"any man who must say, i am king, is no true king" - 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.
read my review of season 3, episodes 1 and 2, "valar dohaeris" and "dark wings, dark words" - here
read my review of season 3, episode 3, "walk of punishment" - here
read my review of season 3, episode 4, "and now his watch has ended" - here
read my review of season 3, episode 5, "kissed by fire" - here
first, let me apologize to those of you who have felt abandoned by my absence over the last several weeks. i tried as best i could to get to the recaps, but due to a busy travel and work schedule recently, i could not. so, here i am for a lengthy recap of the entire second half of game of thrones season 3.
house lannister of casterly rock
tywin lannister is certainly the winner of this season. he left off last year winning the battle of blackwater bay through his new alliances with the tyrells (former renly's bannermen). besides arranging a marriage between tyrion and the now oldest surviving stark, sansa, he's also forged new alliances with the boltons, freys, and arryns (through littlefinger). he's been able to outwit both tyrion and lady olenna, outconnive cersei and is willing to reign in the rabid dog that is joffrey. at least we now know who he was writing all those letters to during the season (if you still can't guess, it was the boltons, freys and all the other conspirators behind the red wedding).
tyrion had a fairly slow season, especially compared to his utter dominance in season 2 (if i had a power rankings - see below - last year he would certainly be towards the top). this year, tryion has been at odds with his father, his sister, his love shae and his nephew king (who he's threatened at least twice recently). at least he has a loving wife who ador... oh wait. i meant to say, at least he's the master of coin. and now that his brother is back maybe things will get easier for him.
cersei, like tyrion, has been boxed in by her father and her boy king.
i think we can all agree joffrey is pure evil.
"honey, i'm home!" - jamie to cersei. "you didn't by chance sleep with our cousin while i was gone?" "no?" "ok, i don't know why i brought that up. missed you too!" "no no, that's a woman, her name's brienne of tarth... she's a.... 'friend'"
lannisters lost this season.. none (except a very valuable right hand and a couple of younger cousins). lannisters in king's landing safe and sounds... all... well except for myrcella who is in dorne safe and sound (?).
house stark of winterfell
where did it all go wrong for robb and catelyn? was it way back in season 1 when catelyn kidnapped tyrion? was it when robb married talisa instead of his frey wife-to-be? or was it when catelyn freed the kingslayer in exchange for a promise to free her daughters? or maybe it was when robb beheaded lord karstark and lost half his soldiers?
robb had such a great plan in place a few episodes ago... join with the freys to attack an unguarded casterly rock (just like the greyjoys had done to winterfell). his newly lorded uncle even sacrificed his bachelorhood for robb's purpose. and for the young wolf who had never lost a battle, this seemed like a decent position to be in after all the bumps in the road recently.
alas, robb and catelyn's demise only reinforces what everyone should already know... this is not a world that favors any of our usual notions of justice or fairness. this is a world where your actions have consequences and you can't rest on honor, courage or your family name to rescue you in the end. as lord baelish commented, this is a realm that only exists due to aegon the conqueror's domination of the seven kingdoms... where power is power as cersei puts it... where power is an illusion as lord varys states. the bottom line is that your honor, courage, family only takes you as far as everyone is willing to let it as long as it serves their interests as well.
bran seems like he might be the stark's best chance at redemption... and maybe the realm's best chance at defeating the whitewalkers. bran spends the 2nd half of the season honing his skills at warging and making his way to the wall. bran learns how to warg into a real person (hodor!) which apparently no one else in the world is able to do. bran is determined to go beyond the wall in search of the three-eyed raven (for some godforsaken reason) even when he runs into sam and learns that jon is close by.
bran also sends rickon off with osha for his protection. rickon finally gets a few lines so good for him.
sansa just got passed around this year from suitor to suitor. first it was littlefinger who promised to wisk her away to safety. she declined once she learned that she would be betrothed to loras tyrell and move to highgarden. then she was finally promised to tyrion and even once she finally started to get used to that, she found out her brother and mother were murdered. this girl can't catch a break.
arya's life sucks. let's just face facts. sansa has it bad too so don't get me wrong, but she's at least married to a pretty nice guy, gets 3 squares a day and bathes on occasion. arya is hanging with a man named the hound. she was almost reunited with her mother and brother before they, along with a family direwolf, get murdered. her best friend gendry got sold to a witch. all she sees is a world full of cheats and murderers. valar morghulis indeed.
jon and the rest of the wildlings made it over the wall in thrilling fashion of course. but soon after jon snow's double secret agent days (and sexy time with ygritte) were over once he realized he couldn't kill the innocent horse trader. after being saved by the direwolves (does he not know that these are bran's and rickon's direwolves??), jon makes his way back to castle black, but not before getting shot three times by ygritte for being such a lying jerk.
