Every ‘Game of Thrones’ episode, recapped, rated, and ranked: Season Three

Continuing my look at Game of Thrones, we reach Season Three, which features another stunning episode, but how are the others? Read on to find out, and remember that there are many SPOILERS ahead!

Season 3, Episode 1 (21), “Valar Dohaeris” (first aired 31 March 2013). The third season begins kind of annoyingly, as Sam has escaped the White Walkers somehow and has rejoined the rest of the Night’s Watch (which include the two dudes who ran faster than he did) and he’s failed to send ravens to warn the rest of the continent. It appears some time has passed, but in the other storylines, no time has passed, and when we rejoin Sam and the gang, it also appears no time has passed. It’s weird way to begin, but it does get us back into the main threat to Westeros, and it ain’t Cersei. Jon Snow, meanwhile, finally meets Mance Rayder, and it’s Ciarán Hinds! The show has always cast really good actors, and Hinds is just another one. Plus, we meet Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju), and he’s pretty cool, so that’s all right. Mance accepts Jon easily enough, but somehow it’s not going to be that simple, is it? In King’s Landing, Tyrion remains on the outside (Charles Dance, who can make “Happy Birthday” sound nasty, delivers a devastating speech to his son laying out the new reality), but he still has his money, so he still has Bronn, but in the center of power, Margaery Tyrell is taking the Lannisters to school. She stops in the slums of the city and spends a great deal of time with war orphans, promising the matron to help and causing Joffrey (who’s in a different conveyance and has to wait for her) no end of puzzlement. Later, at dinner, she accepts the kudos from Joffrey and locks horns with Cersei, who can’t help wonder if this younger, hotter queen will usurp her place as she’s clearly trying to do. It’s working, too, as Joffrey calls his mother “old” at one point, and if looks could kill, Cersei would have murdered him right there. It’s a great scene, especially between Natalie Dormer and Lena Headey, and it sets up any number of confrontations. Davos, who got blown off of his ship during the Battle of Blackwater, turns up alive, but when he makes his way back to Dragonstone, he finds that Stannis has really gone ’round the bend in terms of his religion, burning people alive just for fun and listening to no one except Melisandre (we saw this turn briefly at the end of the second season, but it’s really taking hold now). Davos, who could have gone off with his pirate friend and had adventures, gets chucked in the dungeon for his trouble. Daenerys finally sails west, but only as far as Astapor, yet another odd eastern city that, like Qarth, is clearly modeled on “exotic” and “savage” notions of the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. George R.R. Martin and the showrunners aren’t the most enlightened bunch when it comes to these kinds of societies, so of course they’re mystical and ignorant of science (such as it is in Westeros) and they own slaves. Daenerys is interested in buying a slave army, but the more interesting part of the plot comes when she is almost killed by an agent of the weird warlocks of Qarth, because Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney) rescues her. Hey, it’s Barristan Selmy! Last seen getting fired from the King’s Guard by Joffrey, pensioned off to a farm somewhere, but unwilling to live a staid life and now tracking down Daenerys to pledge his service to her, as he was also in the personal guard of her brother and failed to keep him alive. I’m sure Jorah Mormont will be perfectly happy to have another old dude creeping on Daenerys even though she’s young enough to be his granddaughter. That will work well! All in all, a solid first episode – it gets us up to speed, and sets up new plots. It’s not a great episode, but it’s pretty good.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

Season 3, Episode 2 (22), “Dark Wings, Dark Words” (first aired 7 April 2013). Arya is back, as are Jaime and Brienne, so this automatically makes this a better episode than the premiere! Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie are trudging through the woods when they come upon the Brotherhood Without Banners, who are basically outlaws – Merry Men, if you will, with their very own Robin Hood, Thoros (Paul Kaye, who looks like he’s having a blast). Thoros doesn’t appear to mean them any harm, and he’s about to let them walk out when his men bring in good ol’ Sandor Clegane, the Hound himself, who we last saw abandoning the capital in the middle of the Battle of Blackwater and is now, apparently, roaming the countryside. Unfortunately, he recognizes Arya when she tries to walk past him (why she didn’t go the other way in the inn and then circle back around is beyond me), and that piques Thoros’s interest. Maybe he’s not such a cool dude after all! Brienne and Jaime, meanwhile, get back to bickering – well, Jaime talks a lot, trying to get under Brienne’s skin, and while he succeeds, she doesn’t respond too much, until he manages to get a sword from her and they have a pretty good fight on a bridge. That’s interrupted by a troop of soldiers led by Locke, played by Noah Taylor, who works for Roose Bolton and is therefore quite interested in Jaime. Look, Taylor is a perfectly good actor, but the way he looks in this show makes it seem like he either stepped out of a Monty Python movie or The Princess Bride. He looks too dandy for Westeros. He’s menacing, as we see in later episodes, but he still looks goofy. Bran meets Ferb Fletcher – I mean Jojen Reed, played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who voiced Ferb in Phineas and Ferb (one of the five best cartoons ever made), and while it doesn’t make Bran’s story more interesting at the moment, as least Jojen and his sister Meera (Ellie Kendrick) have potential. King’s Landing is kind of where it’s at, though, and it’s not because of Tyrion, which it usually is, it’s because of Margaery Tyrell, who is having a fun time pissing off Cersei, which I’m sure won’t lead to any trouble whatsoever. Dormer is terrific, somehow taking a wildly tense situation like Joffrey sitting casually holding a crossbow, which he could just decide to kill her with at any time because he’s, you know, crazy, and making it a seduction without sex, as she slowly takes control of the situation. She also introduces Sansa to her grandmother, and GoT went all in when they cast Motherfucking Emma Peel as Olenna. Diana Rigg is having a ball, and her scene is superb, as she puts Sansa at ease and gets her to open up about Joffrey. Intrigue galore, and things are moving along nicely.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

