Game of Thrones, Season 3, Ep 1 “Valar Dohaeris”

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

I’ve taken a couple of weeks’ break from Game of Thrones after season 2, to give me a chance to rewatch Stranger Things season 1, in preparation for the new season 2. But we’re back into it now!

The North: We left our heroes watching an army of White Walkers tromping through the snow towards The Wall. This episode opens with Samwell racing purposefully across the snow, in a scene reminiscent of both the opening of The X-Files: Fight the Future and also something out The Thing (1982). Suddenly a White Walker looms out of the snow and tries to attack him, but it is grabbed on the leg by Jon Snow’s wolf, which keeps it off Sam long enough for the Watch men to burn it. The White Walkers basically seem to be undead creatures that can only be killed by fire.

The men of the Watch all have blood dripping down their faces. It’s not clear what happened in the inter-season break. Did they encounter and fight the horde of White Walkers we saw last time? I guess they must have… but did they win and kill all the Walkers? There were a heck of a lot of them. Did the Walkers escape and still threaten to march on The Wall? None of this is explained. And another odd thing is that the wounds on every single member of the Watch all look remarkably similar. Blood dripping down their faces from the hairline. That’s an odd wound pattern in one person, but all of them? And how did they survive a battle with so many Walkers? Or did they survive?? Perhaps they all got sliced across their head and their brains scoped out and turned into White Walker agents or something. Sam doesn’t seem to think anything’s wrong, but maybe he should.

The wildlings lead Jon into their camp and take him to meet their king, Mance Rayder. Mance wants to know why Jon wants to join them, and Jon describes his disgust at finding out that Craster was sacrificing his sons to evil creatures and the fact that Watch Commander Mormont knew about it. This seems to win Mance over, so it looks like Jon’s trick of pretending to be on the wildlings’ side is working so far. But it’s difficult to know what Jon is thinking. The fact that there’s a pretty woman among the wildlings (and, as Mance points out, they don’t care about Jon’s vow of chastity) may make him reconsider his loyalties. I haven’t got a good handle on which way Jon might jump here.

Harrenhal: Robb arrives at Harrenhal, expecting to have to fight to take it, but finds everyone there dead. Again, it’s not entirely clear what’s happened, but they say the dead are all people of the North, so it seems Gregor Clegane had them all killed and then abandoned the place. But why? Another mystery. Robb still blames his mother for letting Jaime Lannister go, and instructs his men to find a cell to lock her up in. Oh, and I forgot last episode, there was a simple wedding ceremony, with Robb marrying Talisa. So presumably there’ll be a reckoning at some point when the river castle guy finds out he’s not going to keep his promise to marry his daughter.

Dragonstone: Stannis’s captain Davos is rescued from a tiny island after the disastrous battle at King’s Landing and taken back to Dragonstone island. Stannis is happy to see him, until Davos accuses Melisandre of setting their attack up for failure. Melisandre says that it was Davos who forbade her from accompanying the fleet, and that if she had been there she would have been able to quench the Wildfire. Davos accuses her of being a “mother of demons” and tries to attack her, but Stannis has his guards grab him and toss him in the dungeons.

Astapor: A new location across the Narrow Sea, where Daenerys and her remaining Dothraki followers sail on a ship. The Dothraki are seasick, having never been on the ocean before. The dragons are growing, flying free and catching fish to eat. Daenerys is going to Astapor to buy an army, and a sales dude shows off an impressive army of slaves, who obey his orders without question, even to the point of him mutilating one of them while the soldier doesn’t flinch. Daenerys is disgusted but impressed. Jorah points out that if she buys them, she can treat them better. It looks like she’s found her army.

In a street, a kid tosses a ball at Daenerys. This is a classic tourist pickpocketing ploy, with kids distracting the marks while the thieves lighten their purses – used right here in the real world of Earth. Unfortunately, Daenerys is a naïve traveller, and picks the ball up. A stranger intervenes as the ball splits open to reveal a presumably dangerous scorpion-like creature, and kills it with a dagger. Daenerys is grateful, and the stranger turns out to be a guy who says he was the personal guard of her father, King Aerys, and he swears allegiance to her.

This is good for Daenerys – another loyal and competent servant. But is he going to supplant the role of Jorah? I foresee some jealousy on Jorah’s part, and possible conflict between him and this new guy.

King’s Landing: Tyrion summons Bronn and they have some negotiation over a new fee for Bronn’s service, with Tyrion apparently agreeing to double his payments. Tyrion then meets with Tywin and demands (a) thanks for helping save King’s Landing, and (b) his birthright claim to the title of Casterly Rock, the Lannister ancestral home (a place we haven’t seen yet, but have heard talk about many times). But Tywin really hates this son, blaming him for killing his wife as she gave birth to him. It seems the years have done nothing to blunt this bitterness – indeed they may have sharpened it – and Tywin basically yells at Tyrion as he denies every request and sends him away. He also threatens to kill Shae, though it’s not entirely clear if he knows exactly who she is – he merely says he’ll hang the next whore Tyrion sleeps with.

Sansa and Shae play a game where they make up stories about ships sailing in the harbour. Petyr Baelish appears and talks to Sansa, saying he can get her out of the city with him when he leaves on some business trip or something, but she has to keep quiet about it. I don’t know what Petyr’s up to, but I’m sure he’s not doing this just for Sansa. Oh! He’s probably thinking if he gets her safely back to Cat, he can worm his way into Cat’s affections. Yeah, that’d be it.

Joffrey and Margaery are being carried in separate litters through the streets of King’s Landing for some unexplained reason (honestly, this makes no sense – why do they need to pass through the scummiest part of town?), when Margaery orders her bearers to let her off. She goes into an orphanage and spends some princess time with the orphans, telling them stories and pinching their cheeks and so on. This would seem like a nice gesture, except this is Margaery, so she’s clearly up to something. Probably building an image of niceness so the people love her, and perhaps might prefer her to Joffrey once she’s queen. After this event, Cersei makes disparaging comments about Margaery and her suitability to be queen. It looks like Margaery is also effectively driving a wedge between Cersei and Joffrey… so two birds with one stone. Nicely done. But I can see Cersei getting so mad with Margaery that she does something rash – which won’t be good for Margaery, that’s for sure.

3 Responses to “Game of Thrones, Season 3, Ep 1 “Valar Dohaeris””

  1. Glen Barnett says:

    “the stranger turns out to be a guy who says he was the personal guard of her father” — He appeared quite a few times in season 1 – though he may have only had a handful of scenes with substantive dialog with major characters; there’s a pretty dramatic one featuring him toward the end of the season. If I recall how the scene here goes, the bit where he pulls back his hood is supposed to be a big reveal to the audience.

  2. Well, I guess the big reveal didn’t work. There are so many characters, and I’m pretty sure I’m paying more attention to them than the average viewer, because of writing up this blog, but I didn’t remember ever seeing him before.

  3. Glen Barnett says:

    There’s a heck of a lot of characters to keep track of. I think there’s around 140 named characters in the first two seasons alone (and many more come in later – about 100 more by the end of season 7). You’d more than double that if you add in unnamed characters (not counting extras)

Leave a Reply