REVIEW: Game of Thrones Season 3

With GOT's season finale aired last Sunday, and not having been able to recap it this year, I thought i'd do a quick review of the overall season instead. Fortunately, i happen to think this was indeed the show's best season yet, and am excited to see it return next spring for what's supposed to be another great year. I say that because you can apparently predict the quality of the seasons ahead of time, at least according to those who've read the books. They all say that Season 2 was a downgrade from Season 1 because the book wasn't that great, and that this third season was going to be amazing because Book 3 is considered one of the best in the series. As annoying as it can be to hear pronouncements like that thrown out from those who love being ahead of the curve and able to tease what they "know" is going to happen, I would say as someone who hasn't read the books, that this has, at least so far, proven to be the case with the show.

But i'd have to give most of that credit to the showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, for structuring this heavily plotted series, particularly this year, in a way that greatly improved upon GOT's tendency to sometimes suffer from being a show mostly about people moving from one place to another. As impressively acted and produced as this show is, that's been my occasional frustration since the beginning- that and the can't-be-helped structure that comes with a massive ensemble cast, in following certain characters one episode only for them to drop out of sight completely the next week, etc. With a show like this you come to like certain characters only to be given minimal screentime with them in any given episode, and it becomes something of a chore to sit through lengthy scenes with a lot more people you care a great deal less about (for me that was pretty much anything involving Jon Snow and his obnoxious idiot girlfriend this year).

But i have to say, as much as my kind of show tends to be something that arcs more towards the Mad Men-style of internal character drama, Game of Thrones really kicked it up a notch this season, especially in the second half. The last four or five episodes seemed to spur the action into high gear, with significant, even episodic events taking place in each of the last few weeks, and it really is starting to feel like we're getting somewhere. The Red Wedding, was of course the big one that everyone couldn't stop talking about, but there was also Tyrian's marriage to Sansa, Jaime jumping into the bear pit to save Brienne, and Sam's fatal encounter with a dreaded Whitewalker. Weiss and Benioff are apparently starting to add scenes in that are not from the books, and that may be working to their advantage in some ways, as i've always felt that the truly great screen adaptations are the ones that become their own entity entirely.

But here's to a great season from the Game of Thrones crew, and here's hoping they can sustain the momentum going forward (they may have to get used to coming up with their own stuff anyway, as George R.R. Martin still hasn't come out with the sixth book yet and some of the kids on the show, who started out 10 and 11 years old, are getting older by the minute and starting to look it).

Grade: A