Season 3, Episode 3 (23), “Walk of Punishment” (first aired 14 April 2013). This episode ends with a less shocking severing than when Ned Stark ran afoul of the Lannisters, but it’s still a great moment. It comes at the end of a strong episode, one in which we begin to move forward after setting a lot of things up in the first two episodes. Brienne and Jaime are prisoners, and Jaime saves Brienne when the men take her away to rape her, telling Locke who she is and that her father is rich and will pay a lot of money for her ransom. Jaime continues to be a fascinating character, because he’s such a scumbag but then he does noble things, and Nicolaj Coster-Waldau is doing a nice job with the character now that he has something to do. Jaime tries to play the “I’m a Lannister” card, and Locke goes along with it until he, well, doesn’t. He puts Jaime down and tells him that his father isn’t around to save him this time, and that maybe he should join the real world. He then chops off his right hand. Dang, that’s cold. It’s a good way to bring Jaime down, because he is kind of a jerk and he really is always flouting the Lannister name, but dang, that’s cold. It’s a good ending, too.

Other stuff is going on, of course. Arya and Gendry leave the inn with the Brotherhood, but Hot Pie stays behind to be the cook. As of this moment, I haven’t watched the last season, but I hope they check in on Hot Pie, cooking his little heart out, happy as a clam. That’s a nice and somewhat funny moment, and so is the first scene, where Robb’s uncle Edmure (played to inept perfection by Tobias Menzies, another fine casting choice) can’t hit the boat on which his father is floating away with a flaming arrow, so Brynden “Blackfish” Tully, his uncle (played ruggedly by Clive Russell) steps in and hits the shot, setting the boat aflame. Later, it turns out Edmure attacked the Lannisters and sent them running, but Robb wanted to surprise them and deal them an even worse defeat, but now his chance has passed. I mean, ravens exist in this world, so Robb could have let Edmure know, right? Tyrion is appointed the treasurer (“Master of Coin”) by his father (after another funny scene that involves where the councilors sit) now that Petyr Baelish is off to marry Catelyn Stark’s sister, the creepy woman who still breastfeeds her far-too-old son, and he realizes how badly the crown is in debt. That doesn’t mean he can’t treat his squire to a visit to Baelish’s brothel, another lighthearted moment when it turns out Podrick (Daniel Portman), despite being a virgin, is so good in bed the three whores refuse payment. Over in the East, Daenerys pays for the large slave army by promising the slave master her biggest dragon. I’m sure that will work out fine. It’s a good episode, elevated by Jaime and Brienne’s story, and despite still setting some things up, it feels like more is going on. That’s not a bad way to do things when you have so many balls in the air!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

