‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3 Premiere Review

Published 2 years ago by

Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones Valar Dohaeris Game of Thrones Season 3 Premiere Review

Each time Game of Thrones returns, it’s worth noting how the ever-expanding animated map of Westeros illustrates the series’ excursive story – a tale that shows no sign of restricting the number of borders it is willing to cross, or the seas it will traverse in order to regale viewers with the most unrestrained yarn possible.

As season 3 begins, the intro’s eye-in-the-sky zooms in on King’s Landing; does a flyby on the scorched stones of Harrenhal; buzzes a smoking Winterfell; and bounds effortlessly over the sea (offering a glimpse of Astapor, the home of the Unsullied). Through this journey one thing becomes clear: No matter how many Starks wind up with their head on a pike, no matter how many countless warriors become engulfed in wildfire and spend the rest of eternity in the depths of Blackwater, Westeros, the most vital element in Game of Thrones, will carry on.

But that satellite – watching as the world seemingly builds itself up from nothing – is more than a celestial voyeur; it is the omniscient eye of showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff. Thanks to the work of George R.R. Martin, its vision hints at a course along a pre-established storyline, alluding to the fates of characters too small to be seen from its lofty vantage point, but exceedingly integral to this world’s future. The landscape that is shown before every episode reminds the viewer that across the myriad plotlines, this is the tale of Westeros; it is detailing where the story has been, but along with having the best seat in the house, it is blessed with the knowledge of what’s to come.

Peter Dinklage and Jerome Flynn in Game of Thrones Valar Dohaeris Game of Thrones Season 3 Premiere Review

Perhaps that’s what affords Weiss and Benioff the opportunity to tell this tale so patiently and, as we’ve seen over the course of two full seasons, in single-serving portions that the audience gobbles up with all the enthusiasm of a direwolf chomping fingers off burly men with a penchant for furry footwear and winter swordplay.

In 10 hours, season 2 broadened a world where men like Ned Stark lost their lives to the whims of sneering boy-kings into a place where Daenerys Targaryen’s dragon-aided aspiration of laying claim to the Iron Throne was nearly derailed by blue-lipped warlocks, and Tyrion Lannister nearly lost his life in a battle so epic its account was granted full-use of the season’s penultimate episode.

The build-up to ‘Blackwater‘ paid off in more ways than one. It brought several of the season’s key storylines together and it showed how increasing the scale of the series could be feasibly and convincingly done. And now, season 3 is following that large-scale effort by making things even bigger and grander (if the sight of a giant driving wooden stakes into the frozen ground with his fists is any indication). In fact, season 3 is so big it will reportedly only constitute one-half of the book from which its storyline is derived.

And as the games commence, the effects of that mighty battle are still being felt. Blackwater has left two men on opposite sides of the conflict broken. In defeat, Stephen Dillane’s Stannis Baratheon appears to have given himself over wholly to the instructions of Melisandre, who imprisons a sun-baked, but still devoted Davos. In King’s Landing, however, victory proves to be just as empty for Tyrion, who receives a one-two punch from sister Cersei and father Tywin, knocking him back to the lowest rung on the Lannister family ladder.

Richard Madden in Game of Thrones Valar Dohaeris Game of Thrones Season 3 Premiere Review

Elsewhere, Robb looks for a suitable cell for his mother amongst the ruins of Harrenhal, while Jon Snow is still trudging along beyond the wall, waiting to make the acquaintance of Ciarán Hinds’ Mance Rayder, while his fellow (former?) men of the Night’s Watch prepare to do battle with the elements, White Walkers and Samwell’s inability to do the one job he had to do.

But despite the addition of even more effects-driven magic, e.g., dragons, giants and beautiful, sprawling vistas, it doesn’t feel like a jarring leap from season 2 to season 3. In their staging of the series’ progress, Weiss and Benioff have ushered in a more gradual and therefore seamless transition between seasons that belies the excruciating wait between them and hints at the grand, long-term plans HBO has for Game of Thrones.

And so, even when presented with an exceptional episode like ‘Valar Dohaeris’ (that is, for all intents and purposes, an hour of table-setting), what transpires feels like something more along the lines of true episodic carry-over, rather than the brusque beginning of a new season; a notion that (with the possible exception of diva-in-training Daenerys) thankfully leaves little time for characters to constantly remind one another of their situation. Instead, they are tasked with keeping the story moving forward.

After all, this isn’t just the start of another thrilling season of HBO’s preeminent series; it’s the continuation of an epic television saga that shows no signs of slowing down.


