12:45pm PT by Josh Wigler
'Game of Thrones' Podcast: One Last Look at Season 3
For a minute there, it looked like Game of Thrones was going the way of the Blackwater Bay.
Not that there was any doubt that interest in the HBO drama was still as high as ever, heading out of season two and barreling into season three. But there's a pervasive sense of wheel-spinning in the second season of the fantasy series based on George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels, with certain stories suffering more than others. The less said about Daenerys Targaryen's time in Qarth, for instance, the better.
Then came season three, arguably the high point of the Mother of Dragons and Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea's entire run on the show through seven years and counting. Dany gets the honors of closing out "Mhysa," the season three finale, in which the warrior queen literally crowd surfs among a group of men, women and children she has just helped to free from generations of slavery. Among the many ideas the image represents, it's this: Daenerys and Thrones alike got their groove back in season three, easily the best year of the show through that point in its run.
Indeed, it's arguable that season three remains the greatest year of Thrones, most notably marked by the harrowing Red Wedding sequence in the penultimate episode of the year, "The Rains of Castamere." The mass murder of the Stark army was a moment so stunning in its sudden brutality that it made the season one beheading of Ned Stark look like a veritable slap on the wrist in comparison. Of course, those who read Martin's novels in advance were clued into all the signposts pointing the way toward the deaths of Robb and Catelyn Stark, among others; on that level, Thrones creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss were generous in the amount of breadcrumbs they left on the road toward the Red Wedding.
Beyond the deaths of the Starks and the rise of the dragon in the east, Thrones deftly navigated the show's signature political intrigue in the form of the Lannisters' reign in King's Landing, complete with new rivals in the form of Margaery Tyrell and the Queen of Thorns; a compelling redemption arc in the form of Jaime Lannister and his unexpected friendship with Brienne of Tarth; star-crossed romance in the form of the Jon Snow and Ygritte relationship; and torture porn aplenty in the form of the Theon and Ramsay arc, which, frankly, we all could have done without.
With all of that said, the future of Thrones was a wide open uncertainty for show-only viewers as they walked away from season three. For the book-reading crowd? Season four was an even more anticipated affair. Those fans knew that the next year would finish the adaptation of "A Storm of Swords," the third book in Martin's novel series, easily the most exciting and action-packed of the lot. They knew which deaths to keep an eye out for, which head-popping new characters to watch with nervous anticipation, which battle sequences were on the way.
Season three is fresh on the mind having finished it for "Winter Was Here," the podcast collaboration between THR and Post Show Recaps — but the hype for season four has never been higher. Listen to the last episode of our season three coverage below, and tune in next week for the start of our voyage into season four.