In King's Landing, Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) has taken over the position of the Hand and his grandson King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) has broken off his engagement to Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner). Joffrey has now agreed to marry Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) which is much to the vexation of his mother. Cersei (Lena Headey) hates Margaery and is fuming over her son's new engagement and her father's meddling in her affairs. Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) is also unhappy. He's resentful about the loss of his position, his family's lack of appreciation for his role in saving King's Landing, and the attempt on his life by one of Joffrey's men. Sansa Stark is still being held captive in King's Landing but her situation looks brighter than before. Both Margaery Tyrell and Littlefinger (Aidan Gillan) are offering her their help and assistance. Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who was previously being held as a prisoner by Robb Stark, has been freed by Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) so that he might be exchanged for Sansa and Arya Stark. He's now being escorted back to King's Landing by the female knight Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie). The pair's relationship is initially antagonistic but along the way they begin to form an unexpectedly close bond.
Arya Stark's family still believe that she's in King's Landing and have no idea that she's been on the run ever since the end of season one. Arya (Maisie Williams) has now escaped from the fortress of Harrenhal with her companions Gendry (Joe Dempsie) and Hot Pie (Ben Hawkey). They then find themselves meeting a band of outlaws known as the Brotherhood but can Arya trust them?
Arya's brothers Bran and Rickon are also on the run. They've managed to escape from Winterfell and are now travelling with Hodor (Kristian Nairn), Osha the Wildling (Natalia Tena) and their direwolves. They're going to the Wall in search of Jon Snow (Kit Harington). Along the way they meet a mysterious pair of siblings called the Reeds. Jojen Reed (Thomas Sangster) is able to explain to Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) the significance of his dreams and visions. Bran then begins to realise the extent of his powers.
Jon Snow has fallen in with the Wildlings beyond-the-wall and is now working undercover for the Night's Watch. He then finds his vows to the Night's Watch being sorely tested when he falls in love with Ygritte (Rose Leslie). Jon knows that he will have to choose between her and the Night's Watch. He won't be able to have both. Meanwhile, the rest of the Night's Watch scouting mission have been decimated by an attack from the White Walkers. The few survivors are now trying to get back to the Wall and Jon's friend Samwell Tarly (John Bradley-Walsh) finds his life in danger.
Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) wakes up to find himself in captivity after getting knocked unconscious at the end of season two. He is then tortured by an unknown person's command. After making his way back to Dragonstone, Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) attempts to kill Melisandre (Carice Van Houten). Davos is convinced that Melisandre is evil and that it's she who is to blame for the defeat at Blackwater. He is then swiftly imprisoned by Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane). Davos then attempts to regain Stannis's favour.
Finally, Daenerys Targaryren (Emilia Clarke) is still continuing in her mission to take the Iron Throne of Westeros. Having been able to secure gold and a ship in the city of Qarth, Dany travels to the city of Astapor. She then considers whether to buy a vast and highly elite slave army called the Unsullied. Dany also gains a new companion called Ser Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinny) who is a famous ex-knight from the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
Bran Stark and Jojen Reed
Jon Snow and Ygritte
Margaery and Olenna Tyrell
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
As A Storm of Swords is such an immense book the GoT producers decided to adapt that book over the course of two seasons. That's probably why the pacing of season three is slower than in the previous two seasons, especially during the early episodes. The pacing starts to pick up at around three or four episodes in though and in many ways this season is my favourite of the show to date. The production values and acting are as fantastic as ever. The storylines are as fantastic as ever. The sex scenes and nudity are handled in a way that's better than ever. They're still a part of the show but they felt less gratuitous this time around, and tellingly season three is the only season of the show not to receive an 18 certificate.
In season two I enjoyed Tyrion and Arya's storylines the most but with this season I loved Daenerys and Jaime's storylines best. Dany's was my absolute favourite. It was so much fun to watch her go about conquering the slave cities of Astapor and Yunkai! Her liberation of the Unsullied is an especially amazing moment and quite possibly my favourite moment in the entire show to date. Jaime Lannister's character development this season was wonderful and I loved his relationship with Brienne. Jaime is well on his way to becoming one of my favourite characters in the show now. I never ever thought I'd say that back when I was watching season one! Yes, Jaime is very good-looking and has always had funny one-liners but he had an affair with his own sister and pushed Bran out of a window! But in this season Jaime changes due to Brienne's influence and we see a different side of him. I had a huge smile on my face during the Bear scene and that wasn't solely because it reminded me of Anchorman either! I love redemption storylines and I really hope that Jaime's character development continues for the duration of the series. I also really loved Jon and Bran's storylines this season. The only storyline that I really wasn't fond of in season three was Theon Greyjoy's because his torture scenes went on for far too long and were horribly uncomfortable to watch. Iwan Rheon is brilliant as Theon's torturer Ramsay Snow though. He's terrifying and scarily convincing in the role! His character is so evil that I was honestly starting to think "You know what, Joffrey doesn't seem to be quite so bad now!" That's how evil Ramsay Snow is!
Of the new characters my favourites were Margaery and Olenna Tyrell (Dame Diana Rigg). Margaery Tyrell was introduced in season two but she gets more screentime this season. I loved her character and Natalie Dormer's portrayal. Margaery might be manipulative and cunning but she really does seem like a genuinely sweet and caring person. I loved her efforts to befriend Sansa because that poor girl really deserves a friend! Also, Cersei hates Margaery so that really helped me to like Margaery. I really wanted some of Margaery's dresses. Her grandmother Olenna is pretty badass as well! Her character is very similar to Violet Grantham from Downton Abbey. I loved Olenna's scene with Tywin Lannister.
I suppose I really can't wrap up this review without mentioning The Rains of Castamere. Game of Thrones fans have come to realise that Episode 9 of any season will always be the one where the s*** goes down. Episode 9 of season one featured the execution of Ned Stark. Episode 9 of season two was focused solely on the Battle of Blackwater Bay. Episode 9 of season three features the brutal murder of Robb Stark, his pregnant wife, his mother Catelyn and even his direwolf Grey Wind! It's one of the most tragic and heartbreaking things I have ever seen on television! Even though I already knew it was going to happen it still left me feeling empty inside! Even though he made some bad decisions I really loved Robb and I was very sad at what happened to him and his family :( In many ways season three is my favourite of the show's run to date but the Red Wedding... that was tough. It was also quite alarming because it reminded me that my dream ending for both the books and the TV show is probably much happier and soppier than the ending that George R.R. Martin has in mind.
This will be my last Game of Thrones review for a good long while. I've caught up with the show now and I'm going to be focusing on reading and reviewing the rest of the ASoIaF books this year. I'm seriously excited about season four though! I'm really hoping that we'll see more of Littlefinger this season - he's a fascinating character - and I'm looking forward to seeing Mark Gatiss in the show. The trailer below has made me even more for the season. It's awesome and the song choice is inspired!
Film Certificate: 15