the watching the throne gang weighs in on season three …
Game of Thrones Season 3 has come to a conclusion, so we’ve asked the “Watching the Throne” team: Bill Bodkin, Kimberlee Rossi-Fuchs and Luke Kalamar, some questions to see what their take was on the best, worst and the future of the sword-tastic HBO series.
1. It Was A Nice Day for A Red Wedding … What was your gut (no pun intended?) reaction to the scene and was the Internet’s reaction to it overblown?
Kimberlee Rossi-Fuchs: Having read the books, The Red Wedding was one of the scenes I was most looking forward to seeing played out onscreen and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Despite knowing what to expect, I still found the scene shocking and disturbing thanks to the sheer brutality of the ambush of the Starks and their bannermen, particularly Talisa’s stabbing and the later mutilation of both Robb Stark and Grey Wolf’s bodies. While newbies were predictably shocked that George R.R. Martin would have the audacity to get rid of two MAJOR characters who were positioned as the clear-cut good guys of the saga, I’m a bit surprised at the reaction given Martin’s tendency to completely upend the “hero wins in the end” formula. Doesn’t anyone remember Ned Stark? That said, I was surprised by the decision to kill Robb’s wife, since that character was absent from the Red Wedding in the novel – another change by Benioff and Weiss that really, really works.
Luke Kalamar: My gut reaction to this was complete shock. I had this frozen look of horror, disgust, and intrigue on my face during the entire scene, which was evidently very amusing for my girlfriend who had no idea what was going on other than everyone dying. I was upset that I couldn’t even use my “Spoiler alert: Everyone dies!” joke because that actually would have been a spoiler. As for the Internet’s reaction, I’m sure there were some staged responses in the videos but I have no doubt that a good portion of those were genuine. There has never been anything quite like the Red Wedding on television, and probably never will be.
Bill Bodkin: Despite having never read the books I was informed of the Red Wedding well before the third season even began. I knew it was coming. I ended up being unable to watch the episode the night of due to catching a wrestling show in Philly, but I saw the Internet’s reaction and even read our own review (with spoilers) before I saw the episode. So I knew what was coming. The anticipation to that scene, because I knew it was coming, was the most unbearable television experience I’ve ever had. Then when it happened — it was stunned. And I think the decision to make the first death that of Thalisa and her unborn child in the most disturbing way possible made the dramatic impact of that scene titanic in size. It’s one of the most emotionally gut-wrenching scenes produced on television.
2. The Season Finale. People seemed to really get whiney about how it wasn’t very good, nothing happened, etc. Give us a five sentence review of the episode.
KRF: First of all, I’m not sure why some viewers expect major fireworks in a finale, since many serialized dramas (The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire, to name a few) serve up the major action of the season in the penultimate episode, with the finale serving as a chance to put a cap on the season’s major arcs (or at least an ellipsis) and set the stage for what’s to come. Also, a lot happened in “Mhysa” – the identity of Theon’s torturer was finally revealed, Jon Snow and Sam both returned to Castle Black, Jaime finally made it back to Kings Landing (and Cercei), and Daenerys is deified by her ever-growing legion of supporters. We also touched base with the surviving Starks (except for Rickon, whose presumably off somewhere eating walnuts), the Greyjoys, and Stannis’s crew on Dragonstone, where Melisandre begins to realize that the real war lies not with any self-proclaimed kings, but with the horrifying, ancient threat emerging from the North. As such, I thought “Mhysa” was an excellent end to season three – satisfyingly tying up the season’s storylines and leaving me highly anticipating the series’ return next spring.
LK: It’s an impossible task to give a follow up to one of the most shocking moments to ever exist on the small screen, so it doesn’t surprise me that a lot of people dislike the final episode. It also didn’t help that some major stories weren’t completely resolved. Theon’s (Alfie Allen) situation only changed slightly, Ygritte (Rose Leslie) is now wandering the North, and there’s still plenty more to go with Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) officially returning to King’s Landing. Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) got absolutely no resolution either, which was as bizarre as they come considering how important she was to the season. The endings that we did get were incredibly dramatic though, and I got chills when Dany (Emilia Clarke) was held up like a savior to all the slaves she rescued. All in all it was a great episode, but definitely needed some work.
BB: I think a lot of people were hoping maybe Joffrey was going to get off-ed or there’d be some big, epic battle involving Dany, her army and the dragons. Or maybe people thought we’d get a killer reveal like we did with The White Walkers at the end of Season 2. Instead, we got a table-setting episode which set up expectations and storylines for Season 4. I thought this was a very good episode and it really wetted my appetite for the next installment of GOT.
3. Who was your favorite character of Season 3?
KRF: The incredibly clever Margaery Tyrell, who’s a fascinating blend of ambitious, shrewd, and compassionate, and is the only person in Kings Landing cunning enough to bend the loathsome Joffrey to her will, a fact which certainly isn’t winning her any favors with Cercei.
