Season three takes places over months in a world where winter can last a generations, but autumn is here and winter is coming. The people should now be preparing for the Long Night, years of cold and snow but The Seven Kingdoms remains in a bloody civil war. Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony) has been killed, with most of his forces going to Stannis (Stephen Dillane). The boy-king Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) is victorious at The Blackwater, thanks to his grandfather’s alliance with the Tyrells. Robb Stark remains alive and kicking (for now) but the North has been partially colonised by the Ironborn. He needs to devise a strategy to win and regain the support of the Freys after he broke the marriage agreement with them.
Stannis The Mannis has been defeated with his army scattered, but he has some fight left him yet. Aided by Lady Melisandre (Carice van Houten), he can manipulate the course of Westeros’ civil war. Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) must navigate the frozen lands of the North to reach the Wall while Arya goes on a road trip with The Hound (Rory McCann) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) continues his adventures with the Wildlings as The Kingslayer (Nickolaj Coster-Waldau) and Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) are captured by Bolton bannermen. Theon (Alfie Allen) must face the repercussions of his actions at Winterfell.
In Essos, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) has left the political Jurassic park of Quarth while her dragons grow bigger everyday. But in order to have the Iron Throne, she will need support from the corrupt Masters of Slaver’s Bay. Season three was a complete shocker; from its bourgeois ideologies in the Capital to the war in the North, to Theon’s maiming and the notorious Red Wedding. It left us with a huge cliffhanger in the finale “Mhysa” which pushed the Jamie/Brienne arc into next season. This arc is my favourite arc of the series. The scene in the bathtub when Jaime pours his heart out to her is hauntingly beautiful (Kissed By Fire) and it says even more about Jaime as a character.
Game Of Thrones is, and will always be famous for The Red Wedding (The Rains Of Castamere). Even people who don’t watch Game Of Thrones or have never read the books know about The Red Wedding. It is one of the most iconic television moments in TV history. In twenty years, those that were around will talk about The Red Wedding like people in the forties and fifties talk about watching Star Wars for the first time in the cinema (1977). This was one episode that showed us that Game Of Thrones is more about survival than being a team player. Even after the death of Lord Eddard and Stannis’ defeat in Kings Landing, The Red Wedding left the fangirls of Robb Stark (Richard Madden) completely and utterly heartbroken.
Robb Stark (Madden) married for love and not for position. That was his downfall, even before he cut off Rickard Karstark’s head in the name of honour and morality. When he committed those acts, the Starks had left the chessboard. He was deemed as a “hero” or a “good guy” but we now see that there is no good or evil in this series. It’s all about whose side you are on. The “good guys” consistently die, while Joffrey has an ear-to-ear grin the size of the Red Waste. Joffrey and Walder Frey show us that murderers truly come with smiles. Robb made two mistakes and paid with his life, his mother’s life, his wife’s life and the lives of his bannermen. Well, all except The Blackfish who stepped out to take the piss that saved his life.
Game Of Thrones is a show where there’s no justice for the innocent, and the guilty walk free. Sound familiar? It often imitates real life but then there are instances where characters who were unlikable in earlier seasons get taught a lesson. Jaime Lannister was hated by millions for pushing Bran out of the window. In season three he was humiliated by Bolton bannermen and they cut off his swordhand. With humility comes the power to be “less of a dick.” Jaime received karma in its finest form. From here on, he became better and even saved Brienne from a bear in “The Bear And The Maiden Fair.”
There are many themes throughout, but one of the most important is arranged marriages. Not all of them ended as badly as Edmure’s, courtesy of Old Walder Frey (David Bradley) but they all came from power struggles. Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) gives Tyrion and Cersei a bit of a dressing-down, telling them both that they will marry; Cersei (Lena Headey) to Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones) a renowned “sword swallower” (hint, hint) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) to Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), a mere child and now the key to the North. Lady Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) steals every scene she’s in. Just about every one of her scenes is filled with banter and sharp one-liners.
Then Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) gets utterly destroyed by Cersei at Tyrion’s wedding in “Second Sons” and shows her prowess by digging her claws into King Joffrey. She sees his sociopathic ideologies as a nuisance that she can overcome to become Queen. This shows incredible strength of character. Kings Landing’s storyline has many witty, thought-provoking and meaningful quotes and pieces of dialogue, including: Littlefinger and Varys’ ‘Chaos Is A Ladder’ conversation in the throne room, Tyrion schooling Pod on the art of sex with whores (what did he do?) and Tywin telling Tyrion why he didn’t kill him as a baby.
The Nights Watch/Jon Snow (Kit Harington) storylines were pretty decent. The rebellion at Craster’s Keep was good, all while he went over The Wall with Ygritte (Rose Leslie) and company taking him near Bran but far away enough to make audiences gasp with annoyance. Jon coming so close to Bran showed a flicker that his situation with the Freefolk is still tied to the larger scheme, including The Others beyond the wall.
I will end with talking about Dany. She had some great moments this season including her linking up with Ser Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney) and diplomatically “negotiating” for 8000 Unsullied warriors. She travelled for miles with her tactics being, “give me this or my dragons will kill you”. Jorah continues to be Lord Friendzone and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) is as loyal as ever.
From the colds winds of The North, to Dany setting cities ablaze in Essos to the mutilation of Theon, season three is packed with action, mindblowing narratives, butchery at dinner and season-stealing performances from Nickolaj Coster-Waldau (Kissed By Fire) and Michelle Fairley’s Catelyn Stark in Rains Of Castamere.