Dead Season Discussion: Knocking Over the Board in Game of Thrones Season 3 (Part 3 of 4)

GoT

Welcome to the second installment of Dead Series Discussion, where Patches of Nothing but the Rain and I will discuss Season 3 of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Not only is Game of Thrones more popular than our first effort, ABC’s Last Resort, but we also like it more, meaning we probably won’t spend 2,000+ words discussing what we didn’t like about the show. Like our previous Dead Series Discussion, this is a multi-part series. Part 1, Part 2 and Part 4 are available. You’re reading Part 3.

If the title didn’t make SEASON 3 SPOILERS obvious, then you need to start paying attention while you read. There are also spoilers for the first two seasons of Game of Thrones and the first 3 books of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. There are, however, NO spoilers from books 4 and 5, beyond one mention of the general timeline for those books and what season 3 of the TV show covers.

SPOILERS ABOUND!

For the last two days, we’ve discussed Game of Thrones’ third season. Today, we get a little more specific and dish out some superlatives covering performances, episodes, scenes and the like.

Patches: Let’s move to our trademark superlatives, which aren’t really trademarked as much as we are the only people to call them “superlatives.”

BEST PERFORMANCE. Who ya got?

Jeff: I’m going to go with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister. Guy will probably never get an Emmy for this, but deserves one for the Hot Tub scene alone.

Patches: Coster-Waldau’s versatility and growth makes him my choice too. I’ll still give a shout-out to Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister. He absolutely OWNED this season, mostly while seated. I would watch an entire episode of him writing letters, then ripping apart anyone who interrupts him.

Jeff: Nice. Tywin was my runner up for sure. He elevates any scene. How about WORST PERFORMANCE? It’s hard to call anything really bad on this show, but is there any actor, regardless of role, who left something to be desired?

Patches: I don’t have a worst performance, but I do have a least best. Richard Madden as Robb Stark was a little boring. To be fair, Robb Stark is a little boring, so the character was cast perfectly, but Madden didn’t do much to elevate it.

Jeff: I’m in the same boat with you, and if I have to harp on someone I’m going to pick Robb’s half-brother Jon Snow, played by Kit Harington. The guy’s not bad, particularly in the role, and he improved as the season went along, but he doesn’t have a lot of range and often sounds constipated. I’m hoping he’ll wow me next year.

Patches: You know nothing, Jeff Snow… Or maybe you do since my backup was to write the same words substituting “Kit Harington,” “Jon Snow,” and “emo” for “Richard Madden,” “Robb Stark,” and “boring.” Both of those guys have been main cast members since Season 1. Who do you think had Season 3’s BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE?

Jeff: It’s so hard to decide what to call a supporting performance in a series that’s almost all supporting performances and then guest stars. She may be a lead, but I’m going to go with Rose Leslie as Ygritte. I really liked her last season and, apart from the waterfall hook-up episode this season, she’s been carrying the weight of the Jon/Ygritte relationship. Special mention goes to their final scene of the season. Perfect.

Patches: I think I have to go with Paul Kaye as Thoros of Myr, who stole every scene he was in. He might not have been particularly important to the story thus far, but he emanates this depth of character that you feel the moment you meet him. He’s happy and noble and devoted to the Red God, but still troubled, reflective, and repentant for his youthful and middle-aged indiscretions.

Jeff: A nice choice. Kaye also fits the criteria for this category: BEST NEW ADDITION to the cast for Season 3. Who’s your pick?

Patches: I think I’ll run with Iwan Rheon as Roose Bolton’s bastard Ramsey. I’ll have some negative things to say about him and Theon later, but Rheon made those scenes interesting with his simultaneous boyish charm and psychopathic glee.

Jeff: My choice for this category is Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell. Like Charles Dance, she kills it in every one of her scenes. Rigg does have a “Dowager Countess” feel for those of you Downton Abbey watchers, but she’s still great in the expanded role.

Patches: There seems to be a lot of overlap in our favorite performances and characters. Is this going to continue with our picks for BEST EPISODE, or do you have something less predictable?

Jeff: Probably, but I’ll try to avoid overlap and, since it was close anyway, give my best episode vote to Episode 6 – “The Climb.” Jon and Ygritte climbing the wall was the glue that held this episode together, but it may have been the weakest part (despite the epic kiss and final shot). When an episode opens with three five-plus-minute scenes and continues this steady-but-assured pacing for almost an hour, you can bet I’ll rank it highly. Of course, that’s only if said scenes contain quality performances and meaningful character dialogue. These do. This episode also included the “sword-swallower” conversation between Olenna and Tywin, the deviation of Melisandre visiting Arya and the Brotherhood Without Banners, and it had the final “Chaos is a ladder” chat between heavyweights Varys and Littlefinger. I could be persuaded to choose another, but this episode gets my vote for now.

Patches: There’s no way I can pick anything other than “The Rains of Castamere.” “The Climb” is probably my second favorite of the season, but when an episode leaves you motionless for the credits, it feels like a stretch to pick anything else.

Jeff: Interesting. I thought you might go with Episode 4 – “And Now His Watch is Ended,” which might be my second choice. Hard to argue with the Red Wedding though, you’re right. Do you have a pick for WORST/LEAST BEST EPISODE?