Season 3, Episode 4 (24), “And Now His Watch Is Ended” (first aired 21 April 2013). Man, this is a good episode. So far in the seasons, we’ve seen a bit of a slow burn until the later episodes, when everything ramps up. Season 3, so far, has been burning through plot, but not as well as it does here, as a lot happens but there are still superb scenes between great actors. In King’s Landing, Tyrion talks to Varys about getting his revenge on Cersei for trying to have him killed during the Battle of Blackwater, and Varys tells him the harrowing story of how he was castrated. He’s doing this while prying open a box, which is never a good sign, and when he finally gets it open, it’s the sorcerer who bought him when he was a child and chopped his manhood off to offer it to his god. The man is very much the worse for wear, and Varys simply says hello before getting the lid back on. I can’t even imagine the sorcerer knows who the hell he is, as it was so many years ago, but it’s a great, tense scene. Cersei, meanwhile, makes her pitch to be Tywin’s heir, and Charles Dance puts her in her place – it’s not because she’s a woman that he hasn’t done it, he says, but because she’s reckless, she turned Joffrey into a monster, and she’s not as smart as she thinks she is. Tywin is horrible, but anyone who can take Cersei down a peg now and then is all right. Margaery Tyrell and her grandmother, Motherfucking Emma Peel (yes, her name is Olenna, but she’s Motherfucking Emma Peel, for crying out loud!), decide to draw Sansa into their sphere a bit more by promising her marriage to Margaery’s brother Loras, who’s, you know, gay. But he’ll do what he has to for the family! (He’s also dumb as a bag of rocks, as we find out in later episode.) Margeary is also trying to make Joffrey less of a dick, which pisses Cersei off. How dare she try to make my son less of a dick! (It doesn’t really work, as we’ll see in subsequent episodes, but at least she’s trying!) So there’s the normal intrigue in the capital, but the show is so well-cast that every actor makes things seem a lot more terrifying than they probably are (I’m including Sophie Turner in here, because she’s gotten so much better than the simpering mean girl from Season 1). Moving north, we check in on Arya, who is taken to the Brotherhood’s cave, where she meets the real Robin Hood (I incorrectly identified Thoros as Robin Hood above, but he’s just the right-hand dude), Beric Dondarrion (the character was briefly in Season 1, but played by a different actor; now he’s played by Richard Dormer). Beric is an acolyte of the Lord of Light, which is the god of Melisandre and now Stannis, so I’m sure he’s not a crazy dude! He decides that the Hound should fight for his freedom, so that should be fun. And we check in on Jaime and Brienne, where things are not going well. Jaime is moping around, and when he falls off his horse, he grabs a sword with her left hand (his right hand is hanging around his neck, which is a great and unsettling sight gag) and tries to fight his way out, but he’s quickly brought down. Brienne tries to help him, because she’s a decent person, and it’s nice to see these two building a mutual respect for each other, even as she berates him later for wanting to die (which Gwendoline Christie delivers really well). North of the Wall, things are not going well. The ragged remains of the Night’s Watch makes it back to Craster’s homestead, where they’re still not happy that a total creep like him gets to eat while they subsist on almost nothing. There’s a rebellious attitude through the Watch anyway, and Craster’s assholeishness pushes them over the edge. In short order, Craster is dead, but even more shocking, they turn against Commander Mormont (James Cosmo, who’s playing Jorah’s father despite being only 14 years older than he is, which could work perfectly fine in a medieval world like this one but is a bit more unusual in ours) and the worst of them stabs him in the back, leaving him bleeding to death on the floor. Sam manages to find Gilly and her son and escapes with them, but his troubles are just beginning. It’s another terrific scene, because it just builds and builds, and while we could have guessed from the moment of his introduction that someone was going to kill Craster, Mormont getting it in the back is pretty surprising. Another amazing moment comes in Astapor, where Daenerys gives the slave master her biggest dragon, Drogon, and takes command of the slave army, the Unsullied (because they’ve all been castrated and haven’t sullied themselves with women, don’t you know). While the slaver desperately tries to control Drogon, who’s flying above him on a leash, Daenerys talks to the Unsullied in Valyrian, indicating that she’s understood everything the slave master has said (and he’s insulted her a lot), and boy howdy, is that not good for him. She commands the Unsullied to kill all the slave masters and then orders Drogon to fire up the barbecue on the slave master, who dies screaming and rolling around on the ground (at least he tried to stop, drop, and roll!). Daenerys basically puts the city to flame (well, at least that part of the city; when they leave it looks as if a lot of it is untouched), and she shows how bad-ass she has become (scary, but definitely a bad-ass). Season 2 in Qarth was pretty dull, but at least it showed Daenerys that she can’t rely on anyone for help, and she’s going to have to get the damned job done herself. It’s a terrific scene, and it caps an excellent episode.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Season 3, Episode 5 (25), “Kissed by Fire” (first aired 28 April 2013). Oh, Robb Stark. You take no lessons whatsoever from your father, who acted nobly in the midst of assholery and got his head chopped off for his trouble. Robb’s army is restless and unhappy, and the fact that he took two Lannister cousins hostage isn’t sitting well with his kinsman, the grumpy old Rickard Karstark (John Stahl), whose son was the guard whom Jaime strangled with his chain when he tried to escape. Karstark has a point – Catelyn is sitting around free when she basically committed treason against the king by releasing Jaime, but he makes his point in the worst way possible, by grabbing the two Lannister kids (they’re teens, which seems to make Robb think they’re not to be touched, but we’ve seen teens in the world forced to be adults, so what’s the cut-off line?) and killing them. Robb has a chance to be merciful to him, even keeping him as a hostage so the Karstarks stick around, but he decides to chop his head off. Well done, Robb! You were everyone’s hope, and now your army is disintegrating. What’s a smart ruler to do? Why, attack the Lannister’s home, Casterly Rock, and claim you need the help of Walder Frey to do it … the same unpleasant Walder Frey whose daughter you promised to marry until Talisa shook her very well designed ass at you. I’m sure your overtures to Walder Frey will work out really well! The big news north of the Wall is that Jon Snow and Ygritte finally get