Mother of Dragons!
A Game of Thrones Recap
By: Dan Shorr
BEYOND THE WALL:
Samwell Tarly – not an athlete. As Game of Thrones opens it’s third season, the least valuable raven courier of the Night’s Watch is hustling through the snow and sharp winds, desperately trotting along in what Tywin Lannister would describe as a speedy waddle. Somehow, despite his clumsy jog, Sam has managed to escape from the massive horde of Whitewalkers that surrounded him at the close of last season. You would think that the 300 pound whimpering human running at 2 miles an hour would get noticed by one of the thousands of zombies roaming about, but apparently not.
Sam avoids a heart attack and takes a much-needed breather before encountering a decapitated corpse and an axe-wielding zombie – far from an encouraging pit stop. Luckily, Sam is rescued by his fellow Night’s Watch brothers, with the majority of the credit going to Jon Snow’s estranged dire-wolf, Summer. However, this is by no means a joyful reunion. Because Sam was apparently too busy working on his cardio to send raven notifications (“that was your job, your only job!”), the haggard group of Night’s Watchmen now plan on retreating back to the Wall to warn the others about the impending invasion. With blood splattered about his bald head, Lord Commander Mormont offers a cheery prediction “we have to warn them, or before winter’s done, everyone you’ve ever known will be dead”. CUE MONTAGE OF POP-UP CASTLES.
Jon Snow, you should have known better than to show up wearing the wrong colors. Obviously you are going to get heckled and pelted with charcoal. Because we were treated to an ice zombie in the cold open, our good friends at Game of Thrones decided they might as well top it with a giant, a GoT first, in the second scene. The giant’s appearance was brief, but it served as a clear reminder that this show is now firmly grounded in the super natural – if the presence of dragons and shadow demons didn’t already give that away.
Jon smartly decides against a formal introduction with the hammer-fisted giant and is escorted by his ginger captor into a dark and uninviting tent. Considering the way the giant went after that wooden post, I’m curious as to why no one has enlisted him to enact a more King-like structure for the Wildling leader. You know douchey-King Joffrey wouldn’t settle for that nonsense.
After mistakenly identifying Tormund Giantsbane, a legendary Wildling warrior, as the King Beyond the Wall, Jon Snow meets the real King – Mance Rayder – who reasonably wants to know why Jon is looking to switch sides. “I want to fight for the side that fights for the living” Jon says convincingly. Mance looks at his scruffy inner circle and – no vote needed! Welcome to the team. Props to Jon Snow for pulling off the honorable scheme; he certainly isn’t genuine in his support for Mance and the Wildlings, but what he said about his heroic motivation is truthful.
A Game of Thrones season premiere without random nudity and brothel banter? Yeah, right. “Don’t you want to leave some things to the imagination?”… says the topless prostitute moments before newly Knighted Ser Bronn begins to strip off her undergarments with his teeth. Unfortunately, Westeros’ 1,028,475th call-girl doesn’t get a chance to add to Game of Thrones’ rich lineage of prostitute theatrics as Tyrion’s squire, Pod, interrupts the would-be lovebirds. Pod brings urgent tidings from Tyrion and requests that Bronn immediately come with him.
A paranoid and secluded Tyrion is on his Howard Hughes grind, opting for an axe instead of an unsightly growth of fingernails as his weapon of choice. He hears a knock at his door and finds his sister, Cercei, paying him a surprise visit. He is reasonably nervous – it was one of her paid men that attempted to kill Tyrion in the Battle of the Blackwater, the resulting attack having left him disfigured although, as Cercei remarks, “they said you lost your nose, it’s not as gruesome as I’d imagined.” Nice in-joke for the fans, GoT producers. In the books, Tyrion loses most of his nose and his wound is drastically more pronounced. Opting against having to use CGI for every single one of Tyrion’s scenes, the Game of Thrones team went for a more cost effective approach. Saving money for dragons is totally fine by me.
Cercei mocks Tyrion who in turn fires back with an unsightly comparison that references Grand Maester Pycelle’s testicles – crude, yet effective. It seems Tyrion has a one-on-one with his father coming up and Cercei is worried her Imp brother will attempt to stir up trouble for her. Can’t imagine why.
Outside of Tyrion’s apartment, Bronn almost gets into a fight with Cercei’s guards who appear to have taken their stylistic cues from Shredder and Magneto. Instead, he goes for a pleasant stroll with his old pal Tyrion who eventually offers to put Bronn back on his payroll with a doubled salary. Good to see this dynamic duo back in cahoots.
Well look who survived the Battle of the Blackwater after all. Davos Seaworth, Stannis Baratheon’s supposed Hand of the King, is alive – but miserably stranded on a tiny rock island. Despite his apparent immunity to green fireballs he appears to be quite vulnerable to sunburn. Go figure. The splotchy Onion Knight sees a nearby ship and does the most sensible thing he can think of to get noticed: he strips off his shirt and shows some skin. What a shame that the boat rescues him right away; Davos is deprived the opportunity to befriend a volleyball, escape via porta-potty sailboat and return home to find his fiancé married to his dentist (who didn’t even take care of his rotting tooth in the first place!).
After narrowly passing the “which King do you serve” test, Davos learns from his pirate friend Salladhor Saan that Stannis is in seclusion on his island, Dragonstone (new location alert!), and has been burning people alive. Thinking that sounds like a fun destination, Davos demands travel accommodations.
