Saw a tweet the other day, I think it was Seth Myers, that said, “Game of Thrones Season Three, where everyone is walking somewhere.” It is hard not to agree with that assessment, except to say that the walking has a purpose and if the first two seasons of GoT is any indication, it will pay off well. I think at this point it is best to think of these first two episodes as not only a reintroduction to the show, but to the movement of chess pieces around the board, preparing for an overall grand strategy. As a reader of the books, it makes it hard not to give things away, but I do like when a scene appears from the book almost how I imagined it. In this case the fight between Brienne and Jaime did not disappoint. It was an excellent sword fight scene. I think what makes a great duel is not only the choreography, but the length of the fight. This wasn’t a climatic scene, like something out of Star Wars, but it is important. It exposed just enough to us that Brienne is a badass, if you didn’t know that already and that Jaime is pretty good too. Unlike the Star Wars duels (the prequels, really), one of the things that made this scene work was its simplicity. Fighting on the bridge was perfect. The focus was almost entirely on the action, with no distractions. In addition I thought the actors played it perfectly; Brienne was all rage and intensity, the pent up frustration of hauling Jaime around coming out. Jaime was condescending and confident, happy to have a sword back, until he realizes, and we see it on his face, that he is being well-matched by a woman. It ends with their capture at the hands of Bolton’s men, so in effect a draw which, like the book, leaves it to us to decide who would have eventually won.
The rest of the episode was not nearly as exciting, largely concerned with further character development and hints at various machinations from all over Westeros. We learn that Shea is not all that she seems, but what she is exactly isn’t quite known to us yet. The revelation of last season, the ambitious Margaery Tyrell, plays both sides of the King’s Landing court. We see her ingratiate herself to Joffrey in one scene and then demonstrate her disgust with him when she learns from Sansa (still the naïve dupe) his true nature. As was expected, the Tyrell grandmother, the Queen of Thorns, is a scene-stealer. If you close your eyes, you can imagine Maggie Smith playing the part. Like a good villain, an acid-tongued matriarch is perhaps one of the easiest roles to get kudos for, but make no mistake it can still be screwed up, going to hard for the joke or simply too far over the top. Dame Diana Rigg does a great job and I’m looking forward to seeing more of her.
We are also introduced in a bit of odd timing to the Reed children from the Neck. I must admit, in the books I don’t particularly like the Bran storyline, though I know some really important stuff is going on within. I was actually happy that the Reeds hadn’t made it into the television show so at first blanche I was a bit disappointed to seem them. Even so, Thomas Sangster plays Jojen Reed differently than I visualize him. While he still is bit of a shaman-like presence to Bran, Sangster brings a bit of dash and humor to the character that GRRM doesn’t quite give him in the novels.
We also catch up with Theon who is in for a long season if the show follows the books. He is basically the prisoner of the Bolton’s and is going to be a hard story to watch unfold. Even though I’m well aware of the Hollywood double standard, I still find it hilarious that we can show naked women throughout the series, heaven forbid we show the naughty bits of a male actor, keep the loin cloth handy Theon.
We do get to see a few more characters, with little hints at problems to come as they literally walk across the screen; Robb and his army is unraveling, Arya is independently moving only for about five minutes until she is yet again at the mercy of someone else and Jon Snow is making his way south with the Free Folk. At some point everyone will stop moving and the stories will really get going, trust me. I can’t wait.