The third series was something I’d been looking forward to since I finished watching the second. But could it match the heights reached by the first two?
This review will necessarily have spoilers for seasons one and two, but I’ll try and keep them to a minimum for the third.
Although there’s a very strong (and large) cast, the first two series both had what I would consider lead characters (Ned Stark and Tyrion Lannister respectively). Season three seemed to depart from this. Several new characters are introduced (Diana Rigg as the Tyrell matriarch and Kristofer Hijvu as Tormund Giantsbane probably being my favourites) and, as you would expect, not everyone survives the whole season.
There are some fantastic performances, particularly from Charles Dance, who is perfect as Tywin Lannister. The confrontational, domineering scenes with his own children are particularly good. Varys and Littlefinger are a bit less prominent, but they also have one of the very best subplots, when they engage in some rather serious underhanded jousting.
To an extent there’s a lack of progression with the ‘main’ plot (the war). There's certainly plenty at the end, but it feels like a bit too much skirt and not enough leg earlier on.
We see much more from Daenerys and Jon Snow (Kit Harington and Rose Leslie as Jon and Ygritte have great chemistry). There’s also more character development from perhaps the best odd couple of Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth.
I believe the series parted ways with the previous approach of one book equalling one series. This is necessary (if not now then later) because the fourth and fifth books deal with only half the cast, and that would never work for a TV series.
A bit more action and drama regarding the central plot would have been welcome. It’s hard to be critical, because the acting, costumes, writing and so forth are all excellent, but that’s what I think. It’s still well worth buying.
I also don’t understand how this is not rated 18. It’s not a serious issue, but given the degree of fairly graphic violence I found it quite surprising.
An aside: this has many low ratings. However, these are almost entirely due to two factors. The first is that, for some reason, the programme will not play on an Xbox One. I have no idea why not. The second is that the ‘limited edition’ does not seem to have gone down well (sounds more like a cheap tat issue rather than the discs not working).
DVD extras are not something I’m too into, but I did watch them all/listen to the commentaries. The deleted scenes are interesting, especially one with Pycelle and Tywin. As before, the commentaries are generally good and pretty variable. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gwendoline Christie and Bryan Cogman are probably the most entertaining to listen to.
In short, perhaps not quite as staggeringly good as the first two seasons, but still well worth buying.