Tag Archives: Season 3

Game of Thrones Season 3 Recap: “The Climb”

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It’s difficult to believe that six weeks have now come and gone since the premiere of Game of Thrones third season; before we know it the finale will be upon us and another year of agonizing waiting will follow.

Criticisms have been contrived from the ever so gradual build up season three has opted for that has only recently shown any signs of changing. Honestly I do find myself empathizing with the irritation of those who have yet to read the books and feel little of worth is happening. That doesn’t mean to say I disagree with Weiss & Benioff’s decision to keep the show at a brisk stroll for the time being. The Climb was no exception to the rule of gradual pacing, yet it made for another truly remarkable watch nonetheless.

Jon and Ygritte were presented with a rather literal climb of the 700ft wall of ice standing between the Wildling special forces team and the expanse of the Seven Kingdoms. In the moments of preparation before the climb Rose Leslie demonstrated that she wasn’t about to let the phenomenal standards of her performances as Ygritte slip now, amply expressing the Wildling women’s endearing affections for Jon with the assistance of impressive dialogue supplied by another superb screenplay.

When fate slowly edged them up the face of The Wall, it was impossible to avoid the feelings of fear and vertigo as the now infatuated couple came close to taking the dive on several occasions. In spite of the undeniably great acting, the air of finesse placed in the cinematography and editing efforts lent the scene almost the entirety of its dramatic effect. The sequencing from the shot of Jon glancing down, to the hauntingly slow pan in showcasing the potential fall he contended with instilled a nightmarish fear in me that couldn’t have been evoked solely off the back of high quality acting.

Sterling cinematography was a consistent element throughout this week’s episode. The continuation of Arya’s adventures alongside The Brotherhood Without Banners (TBWB) were introduced with a very striking shot* where-in a close up of Arya firing a bow shook gently, whilst remaining masterfully in sync with the reverberation of the bow string to seamlessly reflect the feeling of firing an arrow.

vlcsnap-2013-05-06-09h42m42s142*Note the spectacular shot framing also involved in the close up.

Prior to a controversial trade off – Thoros, Beric and Melisandre shared a rather interesting moment of conversation. Thoros admittance of seeking the help of The Red God whom he formerly abandoned in his time of desperation was an accurate, parallel, and perhaps cynical representation of the timeless tendency of people seeking guidance and/or other worldly power in their times of need even if – unlike in Thoros’s fantasy case – they are wholly aware their desires will go unreceived. Beric further bolstered the unromantic, harsh tone of the episode by informing Melisandre that her notion of there being an ‘other side’ was deluded drivel. ‘There is only Darkness’ rang true to very harsh realities that we all face; rarely does a TV show provoke such deep thought from an audience like Game of Thrones can in its prime.

Many book reader’s strong suspicions regarding the intentions behind Melisandre’s ventures away from Stannis’s seat at Dragonstone were all but confirmed when she struck up her exchange of gold for Gendry with TBWB. Clearly she has substantial expectations invested in the blacksmith’s apprentice, expressing her belief in his future role in taking down Stannis’s key opponents. Still a key question lingers: what exactly does the red priestess intend to do with Gendry?

vlcsnap-2013-05-06-12h52m50s255An impressive piece of lighting technique from the cinematographers.

Theon is trapped in a perpetual state of terrible luck that revealed zero indication of letting up on him as his cruel torture persisted. The monstrosity of the games his captor plays with him are on a sickening level that reflect the typical antics of the boy king Joffrey to the letter; thankfully momentary shots of Theon’s finger flaying were all that was necessary to extort a strong wincing and cringing from everyone, I couldn’t have handled much more. Alfie Allen effectively drove the anguish home with his blood curdling whimper-screams, and sniveling pleas to have the finger chopped off; I anticipate Allen’s adept acting in Game of Thrones will end up placing a major Hollywood blockbuster role or two at his feet in the coming years.

The King of the North’s military campaign proceeded down an increasingly slippery slope, however seemingly unbeknownst to Robb, who eagerly considered the successfully wagered terms with the Frey visitors – after a bit of good cop/bad cop interrogation against Edmure – to be a god send. It was difficult to miss the sinister tone that lined the voices of the Frey’s, and it definitely shouldn’t be disregarded yet. On top of this, Robb’s liege lord Roose Bolton exposed a disloyal tendency to his King in choosing to allow Jamie right of passage to King’s Landing instead of returning him as a captive to Robb as per-instruction. Brienne, draped in a suitably ridiculous pink dress, was not forgiven for her supposed treason’s quite so easily, it would appear that ‘befitting’ punishment will come into being for her next sunday.

vlcsnap-2013-05-06-09h46m58s147A splendid example of production design, and a superb shot color palette.

Kings Landing was unsurprisingly the hotspot for the narrative’s political intrigue. Tyrion and Cersei collected their frustrations – not just with one another, but with their fathers indignant insistence on their marriages to be – temporarily repairing their relationship before it inevitably crumbles into mutual disdain once again. Both Headey and Dinklage came out with gratifying performances, but what pleased me most in the scene was the subtly clever matching of the shot color palette with the topic of conversation. Cersei and Tyrion both wore pieces of red clothing, green was evident in the appearance of Cersei’s chair and a golden yellow was prominent in both the Lannister’s hair colors, and in a large part of the set design. These colors are dominant features on the Lannister and Tyrell banner devices.

Aiden Gillen delivered a fittingly devious, and almost frightening monologue as Littlefinger that accentuated his characters fearsome thirst for power, position and chaos, particularly in the depicting of the metaphorical climb of the chaos ladder as being ‘all there is.’ This monologue further reinforced the pessimistic, cynical overtone of the episode through the ample use of sound bridging to a shot of a weeping Sansa, as Littlefinger mocked those who place their hopes in the illusions of love and gods.

