|"We have to warn them; or before winter's done, everyone you've ever known will be dead."|
The days of toil getting through season 1 seem a very long time ago now, having finished the third season. It's such a rich and complex world that George R.R Martin's created that it took awhile to get to grips with the regions, histories, and peoples of Westeros. To be honest, there are still characters whose names I couldn't tell you off-hand, and a few storylines I've lost the thread on, but the important stuff has crystallised now. This was the best season of the show yet and one of the best things on television, so I thought I'd take this post-finale opportunity to give some broad thoughts on the key storylines and events:
|Daenerys Targaryen, Ser Jorah & Ser Barristan|
|Theon Greyjoy & Ramsay Snow|
Ramsay's tormenting was so unflinching it almost became an endurance for viewers, culminating in the shocking moment when Theon was castrated. It was so relentlessly grim (the destruction of a man's body, spirit, sexuality and identity—after he was made to accept his new name of 'Reek') that the finale had to give us a rousing montage of Theon's sister Yara (Gemma Whekan) launching a rescue mission without the blessing of Theon's own father, as a much-needed salve. Let's hope Theon gets some "eye for an eye" vengeance on Ramsay next season, because I think King Joffrey had real competition for 'most despicable character'!
|Jamie Lannister & Brienne of Tarth|
|Robb Stark, Talisa Maegyr & Catelyn Stark|
You can't talk about season 3 without mentioning the infamous Red Wedding sequence, which lit up the internet for a week following its grisly events: Robb killed by multiple crossbow shots, his pregnant wife knifed repeatedly in the belly, and his mother having her throat cut, while the Stark party were simulatenously massacred. It was a strong reminder that Game of Thrones doesn't mollify audiences, as each character could be killed at any given moment, but I must confess to feeling the impact didn't quite work. Robb, Talisa and Catelyn had spent so long doing very little that it made a weird kind of sense to kill them off, and there are dozens of other characters whose deaths I'd feel more acutely. It chilled your blood to watch it play out because it was expertly handled, but it just wasn't something that haunted me for days afterwards. Maybe I'm alone in that.
|Jon Snow & Ygritte|
|Tyrion Lannister & Sansa Stark|
|Davos Seaworth, Stannis Baratheon & Melisandre|
|Arya Stark & The Hound|
|Sam, Bran, and co...|
Bran's ability to control the minds of animals and (uniquely) humans will also elevate his position in the show, which is overdue because you can't just have him being carried around by gentle giant Hodor all the time. That said, a part of me wishes Game of Thrones wasn't quite so keen to go down the magical path it almost completely abstained from in season 1. I like having dragons and undead armies involved, but it feels like Westeros is quickly turning into Middle-earth. But maybe magic should be employed to help explain why Bran's aged years in what's a matter of, what, months in real-time? (This is a problem that may start affecting other child actors, like Maisie Williams, but for now only Isaac Hempstead-Wright looks conspicuously older than he did in the very first episode.)