Every season drives us forward in terms of plot and character. But there are some instances, some moments, some scenes, that stand out amongst the rest. Scenes that move us. Scenes that speak to us. Scenes that capture a specific theme. Scenes that grab hold of our attention and don’t let go. We here at HBOWatch leave it up to you, the audience, to decide which scene is the best of the best. This past Sunday (6/09) marks the end of Season 3 for ‘Game of Thrones.’ What stood out for you? Were you moved with pity for Ser Davos? Do you have a new found respect for Jamie Lannister? Are you still haunted by the Red Wedding? Perhaps all of these are overshadowed by Daenerys’ sacking of Astapor. What was your favorite scene of ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3? You decide! Cast your vote and give voice to your reasoning in the comments below.
TAMARA’S CHOICE – (Tyrion and Sansa’s Wedding) – MARGAERY and CERSEI
Oh, my dearest Lady Sansa, when will it be your time to shine again? The days of her word play and double entendres seem so long ago. There were no thinly-veiled comebacks for Joffrey at her nuptials. Perhaps next season we will see more of Sansa’s rebellion in disguise.
However, there was more to Season 3’s “other wedding” than just Sansa. Tyrion and Tywin duked it out in a battle of words. Lady Olenna dazzled us with her description of the odd relations that would result from the Tyrell/Lanniser merger, after the union of the key to the north and the Imp.
Perhaps the most informative, and the most chilling, part of the wedding was Cersei telling Margery the story behind the famous song, The Rains of Castamere. Margaery’s saccharine sweetness is washed away with the rains of vinegar in Cersei’s story behind the lyrics. The song is about another second most powerful family in Westeros. Cersei uses the story as a warning to Margery, who is from the current second most powerful family in Westeros, and wants to be *the* queen.
Fans may have thought the song was about something in the distant past of the Lannister family, but the events that inspired it are recent enough that Cersei remembers the bodies of the Reynes rotting on the gates of Casterly Rock. Not only do we get a clearer vision of Lannister history, but we also see a little more of what makes Cersei a queen who would tell a future daughter in law, “If you ever call me sister again, I’ll have you strangled in your sleep.”
With so many layers of meaning, and so much story packed into one sequence, it’s easy to see why some might think this two-minute clip might be the scene of the season. Sansa will have to up her game again, if she means to survive the Lannisters yet. What do you think of the rivalry between Cersei and Margaery? Who will win the loyalty and affection of the people of King’s Landing? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
MJ SNOW’S CHOICE – TRIAL by COMBAT
For some fans, choosing a favorite scene from Season 3 of Game of Thrones might be a long, agonizing decision, but for me, it’s a no brainer. I can’t think of a scene that comes close to equaling the Sandor Clegane/Beric Dondarrion interaction in Episode 4, ‘And Now His Watch is Ended,’ which continues through to their incredible fight scene in Episode 5, ‘Kissed by Fire.” No amount of CGI can top the incredible acting and beautifully choreographed fight sequence we saw here. This is the real deal. Although broken up over two episodes, I strongly believe that we can look at this as one complete scene, beginning with the moment that members of the Brotherhood Without Banners lead Sandor Clegane, Arya & Gendry into their cave, and ending with Dondarrion’s reanimation.
Rory McCann continues to be one of the best, but sadly, one of the most underutilized actors on this series. It’s absolutely criminal how little he’s been given to do, and this only becomes more evident when he’s actually given a chance to shine. There are some actors who make you forget they are acting and this man is one of them. He IS the Hound. Although HBO writes us a slightly softer version of the Hound than George R.R. Martin gave us in the series of books, in this scene, McCann shows us the deep seated bitterness that Sandor Clegane carries within his soul. “You’re still swineherds, and tanners, and masons,” he rasps. “You think carrying a crooked spear makes you a soldier?” “Stark deserters, Baratheon deserters… you lot aren’t fighting in a war, you’re running from it.” A fact that disgusts him in part because he, himself, is doing the same. Beric Dondarrion, too, is masterfully portrayed by Richard Dormer, and when he tells Clegane, “That’s what we are…ghosts. Waiting for you in the dark. You can’t see us, but we see you, no matter who’s cloak you wear, Lannister, Stark, Baratheon, you prey on the weak, the Brotherhood without Banners will hunt you down…” with the fervor that only a converted fanatic could possess, that is a powerful moment, indeed. Dondarrion is acting as a kind of Robin Hood, using the Lord of Light as a means to deal out “justice” to those who he feels deserve to be punished for past misdeeds. Perhaps the most powerful moment of all occurs when Sandor is accused of the murders and rapes of children at the Mummer’s Ford, and the murders of Prince Aegon & Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, murders which were actually committed by his even larger, and far more dangerous brother, Ser Gregor Clegane. When Sandor roars “Is being born Clegane a crime?” we understand, that indeed, it is, and it’s a crime he’s been trying to escape from for his entire life. In fact, the Hound seems to have a habit of looking out for children, which perhaps is an unconscious attempt to compensate for the crimes committed by his brother. Clegane continues, “You want to cut my throat, GET ON WITH IT, but don’t call me murderer, and pretend that you’re not…” a line that gives me chills, every single time I watch. Arya steps forward then, to accuse Clegane of the murder of Mycah, the butcher’s boy, a killing to which he admits. However, this again illustrates the parallels between the Hound and Dondarrion. Where Dondarrion is dealing out “justice” in the name of R’hollor, so was the Hound, in the name of King Joffrey. The killing of Mycah was, in fact, “justice,” as the boy had been accused of attacking the king. Lord Beric claims that only the Lord of Light is truly capable of deciding a man’s innocence, and so sentences Sandor to trial by combat.
