TV Review: GAME OF THRONES Season 3, Episode 1 'Valar Dohaeris'

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After an incredible second season, the hit series returns and dives right back into the bloody action! Or perhaps we should say zombie action, since the White Walkers have finally emerged and Jon Snow and the other Guardians are the only ones from this side of the wall who know about it.

When we left last season, Daenerys had taken her dragons back from the House of the Undying and made Xaro Xhoan Daxos pay for his betrayal. Using the riches of Qarth, she barters for a ship and goes in search of an army that will help her take the Iron Throne for herself. But in her desperation to build up a formidable defense, she may have to align herself with questionable people.

The army she considers purchasing in Slaver’s Bay (from an incredibly insulting trader) is comprised of eunuchs who are forced to murder infants to be inducted. This doesn’t sit well with Dany, as she is not only disgusted by the thought of killing innocent children she is also reluctant to resort to slavery to defend herself. But an army of eunuch slaves is better than nothing, she may need them as her enemies start coming out of the woodworks to end her machinations for the throne. Just when she’s about to fall victim to an unsettling trick, an old friend steps in to save the day – but it remains to be seen if he can truly be trusted.

Tyrion had successfully held off the army of Stannis Baratheon long enough for Tywin to swoop in and save the day. Instead of being heralded for keeping Stannis at bay, Tyrion was unceremoniously stripped of his title as Hand of the King and forced to live in a hovel of a room. He desperately wants his father to recognise his efforts, but Tywin will never accept him as a true heir and brushes off his son’s heroic actions.

Ignoring Tyrion’s request for recognition, Tywin tells him that Lannisters don’t do things just to earn rewards. This is a telling hypocrisy, given that Tywin was just given the made up title of “Savior of the City” by his grandson, King Joffrey, who instead of stepping up and defending his own kingdom ran and hid until the fighting was over. Once order had been restored, he reneged on his offer of marriage to Sansa Stark and asked Margaery Tyrell for her hand in marriage. Margaery and her brother Loras joined forces with Tywin and assisted him with defending King’s Landing.

Her ambitions to become “The Queen” may soon be realised, but once she finds out just how sick Joffey can be she may end up regretting that she accepted his proposal. Until then she’s subjected to incredibly awkward exchanges with Cersei, who seems not to want her son to ever marry anyone. She may be feeling a twinge of jealousy, since Margaery has decided it is her mission to win back the trust of the people of King’s Landing by mingling among the poor and performing acts of charity.

Now that she’s no longer engaged to the spineless Joffrey, Sansa hopes and prays she will be able to go home to her family. But Littlefinger knows the Lannister’s much better than she does. He warns her that they’ll never let her go and that her only choice is to escape with him the next time he’s sent away on an errand. What exactly does Littlefinger have up his sleeve? After Catelyn rejected him yet again, could he be planning to get back at her by manipulating her daughter? Shae seems to be the only person actually looking out for Sansa and it makes me wish this little girl would grow up already and start playing the game.

Furthermore, Sansa has no idea what has happened to her family home or that her sister is still missing. Robb and Catelyn return to a fallen and burned out Winterfell, and Bran and Rickon – who escaped the bloodshed with Osha and Hodor – are nowhere in sight. After Theon’s men turned on him and returned home, mother and son attempt to pick through the survivors with his new wife Talisa in tow. But Robb still can’t get over Catelyn’s betrayal when she allowed Jaime Lannister to begin the journey home to King’s Landing with Brienne along to guard him. He allows her a few moments to grieve over the destruction of their family home before ordering her back into a cell.

We don’t get to see what happens to Brienne and Jaime tonight, or Arya for that matter, as the focus is on the aftermath of the Battle of Blackwater and the emergence of the White Walkers in the North. These zombie-like warriors don’t appear this week as much we’d like them to. We got a nice taste of them in last season’s finale, and Sam briefly encounters one at the start of this episode, but the focus in the North is on Jon Snow and the first appearance of the King Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder. But despite only a brief glimpse of this amazing new threat, the Season 3 premiere is absolutely stellar – does this show ever even have bad episodes?

While there wasn’t so much of the sex and violence we’ve come to expect, it wasn’t even noticeable as we see most of the characters begin picking up the pieces after the insanity of last season’s finale. New alliances are forming, new manipulations are set in motion, and this season is shaping up to be just as incredible the last.

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0 #1 SummerKaren 2013-04-06 22:34
Robb and Catelyn were at Harrenhall not Winterfell.

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