Game of Thrones / Television

Game of Thrones “Valar Dohaeris” Review

Season 3 2

After months of waiting, it felt like the Game of Thrones Season 3 premiere was over in a flash. We were just getting back into this world and we are already waiting for next week. But the premiere was strong giving us a taste of a handful of stories spanning the two continents that will set things up for the season to come (spoilers for the premiere to follow, so beware).

The show opens up in the north beyond the Wall and in a short segment before the intro even kicks in we see Sam running and encountering a Wight. Luckily Ghost and Lord Commander Mormont are there to bail him out. They kind of cop out of showing the fight between the Black Brothers and the Others on the Fist of the First Men which stinks given last season’s cliffhanger, but the little confrontation we do get is still cool and Ghost is always a welcome sight. Of course, Jon is further north entering the wildling camp with the Lord of Bones and Ygritte. This leads to a couple of moments that had me quite excited to see after recently reading A Storm of Swords. One is our and Jon’s first look at a giant! I love how this series has these fantasy elements usually lying at the edges of the world and getting to see a giant for the first time was pretty damn cool. The other is his meeting with the King Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder, which I think was handled pretty well. And I always enjoy the interactions between Jon and Ygritte. Ygritte is making some jokes about him while also trying to convince her leaders to keep him around and it is a fun dymanic those two have. I look forward to seeing that grow over the course of this season.

Most characters only got a couple of scenes, but Daenerys got some pretty good screentime and actually progressed her story more than most. Dany, Jorah and the rest of her Khalasar are making their way across the sea in her ship and find themselves in the city of Astapor. Here she meets a man who sells slaves. The Unsullied are known around the world for their unmatched training for war and we hear just how brutal this training is. This scene is lifted right out of the book and features the same fun back and forth between Dany, the slaver and a translator as we see the slaver making all kinds of terrible remarks about Dany as the translator spins his remarks in a much less derogatory manner. It’s also interesting to see Dany struggle with even thinking about purchasing slaves. She needs an army, but we know she is against slavery. The other big takeaway from this storyline is the end where Ser Barristan Selmy, former commander of the Kingsguard, stops an attempt on Dany’s life and pledges his allegiance to her. It looks like Ser Jorah will not be the only knight in her presence going forward (this part also presents one of the bigger departures from the book which I discuss in a bullet point for those who have read or are curious).

Season 3 3

We get bits and pieces from some of the other storylines as well. The standout among them would have to be the Tyrion/Tywin Lannister scene. We should get to see them interact a lot more this season while they are both in King’s Landing. We already knew how their relationship was, but watching Tywin tear his son down the way he did was tough and yet extremely well done. They really nail both these characters during this sequence. Another interesting scene was the one that featured Margaery Tyrell going into the slums, talking to the children and giving them toys (a new scene just for the show I believe). Along with the scene featuring her, Joff and Queen Cersei sitting down for a meal, they really do a good job illustrating just how different the expected husband and wife are as well as how different Cersei is from the future queen.

Outside of King’s Landing, we discover that Davos Seaworth has survived the battle of the Blackwater. Washed up on a rock out in the bay he manages to hail a passing ship. He finds himself back at Dragonstone, but after a confrontation with Stannis and the red woman, he is hauled off to a prison cell unfortunately. I really like Davos and his relationship with Stannis is fascinating and will certainly be fun to watch going forward. There were some short scenes featuring Robb and Catelyn arriving at Harrenhal as well as one featuring Sansa and Littlefinger who talked more of getting her away from the capital that he teased during last season’s finale. Both scenes will probably be important going forward, but tough to do much other than speculate about them at the moment.

Season 3 1

More things worth noting:

  • I love watching the intro because a) it’s awesome and b) it is fun to spy new locations that will be appearing in the episode. This one brought us the city of Astapor where Dany’s storyline took place, but in an unexpected twist we also saw a smoking Winterfell after the events of last year.
  • The dragons looked fantastic and it was a lot of fun to see them flying around the boat. Those parts at sea were just generally beautiful I thought.
  • A couple notable storylines were missing in action here. Arya’s hurt the most as I’m pretty excited for hers, but also Bran’s and Jaime’s. Hopefully we’ll be checking in on these characters next week. I can appreciate them not all being shoved in here though. It’d be too much for one episode and something would suffer.
  • A Storm of Swords comparisons: One big thing this week was the reveal of Barristan Selmy. Once I saw the “Previously on” segment, it was pretty obvious they were not going to try and hide Selmy’s identity which is something they did to great effect in the book. And while the reveal is cooler in the book, it was clearly not going to be possible in a visual media like this one. It will definitely affect some future events though, so I will have to see how that goes. Also I kind of wanted the giant to be revealed on a mammoth, but that wouldn’t have shown off his size properly I imagine. I’m sure we will see one on a mammoth at some point though. And I am not sure I like Sam not sending the ravens out, but I’ll wait and see how that goes too.
  • Lastly I will be working out the kinks of reviewing this as I do it weekly from here on out this season. Along with the many storylines to cover and simply covering a show I have not before, I have to skate around the idea that having read the book gives me knowledge show watchers don’t have. I will not spoil anything for you guys, but again just need to work on reviewing without really being able to speculate. It will be a work in progress for sure. Bear with me while I work on this!

“Valar Dohaeris” was a good start to the season, but with so many stories and characters to touch on in this show especially at this point in its run, it feels like we didn’t get to dig into many of them. But I am glad they will be spreading the third novel over two seasons as it will give them a better chance to take their time with the material I think. Game of Thrones returned as the same kind of epic fantasy series we have come to expect. Still filled with quality acting and beautiful scenery. Still not much else like it on TV. But it seems it may be a few episodes until we get back into the full swing of things.

Did you watch last night’s Game of Thrones premiere? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

3 thoughts on “Game of Thrones “Valar Dohaeris” Review

  1. Nice review! It’s interesting to read your comparisons to the book, since I’ve only read the first in the series. I agree that this episode covered just enough to get us back into the storylines, without cramming in too many characters… though I can’t wait to see what happens with Arya!

    And yessss, the scene with Tywin and Tyrion killed me! I was enjoying the episode up to that point, but it was then that I remembered just how much I LOVE this show. The writing and acting are so good it hurts.

    • Dany and Arya are my favorite characters, so waiting another week for Arya is tough!.I always want her in the episodes. Arya’s story should be quite exciting this year. I really like one of the new characters that interacts with her in the book. That Tyrion/Tywin scene really did blow me away. Glad you enjoyed the premiere as well. Thank you for checking out the blog and commenting!

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