it on, and while Jon Snow knows “nothing,” according to Ygritte, he knows how to perform oral sex, much to her delight and awe. So just shut it, Ygritte! I’m also sure this will work out well – romance always does on this show! In King’s Landing, Tywin drops a nice bombshell when he finds out that the Tyrells are planning to marry off Sansa to Loras: Tyrion will marry Sansa. Tyrion thinks this is the worst idea, which it probably is, but the best part of the scene comes when Cersei, who’s been enjoying Tyrion’s distress, finds out that Tywin is ordering her to marry Loras. Suck on it, Cersei! It’s another great scene with Charles Dance, Peter Dinklage, and Lena Headey, and it’s so clear that Tywin is a complete bastard (a competent and efficient bastard, but still) that I’m amazed all his children haven’t ganged up on him yet. The Hound fights Beric Dondarrion and kills him, but Thoros brings him back to life … for the sixth time. The Hound is free, though, because he won the trial by combat. Arya is peeved, but she has to live with it. Stannis makes an appearance – Melisandre left him to find other Baratheon blood, so he doesn’t have much to do, which means it’s the perfect time to visit his crazy wife! Tara Fitzgerald, whom I hadn’t seen in years but is a fine actor, plays Selyse as, well, nutty – she keeps the dead fetuses of her stillborn sons in jars, which, okay, and is totes cool with Stannis banging Melisandre. Fitzgerald’s time on screen is brief, but she really does well to make Selyse absolutely batshit but also sympathetic, as she just wanted to bear a healthy son. Stephen Dillane has done a good job with a dull character (Stannis), but he really works well here, showing the weariness and sadness in Stannis as he contemplates his wife and talks to his daughter, who’s afflicted with some sort of skin disease and is therefore shut away. Daenerys doesn’t do much this episode, but we get to meet Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), the leader of the Unsullied, and Jorah Mormont and Barristan Selmy have a little rivalry going on, so that’s all right. The best moments in the episode, though, are when Jaime and Brienne share a bath. They’ve been brought to Roose Bolton’s place (is he at Harrenhal, I think?), and he’s treated them as well as prisoners should expect. Brienne is bathing when Jaime comes in and gets in the same giant pit as she, which makes her cringe away until he insults her, when she stands up and confronts him in all her naked glory (we see her from the back and from the top of her chest up – Gwendoline Christie obviously has a “no tits” clause in her contract). They both settle down and Jaime tells her the story of how he killed the Mad King, and it’s devastating. He tried to serve honorably, but Aerys wanted to burn the entire city down with Wildfire, and he wouldn’t have stopped, so Jaime had to kill him. For his actions, he was shamed by Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark, even though he saved thousands of lives. Jaime has been brought low, and so he can tell her the true story, one which before he had no need to tell because he didn’t care what people thought of him – he’s a Lannister and was the best swordsman in the country, so who cares what they think? But now he’s been humbled, and he feels like he needs to confess. He collapses, and Brienne takes him in her arms (not in a sexual way), because she’s seen his humanity and knows the sacrifice he made. It’s a superb scene, and it’s the highlight of a terrific episode.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Season 3, Episode 6 (26), “The Climb” (first aired 5 May 2013). After two really intense episodes, we ease back a bit in this one, giving us a slightly more sedate time, but which still manages to give us some great moments. “The Climb” refers to the Wildlings, along with Jon Snow, climbing the Wall (for, really, some unspecified mission – if they’re supposed to be spying on the Night’s Watch, next episode they’re really out of their way), but it also refers to another of those great speeches that a character gives, this time by Petyr Baelish, a.k.a. Littlefinger. He and Varys discuss what’s been happening in the capital and the kingdoms at the end of the episode, looking back on the chaotic times they’ve been living in. Varys believes the chaos is bad, but Littlefinger, who has been admiring the Iron Throne, tells him, “Chaos is a ladder.” It’s a cool line, and it fits Baelish to a tee. A few episodes ago, Varys said he didn’t trust Littlefinger because he’d burn the kingdoms down if he could rule the ashes. His fears are confirmed here, especially when Baelish tells him that Varys’s spy in his camp will no longer be working for him. Varys had turned Ros, the prostitute who came down from Winterfell and became Littlefinger’s business manager, but she decided that Varys would be a better compatriot than Baelish. Unfortunately for her, Littlefinger discovered her betrayal, and as he tells Varys this, we cut to Joffrey in his bedroom, lovingly stroking his crossbow, and we pan across to Ros, pinned the bed frame by several arrows, looking almost Christ-like (it’s not in the video below because the naughty bits had to be excised so it could go up on YouTube). Esmé Bianco, who played Ros, always did a good job with her coquettishness and her sneaky intelligence, but the writers (she was invented for the show, so Martin had nothing to do with her) never seemed to know what to do with her, and now she’s dead. Meanwhile, the wedding plans for the Lannister kids continue apace, but before that can move forward, the writers put Motherfucking Emma Peel and Charles Dance in a room together and let them go at each other with poisonous, honeyed words. The scene where Olenna argues that Loras shouldn’t marry Cersei is wonderful, full of venom, and while Tywin gets his way, Olenna inflicts some serious wounds. No other scene is quite as good, but the story moves forward nicely. Melisandre arrives at the Brotherhood’s camp, looking for Gendry because he has Baratheon blood. Instead of standing up for their new brother, Beric and Thoros sell Gendry to Melisandre, which pisses Arya off to no end. Melisandre knows there’s something weird about Arya, but that will have to wait! After their emotional scene last episode, Jaime and Brienne dine with Roose Bolton, who tells them he’s sending Jaime back to the capital as long as he swears to tell Tywin how well Bolton treated him. Hey, he’s still fighting for Robb, but it couldn’t hurt to be on Tywin’s good side, could it? Unfortunately, he says that Brienne is staying at Harrenhal, which doesn’t make either of them happy. Speaking of Robb, he manages to get Walder Frey’s sons to the table, and they lay down some serious conditions for getting Frey back on Robb’s side, including marrying Robb’s uncle, Edmure, off to one of Frey’s daughters. Yeah, I’m sure that will go well. So it’s a good episode, but not quite as good as the two that precede it.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