We return to the cave during Eposide 5, ‘Kissed by Fire,’ we encounter Thoros praying to the Lord of Light to strike Clegane down if he truly is guilty of the crimes he’s been accused of. Both the Hound and Dondarrion prepare for the trial by combat, the Hound loosens up his sword arm and Lord Beric uses his own blood to set fire to his sword. Clegane jumps, a look of terror crossing his face, we know the only thing the Hound fears is fire. How can Dondarrion not win this fight, with the odds stacked so heavily in his favor. Still, in spite of his fear, it’s Sandor Clegane who launches forward with a roar, and the fiery duel commences. Clegane has the advantage of size, but Dondarrion is lighter and quicker, and as the fight unfolds, it seems the two are well matched, indeed. Suddenly the Hound falls, going down on his sword arm, his shield held high. Dondarrion brings his flaming sword down and the Hound’s shield catches alight. Surging back to his feet, Sandor hacks at the shield with his sword, trying to beat out the flames or hack the burning shield from his arm. Not entirely successful, he resumes his attack on Dondarrion, delivering several massive blows, ultimately breaking the flaming sword with his own and killing Beric Dondarrion. We see the life leave Dondarrion’s eyes as Thoros rushes to his side. The Red Priest prays over Lord Beric as the Hound writhes on the ground, extinguishing his flaming shield, wrestling it from his arm. We are distracted by Arya making a failed attempt to finish the Hound herself, when we hear Dondarrion speak. Both Arya and Clegane appear shocked to see Lord Beric alive, apparently brought back from the dead by the Lord of Light. The fight itself, is well choreographed, with neither actor missing a beat, pushing even the most cynical of viewers to the edge of their seats. Both Rory McCann and, as well as the supporting actors in the scene, play their roles so marvelously well, that the viewer becomes completely lost in the scene, and the magic we see at work here is far more impressive than CGI dragons, hands down.
DAVID’S CHOICE – JAIMIE LANNISTER and BRIENNE of TARTH
We despised Jaimie Lannister the second he stepped on screen in season one, episode one. The ‘Kingslayer,’ the ‘oath breaker,’ the ‘man without honor.’ The first-born son of Tywin Lannister, the heir to Casterly Rock, the incestuous father of King Joffrey and perhaps the most hated man in all of Westeros. We’ve seen him toss Bran Stark from a tower, we’ve seen him run a blade through Jory’s eye, we’ve seen him strangle Torrhen Karstark with his chains after savagely murdering his own cousin. For the past two seasons Jaimie Lannister has been a prisoner of war in Robb Stark’s camp and a fugitive en route to Kings Landing. After saving Brienne of Tarth from a gruesome death, Jamie loses his sword hand to Locke, Roose Bolton’s ruthless bannerman. This colossal fall from grace climaxes in the bath house of Harrenhall:
Jaimie Lannister has just had his rot-infested stump cleansed with boiling wine. He joins Brienne in the bathtub and is met with a scolding glare of suspicion and distrust. “There it is, that’s the look,” says Jaimie. “I’ve seen it in face after face for seventeen years.” He goes back to the days of Robert Baratheon’s rebellion, when the Mad King Aeries burned men and women alive for shear amusement. He’s lost in thought now, as if he’s floating in a dream. Brienne listens intently with a look of shock and disbelief. Jaimie recalls the Mad King commanding him to kill his own father. He recalls how the he ordered his pyromancer to “burn them all.” He recalls how he drove his sword through the Mad King’s back, thus earning himself the name ‘Kingslayer.’
