This review contains spoilers.
3. Lord Snow
So the Starks (well, Ned, Catelyn, Sansa and Arya) have reached King’s Landing, the capital of Westeros and a city full of potential enemies and allies. But who can they trust? As Ned takes up his position as The King’s Hand, he learns that with great power, not only comes great responsibility, but plenty of people willing to stab you in the back.
If you found it hard to keep track of the characters so far, then episode 3 of Game Of Thrones requires you to take your concentration level to the next level, as a host of potential heroes and villains are introduced.
Firstly, we have Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish, the king’s treasurer and a man who keeps his loyalties close to his chest. Immediately introducing himself as an ally to Ned, Littlefinger has, as you’d expect, an ulterior motive for offering his aid. Basically, he used to be in love with Ned’s wife, Catelyn.
So what does he have to gain by aiding the new Hand, and what about the likes of Lord Varys, Grand Maester Pycelle and the king’s brother Renly? Can Ned trust any of them, especially when they seem to have let the king bankrupt his entire kingdom?
While Ned and Catelyn deal with the political intrigue and try and find out who may have tried to kill Bran (who is now paralysed from the waist down), what is young tomboy Arya left to do? Blaming herself for the butcher’s boy death in the previous episode and determined to learn how to prevent such a thing from happening again, she yearns to learn how to probably use Needle.
Entre Syrio Forel. A master fencer and former First Sword of Braavos, he will teach the young girl how to handle herself with a sword, with some quick parries, rapid thrusts and some fleet footed moves. With her father looking on approvingly, and yet concerned about how violence may be looming around the corner, these scenes act as a refreshing break from some of the darker moments before it.
Young Maisie Williams plays the role perfectly, with a loveable mixture of defiance, determination and child-like innocence. It will be interesting how she deals with the almost inevitable horrors that lurk around the corner.
Meanwhile Jon Snow is getting used to life at the wall. Angry at the reality of what life in the Night’s Watch is like, he is taking it out on the other recruits, who never had the luxury of growing up with a master-at-arms. Luckily Tyrion is there to provide moral guidance.
Scenes at The Wall are arguably the most fascinating in Game Of Thrones. Not only is the environment cold and unyielding, but you have a group of warriors, misfits and criminals working together to protect the Kingdom from an unknown evil. Some are there as punishment, some by choice, but they are all there for life, as Tyrion points out. Better to have them on your side, then against you.
Speaking of having things by your side, where is Jon’s direwolf Ghost? He still seems to be MIA. Considering the role the albino wolf plays later in the proceedings, I hope this changes sharpish.
As well as Jon’s uncle Benjin, who is due to leave for a scouting mission beyond the Wall, we also meet Ser Mormont (the awesome James Cosmos, who I was sure would be cast as a dwarf in The Hobbit) and Yoren, the ‘recruiter’ for the Night’s Watch. Dedicated to the cause, despite their differences in personality, they seek to convince the Queen’s brother that reinforcements are needed if the kingdom is to be adequately protected.
Considering the complex backstories of Martin’s world, this episode saw the introduction of two scenes that served to fill in the gaps of the audience’s knowledge in regards to back story. Scenes with Jaime Lannister, King Robert and Ned Stark all sought to provide the viewer with a sense of history and how these men ended up in the position that they did.
Recently I complained about the cack-handed way exposition was handled in Showtime’s series, The Borgias, so it was refreshing to see it done so well in Game Of Thrones. For we get the King and his men sat around discussing old war stories, as well as adding in scenes that seamlessly introduced us to new characters that will play a big part later, such as Lancel Lannister and Jhogo, one of Khal Drogo’s bloodriders and protector to Daenerys.
If you’re having trouble keeping track of everything, then it’s best to do your homework now, as the next few episodes are about to see things get complicated… and bloody.
Read our review of episode 2, The Kingsroad, here
Game Of Thrones is screened in the UK on Sky Atlantic, every Monday night.