Season 3, Episode 7 (27), “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” (first aired 12 May 2013). I haven’t been writing too much about Bran and Theon, because their stories are kind of boring, but they both get some screen time in this episode, and both are slightly more interesting than they’ve been. Osha gets to tell them about her lover, who was turned into a White Walker, and how she was forced to kill him. Jojen is telling Bran they have to go north of the Wall, and Osha thinks that’s a really bad idea, because of all the zombies. She still wants to go to Castle Black, even though Ferb Fletcher tells them Jon Snow isn’t there. Hodor (Kristian Nairn) offers some good advice: “Hodor” (it’s all he ever says). Meanwhile, Theon gets taken off his cross by two hot girls who strip and begin to sex him up, just in time for his torturer (who hasn’t been named yet, but is obviously Roose Bolton’s bastard son – there was some confusion about this on the internet back in the day, but Roose Bolton told Robb he’d send his son to Winterfell, so what’s the confusion) to show up, laugh at him, and castrate him. Oh, Theon! Robb is heading to Walder Frey’s castle for his uncle’s wedding, but the big news is that Talisa’s pregnant, which I’m sure, as usual, means that those two crazy kids will get a happy ending. Stupid Robb. In King’s Landing, Tywin talks to Joffrey, and as usual, Charles Dance is terrific. Joffrey whines about being kept out of the loop, and Tywin dresses him down without ever becoming disrespectful, and even when he does just a little, Joffrey’s too stupid or worked up to notice. Tyrion is still in a pickle because of his marriage, and while Bronn thinks it’s great that he gets to bang a teenager (it’s unclear how old Sansa is supposed to be; she just got her period, so she could be as young as 12, but she’s clearly not, and Sophie Turner was probably 16 when the scenes were filmed, which is still young, but not really in a medieval world like this), Shae isn’t happy. Unfortunately, Shae doesn’t really have much say in this, and if she were smart, she’d take a giant sum of money from Tyrion and get the hell out of Dodge, especially because I can’t believe she hasn’t heard about what happened to Ros last episode. Shae seems smart, but in this case, it feels like the writers are forcing her to be stupid. Out east, Daenerys continues to show her bad-ass side, as she meets with a representative of the next city in her way (Yunkai) and demands that he free all the slaves in the city. He doesn’t, of course, and that’s going to be a problem for Daenerys (interestingly enough, Tywin Lannister seems to know more than he should about her dragons; how’d he get the information?). Arya decides to ditch the Brotherhood because they sold Gendry, and she runs right into the arms of the Hound, who’s lurking not far from the Brotherhood’s cave. I’m sure that pairing will go well. The best moments of the episode came from Jaime and Brienne, naturally. Jaime leaves Harrenhal to head south, but Brienne stays behind, and with Roose Bolton also leaving, she’s stuck with Locke, who wants to torture her. Jaime realizes he needs to go back, so he convinces his escort to take him, where they find Brienne in a pit … FIGHTING A BEAR!!!!! The titles of the episodes aren’t always this literal – we already know there’s a song named “The Bear and the Maiden Fair,” but Locke makes it literal, which is fun. Brienne is about to get killed when Jaime jumps into the pit and manages to distract it long enough for them both to escape. It’s a fairly tense scene, but once again, it shows that Jaime, for all his douchiness, has some kind of moral code, and he faces down Locke and his cronies long enough for them both to leave. It’s a cool scene that wraps up a decent episode. (This is also only the second episode of the series, after “Lord Snow,” in which there are no deaths. So that’s something.)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