Was it the physical pain that left Jaimie Lannister so emotionally vulnerable? Was it honor or guilt or defeat or love? What drove the most devious man in all of Westeros to confess the story behind his treason? Is it treason to save lives – to kill one man so that thousands may live? These are the questions that resonate throughout the entire season. It’s the same question we ask ourselves when Robb executes Rickard Karstark, when Dany sacks Yunkai and Astapor, when Roose Bolton and Walder Frey enact the Red Wedding. This scene captures the very essence of season three – the justification for breaking a sacred oath and the price one pays for doing what he/she thinks is right. There are no flaming swords or fire spitting dragons or merciless slaughter, it’s two of our favorite characters sitting in a tub. Six minutes and forty-two seconds of absolute, undivided attention. From writing to acting to cinematography to makeup to music, this scene is the very best season three has to offer.
CIAN’S CHOICE – THE RED WEDDING
From the very beginning, Benioff and Weiss had claimed that if they reached the Red Wedding and portrayed it appropriately, they would consider their Game of Thrones venture a success. That many readers of the novels, and perhaps many viewers in the years to come, define and remember A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones by this event, speaks volumes of its importance and lasting impression.
Firstly, the scene I am referring to comprises the entirety of the wedding feast itself, excluding the wedding ceremony and Arya’s scenes outside the Twins. The set was absolutely gorgeous, and even more so when compared with the same set post-Red Wedding in the season finale, Mhysa, seen during the expository conversation between Walder Frey and Roose Bolton. The warm lighting underscores the warm atmosphere within the feast hall, as the Stark bannermen enjoy a well-earned reprieve from the war. The feast itself seems to be a callback to the feast in Winterfell in the series premiere, as the king’s host is welcomed to Winterfell. The framing of the entire sequence is a brilliant feat of directing. Spirits are high as our beloved characters enjoy themselves in the perceived safety of the Twins. The gradual shift into suspicion within the viewer’s mind through Catelyn, and the growing feeling of tension, are evidence of great writing. The first example of this is revealed through Roose, as he reveals he married for gold, to the utter disgust of Catelyn. The scene quickly switches to a loving exchange between Robb and Talisa, in an attempt to dispense of the slight suspicion aroused by the Catelyn/Roose exchange. Soon after this, however, there is a second Catelyn/Roose exchange which turns the sense of unease one notch further. As they discuss the bedding ceremony, Roose’s reaction to Catelyn’s comment about Ned forbidding their own bedding ceremony is slightly off, and we or Catelyn can’t exactly tell why. His emotionless smile combined with a barely suppressed grunt of anticipation/slight amusement directly foreshadows that much more than a jaw will be broken before the night is over. Again, Robb and Talisa provide the counterpoint, and our collective psyche is given respite once more, as Catelyn looks on, finally in acceptance of Robb’s marriage, and certain that amends have been made for his mistake. Cue Black Walder shutting the doors, and the musicians striking up The Rains of Castamere. As the tension mounts, Walder Frey addresses Robb directly, and realization begins to dawn on Catelyn. Roose provides the first coup de grace of the night as he reveals his chainmail to Catelyn with a knowing leer. Sudden, complete realization dawns on Catelyn and the viewer at the exact same time, but too late. The slaughter commences as Talisa is brutally stabbed, in one of the most brutal and sickening murder sequences I have ever personally seen. The slaughter is sudden, jarring, and entirely visceral. When Roose performs his second coup de grace in killing his king, it triggers a catatonic shutdown in Catelyn before her death, but not before she keeps her word in killing Lord Frey’s young wife.
Many things contribute to making this scene what it is, and they include top-tier direction, an excellent script, a beautiful set, both beautiful and terrifying music, fantastic pacing, marvellous manipulation of rising tension, and finally, absolutely outstanding acting. Richard Madden, Oona Chaplin, Michelle Fairley, Michael McElhatton, Clive Russell and David Bradley all played an equal part in making this horrible event not only come to life, but entirely believable. We were there with them, and experienced the horror first hand. Michelle Fairley was once again the standout, and it was a fitting final scene in acting terms for an actress who has continued to uphold the highest of acting standards ever since the show began. With all of that in mind, it is difficult to deny the excellence of the Red Wedding. It may be the most painful scene to watch, but it is definitely one of the most memorable, and the overall best.
ELEONORA’S CHOICE – STANNIS BARATHEON and SER DAVOS SEAWORTH
“Loyal service means telling hard truths.” Ser Davos Seaworth
Wise words from an honest man. Ser Davos Seaworth- also known as ‘The Onion Knight’ – is a just and righteous man while in the service of Stannis Baratheon. Oh sure, he was an avid smuggler who was the salvation for Stannis and his fleet at Storm’s End during one of the many rebellions that rocked the Seven Kingdoms – but he proved that he was loyal. And loyalty, in the Seven Kingdoms, is a very rare quality to find in a person.
