Game of Thrones: 3.01 – Valar Dohaeris

After the astounding events of season 2, how did the first episode of tremendously anticipated season 3 live up to expectations?

With the introduction of dragons and white walkers, Game of Thrones’ last season was finally incorporating a crescendo of fantasy into its raw medieval drama. What’s more, from the looks of this episode we’re set for more of the same this series: pure, violent, sexy and political drama: exactly why we love it.

We begin where we left off last season, with a terrified Samwell Tarly running from the white walkers. After a glimpse of his brothers of the Night’s Watch, we delve further into the Thrones world, discovering how both Tyrion Lannister and Davos Seaworth have been affected by their Blackwater battle wounds, and how a ruthless Tywin Lannister and severe Stannis Baratheon have been coping in their absence. A spectacular shot of Daenerys’ ship sailing across the narrow sea demonstrates just how much her dragons have grown, and as she’s looking for an army we’re given a rather unnecessary example of quite how tolerant of pain the infamous “unsullied” soldiers are (that’s inhumanly tolerant, encase you were wondering).

Plunged back into further epic locations from the outset, this season proves promising in providing us with even more incredible settings to ogle – if we aren’t too focused on the characters, that is. New locations including Morocco are used for the expansion of the Game of Thrones map, including our first glimpse of Astapor. Without a doubt, the show’s ability to flit between the sunny shores of King’s Landing to the dewy forests of the North and the icy depths of the Wall is perhaps one of its most attractive strengths.

Alongside this we have the sporadic switching of characters across environments as storylines develop, so we’re set to be seeing plenty of stimulating juxtaposition in the coming weeks. Particularly, fans are desperate to see how unlikely twosome Jaime Lannister and knight Brienne of Tarth get on in their expedition across Westeros, as Brienne honours her oath to Catelyn Stark to exchange Jaime for Catelyn’s two daughters Sansa and Arya, both believed to be held captive at King’s Landing.

Arya and her brother Bran we have yet to see in this episode, but from next week’s preview it seems there are some exhilarating storylines in store for Eddard Stark’s younger offspring. Despite a lack of their presence in this first instalment, we’re so enthralled by what’s going on with fan favourites Daenerys and Tyrion respectively that we almost forgot about the Stark kids – and Theon Greyjoy, too – but await in anticipation (and in Theon’s case, dread) to discover what they’re up to.

This week’s episode has done well to impress given the high standard set by previous seasons, enticing fans with new locations and characters (Mance Rayder, King Beyond the Wall, was an intriguing twist) as well as old characters and new locations with a jaw-dropping shock ending – and as is standard with Game of Thrones, you’re left with a taste of desperation for next week’s episode.

Game of Thrones Season 3 airs on Mondays, 9pm on Sky Atlantic.

Sarah Brown

Updated: Apr 03, 2013

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