Last season’s gorgeous set of trailers were about high politics and the eternal quest for power. In this first trailer for season 3, we’re left in no doubt that we’re now dealing with the desire for ice-blooded vengeance that has come to possess almost all the characters. The trailer swoops masterfully through every angle of this primordial question, and, very properly, leaves us gasping for more.
Taking the place of Florence + the Machine’s Seven Devils as season anthem, Bones by Ms Mr resembles a haunting echo resonating off the walls of the crypt at Winterfell and creates a savagely primal atmosphere that evokes the funereal ambiance of A Feast For Crows far more than A Storm of Swords. This may seem inappropriate, until you realise that the music is working as a kind of foresight to that feast: we are listening to the sound of crows tearing flesh off human bones; we are watching the story of how all that dead meat got there in the first place. This fact is exemplified by a number of blood-chilling voice-overs: ‘Death is coming for everyone and everything’; ‘The revenge you want will be yours in time.’ Apocalypse Please?
In the space of one minute, we’re taken through major character development that has occurred since last season, some tantalising glimpses of key moments, and the continued presence of the great, eternal themes that have persisted from season one.
Joffrey still appears to be lounging about on the Iron Throne and dabbling in sadism, declaring that ‘everyone is mine to torment,’ a strategically-placed knifing of a table and some mutinous glaring from the still-gorgeous Tyrion assuring us of the rather precarious state of Joffrey’s benighted rule. Lord Hoster Tully’s funeral at Riverrun looks to be a great, moving treat for devotees of Nordic mythology. In what looks like the ruins of Winterfell, Catelyn is moving closer and closer to her inner she-wolf, with elements of Lady Stoneheart already present. Bran, Arya and Sansa seem to have become even more beautifully intense, this intensity epitomised by Bran going all Dothraki on somebody’s ass and assuring us that the fire at the centre of this show is not going out any time soon. And finally, Daenerys succeeds in silencing her critics with zero yelling about fire and blood and all the appearance of actually doing something (if only she would keep it up) in the acquisition of her army of Unsullied.
Many of the book’s key moments are slipped into the trailer with true grace, their presence not seeming too obvious or too identifiable: the wildlings’ attack on the Wall, Jon and Ygritte’s torrid but adorable romance, and Jaime’s hand, which is presented with a hideous sound effect that could either be him suppressing a scream, or bone cracking, or both. We’re also given a much more intimate look at life beyond the Wall that promises more distinctive wildling characters than we’ve met in the past; including a first look at the toweringly charismatic Ciarán Hinds as Mance Rayder. And finally, we’re given a tiny chocolate morsel in the form of a torturingly short half-second of Sandor Clegane versus Beric Dondarrion, the nocturnal setting of the book translating incredibly well to the screen.
Through Ser Jorah’s remark that ‘there’s a beast in every man, and it stirs when you put a sword in his hand,’ we are reminded that we’re not dealing with an isolated series, but with something that has its own place in a saga, the theme of power running through that of vengeance like a river of molten gold. Does possessing a sword mean the power of life and death? Where does power truly reside? Are all our actions motivated, in some way, by power? How many players are there, really, in the only Game that truly matters? Through the game of cyvasse at the trailer’s end, we’re assured that these great themes will keep on developing and will continue to obsess us, as they do the characters. ‘It’s not chance. It’s chess.’