GAME OF THRONES Season Finale Recap: “Mhysa”

by     Posted 1 year, 44 days ago

game-of-thrones-season-3-poster-slice

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.

game-of-thrones-season-3-tyrion-posterThe 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.

game-of-thrones-mhysa-arya-the-houndThere 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- 

game-of-thrones-mhysa-jamieMusings and Miscellanea:

– 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 …

game-of-thrones-mhysa-dany– 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 …




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  • Allison Keene

    It’s also possible my viewing Mad Men directly afterwards just put me in a seriously negative mood. What did you guys think of the season overall? perspectives please! (especially interested in non-book readers, I never get a great sense of where you guys are with it, and where you see it going)

    • Grayden

      Having not read the books, but instead having read the synopses of the series published so far, I knew splitting up the book into two season meant there was going to be some filler throughout the season. Maybe not filler, but that some story arcs were going to drag out (Theon and Bran’s in particular). I didn’t mind this so much as I knew we have an entire season to go (and a wedding everyone will love!) so perhaps those characters will get more time. I do wish they’d done a little bit more with the Starks to really push the emotion of the Red Wedding. I know there was some information that never made it into the show that could have punctuated Bolton’s betrayal. My fear is that over the next ten months everyone’s feelings on the Red Wedding will have softened and no one is gonna care about what happens to the Freys/Boltons, like they do Joffrey, because fuck that asshole. All in all, I’m just glad that a show based on a fantasy series is getting the attention it is and that people are really, truly invested in it.

      • Homer Lannister

        Robb Starks story was the by far the most important this season, and irritatingly it is the story that they did the least justice to as far as the books were concerned. Thus the emotional gut punch of the Red Wedding (The biggest event in ASOFAI so far, and the “reason” D&D wanted to make the show in the first place) was woefully nuetered (for me and a couple of book reades at least).

        Adapting such a sprawling narrative as ASOFAI is undoubtedly difficult and a lot of the changes they make from the book are pretty understandable as far as budget, logistics and pacing is concerned. But I started to seriously question the writing abilities of D&D after they ruined an epic but short lived character from season 2 (Qhorin Halfhand) for no other reason than to get non book readers “familiar” with ygritte, a character that they had 2 more seasons to properly flesh out.

        Concerning the producers writing abilities, I think it becomes clear that their writing (in season 2 & 3) has been pretty weak when you realise that the only good (not great) scene they created outside the books was the arya – tywin exchange, other than that pretty much every other major deviation has been met with collective groans.

        I can only hope they improve things with season 4 which is the second part of the best book in the series. To be honest they are currently riding a wave of luck in that the first 3 books are pretty steller and have so many exciting occurences that you would have to be completely retarded to NOT make some good T.V out of it. Their real test will come with season 5-7 which will undoubtedly cover books 4 and 5 which are much weaker than the previous books. They will hardly be able to rely on anything on the scale of Ned’s beheading, the Battle of Blackwater, the Red wedding and the other unmentionables to be shown in season 4, to up the ante from their dreary writing.

      • Dave

        Joffrey’s wedding will be Epic! I hope HBO stays true to the violence in the second half of A Storm Of Swords. Looking forward to the Mountains return.

    • CarlSaganite

      Non-book watcher here (‘non-book reader’ sounds like a paradox wrapped within a string theory about paradoxes)…

      First off, love the recaps you’ve been doing. You somehow manage to convey a knowledge of the story beyond the show without ever giving the reader the scent of where things are going, which is probably not easy. For this reason, I only come here for my GOT recaps (though Grantland has some excellent ones too).

      As for the season, I felt like the fractured nature was a necessary evil: sounds like the book they’re adapting was too big to cram into one show, so some things felt spread too thin. Still, it’s merely an inconvenience in the grand scheme of things for me, as it’s still one of the best things on television and I love hanging out with these characters.

