The Daily Gamecock

‘Game of Thrones’ conquers third season on HBO


Medieval series intrigues audience with sex, power

Never before has the medieval fantasy genre been so appealing to a variety of audiences since “The Lord of the Rings.” The difference is that “Game of Thrones,” one of HBO’s most popular series, is more politically based and focused on rivaling families. Entering its third season, the show continues to pull off the miracle of maintaining such lucid through-lines within a complex, potentially confusing story.

Based on “A Song of Ice and Fire,” the series of novels by George R.R. Martin, “Game of Thrones” is a medieval fantasy television series. The show manages to please not just the “Dungeons & Dragons” addicts; it also draws a considerable audience with excellent acting from a diverse cast, as well as with the inclusion of crucial themes like perverse sex, extravagant violence and political schemes.

What makes “Games of Thrones” most intriguing is its story of overall self-indulgence and corruption, which causes it to stand out from various other fantasies of its kind. It possesses a dark tone, portraying a continent with its inhabitants separated from each other by their own desires. This certainly isn’t one of those fairy tale fantasies with a positivity that the heroic characters will emerge triumphant.

The plotline feels like a multitude of shows crammed into one, so it will probably take half of this review to explain it. Putting it simply, the story is centered on the concept of power — who has it, who craves it and who is denied it.

Amid a war among rivaling, power-hungry families, the prize stands high — the Iron Throne and control over the seven kingdoms of Westeros. Right now, the House Lannister stands on top, with the hedonistic, bratty Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) occupying the throne and his mother Cersei (Lena Headey) slowly losing control of him.

At their doorstep is Robb Stark (Richard Madden), who is constantly ramping up his efforts to conquer the House Lannister, not for the Iron Throne but revenge for the beheading of patriarch Ned Stark. Meanwhile, his siblings are either on the run or held hostage by the House Lannister.
Peter Dinklage often adds a lighthearted vibe to the series with his wit and snarky attitude as the clever, Machiavellian Tyrion Lannister, one of the show’s richest characters. Early in the season, a poignant scene involves Tyrion pleading for his father’s love and respect only to be admonished, demonstrating that verbal rebukes can be as brutal as a sword to the neck.

And that only scratches the surface of the insane, abundant characters that have us trekking so far across the Westeros terrain that we’re craving GPS. Jon Snow (Kit Harington), the bastard son of the Stark family, finds himself allied with the Wildings in the wintry lands among the Wall. Meanwhile, across the sea, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), who raises dragons as her children, strives to rally an army to reclaim the throne her family once occupied.

With all of the characters and plot points, the show can feel infuriatingly overstuffed and disjointed. Just when one becomes riveted with one plot thread, a switch is made and a connection is lost. Watching requires full immersion into all of the blood, muck and duplicity. But once a deep investment is made, viewers will be richly rewarded.

“Game of Thrones” boasts plentiful visuals of the different corners of this fictional world, each containing its own unforgettable looks. There’s the wintry coldness of the Wall that divides the continent of Westeros from its primeval neighbors to the north. The scenes that take place in the nation’s capitol have a stunning yet stifling ambiance, while the foreign lands across the sea have a mixture of seaside beauty and the simplicity of desert plains.

The show also clearly demonstrates how it is intended for adult audiences, even though jokes have been made toward the contrary. It plays host to numerous scenes of graphic violence (including an explicit beheading scene) as well as unambiguous nudity and sex. Not wholly intended to seduce viewers, these scenes serve some narrative purpose, like obtaining more insight into a character’s persona.

“Game of Thrones” contains an exceptional chemistry of drama, violence and fantasy. For those who haven’t given the show a chance yet, rest assured it will transport everyone who watches it into a gripping world.