I personally embrace this harsh line the show is taking against romanticism for the larger part, because it gives Game of Thrones a distinct style that defines it as something bolder than your typical piece of high fantasy, forsaking the corny ideas of knights in shining armor and damsels in distress, in exchange for a welcome sense of realism.


Final Rating: B+

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Game of Thrones Season 3 Review: “Valar Dohaeris”

The nearly 365 day wait for Game of Thrones season 3 has been a truly agonizing one. I blasted through the entire book series just to tide myself over but that only covered my unsettling addiction for a meager two months, since then my anticipation for season 3 has been outrageous. Albeit one concern I had with season 3 was that it wouldn’t live up to the ridiculous expectations I had laid at its feet. However Executive producers and directors David Benioff & D.B.Weiss’s sublime talents, which were exhibited in seasons 1 & 2 of the epic fantasy/drama, near enough put this concern to rest in spite of a couple of questionable deviations fmade from A Clash of Kings in season two, in regards to the situations at Harrenhall and Winterfell.  Valar Dohaeris kicked off season 3, introducing us to a handful of the new cast members and sub plots whilst also continuing on those left unfinished from the last series; would Valar Dohaeris mark a seamless return to form, or did it surface new found problems?

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Valar Dohaeris opened the gates with an unfortunately brief continuation of the Night’s Watches sub plot following the sadly un-shown battle at The Fist of the First Men where-in the survivors of the attack, with Samwell Tarly and Lord Commander Jeor Mormont amongst them, are marching back to wall following the defeat. Here the first minor deviation from the books occurs, Samwell is scolded for failing to send the ravens with message of the attack to the wall because it was his only task and a crucial one at that. I think deciding to make this deviation from the original text was wise because it reinforced Samwell’s sheer incapability when put under any pressure, showing that Samwell has yet to truly transform into a man of the Night’s Watch. The tension building in this scene through incredible camera work and sequencing from the editing crew masterfully took complete hold of my attention, a praise that strictly can’t be said for many other TV drama’s out there. Jon Snow’s induction to ranks of wildlings led by the ex-crow Mance Rayder was the next key scene on the cards. This scene certainly felt far less brief than the last, and introduced us to the immaculately detailed and fearsome CGI Giants, the equally fierce Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) and the aforementioned wildling leader Mance Rayder (Ciarán Hinds). Although their limited screen time makes it hard to call whether Hivju and Hinds have wholly grasped their respective characters, last nights performances entrusted me with confidence in the pair; both have the appearance, dialogue delivery, body language and attitudes that near perfectly reflect how the books led me to imagine them, leading me to believe the two of them have done their homework on the roles.

Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) and Charles Dance (Tywin) undoubtedly stole the show last night with their visceral back and fourth in the Tower of the Hand. Charles Dance and sterling scripting flawlessly encapsulated Tywin’s belligerent disgust of his son Tyrion, who showed monolithic restraint and exasperation thanks to the superb subtleties in Dinklage’s acting, as Tywin denounces the imp’s claim to the Lannister seat of Casterly Rock and chastises him for killing his mother on birth and bringing the whore Shae to the capital. A wealth of intrigue was uncovered at Kings Landing in Valar Dohaeris; Cersei’s paranoia began to spill through the cracks as she came to realize that the elegant Margaery Tyrell knocked her off the top of King Landing’s hottest 100 list and also managed to steal the hearts of the poor through honorable charity work, sparking the beginning of a power play between the two women that will surely spawn some brilliant scenes much like the Tyrell/Lannister dinner we saw this week. The mischievous mastermind Petyr Baelish had his moment in the spotlight as he is seen further discussing with Sansa his intentions to remove her from the capital and lead her to safety, amidst the exchange the sidelined servants Ros and Shae strike up a conversation of their own where-in Ros dishes out some subtle foreshadowing, momentarily warning the Essosian hand maiden of the danger Petyr presents to Sansa. It’s often the small moments like these in Game of Thrones that shape it into such an intelligent, refreshing and gripping example of a modern TV drama done right.

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Across the Narrow Sea the Dragon Queen Daenerys had a slew of troubles lobbed her way in the slaver city of Astapor, the hilariously condescending and crude unsullied master who churned out some of the best dialogue in the episode, turned out to be least of those problems. The Warlocks have clearly not forgotten the defiance Daenerys showed them at the House of the Undying, provoking one of the younger members of their ranks to make a narrowly unsuccessful attempt on her life, a chance denied by the sudden yet triumphant return of the legendary Ser Barristan Selmy which was accompanied by one of the series wonderful trademark orchestral tracks that always raise goosebumps without falter.

On a more critical note Robb Stark’s venture to Harrenhall and meeting with Qyburn deviated from the events in A Storm of Swords to an extent that formed discomfort in my mind and left me pondering the daring scale of any other changes that may be made in the latter half of the series. On the other hand Jamie, Brienne, Arya and Bran’s no show in Valar Dohaeris was a decent plot decision as their inclusion would have left show watchers with an unmanageable amount of information to take in and would have likely had a negative impact on the other story lines showcased this week.

Final Thoughts: Valar Dohaeris was a magnificent start to the third season of this totally unrivaled fantasy/drama series, implementing emotionally and mentally involving plot lines that are captured with creative technical prowess from everyone on the production team which  has left me with a strong faith in the episodes to come. Leave any thoughts on Valar Dohaeris or any anticipation for the rest of the series in the comment section below!

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