Game of Thrones continues next Sunday with ‘Dark Wings, Dark Words’ @9pm on HBO. Check out a preview of the episode below:

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  1. I was too busy watching a QUALITY show named The Walking Dead.

    Keyword is quality.

    • Yes, me too! And then I was VERY disappointed at how much the finale was boring, that I was wishing I had watched GOT instead.

      • ahahah. I didn’t watch any of them yet but I had the feeling they would ruin the last episode of TWD. Game of Thrones is way more superior then TWD. And if I had the chance I wouldnt blink… GoT all the way.

        • But they have f***ked up the story about Sansa and Littile finger it was the suspense that he is behind all that….l liked the way
          it was in book

          • Exactly…and they are moving across the books now. That sequence where Theon escapes…thats in book 4. Fair enough, you had to keep him on screen before people forgot who he was since he figures nowhere in the third book but with Sansa and Baelish….didn’t get that. Also, Varys wasn’t supposed to know about Littlefinger and Sansa. Wonder what will they do now. So far I am disappointed in the season. Although the final sequence of episode 4 made up for it pretty much.

      • I love both shows however. Walking Dead finally SUCKED :( Sorry to say, truly I wish it didn’t. Game of Thrones however DELIVERED the goods and then some.

        MY 4 fav shows:
        The dead
        Breaking Bad
        Sons of Anarchy

        I wonder why they screwed up the ending of the dead? No rick governor showdown. Nothing really happened. WHy did the old people go back to the Prison and not the other way around. Why was there no epic showdown between rick and gov or michonee and gov or Daryl etc etc. What a letdown.

        GOT: EPIC :)

        • That epic showdown will occur in season 4….They probably decided they didn’t know what to do with season 4 if not involving the Governor.

      • People who watch The Walking Dead should not even be allowed to watch Thrones.

        • Ha I watch both, both are amazing shows and I honestly enjoy them equally!

        • lol……perfectly and simply truthfull. I totally agree. I watched the 1st few episodes of politically correct bullsh*t dead….and never looked again. BIG yawn. Touchy feely crap? Zero imagination,.

    • This isn’t a walking dead post but, I have to reply to your comment and say that in the battle of quality GoT will always beat TWD. Also, worst season finale I have seen in a very, very long time. But it’s your opinion and I respect that, just wanted to share my own as well.

      • The thing I respect about Walking Dead is that they create a captivating narrative that is INDEPENDENT of the source material. Someone who has read the Walking Dead comic can enjoy the twists and turns that the show provides.

        Game of Thrones, on the other hand, is almost an exact duplication of the books. Having read the books, I feel like I’m just sitting there waiting for the show to get from plot point to plot point. It becomes really redundant.

        • I’ve read the comics and I can’t stand Walking Dead as a TV series (of course, I think the comics are incredibly overrated, too).

          I’ve never read the Game of Thrones books and yet I find the show to be one of the most fascinating, excellent TV experiences of all time (save for a few missteps in season 2).

          I’m not sure why watching a great adaptation of a great book would make it redundant? Unless you didn’t particularly enjoy the book in the first place.

          • I feel 100% the same.

          • Respectfully, you missed my point. The difference between the two shows is that the production team for The Walking Dead uses the comic as an inspiration, then makes their own original storylines. There are entire plot lines, characters, and settings that never appear in the graphic novels.

            Game of Thrones, on the other hand, is almost an exact copy of the book series. Imagine watching this Season 3 opener, but you had already read the scripts for the next 4 seasons of the show. The show is redundant because it’s showing me exactly what I have already read. The fact that you haven’t read the A Song of Ice and Fire Books would only INCREASE your enjoyment of the show, because it’s fresh to you.

            I admire the Game of Thrones TV series as a way to reach those who prefer not to read novels, but having already read both the ASOIAF books and the Walking Dead comics, Game of Thrones gives me something I’ve already seen, where the Walking Dead TV show still keeps me on my toes.

            • So Im guessing you didnt enjoy any of the LOTR…..

              To me this is crazy talk. To think that someone would attempt to take ASOIAF and go anywhere other then where GRRM has lead us is a bit nutz. I for one obviously love the fact that they dont diverge too much from the books, and love having my memory fleshed out on screen.

              Add to that the pressure GRRM is now under to quit blogging about the stinky Jets and get to writing is only another positive.

              • I did think that a prequel series covering Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon during the war sounded amazing though. I know that the GRR Martin and the producers have kind of danced around it, but that story would be captivating and breaking new ground.

