This review contains mild spoilers.
Winter is coming. It’s not just the family motto of the Stark family, but an indication that all the players in the Game Of Thrones will face dark times. David Benioff and D. B. Weiss’ television adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy novel series takes risks like no other show on television, going against convention and filling it with an air of unpredictability. Anything can happen, no character is safe.
The first season of Game Of Thrones, was unlike anything on television. It had an epic majesty, a sweeping scope that introduced many characters – some noble, some not. The shocking ending of that season was the death of Sean Bean’s Eddard Stark. The story for Game Of Thrones could have gone anywhere and…what we got was a somewhat stodgy second season that didn’t really further the plot or the characters. There were a few stand-out episodes, but the season lacked focus. Season Three picks up the pace and returns the show to its rightful place as one of the best shows on television (if not all time).
Series three sees Robb Stark (Richard Madden) continue his war against the Lannisters. The Stark family is splintered across the lands, while the Lannisters – save for Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) – are holed-up in King’s Landing. Stark is close to defeating Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), but his success will be short-lived. A Lannister always pays his debts. That’s just the broad stokes of the season’s plot. The plot of Game of Thrones is so fine-tuned, so nuanced that it almost can’t be summarised. Each scene usually builds to something else – everything is intertwined.
Benioff and Weiss know how to develop character. They duo seem to be hell-bent on sidelining characters who would be leads in traditional shows, instead opting to put the focus on those who would normally be left to support. Game Of Thrones may be an ensemble series, but Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion Lannister is the star of the piece. Maisie Williams is also a stand-out as Arya Stark, the youngest daughter of Eddard, who appears to be the only member of the family to have truly interested his noble fearlessness. Season two saw the evil Nikolaj Coster-Waldau reduced to nothing more than spitting out sarcastic comments; however his character develops at such a rate in this season that he gains well earned audience empathy. Jack Gleason’s King Joffrey continues to snivel and sneer, and it will be an uplifting (yet sad) day, if and when he gets his comeuppance.
Emilia Clarke’ Daenerys ‘Mother of Dragons’ Targaryen continues building her army, with the help of Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), but it feels like she needs to start moving a bit faster. Sure, Moses may have wandered around the desert for 40 years, but he didn’t have a Zen-like demeanour or a will they/won’t they sexual tension with his right hand man. I had a fear that the introduction of Daenerys’ dragons may lead the show over the cusp of its Shakespearean drama into Lord Of The Rings style CGI fantasy, but things have been kept low-key. This plot is gaining momentum and it looks like things could potentially get a lot hotter around Kings Landing in Season Four – and that’s not just because Jamie has finally been reunited with his sister Queen Cersei (Lena Headey). What will daddy say?
As a novelist and short story writer, David Benioff has flourished at writing about outsiders, with a sense of impending doom, and Game Of Thrones is great for this. Everyone is an outsider. Everyone is looking for an unachievable happiness, but they don’t care about the consequences and that is why most of them will probably come to a gloomy end.
Top class production values, strong acting and glorious scriptwriting means that Game Of Thrones Season Three is pretty much flawless television. You’d be a fool to miss it, but be warned – winter is coming…
Game Of Thrones Season Three is now available on blinkbox.