Winter is coming, but not soon enough. So to help pass the time until season seven of Game of Thrones, we’re doing a weekly re-watch of the series, episode-by-episode, with the knowledge of what’s to come and—therefore—more information about the unrevealed rich history of events that took place long before the story began. Be warned, though: that means this series is full of spoilers for every season, even beyond the episode itself. So if you haven’t watched all of the show yet immediately get on that and then come back and join us for Game of Thrones Re-Throned.
Because the next best thing to watching new episodes is re-watching old ones.
Season 3, Episode 1: “Valar Dohaeris”
When something tragic or shocking happens on Game of Thrones it resonates so deeply with us because few shows in television history have ever played the long game in quite the same way. Going back and re-watching the entire series is to go back and discover a treasure trove of small moments or lines that often didn’t pay off for entire seasons, important sequences or exchanges that might not have stood out at the time, but feel monumental now.
The season three premiere, titled “Valar Dohaeris” (which was appropriate after season two’s finale was titled “Valar Morghulis“), is full of these types of moments.
Some are small in importance, but much more meaningful now, like when we first meet Qyburn, who is nearly dead, and he laughs when told he is lucky to be alive. Of course, he would go on to also bring The Mountain back from the edge of death, only to leave him in a worse state (for him and his enemies) than death.
Others are much bigger, like the scene with Jorah and Daenerys on the boat leaving Qarth for Astapor. The Dothraki that are with them, being the first of their people to ever ride on a ship, are throwing up, and Jorah makes a joke about them. The Mother (of the suddenly much, much bigger) Dragons tells him that others will follow her too, and that one day she will have a “true khalasar.” Jorah then says something that at the moment sounded like a generic statement, but proved to be something nearer a prophecy:
“The Dothraki follow strength above all, khaleesi. You’ll have a true khalasar when you prove yourself strong, and not before.”
If we were making a montage of Daenerys’ journey, we’d now cut to her burning all of the khals alive and emerging from the fire, yet again, to see every Dothraki alive kneel to her.
Ser Davos, rescued from some rocks in the Blackwater and brought back to a despondent and isolated Stannis on Dragonstone, tries to kill Melisandre, and as he is dragged away to a dungeon, he tells Stannis, “She will destroy us all!” Following Meslisandre’s wish to burn Shireen alive led to the literal destruction of Stannis’s family, his army, and ultimately him. Only Davos, who never followed her, remains.
There’s also Margaery telling Cersei that she stopped at an orphanage she heard about from the High Septon (not the High Sparrow, not yet), because “the lowest among us are no different from the highest if you give them a chance and approach them with an open heart.” Cersei Lannister, of course, rolls her eyes at such a notion, but she would be brought to shame (literally) from those very people, the people that now hate and surround her.
However, the best example of conversations being far more poignant than we might have thought at the time comes from the scene between Tywin and Tyrion, when Tywin refuses his son’s request to inherit Casterly Rock with a vicious, mean tirade about how he brings dishonor to his family and name by being “an ill-made, spiteful little creature full of envy, lust, and low cunning.” He berates Tyrion for bringing “a whore into my bed” and not taking the duties of the Hand of the King seriously enough (we know that’s not true).
(There’s also an amazing line of irony in this exchange, when the last thing Tywin says to Tyrion is “the next whore I catch in your bed I’ll hang.” It would be Tyrion, finding Shae in his father’s bed, that would do the hanging.)
Tywin also tells Tyrion something that just seemed vindictive, but might yet prove quite literal, and game (of thrones) changing.
“Men’s laws give you the right to bear my name and display my colors since I cannot prove that you are not mine.”
There is a theory that Jon Snow is not the only secret Targaryen in the Seven Kingdoms, that a “third head of the dragon” exists, and it says that Tyrion is actually the son of the Mad King, who it is thought raped Tywin’s wife Joanna. “You are not mine,” might yet prove to be the single most meaningful quote from this entire episode.
And if it is, it will have waited seasons to pay off, because Game of Thrones is always playing the long game, and that’s one of the reasons it’s one of the best shows in television history.
But what did you think of this episode? All men must tells us in the comments below.