Haaaaaay, bannermen and bannergals! The day has finally come—Game of Thrones season 3 is here to confuse and delight and boobatize you! (I was once angrily accused of "boobatizing" a gentleman in the parking lot of a salsa club. My best guess is that it's like "hypnotize" but with boobs. Seemed relevant here.) But do you even remember what was going on with all your pals in Westeros? Confused about whether or not you should give the show a shot at all? Don't worry, I've got your FAQ.
Is shit about to go down in this next season?
YES. So much shit goes so far down. Season three is going to cover roughly the first half of A Storm of Swords, which contains some of the most hardcore baller moves ever committed to paper by the hand of man. You know how you thought GRRM was not fucking around back when he let Ned execute Lady? You were a fool. You were a fool then. He has not even started to not fuck around.
What's going to happen to Arya? I'm so nervous!!!
Oh, man. The best stuff. All the best stuff. Are you okay with spoilers? If not, DON'T CLICK HERE.
What's with that red lady? Do I hate her?
Eh, sorta. Her name is Melisandre and she's really, really into this "Red God" named R'hllor, and she's convinced that Stannis is the second coming of this magic warrior named Azor Ahai. She does a bunch of dickish stuff, like murdering that nice Maester and making Stannis burn all of the New Gods (someone worked hard on those carvings, man!), and also she sometimes gives birth to a shadow assassin, which is not cute. But like so many other characters in GoT (Kingslayer, holler), Melisandre gets more complicated and sympathetic as time goes on. Also, weirdly enough, R'hllor turns out to be kind of real? Like, he actually does stuff except for just being-a-statue, which is all the Seven seem to do. He starts necromancing folks eventually, for one thing. And he sends Melisandre some hella helpful visions about what's going on up top, north of the Wall. Anyway, basically I think Melisandre is like any other well-meaning person of faith: her zealotry has some downsides, but she's genuinely just trying to help.
I didn't watch the first two seasons. What did I miss?
Okay. So everyone is in a fight. The Starks live in the north and they love honor. The Lannisters are the richest and the blondest and they love scheming. Tyrion is the best Lannister and Joffrey is the worst. There are a bunch of other families who all live in different places, and they all have Big Ideas about who should be the king. The Lannisters think Joffrey should be the king (which he currently is). Stannis thinks Stannis should be the king. The Starks think that Robb should be the King in the North, but also maybe in the South if that works out. Daenerys thinks she should be the queen, because of "birthright," which is really kind of arbitrary bullshit if you think about it (the entire point of this series is that power is an illusion, so who cares who your dumb dad was?). Daenerys is trying really hard to get back to Westeros and "claim" her throne (NOT YOURS, DING-DONG). Also she has some dragons. They haven't done much yet. Basically Daenerys is just treading water for a few books until everyone else catches up and it's time for her to fly to Westeros on a dragon and make trouble. Tyrion is just running shit like a boss, but everyone hates him anyway because he is a sarcastic dwarf and they are awful. North of the Wall there's an army of Wildlings who you're supposed to be afraid of, but really they just want to find a place to live that isn't infested with snow-zombies. Also they don't care much for the BS power struggles going on down south. Everyone thinks the Wildlings are the problem, but really THE ZOMBIES ARE THE PROBLEM. All y'all, including me, needs to stop bickering and start figuring out how we're going to smush these zombies. Like, ASAP. (And, yeah, they're not exactly zombies.)
Is this show racist? Where are all the black people?
I have no idea where the black people are, dude. I think they're over in the Summer Islands wearing cloaks of shining feathers and being really really good at intercourse? (On that note, what happens in the Summer Islands when Winter comes? Because if they just get to keep kickin' it in the sunshine without any frost-zombies eating their brainz, then WHY DOES ANYONE LIVE IN THE NORTH AT ALL?) Game of Thrones certainly isn't progressive when it comes to race, but I don't know if it's worse than any other Euro-centric medieval fantasy (low bar, I know!). Non-white people are pretty much nonexistent in the show—except for in Qarth, which falls into that weird Benetton trope where there's, like, one person of every race just hanging out together on a council for no reason. The only darker-skinned group of people you get to know with any level of intimacy is the Dothraki, who are your typical generically-brown not-so-noble savages. To GRRM's credit, maybe, all of the show's slimiest villains are lily-white, but all of the central heroes are lily-white too. Which, I suppose, makes the point that evil is a human rot that transcends phenotype—all of the characters are allowed to be evil or good or confusingly in between without being taken as a representative for their entire race. So I guess it comes down to this: It is not as bad to construct a fictional universe populated mostly by white people as it is to construct, say, a fictional version of New York City from which all of the people of color have been erased. But, that said, YOU'RE CREATING A FICTIONAL WORLD FROM SCRATCH. You made dragons exist but you couldn't figure out how to have, like, a black dude living in Westeros? Unfortunate. (There's a great essay about all of this over here.)
