Review: Game of Thrones – Season 3 / Cert: 18 / Director: Various / Screenplay: Various / Starring: Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke / Release Date: Out Now
George R.R. Martin's cut-throat world of Westeros has captivated, stunned and enthralled millions worldwide. A Song of Ice and Fire stands as one of the most popular high fantasy series of all time, prompting many to compare Martin's meticulous world-building to that of the great J.R.R. Tolkien. With the release of the HBO television show, Game of Thrones, the series' popularity grew exponentially. While the first two seasons pack quite a punch, it's the third season that got the world talking. With enough magic, mayhem and violence to keep even the most cynical viewers at least mildly entertained, Season 3 takes the high-stakes battle for the Iron Throne to shocking new heights and suggests bleak futures for many fan-favourite characters.
Ned Stark is dead, the Lannisters still sit smugly upon the Iron Throne, and Stannis Baratheon slinks away in defeat. Jaime Lannister finds himself in the care of the skilled Brienne of Tarth, while Robb and Catelyn Stark search for allies to aid them in their invasion of King's Landing. Jon Snow joins forces with the Wildlings and finds a new love interest in the plucky Ygritte. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Daenerys Targaryen prepares her own army for battle. The end result? One HUGE medieval shitfest to end all shitfests.
If there's any advice we can give a newcomer to the show, it's that getting attached to ANY character is a very bad idea. Martin's books unceremoniously kill characters both major and minor (a trend that showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss faithfully continue), so rooting for any one character too much will only end in heartbreak. To its credit, though, the show excels at immersing audiences in Martin's rich world and developing its inhabitants so well that we can't help but love (or hate) them.
If there's one thing to complain about, it's the show's incredibly uneven pacing. The first two or three episodes find the characters standing around arguing without any real plot progression. Then, from episode four onward, so much happens at once that the pacing becomes too fast before sputtering and dying in the finale. It's a shame that the opening and closing episodes hold no redeeming qualities other than promising some cool stuff to come, but we can assume that this is being done intentionally as build-up to the fourth season.
Bad pacing aside, Season 3 features some of the most memorable moments currently on television and showcases a handful of truly incredible performances. If you haven't jumped on the Games of Thrones bandwagon yet, what the hell are you waiting for?