Now that you’ve had some time to recover from experiencing the Red Wedding for the first time, I’d imagine you feel mostly satisfied in regards to the latest season of “Game of Thrones”. Granted, it wasn’t perfect and there were a couple of issues I’ll discuss at length below, but overall I thought there was enough quality content to warrant splitting the third book of Martin’s series in to two separate seasons. Let’s dish out a few awards!
Best Actor: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister)
It’s no surprise that Peter Dinklage receives more fanfare than any other actor on this show. After all, the lovable, foul-mouthed, whore-mongering dwarf named Tyrion Lannister has to be one of the all-time great television characters, and I seriously doubt any one could bring him to life the way that Dinklage has. His comic timing always produces some of the shows biggest laughs, and the guy is no slouch when it comes to drama – his scenes with Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister) are pure gold. That being said, the best character moments of the season belonged to Nikolaj, who portrayed the Kingslayer as an emotionally fragile and misunderstood knight who is suffering from the burden brought on by his reputation. Of course, a huge part of Jaime’s claim to fame has always been his prowess in battle, and through the first two seasons all we ever heard was how reluctant people were to tangle with the Kingslayer. On top of that, a lot of viewers wanted him dead right from the start, as Jaime dumped Bran Stark out of a window like yesterday’s trash. Alas, a little dismemberment here and a revealing tale there, and my oh my how everything has changed. Jaime is the quintessential example of a character who is shrouded in gray, which made him one of my favorite characters in the book and now one of my faves in the show. Nikolaj is a big reason why.
Best Actress: Maisie Williams (Arya Stark)
You could make a pretty strong case that no character’s subplot has been as agonizing as Arya’s, who always shows up just in time to witness the demise of her family members, but it doesn’t matter how strong the writing is if you pick a shitty actress for the part. I’ve seen quality storylines come undone because the teenage actor couldn’t handle the dramatic weight of their character, and considering the young people are pretty essential to this series, it would’ve been a disaster had the showrunners botched the casting of Arya. Thankfully, they found Maisie Williams, who is nothing short of a revelation as the strong-willed, rebellious Stark girl, and she does a wonderful job of capturing her character’s inner torment. Every one of her lines is a knife that sticks straight into our hearts, and I’m interested to see where they take Arya’s depiction on the show from here. Now that she has been deprived of any hope of returning to her family, Maisie has an opportunity to take Arya to a pretty dark place, and that can only mean good things if you’re a fan of this show.
Best Moment: The Sack of Astapor
Thrones rarely ever gives its audience crowd-pleasing moments, where the good guys defeat the bad guys beyond a shadow of a doubt. When they do, they are pretty freaking sweet, and Daenery’s liberation of the Unsullied and slaves of Astapor was simply amazing. Up until that point, we knew that Dany technically had the best claim to the Iron Throne, but how confident were we that she would make a good queen? She was constantly being tricked and led astray by strangers and enemies, and that’s basically a no-no if you want to survive in King’s Landing. This was the first time that Dany proved that she can play the game as well as the rest of them, and at the time it was the single biggest power move of the season. Then, this happened.
Best Episode: “The Rains of Castamere”
I decided this based on my scores for the episodes this season. After all, I’d be contradicting myself if I didn’t pick the one that I awarded a perfect 10 out of 10, but I might’ve gone with episode nine anyway solely because of the Red Wedding. That was the scene that changed the game once more and gave us one of the most shocking moments ever. Not just one of the most shocking moments on tv, but EVER. That’s the gravity of the Red Wedding. More than the event itself, I think the most entertaining aspect of this was seeing how people who haven’t read the books reacted to seeing the Starks being wiped off the map, which was reinforced by all the reaction videos that were posted on YouTube immediately afterward.
Worst Story Arch: Duh. Theon Greyjoy
Theon didn’t exactly endear himself to fans of the show when he betrayed Robb and seized Winterfell, nor was he ever anyone’s favorite when he was fighting for the Starks. The writers tried their hardest to make us sympathize with Theon by having him admit that he made the wrong choice and that he regretted killing innocent Northerners. Unlike Jaime though, Theon’s vile actions had no silver lining and he was simply made to look like a moron who never thought things through. So I ask you, faithful viewers of Thrones, did you ever once feel sorry for Theon this season (ugh, I did) ? Even if you were like me, the weakness of this storyline was that it never went anywhere, instead playing out like a morbid guessing game over which body part Theon would lose this week. Violence for the sake of violence is rarely a good thing, especially in a show where there’s more than enough violence already. The good thing is that Theon’s subplot can’t possibly be any worse next season! Right?
Jesse’s Season 3 Score: 8.8/10
What that rating reflects is season 3’s struggle to successfully balance its vast number of characters and storylines over the course of 10 episodes. Were there great episodes? Absolutely, and all you have to do is check out my reviews to see how strong some of them were (or just re-watch the episode you lazy bastard!). While this was a very good season, it wasn’t quite great simply because of the inconsistencies in the story and the writing. Characters who played prominent roles early on were left out at the end, while others who were hardly given anything to do at the beginning were hogging up the screen in the finale. It’s a unique challenge for Thrones to take on because no other show has a cast of this size, and I think it would be unrealistic to chide the showrunners too much for experiencing some setbacks while foraging through uncharted territory. However, my primary concern is that when even more new characters are brought into the fold next year (yes, there will be even MORE newcomers), how will Thrones find that proper balance when it is already having a difficult time doing so? I suppose Robb and Caitlyn being gone will help to some degree, but it’s something to worry about nonetheless.
All that being said, season 3 was chalked full of memorable scenes and episodes, gaining even more notoriety for this immensely popular series. I enjoyed the hell out of it and season 4 can’t come soon enough.