TV REVIEW: Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 1 – “Valar Dohaeris”

Game of Thrones returns, and picks up exactly where it left off: Jon Snow is beyond the Wall and finally meets the King; Samwell Tarley is shaken from his encounter with the White Walkers; Danerys is still hellbent on claiming the throne of Westeros as her own, and Joffrey finds that his new Bride to Be – Margaery – is rather less like him than he thought.

 

 

First of all, GS readers, apologies for this review taking so long to hit the site. Tom Cruise was in Dublin on Wednesday and trying to get an interview, red carpet etc has just been insane. I will be more prompt in future… I hope!

Anyway, Game of Thrones… The first episode back after a hiatus is always slow, and “Valar Dohaeris” is no exception. Much of the 50-odd minutes of the episode’s run time is spent establishing the characters’ courses of action for the rest of the season.

Now that his father has arrived in King’s Landing, poor old Tyrion Lannister is back at the bottom of the respect pile. He asks for his rightful inheritance as second son of the Lannisters, but Tywin quickly puts him back in his place. Over the last couple of seasons of Game of Thrones, Charles Dance has had some of the best and most venomous monologues, and this episode’s outburst is no different; Tywin makes sure that Tyrion knows his contempt for his son, and sternly cautions Tyrion over his dalliances with prostitutes. Ouch.

Elsewhere, Tyrion is also dealing with a suspicious sister and a bodyguard – Bronn – who has decided his time is worth double pay. There is little doubt that The Imp will rise again, but now that we have got to know Tyrion a little better – and we know there is a good man in there somewhere – it is hard not to feel sorry for a man fallen so low.

Joffrey learns that Magaery has such a kind heart – the exact opposite to him – when she visits an orphanage and promises to take care of the children orphaned by the recent battle. Now that she is no longer of any use to Joffrey and the Lannisters, Sansa wants nothing more than to return home, but even though Baelish has promised to help her, there will definitely be obstacles in her way.

Beyond the Wall, Samwell and those with him retreat once they see the cruelty of the White Walkers, and some interesting relationships are forged between the House of Stark and the King Beyond the Wall. Ciaran Hinds, as Mance Rayder, quickly dispels everything we have known about the King, and shows that he is a reasonable man. It seems that Jon Snow may get his wish of joining the Wildlings, but we know by now that this probably won’t go well.

Daenerys has retrieved her dragons and is on the hunt for an army when she encounters a man who worked for the Lannisters and wishes to apologise to her for such. Daenerys is constantly moving toward being a fierce warrior queen, and when she does, it will surely be a spectacle to behold. Loss and heartache have made her strong, and pride moves her onwards. Perhaps this story arc is the most interesting in the show at the moment and, with the added excitement of dragons, it is sure to only get better.

Finally, Davros is rescued after the battle and makes his way to Stannis Baratheon. He knows now that the Melisandre is evil and ‘The Mother of Demons’, but when he tries to attack her, he is thrown into the dungeons. Poor old Davros! Sanity seems to be out of favour with the Baratheons.

This season of Game of Thrones is shaping up to be all about the women; Margaery is already causing trouble, Daenerys’s righteous anger is bound to come to a glorious conclusion and, if Daenerys is the light, then Melisandre is the dark, and it may not be long before she tries to throw Westeros into darkness. Although it felt slightly cluttered, episode 1 set the tone for the season; we know that relationships in Game of Thrones are always complicated and this season is sure to be no different. The question is though, who will triumph over all?

 

Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Brogen Hayes

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