Our favorite non-Red Wedding parts of Game of Thrones’ third season
Each week, readers Bob and Ivey discuss ‘Game of Thrones’ from the perspective of those who have read the books. This week we look back at our favorite non-Red Wedding parts of season three. Spoilerphobes beware!
It’s been over a week and a half since the third season finale of Game of Thrones aired, and we would be lying to you if we said we weren’t in a little bit of withdrawal at this point. Sure, we didn’t love the exact note the season ended on, but that doesn’t mean that we didn’t love the season.
With the Red Wedding getting all of the hype at this point, it’s hard to remember some of the awesome stuff that came before it. In this week’s Beyond the Wall, we’re going to look back at some of our favorite non-Red Wedding parts of Game of Thrones’ third season.
Before we get to it, the usual spoiler warning. Beyond the Wall is a column intended for those who have already read all of the books in author George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series that the show is based on. So if you don’t know who the Red Viper is — and why we’re so excited for him to show up — then this post probably isn’t for you.
Bob: Last week we talked about the finale, as was appropriate, but I think it’s time to take a broader look back at season three. Let’s focus this week on the good. Honestly, it’s probably easier than discussing the bad because there was so much that was good this year, and very little that was bad (aside from crowd surfing). Now, just to be fair, and to save ourselves from becoming a broken record, let’s leave out the Red Wedding. It’s been talked about to death.
A couple of things come to mind when I think of highlights from the third season. One that sticks out is Diana Rigg as Olenna Redwyne, the matriarch of the Tyrell family. I think I either forgot just how great the character is in the novels, or Rigg and the writers really brought something extra to the Queen of Thorns. It’s hard to pick out a specific Olenna moment that shines above any others, but her meeting with Tywin was fantastic, as was her verbal sparring with Tyrion.
Ivey: Quite right. The only small disappointment about the the Queen of Thorns was that we didn’t get any more of her than we did. The quintessential scene from the novel — with Margaery and Sansa — was well done. Even better though were her interactions with both Tyrion and Varys. What I wouldn’t give for the writers to find a way for the three of them trading barbs with each other.
One of my favorite scenes in the entire season involved Tywin Lannister trying to bring his unruly grandson to heel. When Joffrey called his Hand to the throne room, what followed was awesome. Everything about the scene, from Tywin’s long walk across the room to his slow rise up the stairs asserting his dominance on a very literal level was brilliant.
Bob: If we’re talking favorite scenes, I think I would have to point to any of the small council meetings. The game of musical chairs in the middle of the season was an inspired piece of writing and directing. It was amazing how much could be shown for each of the characters involved without so much as a word spoken.
Of course, the small council meeting in the finale was great too, with Tywin asserting his dominance again over Joffrey, sending him to bed without his supper. He’s probably the only person on the planet who could get away with that while keeping his head attached to his body.
Ok, we’ve talked a lot about King’s Landing here, but how about Jaime and Brienne? A lot of their relationship was established at the end of last season, but their unlikely bond transferred really well from the novels onto the screen this year too.
Ivey: I absolutely love what Nikolaj Coster-Waldau did with Jaime Lannister this season. I keep calling it a ‘redemptive arc,’ and I know you’ve disagreed with the semantics of that statement, but his incredible performance this season is undeniable. The scene with he and Brienne in the bath was not just one of the high points of the season, but of the series overall.
That being said, I’m probably less sold on Brienne than I was last season. I was never a particularly big fan of her character on the page, and was hoping that Gwendoline Christie would bring something different to the role that would change my opinion of what I believe to be the series’ most boring major character. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.
But this isn’t a post about complaining. Prior to the Red Wedding, the seasons most buzzed-about moment had to be Daenerys Targaryen’s sacking of Astapor. Fans had been clamoring for Dany’s dragons to have that big “oh shit” moment since their birth in the first season finale. Astapor finally paid off on that promise. Also, Dany’s little twist of speaking Valyrian played out on the screen better than it did on the page. For fans of the show that like the big battle sequences, it is hard to ignore seeing the Unsullied and Drogon laying waste to a city full of slavers as one of the best parts of the season.
Bob: Oh man, I almost forgot about the burning of Astapor! It’s probably my favorite Dany moment in all of the novels, and it played out magnificently on screen. I did love the looks on Jorah and Selmy’s faces through that whole arc. I don’t think they realized how much of a bad ass Dany was going to turn into. (An interesting aside: I was discussing the show with a couple folks who hadn’t read the books and they had no idea who Dany was. No one ever calls her that on the show).
Ivey: We could spend all day making fun of show-watchers that haven’t figured out the actual names of the characters. Don’t get me started on “Kelly C.”
The third season was pretty damn awesome, even before Catelyn Stark heard the first couple notes of “Rains of Castamere” waft down from the balcony. What were your favorite parts of the third season?