Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Review: Game of Thrones ("Valar Dohaeris" and "Dark Wings, Dark Words"


by richmin3000

"We'll find you accommodations more suited to your name and as a reward for your accomplishments during the Battle of Blackwater Bay. And when the time is right, you will be given a position fit for your talents, so that you can serve your family and protect our legacy. And if you serve faithfully, you will be rewarded with a suitable wife - and I would let myself be consumed by maggots before mocking the family name and making you heir to Casterly Rock!" - Tywin Lannister

*my reviews/recaps will not have any spoilers as they relate to future events but will have many explanations or clarifications of events currently happening on the screen so if you want to figure it out for yourself, read with caution.

**due to several recommendations, i will be discussing some spoilery stuff at the tail end of the review so please pay careful attention.

back by popular demand, i will be recapping season 3 of hbo's game of thrones much like i did for season 2, which you can read here. i will try and follow a similar structure to last year which means i will group my focus on the various families or locations, depending on what each episode requires or allows. due to some lengthy travel plans in the middle of this season, i won't be able to provide a recap every week but will play catch up when i can.

house stark of winterfell
at the end of season 1, the starks were the supposed good guys of westeros, victims of lannister deceit and cunning. at the end of season 2, the starks were dismantled, dismayed and seemingly disinterested in honorable pursuits. robb had gone off and married a foreign nurse even though he had already been promised to another... so his army could cross the twins. arya escaped harrenhall with some trickery along with gendry and hot pie. bran and rickon escaped winterfell after theon's assault. sansa was plotting an escape of king's landing with the help of lord petyr baelish. jon snow killed qhorin halfhand to join up with the wildlings. and catelyn stark released jamie lannister in the hopes of exchanging him for her daughters.

at the beginning of season 3, we find that the starks continue to face a multitude of precarious situations with little reason for optimism. robb is still married to a charlie chaplin's granddaughter and now catelyn is her son's prisoner. his army is beginning to lose faith after the loss of jamie and also stannis' loss at the battle of blackwater bay. the lannister army, now with the help of the tyrells, is twice the size of robb's. even for a boy king who has won every battle so far, that is daunting.

catelyn stark continues to blame herself for all of her families' misfortunes and right she should. she sucks. it's possible she'll acquire some redeeming qualities down the road...

sansa is still planning on escaping king's landing with lord baelish without any sense of suspicion. oh you silly sansa, full of traitor's blood, when will you ever learn?

jon snow finally meets the king beyond the wall, mance rayder, a former crow (aka night's watchman) himself. they seem to be heading in the same direction as everyone else... south. it may have something to do with zombies (as an aside, the zombies are not whitewalkers. whitewalkers are the ones who ride horses and eat craster's baby sons. the zombies are called wights).

arya, hot pie and gendry are on the road again and this time they'll definitely make it to their destinat...oops, they got caught again. though, their captures this time don't seem as intent on feeding them to rats. led (in the show and for now) by a merry vigilante by the name of thoros of myr, the brotherhood without banners were spoken of last season by the tickler in harrenhall. without spoiling their purpose in the show, let's just say that they fight for the people against the wicked. i'll give further explanation in the spoiler section and in the coming weeks once we know where the show is heading. at the end of the episode 2, the brotherhood without banners captures the hound (who left king's landing during the battle of blackwater bay) who immediately recognizes arya as a stark.

lastly, bran and rickon are headed north to find jon snow. that probably will work out just as planned. anyway, in the books, rickon and wildling osha go off on their own, while bran, hodor and the reeds head north. also in the books, the reeds are in winterfell when theon attacks. they are there to hang out with bran because howland reed (who is mentioned in the show as saving ned's life once) is very close with the starks.

the most important character development with the starks thus far is with bran, who they have flat out acknowledged to be a warg, which is like a psychic/were(wolf). the show did a bad job just laying it out there like that, but they did a good job by showing us a wildling warg in action right before telling us that bran was a warg. a warg essentially can go into the mind and body of an animal though bran can only do that while he's sleeping. he's been doing this since season 1 when we would see him dreaming of himself as a wolf so this shouldn't be a big surprise for those who haven't read the books.

