After a very tight and narratively cohesive (and soul crushing) penultimate episode, Game of Thrones returned this week in its finale doing what it has done for most of the season: that is, people walking and talking. There was a lot of both, and some of it was interesting, but perhaps what it told us more than anything was what we least wanted to be confirmed: what happened last week didn’t matter. Of course it does matter on a number of levels within the show and for viewers, but outside of the Stark family’s misfortunes, it was just another piece of Tywin’s game to control and kingdoms, or alternatively, another score for the Red God. Either way, most everyone’s reactions to it, minus Joffrey’s, were subdued. The Young Wolf is no longer a threat? Great, where as my lemon cakes. Hit the jump for why it’s really not easy being drunk all of the time.
The most important thing in “Mhysa” happened quietly at Dragonstone, when Melisandre confirmed to Stannis that Davos and the Night Watch’s concern about the White Walkers trumps all of the politics about the five kings. The army of the undead is getting ready to come after them all, and petty politics won’t mean much when everyone is being consumed by zombies.
Still, of all of the sick and twisted things we’ve seen (including a literal dick in a box), few things were more sickening than seeing Robb’s corpse, beheaded, with Grey Wind’s head stuck on top. It is a continual insult to the injury of the slaughter of the Red Wedding, and no amount of ghost stories about rat cooks, broken vows of guest’s rights, allusions to Walder Frey and unhappy gods will mend it.
Though Stannis and Melisandre took credit via the Red God for the leech-assisted death of Robb Stark, neither of the other parties have been neutralized. Balon Greyjoy has left Theon for dead (though Yara vows vengeance on the Dreadford — as Tyrion mentions, you can’t seem to smite one enemy without breeding two more), and Tywin continues to be the most powerful man in Westeros, his grandson be damned (and seriously, damn him).
But as everyone knows, this season only covers one half of A Storm of Swords, so while the episode’s non-ending was a kind of “to be continued,” it still simply didn’t feel good enough. Like last season’s finale, we checked in with almost everyone (though not the Tyrells) and got a quick glimpse of where they are and where they could be headed next year. But unlike last year’s finale, there was very little about it that felt satisfying.
There were an incredible amount of plots left wide open. The series focused in narrowly (and refreshingly) during “The Rains of Castamere,” and while resolution might have been desired this week (what a way that would have been to end the season), what we got was the show picking right back up like there will be another hour of storytelling next week. Bran heads north, Jon and Ygritte share a tense moment before Jon ends up back at Castle Black, Arya and the Hound ride off to who knows where, Cersei gives Jaime a horrified expression (oh the humanity!), Joff gets sent to bed without super, Shea refuses to leave King’s Landing, and Davos frees Gendry. Oh, and Ramsay Snow eats cock, quite literally.
For those still uncertain, Roose Bolton finally revealed Ramsay and his motivations and designs, proving there are worst people than the Lannisters and Freys, and thy name is Bolton. On the other side of the moral spectrum, there are at least a few purely good heroes like Davos, and Dany as a freer of slaves (and Arya of course, mini-assassin). And while Dany has the momentum right now, “Mhysa” made it clear that the future of Westeros still anyone’s guess, especially when it ultimately comes to the question of whether good can triumph over evil. Right now, it’s not looking positive.
Moving forward, it seems that Winter isn’t just coming, it’s here. Hodor.
Episode Rating: B
Season Rating: A-
— Overall, Season Three has been a more favorable adaptation of the work than Season Two, but it was flawed with an uneven tone, and suffered from being too scattered with too many storylines in each episode. Still, it’s a difficult work to adapt, and will probably be (as has been the case with prior seasons) even better on re-watch, both for TV fans who will get all of the stories straight, and for book fans who know now how the show will portray certain elements from the book. I felt overall though they hit most things pretty right, though have been disappointed in some (like Cat’s development, or lack thereof).
— There was a lot of discussion in the episode as well about family, and lowborns versus highborns. Dany seeks to unite them, Tywin desires them separated. When Jaime entered King’s Landing, it’s important to note his change when it came to being talked down to. Instead of flaunting his position, he said nothing, with an approving look from Brienne. Tywin’s way may not last long, as his own family is breaking away from the ideals of Family First No Matter The Cost he holds dear, but the point was a subtle one.
— Joffrey was more of a shit than usual in this episode. “Killed a few puppies today?”
— Ahh, the disgraced daughter and the demon monkey! That is a band name waiting to happen.
— My feelings for Cersei waver a lot, but I didn’t feel much of anything during her “but I swear, Joff was a good baby” speech, especially because I kept thinking about the fact of his parentage …
— Shae’s reaction regarding Sansa surprised me (her loyalty to her), but when is anyone going to learn that when someone offers you money and says you should leave for everyone’s good, you should do that?
— “Hodorrrrrrrrrrrr!” – Hodor
— Ahhh, the story of the rat cook, which is 3/4th Titus Andronicus. I see what you did there, George R. R. Martin. As I mentioned last week, I didn’t think the point about “guest rights” had much of an impact on non-book viewers … was it clear this week when Bran told that story?
— “Why would I want to go north of the wall?!” – Sam. I do like that Sam and Bran cross paths though. It’s the next best thing to a Stark reunion.
— Speaking of which, poor Sansa. Poor Arya too, and Bran, and Rickon but … Sansa is really getting the worst of it.
— Ah, so we were finally introduced to “Reek.” The Theon torture porn has really needed to not be in every episode this season, thanks.
— Davos’ chapters are pretty boring in the books, but he’s always been a favorite character of mine. I love how the show has portrayed him too, with his learning to read, his bonding with Shireen and standing up to Stannis, always doing the right thing. The bonding with Gendry was a nice touch, too.
— “Big words no clothes, what would you have done?” – Gendry
— Could Jon have been any whinier? “I have to go home now.” “You know nothing Jon Snow” — probably the most deserved You Know Nothing yet.
— Say what you will about the Khaleesi and her choices, she knows how to work a crowd!
— Thanks to everyone who read and commented on the posts the season, and for sticking with me while I figured out how to balance the book versus show in the reviews. The Collision gang and I will be discussing the show on this week’s podcast, so keep an eye out for that as well! For now: valar morghulis …