Game of Thrones Season 3 Premiere: The Award-Winning Series Returns
Game of Thrones is back. It is known.
What isn’t known – and what I’m sure devoted fans of the A Song of Ice and Fire series would want to observe closely – is how well HBO will pull season 3 off. Will it be as successful as the previous 2 seasons? From what we’ve seen of the first episode, it seems the TV series is diving full throttle into the epic, slightly altering some plot points while attempting to largely stay true to the events of the books.
The episode starts off with Samwell Tarly at the Fist of the First Men and ends with the return of Sir Barristan Selmy in Astapor. Not bad at all. Picking up after season 2’s oxymoron of a cliffhanger (satisfying and frustrating at the same time), season 3’s episode 1 shows us the aftermath of the skirmish on the Fist of the First Men, Jon Snow’s induction into the wildling side of things, Tyrion Lannister’s fall from grace, the fate of the Onion Knight Sir Davos Seaworth and the sad state of the defeated Stannis Baratheon, Margaery Tyrell’s “charitable” side and its impact on King Joffrey Baratheon (*cough* Lannister *cough*) and his mother Cersei, Littlefinger’s ploy to steal Sansa Stark away, Robb Stark’s arrival at the graveyard that Harrenhal has become, and Daenerys’ making port at the slaving city of Astapor. Please pardon the extremely long sentence, but even in its length it could not convey in full what happened on season 3’s premiere.
We get a glimpse of giants, excellently trained slave soldiers called Unsullied, an exotic and presumably very poisonous manticore, and Daenerys’ three fledgling dragons growing fast. We find out that Tyrion’s friend and sellsword Bronn had been knighted, we take our first look at the King Beyond the Wall Mance Rayder, and we see the return of the old but gold Barristan Selmy. Sadly we didn’t get to see him in sword-slashing action, though he did kill a manticore. So far we can all just take the legends as truth: this grey-haired grandpa is a force to be reckoned with – and he’s just offered his services to Daenerys Targaryen.
Book aficionados will be sure to point out some changes the TV series had made – Harrenhal, Robb’s wife (since last season), the Unsullied, Barristan Selmy and the absence of a certain person of conspicuous strength and girth – but I dare say that HBO has indeed largely been true to George R. R. Martin’s book series. Of course, this isn’t really surprising seeing that he’s the executive producer. I did notice, however, that a certain gripe of main since the first 2 seasons remains noticeable in this season’s premiere.
While the production quality of HBO’s Game of Thrones is topnotch, I’ve been irked by what seems to be their lack of budget. The epic fights are either absent or lacking, and the settings, though grand, are simply enhanced by CGI. A minor gripe, I know, but book 3 of the series is entitled A Storm of Swords. It’s the longest book in the currently 5-book series, and true to its title, will tell the story of clash after clash after clash. Season 1 wasn’t able to show the Battle of the Whispering Wood where Jaime Lannister was captured. Tyrion’s first battle with his tribesmen was cut short. In season 2 the Siege of King’s Landing was just a microcosm of what it was supposed to be. Now, in season 3, the battle at the Fist of the First Men was relegated to a black screen with sounds of the clash in the background. The Unsullied presented to Daenerys Targaryen weren’t even a hundred when they were supposed to be in the thousands (the actors didn’t appear to be ruthlessly disciplined either – I could see some of them moving while standing at attention). I’m afraid this is a precursor, a sign as glaringly obvious as the red falling star in the series that there might only be a drizzle in this season instead of a storm of swords.
All is forgiven, however, as soon as the show pulls off some memorable moments. The hair-raising feeling of witnessing a momentous part of the story unfold on your screen is simply priceless. The story outshines everything else in Game of Thrones. Yet, I truly believe that we are entitled to more of the larger-than-life moments the books portrayed. We’re entitled to it as much as Daenerys Stormborn is entitled to the Iron Throne. Hopefully, we can all look forward to a true storm of swords as the third season progresses. [by G Dino]