bran though is not just a warg but also a greenseer, like jojen reed, the strange boy who is explaining this all to bran (and us). a greenseer is someone who can see into the past, future and present. remember in season 1 where bran and osha went into the winterfell crypts because he had a dream about his father being dead???? remember??? no? well, he did. believe me. osha said it was a dream and then when he came up, maester luwin told him the bad news about his father being dead. coincidence? nope. he's a greenseer.

in that same scene in season 1, recall that when bran went down to the crypts, he ran into rickon who said he had the same dream essentially. i have no added knowledge about this from the books, but i think we can only assume rickon has some of this ability as well.

i also want to note for people who think this rise in magic is either stupid or random, let me remind everyone that all the "magic" is tied to either the whitewalker or the dragons or both. the whitewalkers had been dead for a long time and just recently have come back. same thing with the dragons. and in season 2, the warlocks of qarth mentioned that their magic had grown stronger since the birth of the dragons. this is not a coincidence and we can only assume that bran's abilities or anyone else's for that matter are tied to these things.

house lannister of casterly rock
i'd say as a family, they are doing pretty well. at the end of season 2, the lannisters had just defeated stannis baratheon in the battle of blackwater bay. tyrion was the mastermind who held down the fort until his father, lord tywin, could come with reinforcements.

to start season 3, things look at least status quo for the entire family, if not particular pleasant. jamie was en route to the capitol to be reunited with his family until his very recent predicament with some bolton men (more on this later). never change joffrey... never change. cersei seems bored. tywin seems busy. tyrion seems annoyed.

the biggest development is jamie's potential recapture by the bolton clan, who are bannermen for the starks. house bolton should become a very important family this season. they are led by lord roose bolton, who is robb stark's right hand man (not the guy with the big beard but the other one who comes with bad news in episode 2). roose's bastard son, ramsay, is the one who was sent to winterfell to take it back from theon. and now some boltons are on the verge of taking back jamie. that's all i can say about that right now.

house tyrell of highgarden
there's not much to say about them but i needed to fit them in somewhere. at the end of season 2, they joined forces with the lannisters. i'm sure the main reason was to make margaery a queen, but i also think sir loras wanted to get revenge on stannis for killing his beloved renly.

margaery seems like she'd make a great queen not because she is so sweet but because she can play so many different roles. she can be just as cunning as cersei without being such a bitch about it. she's a character that didn't get as many pages in the book as she's getting screen time but i like what the show is doing with her character. in fact, i think some of the best characters in the show are ones that did not get a lot of time in the books (theon, for example).

house greyjoy of the iron islands
at the end of season 2, theon went from overtaking winterfell to being betrayed by his own men. we aren't exactly sure what happened to winterfell (i'm fairly certain but they don't really explain it in the show) and that uncertainty has extended itself through these first two episodes of season 3. also, i think we're left to assume that lord balon greyjoy, theon's father, and yara greyjoy, his sister, are still plundering the north in the starks' absence, but that is just an assumption at this point.

in season 3, we find that theon is being tortured by a group of unknown characters. they are interrogating him about his reasons for attacking winterfell. i don't know whether they are just trying to get information or whether they are northmen, but hopefully we'll find out soon.

house baratheon of storms end (now dragonstone)
stannis was defeated in the battle of blackwater bay at the end of season 2. his would-be hand, davos seaworth aka the onion knight, was thrown into the sea after the wildfire explosion.

we find davos strewn upon a rock in the middle of the sea only to be saved by salladhor saan's men and brought back to dragonstone to meet with a defeated and darkened stannis, who regrets not taking melisandre to war with him. his defeat has lent more credibility to her cause which does not sit well with davos, who gets thrown into jail for standing up against the red woman.

unlike theon's storyline which is much better in the show than in the books, davos' storyline is quite the opposite. in the books, they are thorough with his backstory and allegiance to stannis but in the show, he comes across as naively loyal. i'm hoping they do a better job with his character since he's a favorite of mine in the books, but i don't like what's happening thus far in season 3.

house targaryen of dragonstone
dany had the worst storyline of season 2, made worse by the show's need to provide the audience with glimpses of dragons every so often. the highlight of book 2 was her experience in the house of the undying, where she saw a lot of inexplicable images that the fanboy community interprets to be prophetic in nature. the show didn't exactly go that route but dany's experience in qarth and especially in the house of the undying were still the only thing that happened to her in season 2. her dragons were able to protect her and themselves from danger and allowed her to take money and ships out of qarth by force.