Season 3, Episode 8 (28), “Second Sons” (first aired 19 May 2013). The big event in this episode is Tyrion and Sansa’s wedding, which doesn’t go particularly well. I mean, they get married, but neither is happy about it, and Tyrion drinks too much at the reception, so when Joffrey tries to humiliate them both again (he took Tyrion’s footstool away during the ceremony, so when Tyrion is supposed to put his cloak around Sansa’s shoulders, he couldn’t reach and she had to kneel) by insisting they head to the bedding chamber, Tyrion stabs the table pointedly and tells Joffrey if he tries anything, he (Tyrion) will cut off his dick. Luckily, Tywin tells Joffrey that Tyrion has had a bit too much to drink and Tyrion wisely backpedals, but it’s still a cool moment. Tyrion doesn’t have sex with Sansa (as I mentioned, Sophie Turner was 16 when this was filmed, but in the show, she tells Tyrion she’s 14), because he’s not a monster, but it’s still not looking like a happy marriage is in either of their futures. Before the ceremony, Cersei lays down the law to Margaery, telling her about the song “The Rains of Castamere” and how it’s about a family that wanted to unseat the Lannisters as the most powerful in the kingdoms but Tywin laid waste to them, killing pretty much everyone in the family. Margaery knows Cersei hates her and will kill her at the earliest convenience, yet she doesn’t immediately take her own steps to kill Cersei. That’s probably a mistake. Over in Crazy Religious Town, Stannis visits Davos in prison (who’s learning to read thanks to Stannis’s daughter, who likes Davos) and tells him that he plans to sacrifice Gendry, and Davos tells him he knows it’s a mistake or he wouldn’t have sought him, Davos, out. It’s a nice little scene, and Stephen Dillane really does a good job with Stannis, who could be such a boring character. Later, we find out that they’re not actually sacrificing Gendry, they’re just leeching some of his blood out (after Melisandre gets him nice and excited, she puts a leech right on his presumably rigid dick, which can’t be fun), and Stannis burns the leeches, naming Robb Stark, Balon Greyjoy, and Joffrey Baratheon (he does call him that, which is weird considering he knows Joffrey isn’t a Baratheon) as his victims. So while Stannis and Melisandre are fanatics, they’re not quite beyond redemption yet. We get a brief scene with Arya and the Hound, in which he tells her he’s taking her to the Twins and her brother and mother, not to King’s Landing as she expected. He wants money for her, but at least he’s not completely evil! Out east, Daenerys faces the three leaders of the mercenary army hired by Yunkai to fight her, and while two of them make crude jokes about her, the third, Daario (this is Ed Skrein, but we’ll call him Original Recipe Daario, as Skrein didn’t last long on the show), seems fascinated and smitten with her. He’s tasked to sneak into her tent and kill her, and he does sneak in, but only to present her with the heads of the other two dudes and a pledge of loyalty to her. So that’s nice. The end of the episode is important, though, as Sam and Gilly find a ruined hut to sleep in for the night, but they’re interrupted by the White Walker that Sam saw at the end of Season 2, and when it destroys his sword, he stabs it with the obsidian knife he found in the snow, which shatters it. Hey, that’s handy! So now we know there’s something besides fire that can kill the White Walkers. Let’s hope Sam survives to tell someone!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