                • that GRR Martin*

                  And the TV show could be an opportunity to flesh out Westeros with a story separate from the novels. With GRRM so involved in the show, you could rest assured that it would match the quality and tone of the original series.

                • The prequel they talked about is the Dunk & Egg stories not about Robert’s Rebellion (Usurper’s War).
                  The Dunk & Egg stories take place @ 75 years before that war.

            • Haha, what? How did I miss your point? Perhaps you missed mine?

              Which was, to reiterate: Why wouldn’t you enjoy a great live-action adaptation of a book you enjoyed – no matter how faithfully rendered – unless you didn’t enjoy the book in the first place?

              Perhaps I should’ve added – I was a huge fan of Scott Pilgrim the book series, but I still managed to enjoy Scott Pilgrim VS. The World. I was a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings series, but I still managed to love Fellowship. Etc.

              I’m also at a loss for your “reading a script” analogy. Reading words on a page, as I understand it, is an entirely different experience from seeing people and places and action on a screen.

              • To make my answer clear: I’d rather watch a new story than a reenactment of a story that I’ve already read.

                I DID enjoy the ASOIAF novels. I was not as thrilled the second time I experienced them, which was on TV. A story can be great the first time and then lose some impact the second time, ya know?

                Anyway, that’s my two cents. If you enjoy the show, please pay no attention to me and keep watching.

            • Isn’t that what an adaptation supposed to be?

        • Yeah,,,,so what.

      • Agreed with everything you said.

    • Haha, you sir are clueless, 5 minutes of a Game of Thrones episode has more quality in it than an entire season of Walking Dead.

      Better quality writing, better quality storyline and plots, better quality dialogue and acting, better characters and character development, better quality production and set pieces, better quality source material etc etc,, Simply put, Game of Thrones is superior in every single possible way.

    • Quality, the past three episodes have been pretty bad and what an awful finale. I’ll stick with GoT.

      • I think the finale was a let down action wise, but it was still a good episode. I mean, is it impossible for anything good to happen to the group? the governer went bonkers and that was awesome. so people need to stop hating on a good episode.
        G.O.T for the win

    • WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Do not go towards the bottom of this page as Mutantx23 has revealed a MAJOR spoiler down below with no warning.

      If you don’t want to have anything ruined, I’d advise you do go any further in the comments section.

      • @DT – Apologies. I don’t watch this show and didn’t realize that his comment was a spoiler. I’ve removed it.

        Paul Young – Moderator

        • @Paul Young – he has another post with the same SPOIL.

  2. I’m sorry. but GOT just isnt good anymore..

    • Save your whispers for court spider! (^-^)

  3. The episode gets right back into the flow of things. And I swear it had more color to it and looked better. Jon Snow’s story is what I like watching most.

  4. The Walking Dead finale really fell short with any sort of climax/big battle. Sure it had the character-to-character moments, and that’s the show’s strong suit, but so much had been built up toward this showdown. Change the advertising, AMC. You wouldn’t upset as many folk.

    I’m just glad Game of Thrones is back on tv. But it’s a whole different animal compared to the book series. I’m sure Walking Dead comic readers can relate. It’s all about maintaining show continuity I suppose.

  5. Walking Dead vs Game of Thrones? Hell, we should all be happy that there actually is quality shows worth watching. They are both awesome.

    • +1

      • +1

    • AGREED!!!!

  6. I was a bit let down with the walking dead finale thought it did not have the bag for buck feeling. The gov going postal was awesome.

    I enjoyed the premire ep and hope this season will have more of a season one feel to it. Season two to me sort of had boring side effect but I understood why which is why I kept watching unlike walking dead’s first season which I hardly kept my attention.

  7. So wanna read this review, but I still haven’t watched this episode yet ;c

  8. Metacritic: Game of Thrones 91, Walking Dead 82
    Imdb: Game of Thrones 9.4, Walking Dead 8.8

    Need I say more?

  9. wd sucks

  10. I watched both shows last night. TWD finale wasn’t as great as the other 2 seasons but it was still entertaining. GOT was alright. Both series seem to have the same issues. They both seem to drag that the only good episodes are the last 2-3 episodes of the season. I still love and will support these type of series since it broke the norm(investigative series, reality TV, and so on)

  11. I really enjoyed the premier last night, and it was a lot of fun to meet a couple of the new characters and she some new places. I couple of thoughts on the show though:

    I wish we could have seen a little bit of the battle between the Night’s Watch and the White Walkers, but I guess episode time and budget restraints deprived us of that scene…oh well, not a huge loss.

