This season we reached the famous ‘Red Wedding’. I finally understand. So much so that season two seems slightly worse in hindsight (that review has been edited ever so slightly to reflect that opinion).

Anyway, same as last week, I’ll try not to spoil anything from this season, but there may be some spoilers for season two below.

RELEASED: March 31st 2013 – June 9th 2013
SHOWRUNNER: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
WRITTEN BY: David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Vanessa Taylor, Bryan Cogman & George R. R. Martin
DIRECTED BY: Daniel Minahan, David Benioff, Alex Graves, Alik Sakharov, Michelle MacLaren & David Nutter
MUSIC BY:  Ramin Djawadi
Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harrington, Richard Madden, Iain Glen, Michelle Fairley, Aiden Gillen, Charles Dance, Liam Cunningham, Stephen Dillane, Carice van Houten, Natalie Dormer, Jack Gleeson, Sophie Turner, Oona Chaplin, Sibel Kekilli, Rose Leslie, James Cosmo, Jerome Flynn, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Maisie Williams, Alfie Allen, Joe Dempsie, Rory McCann & Conleth Hill

This show really starts taking strides this season. While season two was mostly just build-up, a lot of season three is the pay-off. The War of Five Kings highlights some big events. Stannis Baratheon and his ilk make some power plays. Even Bran Stark gets a destination. In fact, the only character who perhaps does not progress this season is Theon Greyjoy, who spends the ten episodes as a captive of a mysterious torturer. And I’m willing to forgive that because I don’t much care for him anyway.

Season Three of Game of Thrones sees the continuation of the War of Five Kings (now down to four, after the murder of Renly Baratheon), leading Tywin Lannister and Robb Stark to make more and more desperate gambles to defeat their enemy. Meanwhile, the Lannister and Stark families attempt to reunite with their kin despite the continuing fractures in their relationships.
Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen begins to see her power grow, while North of the Wall, Jon Snow and the men of the Night’s Watch find themselves outgunned by the threats of the Wildlings and the White Walkers.

Let’s start with Daenerys’ story. During season two, a lot of the story of Essos was mostly just Daenerys and her party wandering aimlessly in the desert, not making any significant gains. In Season Three, Daenerys becomes a power player, making huge advances in her story, each of which presents hugely exciting possibilities for the show moving forward. The settings she finds herself in continue to amaze, and the new characters joining her army not only diversify the cast a significant amount, but also open new avenues for story exploration that contrast heavily with the titular ‘Game of Thrones’ that most of the other characters find themselves playing.

Jon Snow’s story is equally exciting, as his adventures beyond the wall manage not only to entertain but also to expand the world in terms of storytelling. Alongside more ‘White Walker’ presence, Jon’s story also introduces Giants into the series (a very cool moment) and delves deeper into the lives of the Wildlings. He too finds himself surrounded by new and amusing supporting characters, some good, some bad, who I look forward to seeing get more involved in the story. Of all the looks of the show, Jon’s story this season is perhaps the most unique, as it displays glorious landscape shots and stark snowy tundras that are a far cry from the luxurious and humid sights to the south.

As for the stories in central Westeros, they too are varied and exciting, with a lot more action than we’ve witnessed in the previous series, which balances perfectly with the rich emotional drama that we’ve come to expect from characters like Tyrion Lannister and Brienne of Tarth (I use those two as an example because they’re some of my favs). Even the formerly lecherous Jaime Lannister becomes a sympathetic character as he’s put through the wringer more than most this season. Similarly, Arya continues to show prowess beyond her years (both as a character and as actor Maisie Williams), and her on-screen sister Sansa finally starts to become less whiney. There are big things ahead for her, I’m sure.

And then, of course, there’s the ‘Red Wedding’ that comes about in the penultimate episode of the season. It’s more heartbreaking and shocking than anything we’ve witnessed so far, and once again changes up the landscape of the show in the same way Eddard Stark’s execution did in season one. It’s a fantastic piece of storytelling, beautifully brutal in its execution, and makes me finally understand why people have been talking about the ‘Red Wedding’ for the past six years. Truly one of the best episodes of this, or perhaps any, series that I’ve seen in recent years. A great climax to a great season.

All-in-all, this season of Game of Thrones was so good that ‘Season Two’ drops down to three stars, while season three is awarded:

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