LK: My favorite character for this season was definitely Jaime. Jaime went through the wringer this year and we saw a side of him that has never been seen before. Losing your dominant hand is a big deal for any normal person, but for someone whose entire life revolves around being able to properly swing a sword, it’s life threatening. Coster-Waldau absolutely killed it at portraying Jaime’s lack of confidence and changing perspective on his life and the world as well. It was, in many ways, Emmy worthy.
BB: I’m going to go off the beaten path here and say that Sir Davos, the Onion Knight was hands down my favorite character to watch this year. The Onion Knight was this great, down-to-earth character that was funny, had a lot of emotional depth and was just really complex despite his simple, salt of the earth approach to life. See, he’s opposed to Melisandre’s teaching and influence on the king and it’s very obvious that Stannis is fully bought in with her ways. And let’s not forget that ol’ Stan has his disfigured daughter banished to a tower and his wife locked in a room filled with their stillborn kids. This dude’s a bastard, yet ol’ Onion sticks by him, because he’s a loyal soldier. To me that’s just fascinating and for such a small character to be that engrossing is a testament to the brilliance of the show.
4. Favorite Moment of the Season:
KRF: My favorite moment of the season is also my favorite moment from the novels, Daenerys’ stunning sack of Astapor. Like the Red Wedding, I knew what was coming, but as soon as Dany walked into the city square with Drogon in tow, my heart started pumping. It was great to see the Khaleesi harness her dragons’ power once again (and give that slimy asshole his fiery come-uppance), but even more impressive was her new confidence and strength, pulling off a major coup and winning the loyalty of her massive, newly liberated Unsullied army. Daenerys has always been one of the characters we root for, but in that moment she truly became a queen.
LK: Right off the bat, my favorite moment is when Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) got drunk at his wedding. That moment was absolutely hilarious and I can’t get over how well done it was. Tyrion threatening Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), passing everything off in a drunken stupor, and having the good sense to stop Sansa (Sophie Turner) from undressing was the classic Tyrion that we all love. His final phrase before passing out, “And so my watch begins,” was nothing short of perfection. It was truly amazing work.
BB: I wrote these damn questions and I am having a hard time figuring this one out. This was such a good season with a lot of great moments, however I’m going to go with Brienne fighting A BEAR. Holy shit I didn’t even see this coming and I totally loved every second of it. It showed Brienne’s undying courage and we saw the inevitable “face turn” from Jamie who rode back to save her life — even climbing down into the pit, with one hand and getting her out of there. That was an electric scene.
5. What was the scene you have emblazoned on your mind for all the wrong reasons from this season?
KRF: Insert any of Theon’s torture scenes here. They occur off-page in the book for a reason.
LK: Thalisa (Oona Chaplin) getting stabbed in the abdomen at the Red Wedding will easily stay with me forever. I have seen some fucked up things before, but that easily tops the list. Also, Theon getting tortured will stick with me too. Both are equally horrific in my eyes.
BB: The Theon castration … even though it was implied. GAAAAAHHH!
6. Who was your favorite guest star or new addition to Season 3?
KRF: Hands down, Diana Rigg as Lady Olenna, the head bitch in charge of the Tyrell family. Clever, shrewd, and quick-witted, Lady Olenna cowed Tyrion with her intimidating savvy and proved herself an equal match for Lannister patriarch Tywin, which is quite the impressive feat. Rigg is perfect in the role, absolutely nailing Olenna’s intellectual superiority and scathing wit and every scene with her was a delight. The Tyrell matriarch ain’t no one to fuck with and I hope we see a ton more of her next season.
LK: Without a doubt, my favorite new addition is the very talented Diana Rigg as Lady Olenna Tyrell. She absolutely slayed every scene she was in. She was funny, charming, and ruthless at the same time, and is the classic example of someone who is simply too old to give a shit, but still young enough to make things happen when necessary. Her ability to stand up to Tywin (Charles Dance) is incredible, and I wish more was done with her.
BB: Again, I’ll go against the tide and say that my favorite guest spot was from Mackenzie Cook, who played the Wilding mystic Orell. Who’s this guy in real life you might be asking? Well, he was Gareth on the British Office and he was the bumbling, wooden eyed pirate Ragetti in the Pirates of the Caribbean films. So, I got a kick of that for starters. However, I thought featuring him as this crazy mystic was a good way to a.) illustrate The Wildings as more than just crazy savages and b.) help us get to know what a “worg” is, so we can see it work in other characters like Bran.
7. What was the most underdeveloped storyline or character of Season 3?
KRF: I thought Tyrion got a bit short-shifted this season. While some of that is necessary due to the structure of “A Storm of Swords,” it’s a shame since Dinklage charisma elevates every scene he’s in.