I'm a woman. How should I feel about all the boobs and the rape stuff?
Personally, I'm not particularly bothered. Like, clearly all of this is GRRM's pervy fantasy to some extent, but when you read the books you get the sense that this is a hyper-masculine world in which women have very little power beyond their wiles and their sexuality. The level of sexual violence, in that context, comes off as more realistic than prurient—to me, it feels like a statement about rape culture rather than an example of it. You know? Like, if there were a society run by crazy warriors in which sexual aggression were left unchecked to such a degree, there's almost no law enforcement, and women were almost entirely helpless and disenfranchised, then this probably is the kind of environment those women would have to live in. That's a frightening vision, but I don't think it's an endorsement of rape culture as much as an acknowledgment and a criticism of it. But I don't know. Long story short, I'm not bothered, and my tolerance is typically pretty low for exploitative shit. But if you're bothered, I don't blame you. Trigger warning for sure.
Who's the best character?
Ugh, is Joffrey EVER going to fucking die? Everyone else on this show dies! Why not Joffrey!?!?!?
I hate fantasy stuff. Why should I watch it?
Well, if you really hate fantasy stuff (i.e. armor, sigils, lances, feasts, dragons, hill people, magic wolves, cold castle floors covered in dirty rushes, etc.), you probably shouldn't. But for what it's worth, Game of Thrones is much more about human struggles than it is about supernatural ones. Like, yes, there are some baby dragons, but Danaerys's story is mainly about the nuts and bolts of grassroots organizing. And there are a couple of people who sort of qualify as "wizards," but they're not up to anything spectacular. An important thing to keep in mind is that a ton of the characters in Game of Thrones have the same attitude toward magic that you or I do. They think it's bullshit. They happen to be wrong, because magic is secretly happening all over the place, but it's honestly not a major component in the story. Mostly the story is about people being power-hungry dicks to each other, and how the chaos of life will take you down no matter how nice or vicious or wily you are. Valar morghulis, bitchez!
Are the dragon babies brothers and sister too, and will they have to have incest sex to procreate?
GREAT QUESTION. GROSS. Also, yes?
Will Samwell Tarly survive the white walkers long enough to extricate Gilly from her twisted incestuous home life?
Should I get attached to any of these characters?
No. Definitely not. Everything you love will die.
How am I supposed to keep all these white dudes straight?
To figure out who a character is, just look at the color of their unconvincing wig. Blond = Lannister. White = Targaryen. Red = Tully. Brown = Stark. Black = Baratheon. You know, give or take one million exceptions.
How big are the dragons going to get?
Oh, man. NOBODY KNOWS. Probably really big, though. I mean, Balerion the Black Dread had teeth as long as swords, and these second-coming dragz are kind of a big deal. So, big. I'm guessing.
Is anything more boring than Catelyn standing around worrying about stuff?
YES. 1) 8 million grumpy Yunkai'i who all have the same name and want to argue about commerce. 2) That dude in the Iron Islands who really, really likes drowning people. 3) Dorne.
Which character would be the best rebound for Loras?
Ummmmm, how about Ser Barristan the Bold? I feel like they could have a cute May-December thing, and also stay up all night gossiping about fighting and polishing each other's armor.
Will Arya and Nymeria ever be reunited?
How do I keep from blurting out major spoilers at my viewing party this weekend?
I have no idea. I'm planning to watch it alone in my dark bedroom all glow-wormed up in a down comforter like a feathery taco made of overexcited living meat. So.
Exactly how much does Strong Belwas love locusts/how tiny is his vest?
THE MOST AND THE TINIEST.
Add your own questions and answers and angry corrections in the comments! (This mostly came out of my memory-hole, and it's been forever since I finished A Dance with Dragons, so it's possible I douched a few details. Forgive me.) Happy watching!