Spoilers are coming (ahead for season three of Game of Thrones – bu-dum cha). Seriously though. Spoilers.
Man oh man do I love plotting. It is without a doubt one of my favorite hobbies, pursuits and/or interests. In fact, the only thing that I can think of that I might like better than plotting is scheming. And if anything could come close to my pure, unbridled passion for plots and schemes it would be gratuitous nudity. Enter the third season of Game of Thrones.
For those familiar with the books season three represents a massive adaptive undertaking. Last year the creative powers that be behind HBO’s Game of Thrones proved they could deliver when they really needed to with the Battle of Blackwater Bay, but the third book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, A Clash of Kings, which serves as the source material for season three and the upcoming season four of the show, represents something of a point of no return.
When discussing the Song of Ice and Fire story with someone who is familiar with the first book’s worth of material you can easily discuss upcoming events in very broad strokes without giving away too much. When discussing the story past A Clash of Kings with someone who has not made their way through the second book, however, it’s nearly impossible to get into any sort of discussion without giving away major moves on the chess board that is Westeros.
As such the proper execution of certain events in season three of Game of Thrones was paramount and, much as they’ve proven with Sept of Baelor and Blackwater Bay before, the show delivered on those major happenings in a big, terrible, gut-wrenching way.
But I don’t really give a shit about all that jazz. As previously stated, I give a shit about plotting and scheming jazz. And boy was there a lot of it. In fact, I would say that for every single massive, earth shaking event in season three of Game of Thrones there was easily nine to nine and a half hours of plotting, scheming and general conspiratorial mischief. And man was it awesome.
I mean, think of the tables. Nothing flares up my scheme heat more than a good scheme at a great table. I’m partial to Stannis Baratheon’s 3D Westeros-shaped Warhammer/sex-having table myself. Let me tell you I could watch him scheme and plot and have sex with witches on that table for easily ten episodes.Stannis had an extremely auxiliary role this season, serving as more of a figurehead for characters like Melisandre, Davos and Gendry to orbit around. Which of course lead to some of the biggest adaptive liberties the writers of the Game of Thrones series took this year with Gendry taking an unexpected road trip to Dragonstone. For something that wasn’t in the oh-so-lauded source material, Gendry’s time in Dragonstone proved not only incredibly interesting, but surprisingly natural. Gendry and Stannis are sort of kind of related after all. And Gendry’s conversation with Davos, who himself had a rough and compelling journey this season, was justification enough for the deviation.
But enough about that table! Dragonstone is great, but how can you not love the table of the small council? There’s an elegant grandeur to it that seems to say “I don’t need to be a fancy table, because the plots and schemes plotted and schemed on this table speak for themselves.” And boy did they!
Tywin and his BFF-penpal Roose “the Boss” Bolton may very well have rocketed past Joffrey in the love to hate roster of the series after the seminal events of the Red Wedding. The showrunners have long cited the brutal betrayal as their inspiration for adapting the show in the first place and their passion for the sequence shone through in blood and guts and dead baby blood and guts.
In the immediate aftermath of the Red Wedding many in the media asserted that it was the most awful single event in television history and, excluding King of Queens, it’s hard to argue against that claim. Even knowing in advance what was about to unfold when the knives came out and the bodies started dropping it felt like a swift tap on the nuts with a hot sledgehammer.
Which brings me to the table I’ll miss the most – Robb Stark’s. Robb’s was a humble table with a humble map and badass chess pieces. It didn’t need a 3D bust of an entire continent, or fancy King’s Landing chairs. It was the table that plotted and schemed a revolution and plotted and schemed unchecked victory after unchecked victory and plotted and schemed plots and schemes that will now never come to fruition. Also, Robb’s table is the only table that won’t be around anymore, ergo, I de facto miss it the most.
Easily my least favorite schemes this year came from across the sea with young Daenerys and her gang of fellows. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t terrible schemes, but they lacked a certain hutzpah, a certain je ne sias quoi, a certain table. Luckily what Daenerys lacked in tables she made up for in character development.
The Khaleesi has been praised by many as a feminist badass, but she’s proven to be literally anything but for literally her entire story. Literally. First she depended on her brother, then on her awesome husband and now on a trinity of diverse white men. But season three saw Daenerys gain an air of authority to her. Is she hugely dependent on three men still? Yup. But when she stands before them and demands suggestions and solutions she does so with full command over all of them. It’s an interesting dynamic that was fun to watch over the course of the season, particularly when compared to Daenerys’ arcs in seasons past.
Theon Greyjoy, on the other hand, experienced the exact opposite trend. Watching the former ward of Winterfell grapple between his blood and his upbringing last season was compelling and Theon’s sacking of Winterfell was one of the most epic moments the series has produced thus far. I wish I could say the same for Theon getting his dick cut off, but after seeing him experience literally every other form of torture it was hard to be surprised. In fact, I was more surprised when his captor didn’t eat his penis then I was when his captor cut it off.
Luckily, Theon-torture aside, season three was a good ride that saw awesome developments for a lot of returning characters; Jamie’s monologue regarding his murdering the Mad King was enthralling, the exchange between Jon and Ygritte in the season finale was phenomenally acted and heartbreaking, Arya’s sinister development into a brutal murderer is almost too badass and Joffrey.
A handful of interesting new characters were introduced as well; the Brotherhood without Banners, Ramsay “dick-cutter-offer” Snow and Stannis’ sons just to name a few.
Season three has managed to maintain much of the first two seasons’ momentum due in no small part to emotional gut punches, great characterizations and the simply staggering amount of plotting and scheming. If the caliber of content produced this season on Game of Thrones is any indicator, fans of a Song of ice and Fire need not worry for the future of Westeros. I can only hope that the future of Westeros will find my favorite characters plotting and scheming to get together to plot and scheme.