Game of Thrones 3.1 – Valar Dohaeris Review

After a long and tiresome wait for the new season, Game of Thrones is finally back on our screens, opening with a...

James Moore

Contributor

Game Of Thrones

After a long and tiresome wait for the new season, Game of Thrones is finally back on our screens, opening with a great episode that traded expensive CGI for magnificent locations and a slow, but well-paced introduction back into the world of Westeros. In regards to those who have not yet managed to catch the season premiere, I will keep spoilers to a minimum though be warned that there may be a few minor ones, so keep your wits about you.

Considering how long it’s been since we left all our favourite characters back in Season 2, it’s hard to not like this episode on the grounds that we are returning to a home we’ve all missed, therefore you may find that my judgement may be clouded by this fact. Saying that, there were a few criticisms about Valar Dohaeris, which in no way spoil the episode, but which may slightly disappoint some viewers. You will mainly notice that the episode doesn’t spend much time with a single character, jumping from one to the other in an attempt to get everyone on screen for the sake of their fans.

However, not even all the characters made their season debut, which may leave certain characters fan disappointed, but with the amount of characters that have been included in the series (cut down from the amount that appear in George RR Martin’s novels), it’s not hard to imagine the difficulty of editing together an episode that manages to show everyone, yet doesn’t spend any time with them at all. So certain sacrifices had to made, however succeeds it bringing its audience up to speed with the situation of the Seven Kingdoms, rather than simply using the conventional ‘previously on Game of Thrones.’

It probably doesn’t come as a big surprise that the loveable Tyrion is one of those characters who made the premiere. Though the literary fans of A Song of Ice and Fire will probably be disappointed with his battle scar, which has been made a lot tamer than its novel description, it’s not hard to look past that little factor when he wields his witty personality better than a sword. However in early interviews about the upcoming season, the producers, writers and directors alike stated that we would be seeing less of the comedian due to the dramatic turn of events in his story and Valar Dohaeris certainly lays the groundwork for this.

Varys let it be known that Cersei had been the one behind his attempted assassination and it appears that this bad blood between them will become a central skirmish in the tales of Kings Landing. But not only with his sister, but his father, Tywin Lannister, now Hand of the King. It’s no secret that Tywin has little fatherly love for his dwarf son, yet the show has developed the character in a certain way that almost made me think there was something there. When he appointed Tyrion the Hand back in Season 1’s Fire and Blood, it was as if he cared and the softer side shown through his interactions with Arya throughout Season 2 (which don’t appear in the books) seemed to be building more layers to this character than previously thought of.

As you will find out, this is not true – far from it in fact. Without going into details I will guarantee that you will feel for Tyrion more than you ever have before and unfortunately things are only going to get worse for him as the season progresses.

Valar Dohaeris spends most of its time in King’s Landing, but we make a quick trip Beyond the Wall where the beautiful locations are shown off in all their glory and the infamous Mance Rayder, who has been an anticipated character, finally makes his debut and it’s clear that he sees something in Jon that reminds him of himself. Other wonders were the Wilding Camp that operated as any other community would do, disregarding what the Wildings have been described as by those South of the Wall, and though I won’t regard this as a spoiler, there was a rather impressive CGI giant that I didn’t see coming, at least not yet.

Ahead of the season premiere, I wondered how they would do the giants and whether they could do them realistically, but may I be the first to say they’ve done it perfectly.

Another character who makes the premiere is, of course, Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons and how big her children have grown. The producers weren’t wrong when they said they were no longer the cute little reptiles they were in Season 2, but that doesn’t take away from their beauty, achieved through some more magnificent CGI animation. I don’t want to go into the details of her story through fear of spoiling it in any way, but I will tell you that it sets the tone for the rest of the season and a certain character returns to the screen, who hopefully you won’t see coming.

Overall, this was an episode that eased its audience back into the world of Westeros, not bombarding them with new plot lines and characters; merely re-introducing them and bringing them up to speed with the events from Season 2. Despite the slow pace, it features some great moments, dramatic twists in fortune (hinting at Stannis and Davos who I have left unmentioned) and a heated assassination attempt.

It’s good to be back!