Game of Thrones Season 3 Review “Second Sons”

Much like the previous two seasons, season 3 of Game of Thrones seems to be doing the slow build toward major happenings. Prior to the start of the third season, fans of the television series were whipped into a fervor by people who had read the books. The third book is largely considered the best by those strange people who look at the bound pieces of paper with words on them. Still, this season has spent a bit too much time dragging its feet, walking through the forest, or engaging in some old-fashioned power-laced walk and talk. It’s perfectly fine to stop and smell the flowers (or hang with the Queen of Thorns). It’s an entirely different thing to set up camp there. That being said, this episode (the eighth of the season) finally put some smaller things in motion. When the season is over, this episode will likely be viewed as the amuse-bouche of the season. The stories were largely quiet and insular, but it was a lot easier to see how these stories fit into the larger equation.

One aspect of the episode that didn’t move the needle much was Dany’s continued adventures in Yunkai. Dany and the Yunkish slave lord obviously didn’t leave things on good terms last week, but she was dealing with a wholly different set of problems with the arrival of the Second Sons. The episode-long plot surrounding her and Second Sons basically announces the show has no interest in seeing her conquer Yunkai prior to the season finale. The entire storyline had a weird conclusion and played as little more than a stalling tactic. I don’t often mind stalling with Danerys, but she wasn’t strutting around as her usual powerful self. Here, she gets a break, and a new confidant that’s going to lead to a very jealous Jorah Mormont. I love the mother of dragons, and maybe the story just needed more time to breathe, but the storyline didn’t really come together for me.

Over in Dragonstone, the return of Melisandre put into action a rather fascinating series of events. In particular, it gave us more insight into the inner conflict going on with Stannis. Specifically, it’s Davos and Melisandre both bouncing around in his head. Davos fits well with the man Stannis use to be, but it’s difficult to deny Melisandre’s power. It has to be difficult to give a legitimate explanation for that time you watched a lady give birth to the Smoke Monster. Still, Davos’s council wins the day, and Gendry is merely leeched instead of fully sacrificed. It was a small victory for the Onion Knight, but Davos has way too much Ned Stark in him to outlast Melisandre. Melisandre wants to control. Davos wants to serve. Westeros is hardly ever kind to the latter.

By far the best work of the episode centered around the wedding of Tyrion and Sansa. It was a beautiful mixture of dark comedy, power plays, and truly depressing moments. The setting also underscored exactly how thoroughly the Lannisters have slayed the Tyrells in the political realm. The destruction is so complete, Lady Olenna can’t help but have fun with the new family tree being created before their very eyes. All of the particulars are wonderfully miserable throughout the event. A notion that is underscored by several little moments along the way. Tyrion getting drunk at the reception, Sansa’s slow ascent to meet her groom, and Cersei actively crushing the spirit of any Tyrell who crossed her path.

Despite the sad nature of the occasion, there were several nice moments that shone through. Peter Dinklage played every aspect of Tyrion Lannister in this episode. In some ways, he was the incarnation of everything we’ve seen from Lord Tyrion in 28 episodes. His drunken clown act, his hardened political mettle, and his uncommon kindness were all on full display. The season has taken steps to marginalize Tyrion this season as others have ascended, but the moments in this episode are a reminder that sometimes a slavish devotion to source material can be damaging to a television show. Game of Thrones is a great show, but it’s an even better show when the Tyrion Lannister is a primary focus of the action.

Though the episode was mostly conversational in nature, I enjoyed most of the moments involved. What did everyone else think of tonight’s episode?