On Sunday night, HBO’s most popular series “Game of Thrones” returned for a third season after months of promotion by HBO and high expectations from fans. While the premiere had few surprises, it did not fail to impress with high-quality graphics and effects as well as dramatic dialogue scenes stealing the show.
As expected, the episode, titled “Valar Dohaeris,” was primarily expository. If you compare this episode to others, it is obvious that not much actually happens in terms of moving the plot along. Fans did not get anything truly new (aside from a few characters being introduced). This is not actually a bad thing. With a show like “Game of Thrones,” where there are 100 characters and plotlines to memorize, an expository episode was definitely required. Most of the characters were shown and the episode gives viewers a chance to catch up on what was happening at the end of season two.
Warning: a few spoilers are to follow, but they are not too bad.
The episode starts out literally right where the season two finale left out, with Sam (John Bradley) running away after his encounter with the White Walker. While the continuity was nice to see, the way this scene played out was a little disappointing. It is not shown how Sam managed to escape from hundreds of white walkers that were basically swarming him at the end of season two; the lack of explanation was a bit frustrating.
The episode moves on to show Jon (Kit Harington), who we last saw with the wildlings. He is now prepared to meet Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds) “the king beyond the wall.” Both Mance and at least one other recurring character are introduced in Jon’s part.
Next the episode moved on to King’s Landing, where the city is still recouping from the Battle of Blackwater Bay, as seen in episode nine of season two. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), who held the position of hand of the king last season, has now been demoted to essentially a nobody. One of the best scenes of the episode comes when Tyrion confronts his father, Tywin. It is entirely a scene of dialogue, but the conversation is very powerful and shows the contention in the father-son relationship.
Elsewhere in King’s Landing, Margaery Tyrell is settling in and may already be rubbing her future mother-in-law, Queen Cersei (Lena Headey), the wrong way. It appears Margaery is being set up to be a fan favorite, at the opposite side of the spectrum from her newly-betrothed Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). How the relationship between the two will develop remains to be seen.
Stannis (Stephen Dillane) and his men were severely damaged by Blackwater. The episode shows the pieces of that storyline slowly being placed back together. Davos (Liam Cunningham) may be heading into trouble and soon Stannis will need to decide his next move.
Daenerys’s (Emilia Clarke) storyline may have progressed the most during the episode. We get to see more of the dragons (the CGI is amazing) and Dany begins to make some moves to speed along her mission to take the Iron Throne. The last scene of the episode belongs to Daenerys, one of the most exciting of the episode. It leaves viewers with at least a little bit of heart-pumping action before the hour is over.
No less than four major plotlines were completely ignored during the episode. There was no update on Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), no word on Arya (Maisie Williams), Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), or Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen). This was a little disappointing, but it also would have been a lot to cram into one episode had those characters also been shown.
The episode did its job as the first episode of the season. It set the stage for what is to come. In comparison to other episodes from the previous two seasons, this is definitely not the best one, but it was also a required one. The next two episodes will be more telling of how season three will actually play out. But so far, with the high-quality of the first two seasons being continued in this first episode (in terms of both dialogue and visuals) viewers are not likely to be disappointed.