The scene where Stannis comes down to speak with Ser Davos, to give his condolences about Matthos and to free him, comes off as one of the most compelling relationships between two characters in A Game of Thrones. Stannis comes to visit Ser Davos in his dreary cell, only to inform that Melisandre has returned to Dragonstone. Ser Davos has little love or trust for ‘the Red Woman.’ In fact, he tried to kill her, hence why he was thrown in the dungeon. The fact that Stannis comes down and speaks with him comes as a surprise, which alerts Ser Davos that something is amiss. When Stannis reveals that Melisandre brought a guest back to Dragonstone, a young man by the name of Gendry, Ser Davos listens and then gives his counsel.
“Forgive me, your Grace, I’m not a learned man but is there a difference between kill and sacrifice?” Ser Davos immediately questions the intentions of Melisandre and gives insight as to why the boy should not be killed. He speaks frankly about why Stannis should not go through with it, commenting on the fact that Stannis does not kill innocent people just for the sake of it or for glory. Ser Davos points out that this boy is his nephew, the late King Robert’s illegitimate son. Why would you kill a boy who has the same blood as you? For what dark purpose? Ser Davos is the voice of reason that Stannis so desperately needs. Melisandre, it can be argued, is a master manipulator of Stannis. This is why you have the angel and devil syndrome. Stannis is caught between the coals and the fire; no matter who he chooses to believe and listen to, he is damned.
The difference is that Ser Davos does not have any personal agenda. He only wants to believe in Stannis and the Baratheon cause. Melisandre uses dark magic, something that Ser Davos hates and mistrusts. Stannis actually begins to thaw. He shows some emotion – which is rare from a man who is austere and used to commanding legions of men. Ser Davos only wants to do what is right in his capacity as Hand of the King. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that being a King or Hand of the King In Westeros is perilous.
“Hard truths cuts both ways, Ser Davos…” King Stannis Baratheon
VICTORIA’S CHOICE – DAENERYS TARGARYEN SACKS ASTAPOR
Daenerys Targaryen sacking Astapor is undoubtedly the most important scene of the season but also the very best out of all ten episodes (and maybe all 30 in the series). She came into the series as an outcast of the once majestic and all powerful Targaryen family that had ruled Westeros for several hundred years. In the very first episode, we basically see her sold by her brother Viserys as a slave wife to Khal Drogo. Fortunately, they fell in love and made each other better people. After Drogo died, though, and she hatched the dragon eggs, Dany was a different person. She was determined to be better than her bitter brother Viserys and the only life she had ever known. And just how would she accomplish that? Like any true Targaryen: with fire and blood.
The idea of Daenerys selling one of her children – for what else are the dragons, truly? – is tantamount to a horrible evil in my mind. But she arrives in the courtyard of the Unsullied, bravely hands over Drogon to Kraznys, and turns her back on her child. In return, she receives the Harpy’s Fingers, the nine-tailed whip used to punish the Unsullied. And in this moment, as Daenerys walks forward, turning her back on Drogon and facing her newly bought thousands upon thousands of slaves, she begins to speak High Valyrian, a language she had pretended to be ignorant of during negotiations with Kraznys. She faces the Unsullied and tells them they are hers and she frees them. During this time, Kraznys is more interested in the dragon than what Dany is saying. When Kraznys tells her that Drogon will not come, she lets him know a dragon is no slave. And then comes that most amazing word “Dracarys,” which means dragon fire and is the cue for Drogon to set fire to everything. Kraznys goes up in flames as the Unsullied follow her first command to kill all the masters and anyone holding a whip, but to strike the chains off every slave they see. The Unsullied obey without a word, despite the cries for mercy from the Masters of Astapor. And Daenerys Targeryan takes her slave army, sets them free, and now has even more bloodthirsty, amazing warriors to help her conquer the world – and the Iron Throne. She rides through their ranks and shows she is even more amazing than before – she asks if the Unsullied will fight for her as freed men, and they all agree.
This scene is a turning point for Daenerys. She truly comes into her own power, and, with her contagious enthusiasm and strength, she frees thousands of slaves, destroys a major city of Slaver Bay, and convinces all those slaves to follow her as she continues her march onward. Let me remind you that Dany is only 14 or 15 by now. As she says, she is still a young girl and unwise with the ways of war, yet she just sacked one of the richest and most well-defended cities in the world. She never had to spend a penny, let alone give up a dragon; instead, she used fire and blood to claim the slaves, free them, and conquer the city. There is so much power here, as can be seen in the aftermath of Astapor, when she stands outlined in the dust. Her shadow seems thirty feet tall and, for the first time, Daenerys Targaryen looks like the true leader and sister of Rhaegar that she is. This is the woman who should be leading Westeros, not some Lannister or Baratheon or even a Stark. Her cunning is better than that of Tywin Lannister, her strength is greater than any Baratheon, and her dedication to doing right puts the Starks to shame. And all of this can be seen in the sacking of Astapor – for, like her house says, she took what was hers with fire and blood.
Vote for your favorite scene of ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3 and explain why in the comments below!