Game of Thrones: Valar Dohaeris Season 3 Episode 1 Review

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The people of Westeros may be dreading winter, but for fans of Game of Thrones, it’s been a long summer, fall, and winter. Luckily the season three premiere didn’t disappoint and set in motion plenty of awesomeness to come.

Valar Dohaeris began right where we left off, Samwell and other members of the Night’s Watch being swarmed by White Walkers behind the wall. Of course a wolf comes to the rescue of the Night Watch’s most bumbling recruit, but it was an exciting way to open the season and got the ball rolling as we met back up with Jon Snow.

Everyone’s favorite bastard son continued his excursion in the coldest parts of the world by entering the camp of his captors. They are led by newcomer Ciaran Hinds as Mance Rayder, one of the first relatively well known actors to come to the show since Sean Bean’s Ned Stark was unapologetically killed off at the end of season one. His scene this episode was perhaps too short, but the future is brighter than ever for the stories behind the wall with this celebrated performer joining the fray.

After that, the episode settled into going back and forth between several stories like we are used to. The folks over at King’s Landing had a lot of screen time for this premiere as the aftermath of the Battle of Blackwater continues to settle in. What better way to bring fan favorite Tyrion back to viewers than arguing with his sister Cersei? These two continue to have the most electric dynamic on the show as they throw insults at each other non stop.

Then Tyrion confronted his father, Tywin, who took his post as Hand of the King to Joffrey. This was likely the best scene of the premiere as Tywin tore down at Tyrion’s pride, going as far to remind him of how his mother died during his birth. It was a solid reminder of just how evil this man is, after he treated Arya with such kindness last season.

Meanwhile, as Sansa looks for a way out, young Joffrey may find a suitable queen elsewhere with Margaery. Clearly she is going to be a character to watch this season as she attempts to worm her way to the throne. And we’ll be rooting for her as she can only mean bad things for the little punk in charge now.

But as for who I’m rooting for to win the titular game, that goes to Daenerys, Mother of Dragons. Returning to her story with a visually impressive dragon fishing sequence, Daenerys continues to boast the kindness and the ruthlessness it takes to be a strong ruler, and a compelling character. She spends the episode recruiting soldiers for her army. Although these men may not be what she’s looking for as their training included killing a baby in front of its mother. The tension was built perfectly as she played with a child and a hooded figure, possibly a new recruit for the army, followed them. But it was quite the opposite as the child tried to kill Daenerys and the hooded figure was revealed to be…Barristan! After a season long absence, Barristan has chosen to fight alongside Daenerys. Like I said, totally rooting for her the most.

Speaking of surprises, Davos Seaworth is alive and well after the Battle of Blackwater. Sadly the bearded warrior was locked upon his return to Stannis, still in cahoots with Melisandre. Her presence lends a creepy tone to the series and has me excited at the possibility of more demon babies.

The only other group we saw was the newly married Robb Stark, who arrived at Harrenhal to find it in ruins. He locks his mother up for letting Jaime Lannister go last season. This is another story I can’t wait to see develop. Also, I have a bad feeling about Robb this season (I have not read the books).

So we didn’t see Arya, Bran, or some others, but this was still an exciting premiere that showed us where some of the most prominent players in this game are headed this season. Winter is here once more, and that’s a great thing. Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty

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