Game of Thrones Season 3 Review “Walk of Punishment”

As we’re reminded constantly, Game of Thrones is a story about power. The show does an excellent job of dealing with people at the various stages of power, but one of the great lessons of the show is about the very nature of power: It comes and goes as easily Stannis Baratheon does from the main plot. Power does endure for those fortunate enough to be enclosed in a castle. However, once you venture outside of the high walls, circumstances can change quickly.

No one knows this better than Jaime Lannister. Once a man who said and did whatever he wanted, Jaime has now been imprisoned for the better part of a year. It seems only the buddy comedy movie he is in with Brienne sustains him. Now captured by some of Robb Stark’s bannermen, Jaime is shown a side of things he never wished to see. It’s noteworthy that he gets his hand cut off the moment he attempts to do something that is actually noble. In a different world, Jaime’s nobility used to keep Brienne from being raped would lead to more acts of nobility and a valiant escape. Instead, Benioff and Weiss go out of their way to remind the viewer they are in Westeros, where nothing good ever happens.

While Jaime receives the worst manicure of all-time (couldn’t resist), the rest of his Lannister siblings get to cozy up in the Red Keep. Tywin Lannister’s appearance is brief, but what he does in the few moments onscreen is tremendous. The change in small council meeting chambers leads to one of the lighter moments of the episode. The vast majority of people in Kings Landing may flock to Tywin Lannister’s side, but Tyrion only wants to be as far away from him as possible. Amazingly, it’s Tyrion who comes out with added power as he is named Master of Coin by Tywin. Granted, it all looks like one giant setup to bring down our favorite dwarf (particularly with Baelish leaving abruptly to be Lord of the Vail), but Tyrion certainly isn’t averse to long odds. Still, I can’t help but feel dread for the fate of Tyrion Lannister. Being clever can extend your life in Westeros, but only power will allow you to die comfortably. Power may be the driving force of the show, but it’s death’s shadow that constantly hangs over the proceedings.

It’s that feeling of dread, coupled with the massive expanse of the series, that creates a potential issue for the show: With so many characters departing the world suddenly or horribly (It’s been real, Hot Pie!), it becomes difficult to connect with the characters on an emotional level. The story, locales, and acting are all superlative, but so few of these characters really get time to resonate. Most characters have a small window to make an impression. If they lack a signature moment, then a potentially awesome character can quickly turn into a forgotten one. For example, I missed Margaery Tyrell tonight. Natalie Dormer has made such an incredible impression as the would-be-Queen, it was unfortunate to not see her onscreen tonight. On the other end of that spectrum is Mr. Theon Greyjoy. It’s amazing how quickly the character has gone from one of the more engaging characters to one of the more uninteresting ones. Finally freed from the clutches of ???????, maybe his story arc will take on some life.

One character who doesn’t have to worry about emotional connection with the viewer is Daenerys. Though she is half the world away, her story is all about passion and emotional investment. The brutish, dispassionate nature of Westeros (and Astapor clearly) is a stark contrast to the motherly she-warrior that is Daenerys Targaryen. It’s easy to look over all of the people struggling for the right to rule over the worst place ever, but Emilia Clarke is incredibly effective at pulling you into her Khalassar. You want her to win because she may be the most virtuous ruler of all who seek the Iron Throne. Unfortunately, virtue isn’t worth very much in Westeros. Just ask Jaime Lannister.