Poor Robb Stark, no one ever said this “war” thing was going to be easy. Let the hundreds of dead Northern soldiers serve as evidence to that sentiment as well as the menacing glares from the King of the North’s lieutenants. This quick scene gave us two brief, but notable set-ups. First, Roose Bolton (last season, he was the one that sent his bastard son to deal with Theon Greyjoy, a development we have still not seen played out) hints towards the North’s plans to recapture Jamie Lannister. Lord Bolton informs his hairy companion Lord Karstark (Jamie killed his son as he escaped last season) that “the Kingslayer won’t be free long, my best hunter is after him”, an implication fans of the books know is not good news. Secondly, before harshly reminding his nearby mother she is still in timeout, Robb finds a survivor among the dead bodies – a parched individual named Qyburn – who we can certainly expect to see again.
Tyrion sits down with his father Tywin, who is busy tending to his mail and addressing his own envelopes, a welcome reprieve from his typical regiment of skinning a deer and removing it’s bowels.
After trying to play it coy, Tyrion ultimately demands an inheritance to Casterly Rock, the Lannister home-base. Tywin lets his son know that while he will eventually receive improved housing, steady employment and a new wife, he would rather be “consumed by maggots before mocking our family name and making you heir to Casterly Rock”. Looks like that option is out of the picture. Tywin dismisses his youngest son, but not before blaming Tyrion for killing his mother in child birth and casually threatening to murder the next “harlot” he finds in Tyrion’s bed. Tyrion gets completely owned in this scene. Ouch.
Outside King’s Landing:
In the episode’s least riveting scene, Sansa Stark sits by the bay and fantasizes about exotic locations and escaping King’s Landing. Littlefinger approaches and hints that he might be able to rescue Sansa in the near future. Great! In the background, two former prostitutes bond over having moved up in the world. You go girls.
Dragons are back! They’re flying, they’re shrieking and they’re flash frying flounder. Even though the promos previously revealed the footage of the airborne dragons months ago, it was still one of the episode’s best moments. Daenerys’ reptile triumvirate is clearly loving the life aquatic, although the same can not be said for the projectile-vomiting Dothraki. Dany explains they are the first Dothraki to ever cross the ocean, a meager consolation prize for the perpetually seasick.
Dany is on her way to investigate and potentially purchase a notorious army of eunuch slaves, the Unsullied. She doesn’t wholeheartedly approve of buying slaves but is convinced that it is necessary by her trusted ally Jorah Mormont. Not wanting Davos Seaworth to get all of the males-over-fifty-chest-hair-attention, Jorah thrusts his pecs forward and defends the merits behind acquiring the army.
Davos, getting more screen-time in the premiere than Sansa, Arya, Jamie, Bran and Jon Snow combined, arrives at Dragonstone and confronts an out-of-it Stannis, who looks like he has been hitting those flames just a little too hard. Melisandre, Stannis’ fire mistress, interrupts, blaming Davos’ decision to ban her from the Battle of the Blackwater as the reason why they lost. Unable to contend with her hypothetical, Davos tries unsuccessfully to stab her while channeling his inner Kahleesi and yelping this incredible phrase: “MOTHER OF DEMONS!” Is this a blatant copyright infringement on our beloved mother of dragons? I’m going to let it slide.
Who needs a limousine when you have a portable crate? Finally, Ladies and Gentleman, your King of Westeros – Joffrey Baratheon! We first see our sadist king in a rare moment of tranquility as he eloquently brushes his face with a silk handkerchief while being escorted through the City. Queen Margaery, also spending her free time scouting the projects in an elevated box, stops traffic and gets out to perform some mitzvahs. She does her best Oprah impersonation by throwing toys at every orphan in sight. Joffrey witnesses his Queen’s charity and is absolutely baffled. Genuine compassion? Public service? What are these things? WHAT IS GOING ON?!
Later, some of the royal family convenes to eat dinner and discuss fashion. Margaery and her brother, Loras Tyrell (former lover to King Renly), amuse themselves at the expense of Cercei’s outfit. Joffrey joins in and throws a few age jokes at his mother before, to Cercei’s surprise, offering to support Margaery’s charitable endeavors. Looks like Cercei’s control over her son is slipping. Oh, the powers of civic engagement.
Dany is getting a VIP tour of the Unsullied and learns the disturbing nature of their training. The Unsullied feel no pain, no remorse, and no fear as a result of a training process that includes murdering a newborn infant in front of it’s mother as a midterm. Using questionable logic (“men don’t need nipples”), Dany’s vulgar slave-owner /guide offers a more visual example by slicing off one of the soldier’s nipples, an action which elicits nothing more than a “thank you sir” from the super obedient eunuch. Dany is interested. Not in the severed areola, but in the 8,000 soldiers. Probably a good clarification to make.
Later – thinking if it worked for Queen Margaery, it’ll work for me too – Dany approaches a destitute child who then tries to coax her into playing a casual game of scorpion bocce ball. Whoops! The kid flashes a blue tongue and yeap, those pesky warlocks appear to be holding a grudge. Luckily, a familiar face reemerges and saves the day. Ser Barristan Selmy, a former member of the Kingsguard under Dany’s father and also Robert Baratheon, has come to pledge his allegiance to Dany to make up for his past failures to her family. Ser Barristan is one of the greatest living warriors in Westeros and certainly a welcome addition to Team Kahleesi. Jorah looks all kinds of jealous as we ROLL CREDITS.