Game of Thrones – Episode 3.1 “Valar Dohaeris”

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Synopsis: For the first time since the first episode we get a scene before the credits. And this one also involves the White Walkers, as Sam runs away from them, picking up right where the second season ended. While a Walker attacks Sam, Ghost helps fend it offer before Jeor Mormont shows up with fire and the rest of the Night’s Watch men. They have to go back to the wall, he commands, or everyone they’ve ever known will be dead. Cue credits. Still in the snow, Jon Snow with Ygritte and the wildlings, is brought to their camp, which also includes giants. Snow is brought to Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall. Snow says he wants to join the wildlings because of what he saw at Craster’s keep, the White Walker taking Craster’s son. Cersei visits a recovering Tyrion and taunts him. Davos wakes up on a rock and waves down a ship. He’s down a few fingers, but meets up with his pirate buddy Salladhor Saan. Saan updates Davos on Stannis, and that he’s still under the influence of the Red Woman. Davos vows to kill her. Robb’s camp moves along to a destroyed castle, fresh from a Lannister defeat. They set up shop, but he still requests Catelyn remain behind bars. Someone is still alive-Robb and Talisa tend to Qyburn.

Tyrion meets with Tywin, upset that he hasn’t visited him or expressed gratitude at his role in the battle. Tywin still views Tyrion as a failure. Tyrion demands what is his by right – Casterly Rock. Tywin still blames Tyrion for the death of his mother when she gave birth to him. And he will not ever let him have Casterly Rock. He also threatens to murder the next whore he finds in Tyrion’s bed. Speaking of Shae, she and Sansa are on the waterfront, making up stories about the ships they see arriving. Baelish interrupts to tell Sansa that he spoke with Catelyn and he’s working on a way to sneak Sansa out of King’s Landing. Ros tells Shae to keep an eye on Littlefinger with Sansa. On the way to Slavers Bay, the Dothraki are getting seasick, but continue to follow Dany. And in highlighting that the show’s timelines are aligned, Dany’s dragons have grown significantly since last season. Davos returns to Dragonstone where Stannis is holed up. He still supports Stannis but threatens Melisandre and is thrown in the dungeon. In the city, Joffrey is surprised to see Margaery traipse away from the men and connect with the children and townsfolk. Margaery gives them toys and food and wins over the commoners. At dinner, Cersei and Margaery size each other up and sling barbs beneath forced smiles.

Dany and Jorah meet with Kraznys Mo Nakloz, who owns an army of slaves called the unsullied. His translator Missandei communicates between the two, selectively choosing her words and leaving out Kraznys’ more insulting comments. Dany mulls the offer but isn’t sure she wants to own slaves. Dany is attacked but is rescued by a man in a cloak, who reveals himself to be Barristan Selmy, who takes a knee and professes support for her mission, asking to be a part of her Queen’s Guard.

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Comments: New season, new characters as not only are we introduced to Tormund, Missandei, Mance, and Qyburn but we also see the return of Barristan Selmy after sitting out the second season. While the time machinations take some getting used to-the Night’s Watch plot happens seconds after the last episode, Dany’s mission months-but it’s a necessary evil for a show that covers this much ground. While they don’t share any lines, Cersei and Bronn share a scene where she passes by him wordlessly. The story is Lena Headey has it in her contract to not be in the same room with him so not sure if this predates that, or because she didn’t have to look at or speak to him she made an exception. Margaery is proving to be a good foil for Cersei. While Ned was up front about his mistrust, Margeaery hides behind compliments and scheming. Knowing who ultimately wins this face doesn’t lessen the enjoyment of seeing these two ladies going at it. Despite all the scenes, it doesn’t quite have the rush of season premiere. It feels like a decent filler episode, but other than the return of Selmy and his shifting allegiances there wasn’t a ton of movement. Although, the show does seem to be learning they don’t have to go with all major storylines every episode as Arya, Bran and Theon are their crews sit this one out.

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Quotes:
Cersei: You’re a clever man, but you’re not half as clever as you think you are.
Tyrion: Still makes me more clever than you.

Joffrey: My mother has always had a penchant for drama.

Foreshadowing: We get some random mentions of Dorne, the land where Myrcella was shipped off to. It will soon be woven into the show.

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Title: An expression in High Valyrian that mean “all men must serve” which is the bookend to last episode’s title. Did not hear it actually spoken. In reference to the Unsullied and perhaps Selmy as well.

Deaths: Just a White Walker at the beginning. Slow start to the season.

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