Patches: I actually don’t. I am unable to separate the television series from the books. I don’t see individual episodes as units contributing to a whole, but rather as segments of a whole. I’m not sure if that differentiation makes sense to anyone other than myself, but it does explain why I can rattle off everything that happened in any given Battlestar Galactica episode, but can’t for this show.

Jeff: I’ll just go ahead and agree with you. But for those of you readers (if you exist) that need me to pick one, I’ll probably go with Episode 2 – “Dark Wings, Dark Words.” Perhaps it’s mostly a product of me not having seen it for a while. Once Jaime got his hand lopped off in episode 3, the quality remained fairly consistent and the momentum didn’t really let up for the rest of the season.

Patches: Yeah, I was looking at either the first or second episodes too. Let’s keep getting more and more specific. What was your PLOT THREAD THAT LEFT US WANTING MORE in Season 3?

Jeff: While I’d love to find out more about what the Tyrells are up to, I feel like we’ll get a lot of that next season. So, I’ll pick the Merry Men of Westeros, the Brotherhood Without Banners. Thoros and Beric are both interesting characters and I’d like to see what they do all day long, and why they think it’s okay to sell off Gendry.

Patches: I am starving for more Varys/Baelish. Their repartee was the best part of Season 1, but sadly, they took a backseat during the last couple seasons. It makes sense; it’s just disappointing. Also, I’m pretty sure Baelish’s Chaos Soliloquy deserves its own Wikipedia page. The two of them are the Game of Thrones’ most patient players, though, so I expect to see more of them in the future.

Jeff: Indeed. Game of Thrones has a pretty deep bench. Do you have a pick for a PLOT THREAD THAT LEFT US WANTING LESS this season? I feel like I know what it might be, if not for you than for a lot of others.

Patches: I hinted at my pick earlier. I think the Continuing Adventures of Ramsey and Theon could have used less focus. It wasn’t that it was too gross or anything. It’s just that it started to drag after the second or third or fourth time.

Jeff: Ramsay/Theon was what I had in mind for your pick, but I think I’m in the minority by saying I quite liked their scenes, even if they were covering the same territory by the end. Again, it is difficult to find something, but if I have to choose, I’ll go with Bran. Sure, we really didn’t spend that much time with him, and his last three episodes were pretty good. Unfortunately, his story was the least interesting for me this season.

Patches: I won’t argue with Bran. Say we had to get even more specific. What do you think was the BEST MOMENT OR SCENE of Season 3?

Jeff: Here’s where it gets difficult for another reason: there are so many to choose from! I’m going to go with the extended small council scene from the finale – “Mhysa”. The scene is SO good and Varys doesn’t even speak! To top it off, once everyone leaves, Tyrion and Tywin have a killer confrontation where Tywin explains that his least selfish moment was when he decided not to drown his dwarf son because he was a Lannister. Father of the year!

Patches: I’m going to stick with the Lannisters too. For the whole show, Jaime Lannister was “The Kingslayer,” especially to Brienne and her romanticized notion of honor. After their long, quarrelsome journey, we find out that Jaime killed the Mad King and broke his oath in order to save King’s Landing from the king’s wildfire scorched earth campaign. In “The Bear and the Maiden Fair,” as Jaime is about to depart Harrenhal for King’s Landing, Brienne says, “Goodbye, Jaime.” Boom. Perfection.

Jeff: And of course, he comes back for her. It’s great. Was there any MOMENT OR SCENE THAT DIDN’T WORK for you this season?

Patches: I’m going to get unexpected and say the final scene of the season with Dany and the newly freed citizens of Yunkai. It was a nice moment for Dany and it helped validate everything towards which she has been struggling. She remains the player in the Game of Thrones easiest to cheer, headless Starks excepted. However, as awesome as that scene was, we’ve seen it before. We saw her give the freedom speech to her remaining khalasar. We saw her free the Unsullied. This was nice, but it lost a lot of its punch to repetition. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for Blues Traveler and wanted to see a stronger hook into Season 4.

Jeff: Suck it in, suck it in, suck it in like you’re Rin-Tin-Tin or Margaery Tyrell! You went with episode 10, I’m going to go with episode 1 – “Valar Dohaeris”. There are two things that the season 2 finale seemed to hint would be big moments that just sort of fizzled in the season 3 premiere. I’m calling it sort of a tie between the continuation of Sam hiding from the white walkers which I don’t think maintained the impact of the season 2 finale and the introduction of Mance Rayder. Mance isn’t really a huge character in the books, but when you cast someone like Ciaran Hinds, I expect a little more. His introduction wasn’t nearly as strong as it was on the page, and then he disappeared after episode 3. I expect we’ll see him again.

Patches: Okay, getting even more specific, what was your FAVORITE SYLLABIC PRONUNCIATION of the season? Or maybe we’re done because that’s incredibly excessive.

Jeff: I might be inclined to name my favorite sentences of the season, particularly anything said by Tyrion to Joffrey, but I’m not going to go deeper than that. I think we’ve covered it pretty well.

Patches: I agree! Well, Jeff. It’s been an honor and a pleasure, as is par for the course when discussing television and such with you.

Jeff: Thank you sir, I look forward to whatever is coming up next.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL! We’ve got one more Part of this installment of Dead Series Discussion. It’s less conversational, less formal and mostly less serious, and it’s coming tomorrow.

*   *   *   *   *   *

That’s it for Part 3. Part 1, Part 2 and Part 4 are also available.

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