Game Of Thrones season 3 episode 4 review: And Now His Watch Is Ended

Review Ron Hogan 22 Apr 2013 - 07:25

Game Of Thrones continues to deliver strong characters, strong writing, well-choreographed fights, and brilliant special effects...

This review contains spoilers.

3.4 And Now His Watch Is Ended

When it comes to playing the Game of Thrones, Cersei Lannister said that you either win or you die. As we have seen throughout the show's history, some have played the game very well indeed (like the Small Council, who have served multiple kings during their time) and others have played the game with disastrous results (Ned Stark, Robert and Renly Baratheon, Jon Arryn). The Queen of Thorns Olenna Tyrell and her granddaughter the future Queen of Westeros Margaery seem to be better at playing the game than any of the other great ladies who have been bandied about as Queen, been actual Queen, or been betrothed to the King. 

In particular, Magaery seems to be conducting a master class on how to win friends and influence people this week, from her little tour through the dead Kings of Westeros section of the Sept of Baelor with Joffrey to her friendly conversation with Sansa during prayer time. Of course, she learned by watching the best (see Olenna's awesome pairing with Varys in the garden, giving me one of my most-wished-for character match-ups), but sometimes it seems as though she's two steps ahead of the dupes she's manipulating - even someone like Cersei, who can smell the deception in Margaery, can't stop her because she's simply too good at what she does. She even manages to make Joffrey likable for an entire minute of smiling-and-waving-at-the-small-folk! 

As for Cersei, well... in a brilliant scene between Charles Dance and Lena Headey, we see just how little regard Tywin Lannister has for his children. Despite going to war for Tyrion, we saw what Tywin really thinks of his youngest child. Despite serving as the Hand of the King, we see how little respect Tywin has for Joffrey and for Cersei. Tywin is brilliant as a general, and his knowledge of tactics seems to extend all the way to managerial tips. When talking with Jaime, he was gutting a deer. When talking with Tyrion, he was busy writing a letter, and Cersei gets the same treatment this week (right down to some very similar shots of the two courtesy of director Alex Graves). Management 101 says that the best way to show that you're in charge is to never give someone your full attention during a meeting, and Tywin Lannister seems willing to do that to everyone, even his kids. 

One of the better ways the show has handled its massive cast is by creating natural pairs and sticking with them. You have small groups, like the Brotherhood Without Banners, Arya/Gendry, and The Hound, or perhaps the remnants of the Night's Watch or the King Beyond The Wall's gathered forces, but when the show pairs off two characters and lets them at one another, that's when the its high writing quality comes to life. Benioff and Weiss have done wonders adapting the novels to the screen, and while some fans complain that the show doesn't properly adapt the full gigantic Martin literary universe, I think enough of the character elements have been captured and plots preserved (thus far) to keep the show entertaining both for the knowledgeable nerd and for latecomers like myself.

Certainly the series manages to keep things moving and interesting, and it's a rare episode of Game of Thrones where I'm not surprised by the ending credits. The show makes 58 minutes or so of television sweep by like nothing, and even if I might want to occasionally slow down and give me some focus on one setting, perhaps the pacing needs frequent scene changes to really work to full effect. If I got all of Dany's adventure in Astapor in one episode (or two even), it wouldn't be quite as exciting to watch her predictable plot play itself out. However, with the episodes as split as they are, each brief scene is something to savour, as we may only get one Tyrion moment in an episode. 

However, when you get an episode as packed with as much good character work, good writing, good fight scenes, and brilliant special effects as this one, you don't really need to lean on fan favorites like Tyrion. Give me a few good shots of the dragons flying around and vast armies on the march, and I'm pretty happy. (Glad to see that HBO is willing to loosen the purse strings for its most popular show, footing the bill for some awesome special effects this week.) If we are only to receive little bits of stories throughout an episode, they may as well be the highest of high-impact.

Read Ron's review of the previous episode, Walk of Punishment, here

US Correspondent Ron Hogan is glad to see Dany find her way to true power. It's not the Iron Throne, but it's much better than crying about missing dragons and dead husband. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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For the first time, Dany's story this week was by far the best. That ending shot was just simply awesome in its execution, and I knew what was coming having read the books. GOT continues to impress. Is there anything quite like it on TV at the moment?

The show is simply the very best thing on television. Waiting for almost a year is akin to a physical pain!

Disappointed by Jeor's death, in the book Sam cradles his body as he talks of Jorah and telling Sam he forgives his son, aside from that, each episode is better than the next

visit GATVERcom to watch this episode for free

Still a great scene, and I can understand how it is more realistic that Sam doesn't have the time to do that, since Rast the Bast(ard) wants his blood.God damn it, I've read the books, I knew he was going to die, but still I was shocked and sad when he did. This show is truly magnificent.

