Arriving at King’s Landing after his long journey, Ned (Sean Bean) is shocked to learn of the Crown’s profligacy from his new advisors. At Castle Black, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) impresses Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) at the expense of greener recruits. Suspicious that the Lannisters had a hand in Bran’s fall, Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) covertly follows her husband to King’s Landing, where she is intercepted by Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen), aka “Littlefinger,” a shrewd longtime ally and brothel owner. Cersei (Lena Headey) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) ponder the implications of Bran’s (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) recovery; Arya (Maisie Williams) studies swordsmanship. On the road to Vaes Dothrak, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) finds herself at odds with Viserys (Harry Lloyd).
In the third episode, Ned and his daughters finally reach the capital of King’s Landing. Those whose heads are still spinning from all the introductions in the first episode may want to take a deep breath first: we meet a host of new characters in the city and on the Wall. For many fans of the books, this is an eagerly awaited moment, not the least because of the introduction of two such key players as Varys, the king’s Master of Whisperers, and Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish, the Master of Coin. They do not disappoint, though you will have to wait a few more episodes before we get to a particularly juicy scene between the two.
But even with these introductions, the episode still has room for scenes that flesh out the characters we have already met, in particular Queen Cersei and King Robert. The episode also works in more of the backstory, touching upon several events from Robert’s Rebellion, so those who are watching and trying to piece together what exactly happened when the Mad King’s reign ended should pay close attention to the scenes with Jaime and Ned as well as Jaime and Robert.
At the Wall, Jon Snow gets to know (and dislike) his fellow recruits; his temperament, and his disappointments, are on display as he learns some hard lessons. The scenes at the Wall also give us plenty of Tyrion, including a rather hilarious line and the fulfillment of a… goal that that he had before he set out on the journey.
Across the Narrow Sea, with Daenerys and the Dothraki, watch for some very defining moments in the young khaleesi’s life and take note of the mention of how much time has passed; the indicators of this as well as of changes of location in general have clearly proved less obvious to some viewers than what might be needed. You will also get to hear a good deal more Dothraki spoken.
There are a lot of fine moments in this episode, in particular a couple of scenes establishing a few of the characters with Daenerys in more detail, but the high point is probably still the final scene which features Arya. Pay close attention to the sounds in the background at the very end.
[HBO’s video preview.]