house tully of riverrun
for all of you wondering, the tullys are safe and sound after the red wedding... phew. i know you were all very concerned. edmure had a night to remember, what with all the sex with the pretty new wife (what a relief) and the murders of course. can't forget the murders. but lord frey certainly wasn't going to kill off his daughter's new husband just yet... not while she is the new first lady of riverrun.
and also the blackfish survived. he went to go relieve himself during the red wedding and disappeared during the mayhem. this is the same guy who had no patience for edmure's poor bow and arrow shooting (arrowing?? bow and arrowing?? i don't know how to say that) earlier this year. also, roose bolton seemed none too happy to hear about his escape even though lord frey gave it no mind.
house tyrell of highgarden
lady olenna and margaery wait in the wings during the second half of the season after a strong first half. they may have lost the race to marry sansa stark to one of their own, but i wouldn't count them out just yet.
house bolton of the dreadfort
roose bolton was robb's righthand man. he is the lord of the dreadfort and was the temporary lord of harrenhal. he is now the warden of the north and lord of winterfell (if he wants it and until tyrion's son by sansa is of age). a man of few words, roose certainly is no different than the rest of the lords and wannabes in his search of more and more power.
in episode 6, roose sends jamie lannister back to king's landing so long as jamie promises to tell his father that roose played no part in jamie's lost hand... this should have been a strong signal about his allegiances even then.
the bolton's sigil is the flayed man and if you are wondering what a flayed man is, ask theon because that's what they were doing to him all season. now you may ask yourself what sort of family has a flayed man as their sigil but that would be a silly question after bearing witness to the actions of house bolton this season.
ramsay snow is roose's bastard son. you may remember that at the end of last season, roose offered king robb the services of his bastard son to help recapture winterfell (from theon). you may also remember that theon's own men turned him over in order to save their own skins. well, finally in this season finale, lord bolton clued us into what actually occurred in winterfell... his son killed all the greyjoys (and in the process burned winterfell to the ground) save theon who they kept as hostage and torture victim.
i'm not sure who is worse between joffrey and ramsay... actually i do, it's ramsay. cutting off body parts vs. death by arrow is no choice at all.
house greyjoy of the iron islands
theon aka reek had quite the season. if you read any other reviews out there (you shouldn't) you would know that pretty much everyone hates this storyline because it drags and doesn't seem to be all that important. although i would agree with that to a small extent, i still found it to be a really strong plot development this season. it carried over season 2's heavy emphasis on theon's character which isn't very strong at this point in the books. i, for one, love theon as a character and totally buy into his transformation from arrogant stark lackey to disgraced greyjoy heir to torture victim #1.
we finally got a peek into the goings on at the iron islands. yes yes... insert dick in a box joke here. yes yes... insert brad pitt "what's in the box (in uber whinny voice)" joke here.
so what did we learn over on the iron island.. that yara greyjoy ain't no punk and ain't gonna sit around while some bastard who probably gets seasick in a bathtub tries to tarnish the greyjoy name. fastest ship please. 50 of the best ironborn fighters please. see you in hell ramsay!
balon greyjoy though seems to be all talk with his "did you pay the iron price?" schtick while he just chills by the krakken fireplace.
house baratheon of storms end (now dragonstone)
melisandre purchases gendry from the brotherhood without banners for his king's blood. she leeches him (mid coitus no less!) to extract just a taste of blood, which she then uses to cast a spell against robb stark, joffrey baratheon and balon greyjoy.
davos finally gets in on the season 3 action after spending a few scenes on a rock and in a dungeon. stannis releases him with the assurance that he won't try and kill melisandre anymore. it's a good deal for everyone. but davos didn't promise not to talk shit to and about her every opportunity he gets.
davos and melisandre play angel/devil on stannis' shoulder as he debates whether to sacrifice gendry's life in his pursuit of the iron throne. davos makes the decision easy for him when he helps gendry escape by sea. davos' life seemed over at that point except for the ace up his sleeve (whitewalkers!).
for once, melisandre and davos agree that stannis' next move (instead of sulking in his depressing castle?) should be to take up the cause against the whitewalkers.
house targaryen of dragonstone
i know dany is probably everyone's favorite character (besides tyrion perhaps), but she's not mine and save for those special moments (like dragons!!!!) i find her storylines boring for the most part (but dragons!!!). first of all, without her dragons!! she'd be dead by now. even with her dragons! she almost died in the desert. then she goes around killing people with force (cool ass dragon force) just because she thinks slavery is wrong. listen, no doubt i think slavery is wrong, but she should read a history book once in a while and realize that her family history ain't so filled with nice guys (ie ppl nicknamed "the conqueror" tend not to be nice people nor are ppl nicknamed "mad").