    I figured they would keep Bronn around (since I believe him to be a fan favorite), but I am curious what his story will be now since Martin sent him away in the books and you only read fragments of him throughout.

    Not really sure why they added a new scene with Margaery Tyrell visiting a shelter. I don’t really feel like it did anything for her character or for Joffrey’s either.

    I felt Jon Snow’s (fake)reasoning for joining the wildlings was weak, or at least not as good as his reasoning in the books. I guess episode time was another reason of this since Mance didn’t get to have story time with Jon in the tent (which leads to Jon’s reason for joining the wildlings).

    I understand why they came out and had Ser Barristan Selmy give his true identity to Daenerys when he saved her, since you can’t really disguise him like Martin did the books. I am curious as to how they plan on handling the other parts of the scene, in the books, when Selmy’s identity was actually revealed.

    Anyways, still a really good episode and can’t wait till next weeks. I think viewers are going to enjoy some of the new characters that will be showing up next episode.

    • @DT
      I agree completely. I was also looking forward to see strong Belwas, but was impressed to see the giant.

      • I was a little concerned with how they were going to do the giants. That was probably my favorite scene of the episode.

        • @sjd
          I was hoping to see Strong Belwas as well. I wonder when he will be introduced.

          @ Nautius
          I thought they did a good job with the Giants as well and to go along with your other post, (further down) the Tywin/Tyrion scene was probably my favorite scene. I enjoy the way they portray Tywin in the show and I especially enjoyed his scenes with Arya in season 2. Even though their interaction was not in the book, I thought it was a nice change.

    • I have not read the books, but the Margaery scene in the shelter spoke volumes for where the characters will go.

      It seems like she will show the boy king an ounce of good looks like. The public doesn’t respect the nobility, they fear them. So she may improve relations between the people and may (as much as I don’t want this) turn Jofferey into a … good person….

      Like I said, I haven’t read the books.

      • I won’t spoil it but you’re partially wrong.

      • Good point, I didn’t really take into consideration people that haven’t read the book. Obviously, if you haven’t read the books then you don’t know what is a new scene or out of the book. I’ll need to realize this next time I post.

        Looking at it from a view point from not reading the books it seems she is definitely trying to build a bond between the people and the king/queen. A type of relationship, between the two, that hasn’t occurred in quite some time.

        Also, do you think Joffrey was more annoyed that she was doing this or surprised? So far the interaction between Margaery and Joffrey is quite different than the interaction between Joffrey and Sansa (pre Ned Stark accusations). He seems a little bit gentler and kinder to Margaery, more so than he was with Sansa. Not sure if this has to do with maturity or not. One thing for sure, Cersei seemed annoyed by Margaery’s actions.

      • I haven’t read the books either. Margaery’s little visit caused impatient King Creep Jeoffrey to have to sit inside his carriage because her’s blocked his path. a good way to rattle someone’s cage.

    • They should have still had Ser Barristan use the Whitebeard name, even if the audience knew who he was does not mean that Dany and her people would. Using that fake identity becomes important later on in the series.

      • I agree with you, but only if they would’ve drastically changed his appearance until he is revealed later. By having him keep the same appearance (like last night), but using a fake name, may confuse some viewers. The reason why Ser Jorah and Dany don’t know its Ser Barristan in the book is because he grew out his hair and grew a long beard to help disguise most of his facial features.

        While reading the book, even with the description that Martin gives us, it’s not easy for the reader to pick up that Whitebeard is Barristan. Instead, the reader just believes this to be another old man. (Or at least that’s how I took it.) For viewers of the show, even if they changed Barristan’s appearance, would still be able to recognize who he is, because we just saw him two years ago, whereas Ser Jorah hasn’t seen him for a lot longer time. (Not a great comparison, but try to work with me. Hopefully I didn’t confuse you lol.)

        Anyways, I do agree about how his fake identity becomes important later on. Which brought me to my other question, what are they going to do with the other parts of the scene that goes along with the revelation of Barristan’s true identity. Should be interesting to watch.

  12. I loved it. but no one on the post mentioned this giant dude , i thought the CGI was great for both the giant as well as those dragons, also To all you W.D people this a GoT post people NOT WALKING DEAD! By the way as far anything dead walking about if you know anything about biology and common sense .you would realize anything dead decompose therefore the tissues would not be viable enough to support anything remotely getting about walking and moving,also with all these dead things roaming about why aren’t there flies maggots , vultures and buzzards about eating upon them. , decomposed tissues are soft and mushy bones becomes brittle and fragments. anyone could just shove one over and it would collapse in stench pile.

