom leave and the doors are closed. The “live music” being played in the hall changes to a more somber pace (how many more clues do you need, Starks?!), and a bloodbath ensues as Frey exacts his revenge (in return for future Lannister favors we find out later.) With crossbow men in the balcony, the Stark party is massacred. The same is happening outside.
The Hound and Arya arrive just in time for Arya to witness Robb’s direwolf being butchered by Frey men. This must’ve been a shocker of an episode for those viewers who hadn’t read the books. Speaking of the books, Talisa didn’t attend the wedding in A Storm of Swords. You might say that she chose… wisely… in the book.
Episode 10 “Mhysa”
It kind of felt like the prior episode should have been the season finale, but – just as at Walder Frey’s great hall – there’s some cleanup to do.
Jon Snow, escaped from the wildlings, is tracked down by Ygritte, and she shoots some arrows into him. He didn’t think she would. Neither did I.
One great scene is when Arya and The Hound (still saddle buddies) come upon four of the Frey men gloating about the massacre. Arya slips off the saddle, circling around behind one of them and kills him with a knife. The others arise but they are no match for The Hound. After the men have been dispatched, The Hound humorously tells Arya, “If you’re going to do something like that again, tell me first.”
At the city of Yunkai, which Daenerys has brought under her control thanks to her army of “unsullied” and her now three lieutenants, the Mother of Dragons frees its slaves as well. The episode ends with the crowd chanting Mhysa (“mother”) as she walks into the throng of them. (For a moment I thought we would see some crowd-surfing, Essos style, but some of them lift her up in more of a winning Super Bowl coach style.) The episode – and season – ends to the chants of “Mhysa! Mhysa!” while Daeny’s three dragons circle overhead, signaling the start of our anxious wait for season four, which is now almost upon us!!
Well, thanks for joining us for this trip down memory lane for the first three seasons. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading as much as Garrison and I have enjoyed throwing these posts together. Going forward, “we now return you to Bibliophilopolis’s regular programming”… :-)