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So, another epic season of Game of Thrones has just finished, filled with gory violence, sex, drunken behaviour and, entirely unique to this season, awkward and emotionally scarring weddings. Also unique to this season is the lack of blonde bombshell incest. But then, we never really liked seeing much of that anyway. Game of Thrones is what Days of our Lives should be; modern, asking the hard questions like how evil can you be so long as you have good intentions? Can that ever redeem you as a person?

As this season was based on the first half of the third book in A Song of Ice and Fire (A Storm of Swords) by George R R Martin, there’s seemingly no end to the war of the five kings for the right to rule Westeros. Having already read the books released thus far, none of the story elements are really surprising to me. The story has deviated somewhat from the events depicted from the books, but in reality, the sheer number of characters in the books would overwhelm and ruin the show itself. Major point of difference of course is that Gendry, the bastard son of the former King of Whales, Robert Baratheon is the only one introduced in the show and is used as the potential sacrificial lamb for Melisandre’s bloody schemes. In the books, there is another son named Edric Storm who fulfills that role. In any case, Gendry doesn’t exactly do much after he is left in the woods by Arya, so why not get him to do something useful for a change?

The thing about this season is that none of the usual political intrigue, the smart arse one liners from Olenna Tyrell and Tyrion Lannister nor Tywin Lannister’s patented death stares can compare to the one event that is foreshadowed since season two so long as you paid attention: The Red Wedding. As you read A Storm of Swords, you realise – chapter by chapter – that Robb Stark’s war of secession from the rule of King’s Landing is pretty much doomed to fail.

The thing is, this advanced knowledge and the desperation of his plans are such that if they worked, he would still have a decent chance of success. That his failure is prematurely handed to him is surprising. In the book, his wife, Jeyne Westerling is not part of the massacre because he wisely kept her away. In the series, this doesn’t happen and she is the first victim of a sadistic and evil man and in the worst way imaginable, stabbed repeatedly through the stomach where Eddard Stark Junior is being incubated. It is such a shocking and heartbreaking moment that even Robb doesn’t know how to react before he is shot full of crossbow bolts.

I personally think that the acting in the series is top notch, so much so that you forget these are people pretending they are the characters we know and love. It’s obvious that Michelle Fairley, who plays Catelyn Stark is the standout female actress on the set. There are two standout scenes for me, the first being her conversation with Talisa about Jon Snow as a sickly baby in episode two and her final, desperate moments as the woman who really has lost everything dear to her.

As for the rest of the season, everything is sort of quiet and unassuming for most of the characters. Apart from Jon Snow, who gets laid quite a bit and Tyrion has finally got someone who can match his wit and humour in Olenna Tyrell. Also, Joffrey getting multiple Tywin Death Stares. Pure awesome.

The great thing about Game of Thrones is that the characters are full of grey contradictions and while their motivations can drive them to some pretty insane acts of barbarism, they can genuinely surprise you with moments of kindness. Except Joffrey Bieber. It’s such a pity we won’t see him cark it for another season. Even The Hound, the big, barbaric brute with the melted face who’s primary hobby is murder redeems himself by showing kindness towards the one person who hates him the most.

I can only say that I love this show more the more I watch it. I only wish George R R Martin could write faster and they had more than ten episodes per season! In the meantime, there’s always this song to help tide us over until next year.

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