Season 3, Episode 9 (29), “The Rains of Castamere” (first aired 2 June 2013). The “Red Wedding” overshadows the rest of this superb episode, but there’s some excellent stuff before, it, too. In Essos, Daenerys decides to trust Daario when he tells her his plan to get into Yunkai, and it goes off … not without a hitch, exactly, as there are more guards than he said, but he, Jorah, and Grey Worm kill a lot of guards and the slaves in the city lay down their arms. We don’t see the sacking of the city, but presumably it’s started when the three men get back to Daenerys’s tent. In the North, Bran and his gang hide out in the same windmill that Jon Snow passed a few episodes ago, as it’s raining and getting dark. Meanwhile, the Wildlings want to steal horses from some old dude, and they plan to kill him as well, but Jon bangs his sword on a rock to warn him, and he rides away. They chase him … to the windmill! They catch him there and one of the Wildlings wants Jon to kill him, which leads Jon to … not doing it. Ygritte shoots him with an arrow, but it’s too late – they know Jon isn’t really one of them. He kills several of them, including the suspicious Wildling dude who was putting the moves on Ygritte earlier. That dude is a warg, and right before he dies, he goes into a bird, which attacks Jon briefly. Is the dude really dead, or is he trapped inside the bird? Bran is also a warg, but a far more powerful one – he enters Hodor to shut him up so the Wildlings don’t find him, and no warg has ever possessed a person before. He also goes into his wolf, which attacks the Wildlings to help Jon out, so Bran realizes that Jon was down there, but did Jon notice whose wolf it was? Beats me. He finally makes it to a horse and rides away, leaving Ygritte both heartbroken and extremely pissed – Rose Leslie’s face as she watches him leave is excellent. The focus of the episode is the marriage of Edmure Tully to one of Walder Frey’s daughters, of course (and hey, it turns out she’s the one hot one!). First, Arya and the Hound make it to the Twins, and even though the Hound is still being kind of nice to her, she still tells him she’s going to shove a sword into his brain. Not cool, Arya. Then the wedding begins, and boy howdy, does it go south quickly. Walder Frey never forgave Robb, so after sending Edmure and his wife off to the bedding chamber, his soldiers lock the doors and, well, the slaughter begins. Catelyn realizes it when the band starts playing “The Rains of Castamere,” which is definitely not a wedding song, and then she sees that Roose Bolton, who finally reveals himself as a traitor, is wearing armor. She tries to warn Robb, but it’s too late. First the Frey soldiers stab Talisa right in the stomach, then they fire several crossbow bolts into Robb and Catelyn, while the soldiers slit the throats of all the Stark men. Outside, the Hound and Arya arrive at the castle, and Arya slips inside. She sees Stark men sitting around right by the cage where Robb’s wolf is hanging out, and she’s just about to stand up when the Frey men come in and kill everyone, including the wolf. She starts to run inside but the Hound grabs her and tells her it’s too late. Inside, Robb manages to get to Talisa, who’s already dead, and Catelyn manages to grab Walder Frey’s young wife and hold a knife to her throat, attempting to bargain. Walder Frey, cold as ice, says he can easily get a new wife, and Roose Bolton walks up to Robb, tells him the Lannisters send their regards, and stabs him through the heart. Catelyn gives a wail of pain (in her last episode, Michelle Fairley does a superb job), cuts the girl’s throat, and waits a few seconds until a soldier walks up behind her and slits her throat. Cut to black. Holy shit! It was already shaping up to be a good episode, but the wedding really pushed it over to top. Robb, like his father, is too stupidly noble to live – he actually thinks Walder Frey won’t hold a grudge. Despite Ned Stark’s death, watchers might have thought that since he had an adult son, “good” might actually triumph. This cuts that down right quick. The Starks have been reduced to a boy who can’t walk, a young boy who could be killed at any time (Osha is going to take Rickon to a safe place while Bran goes north of the wall, but who knows if he’ll even make it there), a girl who seems to be able to take care of herself but is still young and is now in the hands of the Hound with nowhere to go, and a girl who’s married into the family that has butchered everyone she loves. Not good, Starks! This isn’t quite as good as “The Battle of Blackwater,” because Robb, Talisa, and Catelyn were just so stupid, but it’s close!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Season 3, Episode 10 (30), “Mhysa” (first aired 9 June 2013). This is one of the weaker episodes of the series, unfortunately, and after the stellar Season 3, it’s a bit of a disappointment. There’s some cool stuff, to be sure, but like all season finales, it reacts to events and sets others up, but it’s far less intense than you might expect after the “Red Wedding.” There are some great scenes early in the episode, in King’s Landing – during a meeting of the Small Council, Tyrion gets words that Robb Stark is dead, and Joffrey is just a bit too gleeful about it. Tyrion tells him what a stupid move it was, and Joffrey, naturally, freaks out. Tywin steps in, and that’s when Joffrey goes too far – he insults Tywin, claiming “his father” (Robert Baratheon – Joffrey doesn’t have many redeeming qualities, but his devotion to the man who wasn’t his father is one of them) fought the real war, while Tywin cowered in his castle. Charles Dance could probably murder someone with the glare he gives Joffrey, and we can see it takes all of Tywin’s restraint to stop himself from reaching out and strangling the little shit right there until Cersei, wisely, hustles him out of there. Later, Tyrion confronts Tywin about his rigidity about the family and asks him when he’s ever done something against the family but in line with his wishes. Tywin tells him that when Tyrion was born, the correct thing to do for the family would have been to kill him, but Tywin didn’t because Tyrion is his son, and a Lannister. It’s a terrific sequence, because it shows both how monstrous Tywin is, that he could even consider killing his own baby, but also how he has a little humanity, because he has actually covered for Tyrion all these years, even as he hates his own son. The rest of the episode doesn’t quite measure up. A lot happens, but it’s fairly piece-moving, which is too bad. Tyrion and Sansa have some nice moments at the beginning, but it’s just a set-up for later, when he goes to tell her about the Red Wedding and she already knows. She’s staring out the window, and she just looks at him, and he realizes that she’ll never trust him again. It’s not a bad moment. Varys implores Shae to leave the capital and even gives her diamonds to live on, but she rejects it. Why Varys doesn’t bring up Ros, who has been utterly forgotten, it seems, is beyond me, but the showrunners are very clearly setting up a bad end for Shae. Walder Frey and Roose Bolton discuss the new state of affairs, which allows Roose to segue to his bastard son, whose name we finally learn is Ramsey (Iwan Rheon), and his torture of Theon. We get one quick scene with them, which is fine, because it’s such an unpleasant little story. Arya gets to kill a Frey soldier who claims he helped put Robb’s wolf’s head on Robb’s body (we see this early in the episode, and it’s as awful as you might expect), and the Hound kills his companions. Ygritte tracks down Jon Snow and shoots him with three arrows, but he still manages to escape and he later reaches Castle Black. Jaime makes it back to King’s Landing, but his reunion with Cersei is cut short when the camera cuts away. Balon Greyjoy and his daughter, Yara, show up, only to receive Theon’s dick in a box, which is blackly humorous. Yara is going to rescue Theon, which is nice. Davos decides to help Gendry escape from Dragonstone, and while Stannis wants to execute him for it, Melisandre says they need him, because they’ve received a message from the Wall telling them all about the White Walkers. I love when the stories intersect, no matter how briefly, so at the Wall, Sam and Gilly meet Bran and his gang, and Sam tells them what he’s seen and tries to convince them to turn back. They don’t, of course, and head north, while Sam goes back to Castle Black, sends a bunch of ravens, and meets Jon when he finally gets back. Meanwhile, in the East, Daenerys has freed all the slaves in Yunkai, and they’re very appreciative, crowd-surfing her around for a bit and calling her “Mhysa,” which means “Mother.” There’s the faintest tinge of “white savior” going on, which is unfortunate, but what are you going to do? It’s not, as I noted, a terrible episode, but it’s kind of dull, even though it’s also necessary to get all the pieces in place after the status-quo-shattering penultimate episode. On to Season 4!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Let’s get to the lists!

