For Your Consideration: Game of Thrones Season 3

The country’s latest television obsession is back. After months of hearing the phrase “Winter is coming” – judging by this weather, it came, is still here, and showing no signs of leaving – the epic fantasy Game of Thrones has made its triumphant return, bringing with it the show’s patented medieval drama, backstabbing, ultra-violence, and depravity.

Unlike America’s other favorite show, The Walking Dead, where the quality is all over the place, Season 3 of Game of Thrones returns as if it never left. The new season seamlessly slips back into excellent form with all the elements that there is to love about the show, well except for the giant lack of Arya, but it’s only the first episode so there’s plenty of time to fix that nagging oversight.

Stepping back from Season 2’s explosive ending filled with giant battles and hordes of the living dead, the premiere is quiet, filled with backdoor meetings, subtly setting up the rest of the season, which is far from a bad thing. The episode is a string of well-acted confrontations, replacing the extravagant battles, that is more than enough to whet your appetite. With all the hints and teases setting up new driving conflicts in each conversation, it makes it close to being unbearable to wait for next week’s episode.

Season 3 picks up on the lost remnants of the Night’s Watch in the icy, dangerous lands beyond the Wall. While the group fights for their lives in lands beyond the Wall, the focal point of the Night’s Watch, Jon Snow, is drawn deeper and deeper into the world of the cutthroat group known as the Wildlings. What is the highlight of the episode is Snow’s tense journey to meet the leader of the Wildlings, Mance Rayder. Playing out as a sort of undercover cop scenario, the tension builds and builds to where it feels like any slight wrong move can lead to Snow’s demise.

In any other show there would be that nagging feeling reminding us that Jon Snow would be safe, that unless this was some sort of grand finale he wouldn’t bite it. Of course that’s not always the case with Game of Thrones, where every character that you love can die and, in most undeserving ways, often do.

The tension is only heightened with Game of Thrones sly way of playing with the supernatural. While in many fantasy works the likes of dragons and giants are commonplace, here they cast a sense of awe and horror with a veil of otherworldliness over the the more down-to-Earth characters. Only the pretense of safety exists. Even if Snow has fallen into the good graces of the Wildlings, the threat of the undead White Walkers surround them.

While Snow faces his troubles in the North, the conniving and cunning Lannisters’ inner family drama plays out in the South. Everyone’s favorite imp Tyrion, once on the top, now finds himself struggling to stay ahead of everyone and cast off from being in favored light. While it was fun to see Peter Dinklage play everyone off against each other, it is an interesting twist to see the cunning dwarf now desperate and backed into a corner. Once again, there is the illusion of safety and power being played out that the show does so well. It may be safe or one may feel at the top with no one able to stop them, but it’s all a cheap facade that can fall with the change of day.

Game of Thrones returns with a strong opening. Pieces are being moved into place, bargains are begin struck, and treacherous alliances are forming that will sure make for another unbelievable season.

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