Welcome back to Westeros for another season of gruesome deaths, rampant nudity, black-hearted betrayal and dragon mothering. Here's our highlights reel of the Season 3 premiere, "Valar Dohaeris."
Best 'I Just Crapped Myself' Facial Expression: The look of sheer terror on Jon Snow's face when a freakin' giant crossed right in front of him in the wilding camp was priceless. And it didn't go unnoticed by flame-haired temptress, Ygritte, who sought to assuage/prolong his fear by teasing him not to gape at the towering creature for too long, because giants are shy souls who get angry when you won't stop staring at them like an idiot. And you wouldn't like them when they're angry...
'Hey It's That Guy!' Award for Most Familiar New Face: Ubiquitous Irish character actor Ciarán Hinds -- most recently seen doing a terrible Bill Clinton impression on the short-lived USA series Political Animals -- ventures north of the Wall to play wildling commander, Mance Rayder. Even though we kinda had James Purefoy in mind while reading the book, Hinds is a great fit for the part, communicating a wry authority that punctures Jon's overinflated balloon of self-importance.
Biggest Cockblocker: Tyrion's hapless personal assistant Podrick Payne, tasked with being the killjoy who summons Bronn away from a rousing game of "Take The Whore's Panties Off With Your Teeth" (coming this fall to Cinemax After Dark!) to attend to their shared employer's needs. "I will murder you, boy" Bronn snarls and damn do we believe he would, too.
Best Bit of Face-Saving: In the books, Tyrion emerges from the Battle of Blackwater with a good chunk of his face missing, particularly around the nasal region. For understandable reasons (make-up budget; Peter Dinklage wanting to keep his damn nose) his on-screen alter ego simply has a fetching scar running down his cheek. At least the writers allowed Cersei to call them out on this bit of page-to-screen plastic surgery, as she greets her brother by remarking, "They said you'd lost your nose, but it's not as gruesome as all that." If the person next to you laughed, it's a tell-tale sign that they've read the books and are thus totally spoiled for the rest of the season. Move away... move away now.
Worst Words to Hear From Your Father: Having been ejected from his role as King Joffrey's hand/babysitter despite his heroism at Blackwater, Tyrion books an appointment with his father, Tywin, to discuss his future. His request: Inheritance of Lannister homestead, Casterly Rock. His father's response: Fuck off and die. Well, okay... it's said a bit more elegantly than that, but not by much. To wit: "Men's laws give you the right to bear my name and display my colors since I cannot prove that you are not mine. And to teach me humility, the gods have condemned me to watch you waddle about wearing that proud lion that was my father's sigil and his father's before him. But neither gods nor men will ever compel me to let you turn Casterly Rock into your whorehouse." Guess who's not getting a Father's Day card this year?
Lamest Substitute for Video Games: At loose ends now that she's no longer in line to be Joffrey's bride, Sansa kills time by sitting down by the docks with her handmaiden (and Tyrion's secret lover) Shae, where they spin elaborate stories about the ships and sailors that come and go from the harbor. Better than tiddlywinks (which is probably played with human eyeballs or something in Westeros), we suppose, but we wanted to reach through the TV and hand Sansa an iPhone so she could play a few rounds of Temple Run.
Most Likely to Win Top Chef: Westeros: Daenerys's dragon toddlers, who have developed a foolproof recipe for dining on grilled fresh fish while at sea.
1) Dive into the water
2) Grab a fish
3) Toss said fish into the air
4) Flambé the fish while its aloft over an open flame... that's coming out of your mouth
5) Swallow the fish in one gulp
So simple, yet so delicious. Any chance they cater bar mitzvahs?
Coldest Reunion: Eternally faithful knight Davos Seaworth makes his way back from the ruins of Blackwater to his king Stannis's castle. Instead of giving him a hero's welcome, Stannis allows Melisandre to make Davos feel even worse about what just went down by blaming him for her absence from the war party. Naturally, this goads him into unsheathing his knife followed by a date with the dungeon. Maybe he should've stayed "dead."
Second Best 'I Just Crapped Myself' Facial Expression: Skittish Joffrey practically leaps out of his skin when Margaery Tyrell insists on stopping their caravan in one of the poorest slums of King's Landing. Granted, his fear is understandable since the last time he interacted with the riff-raff, they pelted him with literal shit. If he were anyone else, we might feel the teensiest bit sorry for him. But since he's not, we don't.
Best Fashion-Related Smackdown: Cersei and Margaery, not-so-subtly taunting each other about their respective shortcomings by (cattily) commenting on their evening wear. While Cersei remarks how Margaery's cleavage-bearing, barely-there gown perfectly accentuates her body's reaction to the nightly chill, her prospective daughter-in-law compliments the Queen's taste in form-covering metal. Oh... these two are going to be fun to watch this season.
Most Intriguing New Character: The Astapor-based translator who tries to facilitate Daenerys's purchase of an army of Unsullied warriors from the world's sleaziest salesman. She may be his slave, but she's clearly got her own mind.
Most Memorable Lines:
"From now on, you'd better kneel every time I fart." -- Tormund Giantsbane, the imposing dude a freaked-out Jon assumes to be Mance Rayder, merrily delighting in the prisoner's misidentification.
"If I wanted to kill you, do you think I'd let a wooden door stop me?" -- Cersei, intimidating Tyrion like a boss.
"I'm a sellsword. I sell my sword -- I don't loan it out to friends as a favor." -- Bronn, reminding Tyrion (and the audience) of the true nature of their relationship.
"Another lovely day on the high seas." -- Ser Jorah, gazing down at the poor, seasick Dothraki barfing all over the poop deck.
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