Game of Thrones: Season 3
There has always been a television series that distinguishes itself among a plethora of competition. They are frequently referred to as water cooler shows since inevitably the next morning that is the major contribution discussion eclipsing even the hottest topic in the news. HBO has long produced series that held that position with series such as ‘The Sopranos’ or ‘Homeland’ with other cable networks viding for the position including Showtime’s ‘Dexter’. While each of these examples gained popularity soaring to the edge of space but fundamentally they were set in our familiar world. Then HBO once again proved their slogan is more than a few words; they are idiomatic with a veracity all their own; ‘It’s not TV, it’s HBO’. The program that took over conversations, cosplay and convention panel was broadcast; ‘Game of Thrones’. Set in the fictional world crafted in minute detail by George R. R. Martin in his bestselling series of novels beginning with ‘A Song of Fire and Ice’ the audience far beyond literary fantasy aficionados was launched. I have always found my favorite books were those that spanned several tomes requiring detailed maps and an appendix to explain the vernacular of their languages; in short ones that gave rise to a fully formed world complete with a rich background and realistically involved socio-political environment. In all my years as an avid fan of such works I find myself hard pressed to cite one that has accomplished these goals as brilliantly as Mr. Martin’s novels. True to HBO’s commitment to excellence while pushing the envelope of what has been done on television, this series is virtually unparalleled. Now that the fourth season rapidly comes upon us it is time for the season three home release. Even if you have seen every episode HBO’s perchance for insightful and highly entertaining added content makes this obligatory for your collection.
In a case such this usual season synopsis would be futile. Each season is so intractably woven into the seasons that preceded it and the one still upcoming that it is nearly impossible to relate the events of the ten chapter episodes of the grand overall story. This is arguably among the greatest strength of the show; it pulls you into the expansive universe created by Mr. Martin. In his world there are two primary land masses, Westeros mostly divided between the seven major kingdoms and Essos the mysterious land that lies across the Narrow Sea. A vast landmass whose topography and climate vary greatly from vast plains to seemingly endless deserts it remains largely unknown to the people of Westeros. The titular game is the constant struggle to sit on the Iron Throne installed as King above all others. All kings aspire to that throne but traditionally the occupant is from one of the five of the seven major houses; Baratheon, Lannister, Stark or Targaryen. Blood alliances through intermarriage have confused the lineages to a significant degree but loyalty to the House of your blood is absolute. Through millennium of contention most of these royal courts are always on the precipice of war. In the first season we are introduced to the principle players and the current setting of the pieces in the game of thrones. The second season concentrated on the aftermath of the supplanting of the Baratheon rule and betrayal of their staunchest allies, the Starks by the notorious Lannister. They are the wealthiest and most powerful of the Houses a position largely obtained through force and sly business practices but they are known by their informal motto; ‘A Lannister always repays their debt’. In this season the insane boy king, Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson), a true sadists and psychopath. He can barely be contained by his mother, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and his highly intelligent dwarf uncle and former Hand of the King (second in command), Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage). The young Crowned Prince’s madness may have been expedited by circumstances of his birth, a product of incest between his mother and his twin brother, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). This series is more sexually complicated than anything ever produced even by HBO’s cutting edge standards.
In the third season the all-out war between the Starks and the Lannister has wrought chaos throughout the entire continent of Westeros resulting shifting alliances and widespread betrayal. The writers apparently work in teams each responsible for a major thread in the overall story. The main difficulty in any television series moving into multiple seasons it to obtain the incredibly tenuous balance between training the aspects that initially lead to its success and keeping the production fresh; this is highly unlikely to ever occur in this show. The vastness of the setting and amazing complexity of interactions between the vast cast of characters allows each episode to further the events and character development of any number of concurrent and expertly interwoven threads. While the Lannisters and Stark engage in a desperate fight to exterminate each other the events in Essos continue to unfold. The last remaining heir of the House Targaryen, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) has been in exile since her husband, the leader of the equestrian based nomadic horde, the Dothraki was killed. She emerged from his funeral pyre unscathed with three newly hatched dragons. The dragons had been the power base of the Targaryen until they went extinct centuries ago, over the course of the seasons she has transformed from a shy maiden to a fiercely ruthless ruler of an army feared on both continents.
The focus are particular characters appear to wax and wane from one episode to the next with the skillful élan of a season ringmaster juggling the action in a three ring circus. It provides the deeply satisfying sensation of immersing yourself in the intricacies and unparalleled senses of a tapestry were every individual thread is crucial, contributing to the overall picture. The circumstances unfold on many fronts with some that appear unrelated being infused in other aspects of the story. Each story arc, no matter how significant or trifling it might seem contributes to moving this grand tale forward. The characters are richly drawn with their potential for growth achieved handily. Tyrion is seen by most as a comic figure, a dwarf who when not drinking and whoring is in some corner reading a book. Like Claudius of ancient Rome he uses this façade to hide in plain sight few knowing he is usually the smartest man in the room and without peer in tactics, strategy and the delicate art of politics. Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) has grown from the betrayed Ned Stark’s tomboy daughter in the protection of a castle to a young woman who can insinuate herself into dangerous situations and through sheer ingenuity, florish. This construction is difficult to create and harder to maintain; few shows can manage to achieve it with only one or two characters but in ‘Game of Thrones’ a full monograph could be written for nearly every character. There are no supporting roles here, only characters waiting for their moment in the spotlight. It remains one of the best television has to offer.
In Episode Guide: In Feature Resource That Provides Background Information
About On-Screen Characters, Locations, And Relevant Histories