Ranking of Season 3 Episodes:

1. “The Rains of Castamere”
2. “And Now His Watch Has Ended”
3. “Kissed by Fire”
4. “Walk of Punishment”
5. “Dark Wings, Dark Words”
6. “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”
7. “The Climb”
8. “Second Sons”
9. “Valar Dohaeris”
10. “Mhysa”

Average Rating: 7.35/10 stars
Median Rating: 7.25/10 stars

Here are the all the episodes ranked, so far:

1. “Blackwater” (S2E9)
2. “The Rains of Castamere” (S3E9)
3. “And Now His Watch Is Ended” (S3E4)
4. “Baelor” (S1E9)
5. “Kissed by Fire” (S3E5)
6. “Fire and Blood” (S1E10)
7. “The Wolf and the Lion” (S1E5)
8. “A Golden Crown” (S1E6)
9. “Walk of Punishment” (S3E3)
10. “Dark Wings, Dark Words” (S3E2)
11. “A Man Without Honor” (S2E7)
12. “The Old Gods and the New” (S2E6)
13. “Lord Snow” (S1E3)
14. “You Win or You Die” (S1E7)
15. “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” (S3E7)
16. “The Climb” (S3E6)
17. “Second Sons” (S3E8)
18. “Valar Morghulis” (S2E10)
19. “What Is Dead May Never Die” (S2E3)
20. “The Kingsroad” (S1E2)
21. “Garden of Bones” (S2E4)
22. “The Ghost of Harrenhal” (S2E5)
23. “The Pointy End” (S1E8)
24. “Valar Dohaeris” (S3E1)
25. “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things” (S1E4)
26. “The Prince of Winterfell” (S2E8)
27. “Winter Is Coming” (S1E1)
28. “The Night Lands” (S2E2)
29. “Mhysa” (S3E10)
30. “The North Remembers” (S2E1)

Average Rating for Season 1: 7.1/10 stars
Average Rating for Season 2: 6.9/10 stars
Average Rating for Season 3. 7.35/10 stars

Median Rating for Season 1: 7.25/10 stars
Median Rating for Season 2: 7/10 stars
Median Rating for Season 3: 7.25/10 stars

We’re off to Season 4!

2 Comments

  1. Jeff Nettleton

    Until you wrote the name Tara Fitzgerald, it hadn’t dawned on me who Selyse was; I hadn’t paid that close attention to the credits; but there was something oddly familiar about her. As soon as I read the name, it hit me: Brassed Off! Saw that in theaters, with her playing Ewan McGregor’s teen romance, come back to town. Then, she was in The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill (and Came Down a Mountain). Completely missed it, watching the show! I had kind of wondered what she had been doing, the last time I watched Brassed Off (great film, incorrectly marketed as a comedy, with a terrific Northern cast).

    Natalie Dormer was quite the little schemer; first she tries wooing Captain America and now a king. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

    The only thing that could have topped Emma Motherfucking Peel, would have John By God Steed; but, alas, Patrick MacNee was no longer with us. Should have introduced Honor Blackman, Linda Thorson and Joanna Lumley as Olenna’s sisters; just for the sheer fun of it!

    Ciaran Hinds I first noticed in Prime Suspect 3 (though i hadn’t realized I had already seen him, in Excalibur), where he plays a real scumbag, which has always colored everything I have seen him in, since. He played a man running a youth advice center, a haven for kids on the street, which is at the center of a pedofile ring and the murder of a “rent boy.” It’s a really dark series, without much justice to be had and Hinds was terrific in it. Then, I saw him, next, as the doomed brian DuBois Gilbert, in Ivanhoe, which he played wonderfully, capturing both the evil bastard side and the doomed lover side, equally.

    Old Blackfish was one who sent me searching on IMDB to remember I had seen him in Spaced, with Simon Pegg, as a comic book publisher.

    Have to agree with the Esteros societies (Dorn, as well). The Middle East and North Africa were far more advanced in math and sciences than most of Europe, in the Middle Ages, and never get their due.

    Yeah for Tormund, who gets some of the best lines in the show, especially when he first claps eyes on Brienne. I know a lot of people were ticked off about the last season; but, the thing that really ticked me off is Tormund getting blown off. Considering how Brienne was treated by other men, you’d think she would have realized that tormund was the first person to express an attraction to her for who she is. They could have had some great scenes, by the end; but, the show runners really dropped the ball on that one, so they could have Gwendoline Christie crying like a teenage schoolgirl who’s been two-timed by the captain of the football team.

    The bit about Pod and the “ladies of negotiable affection” was just awesome. The best part is Tyrion and Bronn wrapping their heads around the fact that said ladies waved their fee.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Jeff: I enjoy both Brassed Off and The Englishman Who Went … et al, so I was happy to see Tara Fitzgerald, too.

      Introducing Olenna’s sisters, even just as a cameo, would have been really fun.

      I still haven’t seen Spaced. I know I should, because I’ve never heard a bad thing about it!

      I get why they went the way they did with Brienne, but I agree that she and Tormund would have been good. I don’t mind that Tormund doesn’t get as much to do in the final season; events down in King’s Landing aren’t his fight, so what the hell does he care?

      Yeah, the show could be really funny, and the bit with Podrick just proves it.

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