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“The debt will be repaid.”
These are the first spoken words of Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) in the third season of Game of Thrones, as he and his fellow Northerners come across Harrenhal and lay eyes upon the violent works of House Lannister. It’s offered as a quick aside, and little more, but it lands like a hail of arrows on any Thrones fan with a watchful eye on the season’s most gruesome event — indeed, arguably the single most barbaric act in the entire show.
Welcome to the third season of Game of Thrones, in other words, a decisive rebound from the relative train wreck of season two, “Blackwater” not withstanding. Starting with the premiere, “Valar Dohaeris,” viewers find themselves on the one-way road toward the Red Wedding, the climactic sequence in which the Stark army falls victim to the ruthless cunning of Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), Walder Frey (David Bradley) and Bolton, among others. Even as early as the show’s second season, Game of Thrones was laying track for the day Robb Stark (Richard Madden) and his allies would lose their lives under such unceremonious conditions. Season three only amplifies the landmarks on the way toward the most notorious event in the show’s lore, a scene so harrowing that even author George R.R. Martin famously had trouble writing the scene in his novel “A Storm of Swords.”
Lord Bolton’s words at Harrenhal aren’t the only way in which the season three premiere teases the heartbreak ahead. As they ride into the castle, the three most recognizable victims of the Red Wedding — Robb; his wife, Talisa (Oona Chaplin); and his mother, Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) — have a front-row look at the level of bloodshed unleashed upon the Northern army, and see with their own eyes the full extent of their rivals’ ruthlessness. Except, of course, this isn’t the full extent of their ruthlessness. Yes, Robb and his loved ones are staring at the brutalized bodies of roughly 200 Northerners, but it pales in comparison to the inevitable butchering that awaits at the end of the season.
This week on “Winter Was Here,” the Game of Thrones rewatch podcast collaboration between The Hollywood Reporter and Post Show Recaps, hosts Rob Cesternino and Josh Wigler are tracking the ways in which the show is already setting up the Red Wedding — a seasonlong effort, to be sure. Other topics include:
• The return of Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney) and the departure of the warlocks, not a moment too soon;
• How the season three premiere sets up Daenerys‘ (Emilia Clarke) act of war against Krasnys (Dan Hildebrand), the Watto of Game of Thrones;
• Jon Snow (Kit Harington) encountering Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) for the first time, as well as his first meeting with Mance Rayder, played by Ciaran Hinds, but almost played by a different HBO veteran;
• The first appearance of Maester Qyburn (Anton Lesser), and how his origin story could tie into an eventual demise in the final season of the series;
• And more!
Listen to the podcast in the player below:
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