in season 3, we see that the dragons have grown some but are still not the immense creatures we imagine they will one day become. dany and her khalasar have set sail for astapor in order to buy an army. astapor is a slave city that specializes in training and selling mercenary slave soldiers named the unsullied. dany is preparing for her eventual return to westeros. dany, however, finds herself in a moral quandary about buying and using slave soldiers. jorah mormont is advising her that the only way she'll be able to become queen is to have an army worthy of battle.

while dany and mormont are walking around astapor, they have a little run in with a warlock girl and are saved by barristan selmy, who you may have seen during the "previously on" segment before episode 1. in season 1, he was forced into retirement by king joffrey for failing to protect his father during his hunting trip. selmy said a few parting words and left. he tells dany upon their meeting that he's been looking for her so that he could join her queensguard.

barristan selmy's appearance in the book was very surprising as he pretended to be someone else for some time before exposing himself to dany. but that's easier to pull off on readers than viewers so the way the show did it seems fine to me. what people need to realize is that barristan selmy was kingsguard to king aerys II aka the mad king, who was the king that jamie lannister killed that immediately preceded king robert of house baratheon.

no hyperbole allowed rating:  B and B+, respectively for both episodes
these two episodes taken together are mostly table setters for the numerous characters' storylines to come. with the addition of several new characters, we probably will be left without visiting some of our favorite characters week-to-week, like dany in episode 2. i think it'll be for the best especially since it would be foolish to squeeze in character developments for everyone each week.

just to orient everyone to the characters' whereabouts.
- jon, the wildlings and the nights watch are heading south to the wall. bran, rickon, et al are heading north to the wall.
- robb and catelyn along with some of their army (the rest are staying in harrenhall under the leadership of roose bolton) are heading to riverrun (in the west) for catelyn's father's funeral. arya and her crew are also planning on going to riverrun to find protection from her grandfather who she doesn't know is dead.
- the lannisters are hanging around in winterfell with the tyrells. jamie was headed there before his seeming recapture. remember that myrcell (cercei's daughter) was sent to dorne (which we haven't seen yet) for her protection before the battle.
- dany is in astapor, across the narrow sea, to the try and raise an army

last season, we had this buildup to a big battle between stannis and the lannisters. this season we don't have such a specific plot point to look forward to so it'll be mostly about dany trying to make her way back to westeros, those beyond the wall trying to fend off the white walkers and warn everyone else of their danger, the lannisters and tyrells trying to hold onto their power, and the starks trying to find a way to regroup as a family and army.

i'm excited to guide us through season 3 of game of thrones so would appreciate any comments or feedback to help structure these posts as we move forward. you can write to me at nohyperboleallowed@gmail.com, or via twitter @hyperboleNOT, or on our wall on facebook at facebook.com/nohyperboleallowed, or just write something in the comments section below.

****SPOILER SECTION**** (DO NOT READ AHEAD UNLESS YOU'VE READ THROUGH BOOK 3)

- piggy...i mean sam... forgot to send the ravens. now no one in the seven kingdoms will have the chance to receive the news of whitewalkers and completely dismiss it as northern superstitions.
- so we've met thoros of myr, but what about beric dondarrion???? i assume he'll show up if for no other reason than i just googled it and he will show up. that's probably a good reason though to assume things. thoros is quite funny and i think he'll make a good team with beric as his straight man. would like to see his flaming sword though (that's what she said!). ha.
- i'm a little unsure what's going on with theon right now. obviously in the book, his backstory isn't explained thoroughly, if at all, until book 5. i want to assume that he is being tortured by bolton men and is in the process of becoming reek, but there are some things that make me question if that is what is occurring right at this moment or if they are going to change his story around (which i can't imagine being the case). the reason i'm a bit confused is because the show makes it seem like he is going to escape with the help of his sister's men. i hope that the show does a good job with theon's backstory here because his story in season 2 was my favorite part of the show and one that was not fully fleshed out in the books.
- i'm assuming, along with everyone else who has read the books, that this season will end with the red wedding. i'm a bit surprised that lord karstark told robb that he lost the war the day he married talisa. i'm not sure if they are being too heavy handed with that storyline or if it is going over people's heads.

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