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TV Review: Game of Thrones 3.1: Valar Dohaeris
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Game of Thrones Season 3 Premiere - Valar Dohaeris - Review

Season 3 of Game of Thrones premiered tonight on HBO after a long year of waiting. What’s the latest in the Seven Kingdoms? Hit the jump to find out.

Game of Thrones
Season 3, Episode 1 – Valar Dohaeris
Directed by Daniel Minahan
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Starring: Mark Addy, Alfie Allen, Emilia Clarke, James Cosmo, Liam Cunningham, Charles Dance, Stephen Dillane, Peter Dinklage, Natalie Dormer, Michelle Fairley, Jerome Flynn, Aidan Gillen, Jack Gleeson, Iain Glen, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Conleth Hill, Ciarán Hinds, Carice van Houten, Sibel Kekilli, Harry Lloyd, Richard Madden, Patrick Malahide, Rory McCann, Sophie Turner, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Maisie Williams, and Issac Hempstead-Wright
Air Date: March 31, 2013

Due to the sheer number of characters and plots that Game of Thrones juggles at one time, it’s not entirely surprising that we didn’t check in with everyone in this premiere episode. And that’s fine, considering how strong the material was that we were shown tonight, I’m perfectly all right with the fact that next week’s episode will probably highlight some of my favorite plots and characters (Arya and Jamie storylines come specifically to mind).

That aside, tonight’s quieter season premiere was very, very strong.

“Valar Dohaeris” was an improvement over last season’s premiere, mostly due to the fact that I believe it handled the transition between seasons better. The season two premiere felt like a straight up continuation of what’s come before, whereas there’s been some passage of time for this one. Things have been progressing (even if they are slight progressions) and we’re dropped right back into the middle of it.

Color me surprised at how interested I am in what’s happening with the separate storylines of Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke). Last season, I was pretty vocal about how slow I felt those characters’ stories were moving, but that’s not the case here. In fact, I’m more interested in what’s happening beyond the wall then I am anything else. I’m equally as invested in Daenerys (mostly because it seems that she’ll have a lot more to this season, or at least that’s what the marketing seems to be drumming up) now that the Stormborn seems to have found her strength. However, for as powerful as she is, I like the fact that the show is still finding ways to test her. With her Dothraki army beyond seasick, and her dragons not growing as quickly as she’d like, Dany still has a long journey before she finds herself before the Iron Throne. But there’s more forward momentum with her than I feel she’s had before and that’s downright exciting.

In King’s Landing, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) finds himself still licking his wounds after his betrayal at Blackwater. Yet this aspect provides the episode’s strongest parts, as I found myself lost in Tyrion’s interaction with his father. I talked at length about how much I enjoyed Tywin’s (Charles Dance) interactions with Arya (Maisie Williams) last season and that translates well between Dance and Dinklage. Furthermore, the content of that actual interaction between father and son seems to position Tyrion to be in a position to revolt against his family. I know Tyrion is a smart man, but I’m not quite sure how he’ll work to rise out of his current position. It’s certainly a fascinating dynamic to see a character who has been on top for so long, fall. That arc will be interesting to watch as it plays out throughout this season.

I’m certainly glad the show is back and that we had some good time to let the premiere breathe a little. It would have been absurd to try and fit everyone into this first episode, so I’m glad we got to actually to slow things down.

However, this show has proved that things won’t be quiet for long.

Quick Thoughts:

– “You grow bored protecting me?” “I grow poor protecting you.” I’d watch a buddy cop spin off of Tyrion and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) in a heartbeat.

– So excited to see Ciarán Hinds as Mance Rayder. I think Hinds is a brilliant character actor and I can’t wait to see how he and Harrington interact.

– The character I’m least invested in now? Easily Stannis (Stephen Dillane). I couldn’t quite place my finger on why I wasn’t particularily blown away with his plot last season, but one scene he was in tonight answered that question for me. I’m eager to see if he moves beyond his obsession and becomes more fleshed out as a character, but I feel Stannis to be a little dry right now. Here’s hoping that changes.

– Robb Stark (Richard Madden) doesn’t have much to do in the premiere, but the ghastly reintroduction of Harrenhal sets a good tone for how much of a battle Robb still has ahead of him.

– Since her introduction last year, I’ve felt Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) to be a wildcard and a total unknown when it comes to her intentions. She’s certainly smart and I wonder what her long turn plans with Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) are (outside of having a spot close to the Iron Throne).

– As per usual when it comes to Game of Thrones, I haven’t read the books, as I want to see how the show stands on its own as a television show and not as an adaptation. That policy will continue for this season.

What did you think of the premiere? Sound off in our comments, as I’m eager to get a discussion going with you all. I know there’s a big base of GoT fans here and I’m excited for your thoughts.

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