Boxset Binge: Game of Thrones – Season 3 Review

After a mixed second season, Season 3 of Game of Thrones delivered one of the most shocking and spectacular twists in TV history, as well as providing several of the up and coming characters with some good narratives.

I couldn’t do a review of the third season of Game of Thrones without talking about the most shocking and talked about sequence in the show’s history: The Red Wedding. Even though there is always the risk of spoilers from watching a series years after it was first broadcast, it was fortunate that I did not know which wedding would see the atrocities, since there were a few. The brutal nature in which characters we have seen since the show’s premier were killed off was truly shocking, but in terms of going forward, the move made perfect sense. Game of Thrones has been unpredictable since Season 1 and Ned Stark’s demise and keeping these characters in the picture for another season could have led to the following one being repetitive and predictable. Instead, I am going into Season 4 not knowing where the writers will take the audience – since I have not yet read George R R Martin’s book series either.

One major improvement that Season 3 had over its predecessor is that it gave the younger members of the cast storylines that allowed them to shine. Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) in particular has a great season, compared to the low key and uneventful narrative in the second season. Her dragons are now adolescent and she uses them to burn down cities that were built on the enslavement of other peoples, providing some great shots on camera. She is not yet at the focus of the fight for the crown but I am sure it is only a matter of time. Jon Snow (Kit Harington) also has a narrative crucial for his development when he turns his back on the Wildlings he had spent two seasons with, whilst Arya and Bran Stark’s (Maisie Williams and Isaac Hempstead-Wright respectively) roles in the wider picture become ever more clearer. This is another reason why it was necessary to remove much of the older cast, to allow the narrative to stay fluid and forever changing.

I think the success of this season is all the more surprising considering that very few new elements were introduced. Season 2 took us to far more settings than King’s Landing and Winterfell, as well as introducing us to many more characters, both friends and foes to the protagonists. Season 3 doesn’t try to do much of that; what elements that are introduced, such as the Red Wedding and the discovery of Bran’s abilities, bring a new element to the show. I found quite a lot of the things brought into the second season to be underdeveloped and only really brought up to show that there are cities and rulers beyond what we saw in the first. Season 3 develops the relationships between many of these and gives many actors the chance to show audiences the layers of their characters. I especially found Lena Headey’s portrayal of Cersei Lannister, an out and out villain of the first couple of seasons, brilliant in how it created a strange feeling of empathy towards her.

It was quite tough for me to make this review a balanced one by finding some critiques and the only one that really stood out to me was the narrative of Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen). For episode after episode, viewers had to witness some squeamish scenes as Theon was tortured and had several parts of him removed. He was released as a trick and then returned to be tortured again – this didn’t really work for me at all, most notably because there is a limited amount of screen time that something like this could go on for, and it may have robbed other narratives of some time. Even the revelation that his sister is coming to rescue him after spending two seasons being disappointed by him felt too late, it could have happened slightly earlier in the season for me. I think that both of these characters have a lot of potential so I hope that all of this screen time will shape them into major players.

Season 3 of Game of Thrones is an improvement over its slightly underwhelming predecessor, developing several of the key characters and delivering a spectacular twist that people who haven’t read the book series wouldn’t have expected. This twist was shocking and sets up massive changes for the kingdom for future seasons.

Star Rating: 4.5/5

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