Fans of HBO’s fantasy blockbuster Game of Thrones learned a long time ago to expect the unexpected, but if you didn’t catch Season 3 of the series – which was released on DVD and Blu-ray earlier this week – brace yourself. Among these 10 episodes lies a plot twist that redefines the tem “game-changer.”
Even if by some miracle you managed to avoid spoilers as to the nature of this shocker, chances are good you know something major happened, because HBO Home Entertainment has been liberally using footage in its TV commercials that purports to show Game of Thrones fans jumping out of their skins when they saw the original broadcast in 2013.
Season 3 contains several very important story lines and plot developments. In Kings Landing, insane and inbred King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) finds his petulant power curtailed somewhat by the return of one of the few men who doesn’t fear the nasty little twerp: Joffrey’s grandpa, Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), who also makes life even more difficult for his put-upon son, Tyrion (Emmy winner Peter Dinklage). What Joffrey also fails to realize, however, is that a secondary threat has entered his court in the person of Lady Margaery Tyrrell (Natalie Dormer), whose own grandmother (the great Diana Rigg) is a masterful politician in her own right.
Much farther to the north, Robb Stark (Richard Madden) and his widowed mother, Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), make peace over their recent differences and set upon devising a scheme to shore up the family’s dwindling army of allies in the face of renewed threat from the Lannisters.
Meanwhile, across the sea, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) blossoms into a true queen as she assembles a formidable army of her own with a little help from her dragons.
The bombshell (don’t worry, no spoilers follow) arrives in the penultimate episode of the season, entitled “The Rains of Castamere,” named after a song associated with the Lannister clan. The new Blu-ray set includes an insightful 46-minute featurette called “The Rains of Castamere Unveiled,” in which executive producers D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, as well as principal cast members and various members of the crew, offer fascinating insights into how this crucial episode – and what Weiss calls “a watershed moment” – was structured and executed.
“Everything changes after this point,” Benioff says in his commentary. “Ned’s (Sean Bean) death was so pivotal at the end of Season 1. Even though there have been many big moments since then, there’s nothing that compares to (this).”
HBO’s 5-disc Blu-ray set, which contains copious other special features and background material, is, as usual, state of the art in technical terms. With Season 4 of Game of Thrones set to premiere on April 6, this release offers a welcome opportunity for fans to refresh their memories as to details in the labyrinthine plot even if they caught Season 3 during its original run last spring.