Roasted Fish, All Organic
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Season 3 opens as an introductory episode that jumps from location to location so we can meet all of the characters at their junctures, which is fine considering how many characters exist. But there’s an overwhelming sense of dread throughout the proceedings, just a bit of hope daring to seep through as the War between the remaining kings continues to devour the continent with an insatiable appetite, no end in sight. “Valar Dohaeris” is the High Valyrian phrase that translates into “All men must serve.” It’s the general response to “Valar Morghulis”, both greetings setting the stage for a rather somber affair. Indeed, all men serve someone or something, but what do they pay and garner in return?
The episode opens up on the aftermath of the Battle of the First of Fist Men, which was unfortunately skipped for budgetary reasons. Sam has miraculously survived the battle itself, running throughout the frigid snow with terror all across his face. Meanwhile, Jon Snow comes face to face with the King Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder. He’s an imposing, clever figure who was managed to unite more than one hundred wildling tribes. He’s naturally skeptical of Jon turning towards the wildling side and wants to know why. Ultimately Jon speaks the truth in a sense, noting their time at Craster’s Keep and how the Night’s Watch turned a blind eye towards Craster’s treatment of his daughters and the butchering of his sons. “I want to fight for the side who fights for the living,” he says quietly and Mance believes him, for the moment at least.
In King’s Landing, Tyrion is still a recluse, having shut himself off after the Battle of Blackwater Bay. He meets his father and it is one of the most horrifying, terrible scenes the show has ever done. Tyrion is chewed up by his father, angry at him for simply being a dwarf and asking for far too much. But Tywin reluctantly agrees for some semblance of recognition for Tyrion, as if that’s saying much. Petyr approaches Sansa and begins a conversation about her potential escape from King’s Landing. Ros and Shae quietly watch the proceedings. Ros warns her to keep an eye on Sansa when she’s with Littlefinger. Shae obliges, noting the two with a keen sense of wariness. In the streets of the capital, Margery orders the carriages to stop. Joffrey looks about in bemusement as his betrothed walks through the streets of Flea Bottom, without a crime for the grime and muck lying about everywhere. She walks into an orphanage, full of children whose fathers had been killed off in the battle. She inspires each child with tales of their parents’ bravery, handing them each a toy. It’s a brilliant, brilliant political move that immediately establishes Tyrell supremacy amongst the poor. She steps outside, noting to the orphanage runners that she is the one to whom all concerns ought to be addressed, including food, water, and education. It may seem to be purely political, but I earnestly believe that Margaery does legitimately care for these orphans but is savvy enough to use the circumstance in her favor.
Robb arrives at Harrenhal, finding a bloodbath the Lannisters had left behind. Apparently Ser Gregor Clegane could have cared less about running the castle as Tywin had instructed him, abandoning the ruined castle and killing all of the prisoners inside. They find a man named Qyburn within the walls, a dramatic irony that won’t be fulfilled until about the end of Season 4. In other lone survivor news, Ser Davos finds himself abandoned on an island after the battle, his body covered with scars from the wildfire. He is picked by an old pirate friend of his, Salladhor Saan, who expresses his condolences at the news of Matthos’s death. Saan notes how Stannis has shut him off and Melisandre is now committing purges by burning. Davos, disturbed, arrives back at Dragonstone. Melisandre toys with the idea that it was Davos’s fault that Stannis lost the battle because he had prevented her from sailing along. She adds insult to injury by noting how death by fire was the purest death, in reference to Matthos’s demise. Infuriated, Davos attempts to kill Melisandre and Stannis has him confided to the dungeons.
Daenerys’s story is moving along a lot quicker than in Season 2, which is certainly welcome. Unsurprisngly, the Dohtraki are not taking kindly to the seas as the ship nears the port city of Astapor. Her dragons have grown, grabbing fish out of the sea and roasting it in midair (that is incredibly nifty, just noting). She’s received news from Jorah of slave soldiers named the Unsullied, whose fierce reputation makes them feared across the world and they’re found exclusively in Astapor. Daenerys is struggling with the concept of buying an army of slaves outright. She meets their master Kraznys, noting how cruelly he subjugates them. He cuts off one of the Unsullied’s nipples. The soldier has no comment besides “I am happy to have served.” Far more horrifying is the training they go through. Their ultimate test is to take a newborn baby from it’s mothers arms and then kill it. If the mother is not a slave, she is given a coin for her troubles. If she is a slave, the coin goes to her master. Daneerys is notable disgusted and horrified, walking across the Astapori boardwalk. Suddenly she comes face to face with a girl who is a killer sent by the warlocks of Qarth. Daenerys is suddenly saved by a man who removes his hood and reveals himself to be Ser Berristan Selmy, formerly of her father’s Kingsguard. He has come to serve the true Queen of Westeros. And the season has begun in earnest.
Title: Valar Dohaeris
Written By: David Benioff and D. B. Weiss
Director: Daniel Minahan
Image Courtesy: Film-Book