(The Verge) – The Season 3 premiere of Game of Thrones aired last Sunday, and generated the highest ratings for the series yet. This should not come as too big of a surprise, since the show based on George R.R. Martin’s bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire series has proven to be a huge hit for HBO, making it the third most-watched show in the station’s history. So naturally, fans have been eagerly awaiting the return of the series, and while the season premiere may not have been as action packed as previous episodes, it did give viewers a glimpse into events to come.Before I go into detail on the episode, I should give you brief background of where I’m coming from in regards to the franchise. I am currently in the middle of reading the fourth book in the franchise, and I recently finished rewatching Season 2 on Blu-ray, so the events of the previous season are still fairly fresh in my mind. As you may or may not know, Season 3 of Game of Thrones is based on the third Song of Ice and Fire book, A Storm of Swords (specifically the first half). As someone who has read the book in its entirety, I can safely say that the events in Season 3 are sure to keep people talking up until the premiere of Season 4.
Picking up right where Season 2 ended, Samwell Tarley flees for his life as he discovers the corpse of a fellow brother of the Night’s Watch. He’s then attacked by a White Walker, and is saved at the last minute by Jon Snow’s direwolf, Ghost. After being reunited with the rest of the Night’s Watch, Commander Mormont chastises Sam for not sending the ravens, and informs the others that they must return to the wall to warn everyone of the oncoming danger.
Meanwhile, Jon Snow, who has been taken captive by Wildlings, is brought to the camp of Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall. At the camp, Jon sees a giant for the first time, something I was surprised to see actually be represented in the show (maybe we’ll see some mammoths too)! Jon then enters Mance’s tent, where he tells Mance that he wishes to join the Wildlings after seeing what Craster does to his sons. Whether Jon wants to truly turn traitor to the Night’s Watch or if he has an ulterior motive is unclear at this point, but it does present some interesting dilemmas.
We are then brought back to King’s Landing, where we see Tyrion recovering from the wound he suffered during the Battle of the Blackwater. Cersei comes knocking on Tyrion’s door, who seems less than thrilled to see his sister who had him almost killed. The two share a series of quips with one another, similar to their interactions in Season 2. These moments were some of the best parts of the previous season, as they delved into the psyches and motivations of both characters. Hopefully, there will be more interactions with these two like those ones in future episodes.
Tyrion then decides to visit his father, who currently serves as the Hand of the King. He asks Tywin about his reward for leading the charge against Stannis’ army in Blackwater Bay, and is told that he will be compensated eventually. This leads to Tyrion revealing what he truly wants from his father, which is the inheritance of Casterly Rock. He explains that since Jamie serves in the Kingsguard and has forfeited all claims to land, he is the rightful heir of Casterly Rock. Tywin responds by further showing his disdain towards his son, still blaming him for his wife’s death and criticising his love of whores. We see in this moment that while Tyrion is capable of outsmarting others as well as deceiving them, he still faces the challenge of gaining admiration from his father.
While this is all hapenning, we see what became of Davos Seaworth after the Battle of Blackwater Bay (by the way, if you think this show jumps around a lot, welcome to Game of Thrones)! After being marooned on a rock for god knows how long, he is rescued by a nearby ship after revealing his allegiance to Stannis. He later meets with Salladhor Saan, and asks him to take him to Dragonstone so he can kill Mellisandre, the red priestess. Davos returns to Dragonstone, where he confronts both Stannis and Mellisandre. Mellisandre tells him that if she was at the battle, she could have saved the ones who were killed by the wildfire. Davos told Stannis in Season 2 that he did not wish for her to join them in the battle, and we now see the results of that decision. Davos tries to murder Mellisandre, but is seized by guards and sent to the dungeons by Stannis.
In the North, Robb Stark and his men arrive at a destroyed city, where they find piles of corpses. One person manages to survive, and Robb’s new wife Talisa tends to him. Robb orders his mother to be locked up, still angry after she released Jamie Lannister in exchange for her daughters. This scene is fairly uneventful, but it does remind the viewers of the tension between Robb and Catelyn.
Back in King’s Landing, Sansa and Shae are seen hanging out at a dock, staring at ships out in the distance. Like any good Sansa chapter/scene in the show, not a whole lot happens here. Littlefinger arrives to tell her that he has seen his mother recently and that he plans on returning her home soon. Even though this scene continues the trend of boring Sansa scenes, A Storm of Swords actually manages to make her more interesting as the story progresses, so expect to see her in more exciting scenes in the future.
In the streets of King’s Landing, Margaery Tyrell, King Joffery’s new wife-to-be, visits a group of orphans whose fathers died in the Battle of the Blackwater. We see Margaery’s good natured character in this scene, as opposed to Joffery’s usual cruelness. Later that evening, the two meet with Queen Cersei and Sir Loras for dinner, where Cersei warns Margaery about trusting commoners. She tells her how they were attacked by a group of them once, which was depicted back in Season 2. Similar to Sansa, Cersei shows her distrust of Joffery’s betrothed, despite Joffery being the one Margaery should truly worry about.
On the other side of the world, Danaerys Targaryen sails on a ship (which we assume she bought at some point) with Sir Jorah and her Dothraki people. Her dragons, who have grown significantly since the last season, fly around the ship as Dany and Sir Jorah discuss future plans. They land in Astapor where they look for soldiers, and come across the Unsullied. The Master of the Unsullied describe their upbringing to Danaerys, telling her that they are trained at age five and later kill a child of a slave woman, who then pay the slave’s owner with a silver coin. Dany is disgusted by this, but realizes that the needs an army if she hopes to retake the Iron Throne. As she and Sir Jorah discuss the matter, a little girl gives Danaerys a small box. Before she is able to open it, a cloaked figure knocks it out of her hand, revealing an insect-like creature inside. The cloaked figure stabs the insect with a knife, saving Danaerys’ life. Sir Jorah then recognizes the cloaked man as the former head of the Kingsgaurd, Sir Barristan Selmy. Sir Barristan asks forgiveness after failing Danaerys’ father, and asks to join her queensguard, ending the episode.
While there certainly were some noteworthy scenes in the Season 3 premiere, the majority of it proved to be mostly setup, which is pretty much as to be expected. The scenes with Tyrion, a fan favorite character, were by far the most engaging, and finally getting to see Mance Rayder was a nice treat. It was also good to see Danaerys being to get an army together, and seeing her dragons grow before our eyes makes the wait to see them fully grown that much more exciting. The scenes with Robb and Sansa could have been better, since they didn’t contribute much to the overall story. Of course, there are other characters that were not shown in the premiere. Like the first episode of Season 2, there were no scenes with Arya and her group of friends. Fortunately, the next episode looks to fix this problem. There were also no scenes with Bran, although if A Storm of Swords is any indication, get used to not seeing a whole lot of him anyway. Finally, we did not get to see what Jamie and Brienne are up to, which also looks to be addressed in the next episode.
The Season 3 premiere of Game of Thrones did what it needed to do. It followed up on the events of (most of) the characters from the last season, and gave a brief glimpse into events to come. Even if you thought there wasn’t enough action or excitement in this episode, coming from someone how read the book the season is based on, I can guarantee that you will not be making the same complain when this season is over.