Episode Review: Game of Thrones 3×01 – Valar Dohaeris
I’ve been counting down the days since November. I watched the trailers dozens of times and rewatched the show from the beginning and saw all the bonus content and commentaries and every last bit of anything I could soak up because I need more Game of Thrones and I need it now. It was a really anxious hiatus, you guys. But now finally season three has arrived. Holy. Shit.
We started out north of the Wall right where we left off last year. Sam was on the verge of a nervous breakdown as a White Walker stared him down and an army of Wights (or, as I like to call them, “ice zombies”) advanced towards the Fist of the First Men. Somehow he managed to get up and run away from the horde, but not before needing the help of his brothers of the Night’s Watch with taking down a particularly determined Wight. We keep getting little glimpses of the looming threat north of the Wall, but nobody seems to care until they’re knocking at their door. While all the Lords and Ladies fight about who should sit on the Iron Throne these supernatural beings are making their way down south and I’m kind of looking forward to when this spectacular oversight blows up in their face. I have a feeling I’ll be waiting a long time, though.
Meanwhile, Jon Snow is getting friendly with the Wildlings. They’ve been an extremely interesting bunch to read about and I can’t wait to see more of them depicted on the show. The costumes area already amazing and, hell, they filmed in Iceland because fake snow and green screen just wasn’t going to cut it. The artistry involved in the Wildling camp just takes my breath away. I wish I could get to the Game of Thrones exhibition so I could see some of those pieces in person (no seriously assorted costumes are traveling around the globe). If you have a few minutes to spare, watch this mini documentary on what it took to create the Wildlings on the show. If you’re as captivated by the costumes and sets as I am, it’s well worth your time.
South of the Wall Tyrion is both emotionally and physically damaged, abandoned by almost everyone and isolated in a dark, cramped room. He basically protected the city from Stannis’s full force, but his fathers last minute save got all the glory. If it weren’t for the Dragon Fire maneuver, Stannis would have stormed King’s Landing before the Tyrell’s and Tywin’s army could arrive and it would have most certainly fallen. But instead of thanks, he’s mocked, belittled, and threatened. I love Tyrion and it breaks my heart to see him so mistreated. But that’s how this goes. The Lannisters are terrible and Tyrion is the only decent one in the bunch so it makes sense that they’d treat him like crap. I’m rooting for him to be the last Lannister standing.
And ah, Lady Maegery. I loved her when she was first introduced with Renly, but at the end of A Clash of Kings I was pretty bitter towards her. I felt the same way while watching the show. But then here she is getting out of her carriage in Flea Bottom to walk through shit to comfort some orphans. Ok, Maegery, I forgive you for making nice with the Lannisters. The Tyrell’s house words are “Growing Strong,” which is exactly what they’re good at. They plant themselves in positions of power and grow and take over. They aren’t exactly bad. Just ambitious. It’s how they became the noble household of High Garden (those not reading the books are missing out on some excellent back story here). Maegery is living up to the Tyrell reputation. She’s just so damn perfect and sweet and ambitious. Yes, stay next to the King and drown out his obnoxious self with your awesomeness. I see the game plan here and I like it.
And, of course, DRAGONS! When I saw Astapor in the opening titles I flailed. The next segment of her journey is one of my favorites. Though I don’t agree with every decision that she makes, I’m still 100% in Daenerys’s corner. We’ve already seen in just one episode that her dragons have grown, she’s arrived in Astapor, she’s seen the Unsullied, and Barristan Selmy has sworn his allegiance to her. So much Daenerys in one episode. I hope they don’t skimp on her later. If it’s not obvious by now, she’s my favorite character and I’d totally swear my allegiance to her if I lived in that world.
Speaking of loyalty, the Dothraki continues to amaze me. They’re a pretty male centered society and, under normal circumstances, wouldn’t follow a Khaleesi over a Khal. The majority of her Khalasar splintered at the end of season one as several men asserted them as the next Khal after Drogo’s death. But this handful of Dothraki stayed with her, followed her across the Red Waste, and now they’re on ships for the first time in the known history of the Dothraki people (seasickness ahoy!). Now that is loyalty.
No Arya this week despite the title being a reference to the Braavosi phrase Valar Morghulis (the latter means “all men must die” and the title means “all men must serve.”) No Brienne or Jaimie Lannister either, which left me a little disappointed. Nothing significant from Sansa, really, except for a brief conversation with Little Finger and some socialization with Shae. But with the size of this cast, that’s not so bad. There are so many characters in so many far off places I’m surprised we managed to cover the amount of ground that we did in this episode.
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and has essays published in Fandom Frontlines.
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