Nothing quite like it, no. I would say Breaking Bad and GoT are the best ones, but Breaking Bad is completely different, yet has great characters and some mean mean twists and turns.

These reviews are kind of thin. Get the guy who does the breaking bad ones to do it!

There may yet be chance for him to go back to the ruins of Caster's Keep and have that scene, which I loved in the books. But yeah, this version does maintain dramatic tension in a way better suited to TV. If you're prepared to be less sentimental about the little details or the peripheral characters, it's easy for a fan of the books, or at least from my view, to see that this is a magnificent adaptation of the story at large. Sure, little details are different, like Sansa being set to marry Loras rather than Willas (who doesn't exist here because he's a fairly unimportant character whose functions can be delegated believably to Loras). But the overhanging themes and arcs are executed perfectly. And then you get the incredible set-pieces like Dany burning Slaver's Bay at the end of this episode. Good god, imagine how amazingly they'll pull off THAT set-piece (you know, the most spoilerific thing to happen in the Thrones-iverse ever that is DEFINITELY going to end this series!).
This show got me into the books. Maybe that's why I have no trouble loving both in equal measure. But they're both staggering achievements in their separate fields.

Dracarys!

One of these best episodes I have seen played out.

"THAT" is not going to end the series: the ninth episode is called "The rains of Castamere", so I'm willing to bet my sword... hmmm, my writing hand that IT will be in this episode. Can't wait ;-)

BTW I agree with you, as a long-time fan of the books, I can easily forget most of the changes they have to do in the adaptation and enjoy it as a great TV show - one of the greatest on television right now =D

I'm still a bit hesitant to praise this season. It feels too lightweight and unsatisfying overall.

Maybe it's because I went and read all the books during the gap between seasons (yes it was that long!) whereas I went into seasons 1 & 2 knowing nothing. maybe that's changed my perspective a little, but even so whilst some scenes are captured effectively (Dany) others feel like they come from nowhere and are missing some vital build up (Theon + Jamie - I'm trying to avoid spoilers in both these examples) that justify what is happening.

I think this season actually has it's weakest moments so far in those storylines where they've totally written significant characters out or are expanding on things that were only ever alluded to via third parties or past tense in the book and this fleshing out and adaptation are not quite clicking for me yet.

Perhaps it's just me. I haven't really heard anyone bemoaning the fact GoT is back (i'd much rather have this than many other programmes) but I think the anticipation, fueled by my binge reading and knowledge of what is to come has perhaps just put my expectations a little higher than the show has so far been able to deliver on.

I hope it comes together though.

Well, by "end", I suppose I meant it'd be the big climactic moment like Ned Stark's beheading or the Battle of Blackwater, which were both episode 9 of their respective series. Nine and ten seem set to always be equally conclusive, though.

But, I'm glad you agree. I come across a LOT of purists who resent the tiniest change (Syrio isn't bald in the show: who cares!?), but they've very rarely strayed from the overall aim of the books. Although I do think Daenerys' story lost something last year (DEFINITELY fixed that this time around!!) and the Podrick the Incredible Lover jokes are grating. But, those quibbles aside, it is easily the best TV coming out of America right now, right up there with the best in the world!

am I the only person who heard Marge Simpsons voice exclaim 'MY LEGA-SHEE!' when Cersei was going on to Tywin about being let in on his plans?

By "THAT", are you guys thinking of the same "THAT" as I am? The RW?

Loved this episode. Charles Dance awesome, the Night's Watch going arse over tits and killing each other, and of course Daenarys making Valyrian my new favourite language ever. Best of this series so far.
"Si kizy vasko v’uvar ez zya gundja yn hilas."

"Drakarys."

Obviously! What else could it be, considering? ^^

I agree, I've never been 100% convinced with TV Dany but this episode Emilia Clarke really made her character, even better to see this played out on TV after reading it in the books.

In agreement,as a big fan of the books which i got into after watching the 1st series. This series has been beyond expectation so far, really good to see the way they are bringing the books to life - particularly liked Tywin's comment about how he will do anything to get Jaime back and the foreshadowing that gives us that wasn't in the books

Yeah, it's the RW. Just don't wanna spoil one of the best twists of the series for non-book-readers. I see a lot of people posting spoilers for a laugh on YouTube and stuff. I think it's horrible to do that and ruin it for everyone who hasn't found the time to sit down and read several-thousand pages' worth of books.

I agree! The best so far! And I love Daenerys so much! I had goosebumps all over at the end of this episode!

By the way, what does that first line mean? Thanks! :)

Haha, it means "And this because I like the curve of her ass" in Low Valyrian.
Kraznys says it in another episode when he's negotiating with Dany.

There are loads of GoT phrases in various languages including Dothraki on David J Peterson's website (he's the guy who created the Dothraki language for the TV show).

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