With so many storylines to keep track of, the biggest challenge facing Game of Thrones Season 3 was advancing the plot enough to keep fans engaged each week... without certain characters falling through the cracks.
Such a task was made even more difficult this season as members of the various families were scattered across the realm. In the end, however, the development of existing characters and the introduction of new ones made for quite a thrilling ride.
Let's look back on some of the best parts and hand out a grade in the following TV Fanatic Report Card.
Best Episode: In terms of just pure enjoyment, the title has to go to "And Now His Watch Has Ended." Mostly because the scene where Dany got her army - after revealing she could understand the insults of Kraznys all along - was as bad ass a moment as I have seen on the show. Throw in a little "dracarys" and I was giddy as Joffrey was when he learned Robb Stark was dead.
Jamie actually elicited sympathy and respect from me after putting aside his own pain to save Brienne and I liked seeing the darker side of Varys as he opened the crate containing the sorcerer who had cut him years ago.
Most Shocking Moment: We had a hand cut off and a penis severed, but nothing shook me to the core more than the Red Wedding. I think fans everywhere would agree, the murder of Robb, Talisa and Catelyn was quite possibly the most jaw-dropping moment of the show's history. The argument has been made that Robb got what he deserved for putting his own desires above the good of the family, but Talisa and Catelyn deserved better.
Favorite New Character: I loved the addition of Thoros when we met the Brotherhood without Banners. It's always nice to have a guy around who can bring you back from the dead. I also liked how he provided a contrast to Melisandre and showed that she was not only one able to harness the lord of light's power.
Most Despicable Character: Walder Frey and Ramsay Bolton made strong cases for this award, but if I had but one arrow to loose, I would be aiming for Joffrey. There is seemingly no end to the loathsome little king's sadistic ways.
Hopes for Season 4: Despite putting three arrows into Jon, I hope to see Ygritte and him get back together at some point. I do thing he loves her, but unlike robb, he chose his duty over his desire. Depending on how much time will have elapsed in the story while on hiatus, I hope we get to see Dany's dragons grow up and see their first action in battle. They will also be key to victory over the white walkers as their fire is able to produce the only weapons that will kill them apparently.
Season Grade: A.
YOUR turn, GoT Fanatics: What grade would you give Game of Thrones Season 3?