I’m stepping in for Skyler for the next few weeks to write the weekly episode reviews for Game of Thrones.
So here we are again, a new season of Game of Thrones. It’s been a long, anticipated wait for fans, finally no more teasers! The title of Episode 1, “Valar Dohaeris” means “All men must serve”, (even though the words weren’t in any spoken dialogue) was quite befitting for the premiere episode as many characters this season will have to choose which side they prefer to serve.
The opening scene begins in the North with Sam Tarly where Season 2′s finale left us. He is nearly attacked by another White Walker. Suddenly, Ghost appears with Mormont who sets it on fire. Poor Sam, scared to death and Mormont at his feet asking if he had sent the ravens.
Fast forward to more snow, we are taken to the “King Beyond the Wall”. We get to meet two new characters plus, a giant (great CGI) as Jon Snow is taken by Ygritte and the Lord of Bones to meet Mance Rayder (played by Ciaran Hands). Jon is not exactly greeted with open arms when he gets to the Wilding camp; rather with rocks and shouts of “crow” by young children. When he enters Mance’s tent, he accidentally bows to the wrong person, Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju). Mance reveals himself and questions Snow’s loyalty and commitment to the Free Folk cause. Jon convinces Mance, he is on their side by using the fact he saw Craster give his baby son to the White Walkers. This is going to be one of the most intriguing story arcs of the season. And I must say, the spectacular location of Iceland gives me the chills already.
Back in Kings Landing, life is a constant mirage of various story lines for many characters, in fact, most of the episode was devoted to it. First, we see Podrick Payne interrupting Bronn to bring him to Tyrion . Then Cersei comes to visit Tyrion’s new quarters since he was injured at Blackwater. She ruses him about his new living quarters and his much anticipated meeting with their father Tywin who is now the Hand of the King. The banter between the two is great dialogue. Cersei and Tyrion have such a love/hate relationship with Cersei getting the upper hand (or so she thinks). Yet how will she ever compete with Tyrion’s witty comebacks? Back to Tyrion and Bronn, who wants money since he is no longer part of the City Watch. Once a sellsword, always a sellsword.
Still in King’s Landing, Sansa, (grown much taller than last season) is still being held as a political hostage by the Lannisters. She sits quietly on a dock accompanied by Shae watching giant trading ships sail away. And who comes to see her but none other than, Littlefinger with Ros at his side. And he knows exactly what to say to Sansa( he saw her mother and sister) thus, promising her a way out of her misery with the hope of leaving KL. The most interesting conversation was that of Ros/Shae with Ros warning Shae not to trust Littlefinger (with Sansa). I can’t say I blame her but it does give us a little foreshadowing of things to come. Lord Petyr Baelish is a character to watch this season.
Oh and let’s not forget we become acquainted (again) to Margery Tyrell, now betrothed to Joffrey, who comes to the aid of homeless children during a ride through the city. A great political move for her as Joffrey could barely stand the smell. Afterwards, there is a dinner with the Tyrells (Margery/Loras) and the Lannisters (Cersei/Joffrey). Apparently, the Tyrells have brought food from a properous harvest. Watch out Cersei, there is a new “Queen” in town and her name is Margery. I smell a lot of political intrigue between Highgarden and Castlery Rock and I’m eagerly waiting to see what happens and perhaps, who shows up next.
The best scene from Kings Landing was that of Tyrion and Tywin. As he sees his father for the first time after Blackwater, Tyrion asks to be the heir of Castlery Rock to a displeased Tywin who replies, “No”. Tywin can only remind his son of sleeping with whores in his bed. Tyrion feels defeated again. I really enjoy Charles Dance and his portrayal of Tywin Lannister. This looks to be a promising start to the season.
Finally, the return of Davos Seaworth. He had been missing since the Blackwater episode in S2. It looks like he had been stranded out of the middle of nowhere. He is found by Sallador Saan, the pirate. Saan informs Davos that Stannis has been spending time with Melisandre, praying to her “Red God”. Davos is not to happy about this and asks his old friend to take him back to Dragonstone to see his King. Once there, he sees a broken Stannis and an argument ensues with Melisandre as he threatens to kill her. Poor Davos is sent off to the dungeons. The scenes were almost too short at times but at least they bridge the gap from last season and we can see where this storyline may unfold.
Also, we find Robb, Catelyn, Talisa, Karstark and Bolton at Harrenhall where the Tully bannerman have been killed. We are also introduced to Qyburn (Anton Lesser) who survives the attack. It seems as though King Robb is losing his troops and their loyalty especially evidenced in the side conversation between Bolton and Karstark. He orders that Catelyn be under guard (in isolation) for freeing Jamie Lannister. This storyline could be one of the darker ones of the season.
Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons are growing. Her ship lands in Astapor along with Jorah Mormont in hopes of buying an army. We meet Kraznys mo Nakloz ( Dan Hildebrand) who owns/trains the Unsullied and his slave Missandei (newcomer Nathalie Emmanuel). As Dany decides what to do, a young child plays ball. It turns out to be an assassination attempt to kill her. We are reintroduced to Barristen Selmy who comes to her aide. The location of Morocco serves well for Slavers Bay and Astapor.
For me, episode 1 bridged certain gaps left by season 2 and introduced new characters, plots and locations. Having read the books, I know that there will be significant changes in events, plots and characters. This is an adaptation of the books to screen and for the sake of time, budget and the amount of episodes produced not everything can be done accordingly so I have hope the writers get the “meat” of the story. Also, since it’s only part of Book #3, it give us a little more time to digest characters and events. I’m looking forward to episode 2, where we will catch up with Jaime/Brienne, Bran, and Arya.
Rating: 8.9/10 dragon burnings
Cersei to Tyrion that his nose was cut off – great reference to the books.
Great dialogue between Cersei/Tyrion and Tyrion/Bronn & Tyrion/Tywin.
Here is a HBO teaser for Episode 2: