Remember when Daenerys Targaryen was just a little girl afraid of her older (loser) brother? My, how times have changed.
In “Valar Dohaeris,” the Season 3 premiere of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” Daenerys is looking more and more like the queen ascendant.
I view this as a very good development, because (aside from Arya Stark and possibly Tyrion Lannister) the fair-haired Targaryen girl is my favorite character in “A Song of Ice and Fire,” the George R.R. Martin books on which the TV show is based.
Three positive signs from Sunday’s episode:
1) Dany’s dragons are getting bigger!
2) She enlisted one of the greatest knights in Westeros (Barristan the Bold, whom the foolish Joffrey foolishly fired like the fool he is).
3) And she might be getting a huge slave army!
“Valar Dohearis,” which means “All Men Must Serve” in High Valyrian, picks up with Daenerys and crew sailing to the slave-city Astapor. Her Dothraki army isn’t faring so well on the open seas, (they’re used to horses), but her three dragons are flying about, diving for fish and generally looking like baby badasses.
Upon arriving in Astapor, Dany meets The Unsullied, an army of 8,000 eunuch slave soldiers, who don’t have names or identities, can’t feel pain and are particularly cold and vicious killers (they have to murder a baby to become a member of the force).
To demonstrate their toughness and obedience, the slaver Kraznys cuts off one Unsullied’s nipple in front of Dany. (Disgusted by slavery, Dany doesn’t find this particularly impressive.)
As Daenerys is contemplating buying the army, she survives an assassination attempt via scorpion from what-appears-to-be-a-little-girl-but-is-actually-a-warlock. Barristan the Bold, who used to be in Aerys Targaryen’s Kings Guard, leaps to her rescue, killing the scorpion.
He explains that he’s been following the young queen for some time to apologize to her for letting her father down during Robert’s Rebellion and promises himself to her.
“Allow me to join your Queens Guard and I will not fail you again,” he pledges.
North of the Wall
The episode opens with Sam fleeing from a herd of White Walkers (The Others) and wights. He’s about to be killed when Ghost comes to his rescue. (How many times is it now that the direwolves have saved these hapless humans?)
Meanwhile, Jon Snow, after seeing his first giant (!), is taken to meet Mance Rayder (the King-Beyond-The-Wall). He mistakes the braggart Tormund Giantsbane for Mance, but the king quickly corrects him.
“We don’t kneel for anyone beyond the wall,” Mance says.
A defected member of the Night’s Watch, Mance agrees to take Jon in, after hearing that Jon has seen a White Walker and takes the threat seriously.
I like Mance Rayder already.
South of the The Wall, Cersei and Tyrion Lannister are still at each other’s throats. (Easter is a time that brings siblings together.) And, as usual, Tyrion gets the better of their exchanges.
“You’re a clever man, but you’re not half as clever as you think you are,” Cersei says.
“Still makes me more clever than you,” Tyrion retorts. Boom!
Later, their father, Tywin, treats Tyrion with a complete disrespect. When his youngest son says he would like to inherit Casterly Rock, the family’s castle, Tywin acts like the pompous moralist he’s always been in the books. (But he was so inexplicably cool and fatherly with Arya last season?)
Tywin tells Tyrion he would rather let himself “be consumed by maggots” than grant his son the inheritance he deserves.
“Neither God nor men will ever compel me to let you turn Casterly Rock into your whorehouse,” Tywin says.
Meanwhile, the contrast between the boy-king Joffrey and his bride-to-be, Margaery Tyrell, couldn’t be more pronounced.
During a trip through town, Margaery quickly proves herself an expert politician, bonding with the common people, while Joffrey cowers in his horse-drawn carriage.
At dinner, Joffrey openly disrespects his mother, while Margaery flatters her. It won’t be long until this girl has more fans in King’s Landing than anyone in the royal family.
Stannis Baratheon’s right-hand-man, Davos Seaworth, is found stranded after the battle of Blackwater and returned to Dragonstone.
But instead of Davos receiving a warm welcome, Stannis (who lost, brutally, in the epic Season 2 battle) welcomes him back with a gruff: “Heard you were dead?”
The red sorceress Melisandre then taunts Davos for his advice to leave her behind during the Blackwater battle: “I could’ve saved those men. But I wasn’t there because you convinced your king to leave me behind. Do you hear them screaming, all those burning men in the water?”
She then orders Davos locked away in a dungeon.