LK: I had to say it but there were a lot of underdeveloped characters and storylines in Season 3. It was all too obvious that some stories were meant to end this season and others are supposed to go into Season 4. A ton of the new characters, such as Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye) and Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer), were huge in the beginning and then vanished without much care, while others like Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick) and Bryden “Blackfish” Tully were around all season and yet had little to no expansion. Near the end it didn’t even feel like the cast even grew, which was very weird considering how much attention they got early on. I blame it on the fact that there were so many characters with so many different stories, and only 10 episodes.
BB: Where was everyone’s favorite drunken, knight for hire Bronn (Jerome Flynn)? We saw him only briefly this season and he’s my absolute favorite GOT character. He’s a smart ass, a perfect foil to Tyrion and a terrifically convincing fighter. Could’ve done with more Bronn and less Theon torture.
8. What character did you secretly wished they killed off this season?
KRF: None. Even the characters whom I hate bring something to the table.
LK: Theon. His torture scenes brought nothing to me and his entire story was almost completely underdeveloped for the entire season. When you think about it, he was tortured for almost 10 straight episodes. It got tiring really fast. I know there is so much more for him and the Greyjoy’s in the future, but I would’ve preferred if he just died and we got to his family actually doing something.
BB: I’m a jerk. When a character gets annoying, especially in a show where people die, I always ask out loud, “Why can’t they just kill this character already!” I said this about Andrea on The Walking Dead forever … thanks for listening to me finally guys. On GOT this season I wanted someone to just off Shea (Sibel Kekilli). I really enjoyed her character last season, but this year, just end her. She’s just so one note that I can’t stand seeing her on my screen.
9. What was your least favorite part of Season 3?
KRF: I was not a fan of Theon’s storyline this season. Theon’s torture is not greatly detailed in the novels – in fact, he doesn’t even appear in A Storm of Swords, and we only hear snippets of what’s being done to him through other characters. While I understand why Benioff and Weiss would be reluctant to dispense with a major character for a whole season, I’m not sure why they came back to Theon so frequently when one or two scenes of torture would have done the trick. Theon’s been portrayed as a villain in the past, but that didn’t make his brutal torture at the hands of a frighteningly sadist captor any less difficult to sit through.
LK: Theon’s torture! Really, is there anything else? It dragged on way too long and brought nothing to the show.
BB: Yeah, Theon’s torture, I could’ve done without.
10. Final Grade/Overall Thoughts of Season 3
KRF: The season was a solid A for me. As I’ve mentioned before, A Storm of Swords is my absolute favorite novel of Martin’s series so far and Benioff and Weiss did a fine job of bringing the book’s best scenes to life. While the Red Wedding will probably be the most remembered scene this season (and every detail was perfect – from the dank, depressing Frey homestead to the sense of dread elicited by the band starting to play “The Rains of Castamere”), there were a ton of amazing moments, from Jaime’s brutal maiming, to Tyrion and Sansa’s awkward wedding, to Daenerys’ fantastic power play in Astapor, which, in my opinion, is the series’ best scene to date. Even though I know what’s coming, I can’t wait to see how it all plays out next year and it’s going to be a long winter until season 4.
LK: Season 3 was, overall, and fantastic season. I have yet to read A Storm of Swords but now I can’t wait to. The acting was even better than ever before with Coster-Waldau, Michelle Fairley, Richard Madden, and Peter Dinklage absolutely crushing it when it counts. The Red Wedding was gloriously gruesome, Dany became a true force to be reckoned with, Arya (Maisie Williams) was amazingly badass throughout the entire season, and the fact that the Lords of Westeros now know that the White Walkers are coming is absolutely perfect. However, there’s no doubt that some stories were intentionally stretched on longer for the purpose of keeping them as focal points for Season 4. Bran was traveling for the entire season, Theon is still captured, and there’s so much more for Jaime and Brienne. Plus, Mance Rayder (Ciarán Hinds) was gone for pretty much the entire season and we all know he’s not done yet. It’s hard to stay super invested in a story when you just know there’s no solid resolution coming before the season ends. I’d give this season a solid A-.
BB: It’s A’s all around then. My biggest complaint about Season 3 is, the season seemed to go by so quickly. Obviously, this is my favorite show on TV right now, so I’m a bit biased, I want this series to have an epic run … I don’t want it to ever end. But that’s just being silly. I thought in true GOT fashion they were able to tell multiple, complex storylines and tell them brilliantly. They also were able to take characters like Little Finger and Varys and Bronn and move them to the background (for the most part) and allow them to lurk in the shadows till Season 4. They did a brilliant job of evolving the Stark girls and Arya was just a beast this year, killing every scene she was in. I also enjoyed the fact Jon Snow finally got laid and ended the whole “You know nothing Jon Snow” mantra which was becoming a bit of a running gag. Also, the Dany storyline was the best yet and the dragon CGI is amazing. Damn it, why does the show only run 10 episodes once a year.
All photos credit to HBO.