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Game of Thrones season two ended with the white walkers finally attacking and approaching the wall, and that is where season three picks right up. Having failed to send the ravens to warn the Black Watch of the impending invasion, Samwell Tarly is scolded by Lord Commander Mormont. The remaining party of Black Watch rangers, most of which are wiped out by the walkers, must not contend with both the elements and the enemy on their way back to the wall. If they fail, the Watch will fall, and Westeros will soon fall with it. In the Wildling camp, Jon Snow finally meets Mance Rayder, who accepts Snow into their army with some hesitation.
In King’s Landing, Tyrion, injured and abandoned by his family, plans a meeting with his father, Tywin. He must first deal with his sister, the queen, who is suspicious of Tyrion’s upcoming meeting. She demands to know what he’s up to, but he insists he’ll ask his father for nothing. After consulting with his sell sword Bronn, Tyrion meets with his father. It turns out he does want something – he demands his inheritance of Casterly Rock. Tywin scoffs at his son, putting him in his place, insulting him, and belittling him like we’ve never seen before. It is typically Tyrion who is sharp of tongue and in control of the situation. Tyrion leaves, dejected.
Joffrey, meanwhile, watches in fear and horror as his wife-to-be, Lady Margaery, comforts the orphans and ruffians of the lower city. Joffrey, having been attacked in the streets during season two, refuses to leave his caravan and the protection of his guards. Later at dinner, the queen insults Margaery several times for her charitable efforts, but Margaery is not Sansa Stark, and does not suffer the queen’s words. Joffrey viciously scorns his mother, and the two trade thinly-veiled insults back and forth. There is also a scene with Sansa and Petyr, but it mostly serves as presumed set-up for future story arcs.
Meanwhile, Robb Stark and his soldiers approach castle Harrenhal, only to find it has been abandoned by Clegane. Clegane has also slaughtered hundreds of northern prisoners, angering Stark’s bannermen. Robb has his mother, Catelyn, imprisoned, as she was responsible for letting Jaime Lannister go free last season. Robb doesn’t want to do this, but must please his bannermen and show his mother that she is not to be making decisions like this without his consent any longer.
The two smaller plot points from the episode concern Ser Davos, who has survived his ordeal during the Battle of Blackwater last season. Davos reunites with Stannis Baratheon, but is horrified to see his old friend gone mad, listening only to the council of the witch Melisandre. Stannis, clearly insane, has Davos placed in the dungeons. The final bit of the episode concerns Daenerys, as she and Ser Mormonth meet the Unsullied, a highly-trained slave army. Daenerys runs afoul of a warlock, but is saved at the last moment by ex-King’s Guard soldier Bannister Selmy, who ends the episode pledging his loyalty to the Khaleesi.
Overall, this episode was good. While nothing outrageous or unsurprising really happened, the episode clearly set up some good story for the weeks to come. I have been told that the source material for season three, the novel A Storm of Swords, is a bit slower than the others, but picks up near the end. This doesn’t bother me, as Game of Thrones is almost always compelling television. I do hope, however, we get a bit more story momentum and action next week. Bring on the rest of season three!