After a season of wildfire and wildlings, black magic and back-stabbing, Game of Thrones (9 p.m. Sundays, HBO) returns and the quest for the Iron Throne continues.
The fantastical and addictive series, based on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels, is so chock-full of characters, storylines and twists, it’d be impossible to discuss them all in this space. But, at its core, Game of Thrones is a battle — a war for the claim to a powerful throne and a fight against nature’s elements (a deadly winter) as well as mystical ones (dragons!).
As we enter Season Three, the Lannisters maintain power over the throne after winning an epic battle against Stannis Baratheon, but Rob Stark’s undefeated troops continue south, gaining more control of Westeros along the way. Reunited with her ever-growing “babies” (the less cute and, now, more scary dragons) Daenerys Targaryen heads to Slaver’s Bay in search of ships and a crew of allies.
North of Westeros, Jon Snow must convince Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall, that he is prepared to serve and protect, all while spying for the Knight’s Watch. Over the years, Rayder has built up a massive army of wildlings that outnumbers any other troops south of the wall. However, we know there is an even greater threat at hand in the north — the massive fleet of White Walkers and wights (essentially snow-dwelling zombies) making its way south.
Of course, this only scratches the surface of what’s to come, plus, there’s a gaggle of new faces to be introduced in the upcoming episodes. Despite the sheer amount of content and characters, there are no throw-away plots; each new twist just paints an even grander picture of the darkest fairy tale you’ve ever seen.
WEDNESDAY MARCH 27
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (9 p.m., NBC) – Lauren Cohan (Maggie, The Walking Dead) guest stars as a woman accusing a coworker (Homeland’s David Marciano) of stalking and rape. When she becomes pregnant as a result of the attack, the defense channels its inner Todd Akin, questioning the legitimacy of the alleged rape. Super timely subject matter.
The Real World: Portland (Season Premiere, 10 p.m., MTV) – As MTV’s recent “retro” Real World marathon reminded us, this OG reality show used to be pretty ground-breaking. Now it’s mostly just attractive people getting drunk and fighting. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how the too-cool-for-school city will embrace this motley crew — and vice-versa.
THURSDAY MARCH 28
Project Runway (9 p.m., Lifetime) – The designers create their own print fabrics inspired by art at the Guggenheim.
Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell (10 p.m., Food Network) -– The Food Network fave helps Cincinnati’s own Jeff Ruby find a new executive chef for The Precinct. The top two candidates are each tested with an opportunity to run the entire restaurant for a night. In this final test, one chef focuses more on speed than quality, the other gets into an altercation with Ruby himself, and one will join the steakhouse team for good.
The Ben Show (10 p.m., Comedy Central) – Ben embarks on a blind date, which involves cruising Grindr; an obscene spelling bee; The Facebook Liker’s cousin, “The Retweeter.”
Nathan For You (10:30 p.m., Comedy Central) – Nathan tries to help a haunted house get publicity by being sued for being too scary.
SUNDAY MARCH 31
The Walking Dead (Season Finale, 9 p.m., AMC) – The Governor’s troops storm the prison, but the group may decide to flee instead of fight. Either way, we’re in for an epic finale that’ll give us plenty to mull over until Season Four.
Talking Dead (10 p.m., AMC) – A necessary therapy session. It’s already been announced that Norman Reedus is a confirmed guest — please don’t die, Daryl!
Shameless (9 p.m., Showtime) – Having sufficiently pissed off both sides of the gay rights movement, Frank is homeless again. Jimmy’s wife gets picked up by INS, putting him in quite a pickle with his father-in-law.
MONDAY APRIL 1
Burning Love (10 p.m., E!) – Mark meets the three remaining ladies’ families; the final two meet Mark’s BFF, Jay, at the firehouse.
TUESDAY APRIL 2
The New Normal (Season Finale, 9 p.m., NBC) – David and Bryan are determined to get hitched before Goldie gives birth, but their eager son has other plans.
CONTACT JAC KERN : [email protected] or @jackern