i get that she could be a good ruler with morals and what not, but i just don't know if she'd be freeing all these slaves if not for the fact that she wants to use them to take westeros back by force (unsullied force and dragon force). and why does she even want the throne anyway? it's because she feels entitled to it based on her lineage. same reason stannis does or joffrey does. i don't buy the argument that dany's power comes from a moral highground.. it comes from fucking dragons, which she uses to burn people to death.
still though, i really hope her dragons burn joffrey to a crisp!
oh, and dany seems to be smitten with this daario naharis guy... as mormont cries in the corner. wait till someone tells him his father is dead.
sam ran off with gilly and her baby and headed back to castle black. on the way they ran into bran, et al, and also killed a whitewalker with the dragon glass he found at the end of season 2.
back at castle black, sam gets maester aemon's permission to let gilly stay for the time being. and they also send out ravens to all the kings and lords about the whitewalker problem they're having (stannis heard you loud and clear). jon finally arrives back but we still have no idea what happened to all the night's watch traitors beyond the wall.
brotherhood without banners
their storyline mostly disappeared in the second half of the season once they sold gendry to the red priestess and then lost arya to the hound. we do see how shocked/impressed melisandre is with thoros of myr's ability to resurrect beric dondarrion six times. for a woman who can give birth to demon babies, i can only assume she doesn't impress easily.
petyr baelish aka littlefinger is off to marry lysa arryn (nee tully... why wasn't she at their father's funeral or at edmure's wedding aka the red wedding?) at the eyrie. i'm sure we'll catch up with him next season.
lord varys tried to send shae away (it rhymes) with diamonds. she refuses either out of pride or love. varys worries that her presence might endanger tyrion's life. i can't blame shae for distrusting the eunuch but i wonder if varys' fears may turn out to be well founded.
brienne fought a bear in harrenhal. now she's in king's landing so she can return the stark girls to their mother who is waiting patien...oh yea, i keep forgetting. i guess instead she'll kick it with sir loras and reminisce about the good old days as part of renly's rainbow gua... oh yea, they all think she killed him and loras vowed revenge. right right. good luck with all that brienne, you're with by friends now.
no hyperbole allowed rating: A- for the season
episode 6, "the climb" A-
episode 7, "the bear and the maiden fair" A-
episode 8, "second sons" B+
episode 9, "the rains of castamere" A
episode 10, "mhysa" A-
i think next year i'm going to start copying the format of a mad men recap i follow on grantland.com. i think it'll be easier to both follow and write starting next season and also should be more fun. in the meantime, i'll do a shorter version of it to end season 3.
GAME OF THRONES POWER RANKINGS:
1. tywin lannister - went from losing battles and watching each of his sons being captured by the starks to becoming the most powerful man in all of westeros.
2. daenerys targaryen - went from almost dying in the desert to messiah for all the slaves in essos (lands across the narrow sea)... plus dragons!!
3. margaery tyrell - went from a sexless marriage to being the influential wife-to-be of an actual king... she wants to be the queen.
4. joffrey baratheon - it's good to be the king.
5. melisandre - like margaery above, she's got the ear of a king and knows how to use what her mother gave to her.. like a lady. plus she burned three leeches and robb stark, the usurper, died. i forget who the other two leeches were for, but i'm sure it wasn't important.
6. roose bolton - went from extra on the set to warden of the north and all he had to do was backstab his king and let loose his crazy bastard son.
7. bran stark - i know i know, there's no way a stark can be on this list, let alone a stark who can't walk. but let's be real.. dany has dragons, melisandre has demon babies, but bran not only has a direwolf but is able to mind control it along with a man-giant whose only verbal ability is to say 'hodor' in comical fashion. this kid is legit.
8. mance rayder - king beyond the wall.. he has an enormous army that really wants to get south.
9. petyr baelish - went from lord of harrenhall (which never really materialized) to lord of the vale.
10. sam tarwell - he's the first person to kill a whitewalker in a thousand years.
honorable mention: whitewalkers - the opening scene of season 1 is enough to keep them on this list until we know for sure what their deal is.
off the list: lord commander mormont; robb stark; catelyn stark; theon greyjoy; jamie lannister and the rest of the lannister children whilst tywin is in charge
i appreciate any comments or feedback to help structure these posts for next season. you can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, 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)
- more warging starks?!
- valar morghulis!
- tyrion accused of murder!
- the martells of dorne!
- littlefinger loves poison (the preferred weapon of women, cravens and eunuchs) and tully/stark women!
- battle at castle black!!
- LADY STONEHEART!!!!