As Jon Snow joins the Wildlings beyond the wall, Daenerys makes her way to Westeros recruiting a hired army en route, while Davos returns to free Stannis from Melisandre, and Tyrion attempts to find a new position at King’s Landing following the battle of Blackwater Bay.
Picking up right where it left off, the season three opening episode of Game of Thrones gives no quarter to new viewers or those whose memories have not been refreshed by repeated viewings of last year’s run. This is a good thing, as it means the story motors right on, with clever scripting offering all the info you might need, or simply functioning as a reminder of who-is-who and who-wants-what.
The series continues to be a geographical odyssey, flitting from location to location as major characters move across the game board. There are new views of King’s Landing, and a couple of brand new locales (notably the city of Astapor)—all realised beautifully through well-sourced locations and artfully deployed CGI landscape/city extensions. The growing dragons are also wonderfully done, especially the way they can dive for fish and then roast them in one elegant move…
There are some welcome new faces, notably Ciaran Hinds as Mance Rayder, the “King beyond the Wall”, and Anton Lesser. There are also some cracking scenes, particularly Tywin’s (Charles Dance) excoriating verdict on his son, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Margaery Tyrell’s (Natalie Dormer) Princess Diana-style walkabout and “selfless” visit to an orphanage…
Altogether, Game of Thrones continues to deliver a well-polished dramatic package that looks gorgeous (cast and fantasy locations): it has reached a stage where viewers expect nothing less than to be impressed, as standard. Oh, and there was a giant!
Verdict: Another riveting instalment of the most realistic fantasy show on TV.
Episode 1 ‘Valar Dohaeris’: 8/10
Brian J. Robb