Game of Thrones: Season 3 - 10 reasons why it rocked
Feature by Rob Carnevale
THE third season of Game of Thrones came to an end on Sky Atlantic on Monday night (June 10, 2013) and continued to take the show from strength to strength.
Here’s 10 reasons why we feel season three may even have been the best yet…
1) The Rains of Castamere (aka The Red Wedding) If you thought season one episode Baelor was a jaw-dropper, then that paled by comparison to this bloody masterpiece. The killings of Robb Stark and Catelyn Tully-Stark, not to mention Robb’s pregnant wife, at the hands of Walder Frey’s men, was utterly shocking (so much so that the episode’s end credits ran in silence).
This was a potential game-changer too given that this storyline majorly deviates from the books. Few people could have seen it coming, especially as it took place at a wedding and appeared to have seen Frey forgive Robb for going back on his promise to marry one of his daughters in exchange for loyalty in battle.
The execution (pardon the pun) was brilliantly handled too. You just never saw it coming until Catelyn began to suspect something was wrong, by which time it was too late. The trap had been set, the murder cold-bloodedly executed. There was no escape. And so Game of Thrones underlined its prowess as one of TV’s most unpredictable shows… or rather, predictable only in its ability to shock and awe. This was viewing of the highest calibre, no matter how ‘down in the dumps’ it left you afterwards (and there were plenty of fans who were left aghast at what occurred).
2) The evolution of Jaime Lannister – Remember when Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s Jaime Lannister was one of the more hissable villains of the show? Primarily when he disabled Bran Stark for spying on him with his sister? Well, season three saw Jaime almost emerge as one of the show’s unlikeliest of heroes. Having been captured by Robb Stark during the second season, Jaime spent the first couple of episodes of season three being transported back to King’s Landing under the watch of Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie).
At first disdainful of her, Jaime and Brienne eventually turned into one of television’s true odd couples, especially once both were captured and taken hostage by Locke and his men. Jaime’s evolution from self-obsessed swordsman to someone who genuinely cared was mesmerising, never more so that when an early act of selflessness cost him his hand, while a second almost cost him his life when he leapt into a bear pit to save Brienne from almost certain death. Coster-Waldau said he had hoped the series would get as far as season three to see the change in character – the wait was worth it.
3) Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) – You just never tire of watching Peter Dinklage’s portrayal of Tyrion Lannister. As charismatic as it is complex, Dinklage has mader Tyrion arguably the most fascinating and enduring of all Game of Throne‘s cast members. If season two marked a coming-of-age of sorts, season three saw him attempting to grapple with his own limitations. Forced to exist in the shadow of Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) and subsequently into marriage to Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), he visibly lost some of the confidence of old, while remaining a wily adversary (mentally) for anyone who dared challenge him. Varbal confrontations with both Tywin and Joffrey always delivered series highlights, while a sensitive side was showcased in his dealings with Catelyn. Could starting to care yet prove costly?
4) Daenerys Targaryen’s continued growth – We’ve been waiting and waiting for Dany (Emilia Clarke) to demonstrate her true power and several moments during the third season showcased them in all their glory, the pinnacle of which came during And Now His Watch Has Ended, when she unleashed her dragons upon slave driver Kraznys (burning him to a crisp). The very final scene of the series also showed her continuing to create an army of followers, which looks set to be unrivalled in the show’s history. Now, when will she make her bid for the Iron Throne?
5) The continuing adventures of Jon Snow – As played by Kit Harington, Jon Snow emerged as more of an action hero in this series, having found himself initially lost beyond the wall. He also came of age sexually thanks to his relationship with the spiky Ygritte (Rose Leslie). Three episodes stook out for Harington: The Climb, which involved much heroics while ascending the wall; The Rains of Castamere, in which Jon was forced to fight and flee the wildings (including Ygritte) and Mhysa, in which he was able to make good his escape, albeit with three arrows in his back from the vengeful Ygritte. He remains one of the show’s genuine heroes… someone worth rooting for and who must struggle the whole way, even to survive.
6) Liam Cunningham’s Davos Seaworth – Another of season three’s great performances came from Cunningham, whose fate seemed to hang in the balance with each passing episode by virtue of his disdain for Stannis Baratheon’s (Stephen Dillane) blind devotion to the evil of the red witch, Melisandre (Carice van Houten). But he remained steadfast in his beliefs throughout, even teaching himself how to read while in prison, to the extent that his season ending act of bravery in freeing Gendry and sending him away on a boat earned him a last minute reprieve. What’s more, he is now Stannis’s commander-in-chief and will be prepping his troops to take on the new threat posed by the White Walkers. That’s just plain exciting…
7) Joffrey Baratheon – OK, OK, it’s hard to heap any praise on one of TV’s most vile creations. But yet Jack Gleeson’s portrayal of young King Joffrey is frequently excellent. Is there a more hated character on TV? Is there anyone capable of such vile acts as Joffrey? Among his shameful exploits in season three were using a prostitute as target practise for his bow and arrow skills, suggesting homosexuality be punishable by death, a childish desire to serve up Robb Stark’s head to Catelyn on her wedding day and more besides. He is the very definition of hiss-worthy and yet Gleeson plays him with such evil relish that it’s difficult not to be impressed. You want him to die horribly and yet he’s a great villain to have around. And now that people are standing up to him (most notably Charles Dance and Peter Dinklage) is always remains fascinating to watch how he reacts, and guess when he may take things too far.
8) Samwell’s emergence as unlikely hero – For two seasons, John Bradley’s portrayal of shrinking Night’s Watchman Samwell has begged the question: When will he die? And yet Samwell has emerged as another of season three’s unlikely heroes. He has now killed a White Walker, the huge significance of which is unlikely to have been fully revealed yet. He also served as a fierce protector to a mother and her baby and has stood up for what he feels is right. No longer is he the butt of the jokes, or the wimpy coward. And you can’t help but feel happy for him… while still more than a little fearful.
9) Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane – Yet another character who remains a fascinating enigma. The battle-scarred Hound may be one of the show’s most physically imposing presences but he could yet be its gentlest giant, as evidenced in his protection of Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) in spite of her constant hatred for him. Sandor had his moments of brutality too, having to overcome his fear of fire to prevail in an early sword fight, and keeping his nerve to shield Arya when Robb Stark’s troops were being massacred around them. But he’s an endearing presence too, not immune to moments of black humour, especially in the aftermath of witnessing Arya’s first kill (“the next time you’re going to do something like that, tell me first!”). You want to spend more time in his company… and with Arya now under his protection, we most probably will!!
10) The strength of the writing – For all its spectacle and ability to shock, Game of Thrones remains one of the best written series on TV. It’s complex yet manages to juggle a multitude of characters to peerless effect. Yes, it requires patience at times and you really can’t miss any episodes for fear of being completely lost, but there’s heart to offset the brutality, humour to go hand in hand with the tragedy, romance to sit alongside the political machinations and intimacy to rival the sexuality. Characters evolve to such an extent that those you despise may be the ones you come most to sympathise with, while a hero’s path is generally the quickest road to death. It’s a pleasure to become invested in such brilliant writing and long may that continue.