  13. GOT just kind of dragged in the premier. There are so many storylines going at once that the episode just didn’t do it for me. I loved the first 2 seasons, but I need something a little more compelling next episode than a soldier with no nipples.

    • I agree 100% with you sir. The episode dragged a little and didn’t really keep my interest like Season 1. Granted it’s just the first episode of the season but I hope the pacing picks up

      • I think that GoT is best watched all at once. It plays out much like a chess match. There is a lot of (very necessary) maneuvering that can be a bit boring, but is essential to understand the major moves later on. Of course I don’t think that I will be able to wait until BluRay release, but will just watch it again then!

  14. So glad Game of Thrones is back

    Brilliant season opener, the scene with Daenerys on the ship with her dragons was outstanding.

    Great characters with well written dialogue with good acting along with great plots is what truly makes a good TV show. Game of Thrones has all these in abundance.

  15. It’s nice to see a battle on here that is not DC vs MARVEL.

    • +1

  16. Anyone else notice Peter Dinklage got top billing in that episode?


    I am seeing some mostly favorable reactions to last night’s premier. For the detractors, please keep in mind, there are SO many things going on at once that GRRM had do a lot of overlap between THREE books just fit all the content in the original novels.

    I was pleased overall with the premier. That scene between Tywin and Tyrion was tough to watch. “You are an ill-made, spiteful little creature, full of envy, lust and low cunning.”

    From his own dad! Ouch!

    • The Tywin and Tyrion scene was easily my favorite part of the premiere.

      “Jugglers and singers require applause… you are a Lannister.”

      • 100% agree. That was a brilliant scene.

  17. Just like seasons 1 & 2 the premire was mostly setup and I’m sure the next few episodes will be the same but that doesn’t mean I’m dissapointed in any way.
    One of my many reasons for loving GoT is because every scene is crucial, what may feel unnecessary at first always has a pay off and is always a part of the bigger picture. In other words there’s no filler and the show always rewards viewers who pay attention to every line.
    Also, along Breaking Bad every hour flies by. When the episode ended last night my first thought was wait! It’s over already?? Then I checked the time and realized the hour was up. ;)

  18. The season 3 premiere may not have included baby killing or a child who just witnessed royal incest getting pushed to the ground, but it did pick the story up right where we left up. It did what Game of Thrones does – set us up with the relationships of these characters and what they are currently trying to achieve to either eat or be eaten.

    Tywin and Tyrion were the stars of this episode. That scene made me feel all kinds of wrong. After everything that Tyrion did to keep Cersei from ruining everything and he only receives the wrath of his father.

    Good post, I look forward to more. Also, I go into some more detail here in my blog if anyone is interested in reading a bit more: http://www.notsodaily.com/2013/04/game-of-thrones-season-3-premiere-valar.html

  19. Game Of Thrones > TWD although the show has gone down a peg after season 1.

    Keyword: a PEG. Very little.

  20. You got to give credit to the showrunners for turning an unnecessarily muddled and drawn out series of books into compelling if not epic television. GOT on TV takes all the right short cuts, cuts all the right characters and hooks you in whenever the book would lose you. Just great work so far. I can’t wait what they do with the downright plodding-to-death “Feast Of Crows”. Hell, even Martin may learn a few things about structure by writing for the TV incarnation.

  21. Great show. I’m glad the first episode of the season wasn’t very fast-paced since it was a while since I last saw the characters. I had to have some time to remember their individual and collective plots. Also, it STILL is weird to hear them say “Westeros”. It’s the name of my town, the fifth biggest town of Sweden. In one way it adds to the drama though, the “what if this is what it was like a thousand years ago”. Haha. :)

  22. I do like GOT and I’m hoping season 3 will be a return to form (didn’t like S2 so much). My main issues are that (a) there are too many plot lines running concurrently and (b) a lack of a main/central character that you follow around and that serves to anchor the plot, like Ned Stark in S1. Tyrion was supposed to be it in S2, but there were episodes in which he didn’t even appear. Looking forward to seeing how Season 3 unravels, but can’t help but wish for a more focused plot, sometimes.

  23. 50% of the people here are bitching about TWD?? I thought this was an article about GoT..

  24. This show sucks now…season 1+2 were pretty good but the makers have gone scant and left the 2 best parts of book 3 out the rangers being chased by the walkers and the siege of the all…epic fail!!! and for those who say GoT is better than walking dead lol wow just wow….

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