      Having not read the books, the first few seasons were much more difficult to follow with so many names bandied about, and plots having their seeds sown for later use. For example, I completely forgot what utter trash Walder Frey was until going back to season 1, and wonder how Robb Stark could have ever fallen into such a trap.

      I couldn’t stand the stuff with Theon though. The show is already borderline nihilistic; I didn’t need a badly executed nihilistic scene to accompany the themes. I suppose it paid off with Theon’s sister looking for revenge, but that story would have benefited with at least a few scenes with her beforehand. The whole season I remember thinking “what are the Greyjoys up to anyway?” They played a significant part in season 2, and were completely abandoned this season. It’s here where I feel like reading the books would help; was his sister concerned while Theon was away? What have they been up to? Their story appears to be important, but the show doesn’t give it much weight.

      Though like anything in this show, it’s possible I’m just not paying hard enough attention.

      Also didn’t much care for where the Jon Snow story headed. Mance Raydar seemed like a fascinating character never to be seen again.

      Anyway, great work Allison. Can’t wait for season 4!

      • pk

        this season needed more mance raydar!!

    • CarlSaganite

      Non-book watcher here (‘non-book reader’ sounds like a paradox wrapped within a string theory about paradoxes)…

      First off, love the recaps you’ve been doing. You somehow manage to convey a knowledge of the story beyond the show without ever giving the reader the scent of where things are going, which is probably not easy. For this reason, I only come here for my GOT recaps (though Grantland has some excellent ones too).

      As for the season, I felt like the fractured nature was a necessary evil: sounds like the book they’re adapting was too big to cram into one show, so some things felt spread too thin. Still, it’s merely an inconvenience in the grand scheme of things for me, as it’s still one of the best things on television and I love hanging out with these characters.

      Having not read the books, the first few seasons were much more difficult to follow with so many names bandied about, and plots having their seeds sown for later use. For example, I completely forgot what utter trash Walder Frey was until going back to season 1, and wonder how Robb Stark could have ever fallen into such a trap.

      I couldn’t stand the stuff with Theon though. The show is already borderline nihilistic; I didn’t need a badly executed nihilistic scene to accompany the themes. I suppose it paid off with Theon’s sister looking for revenge, but that story would have benefited with at least a few scenes with her beforehand. The whole season I remember thinking “what are the Greyjoys up to anyway?” They played a significant part in season 2, and were completely abandoned this season. It’s here where I feel like reading the books would help; was his sister concerned while Theon was away? What have they been up to? Their story appears to be important, but the show doesn’t give it much weight.

      Though like anything in this show, it’s possible I’m just not paying hard enough attention.

      Also didn’t much care for where the Jon Snow story headed. Mance Raydar seemed like a fascinating character never to be seen again.

      Anyway, great work Allison. Can’t wait for season 4!

    • taylor

      Questions:
      1) How on Earth did Ygritte catch up to Jon when he had a horse?
      2) Edmure – why wasn’t there a mention of him? (or didn’t I hear it)

      • Marisa

        There was some mention that he might have gotten to bed his wife and then spent the night in the dungeon.

      • RunnerX13

        He was stopped when she found him. We don’t know how far he road, or how long he was stopped :)

  • Dustin

    The episode did seem uneventful, and that fact was especially highlighted after last week’s episode. I have not read the books, but I’m getting tired of all the good things happening to the bad people. Can at least one main Lannister die?

    • Marisa

      Overall I thought most of this season was uneventful but I blame that on the the fact that it’s the first half of the book. Just wait, next season will be the best so far. I dreaded most of this season, Jamie’s hand, Red Wedding etc but I’m almost giddy with some of the stuff that closes out book 3 of the series.

  • Hunter

    Enjoyed reading your recaps all season. Would always check out your recap after each episode to see what you thought and to clarify things I didn’t really catch. Until next season!

  • Hunter

    Enjoyed reading your recaps all season. Would always check out your recap after each episode to see what you thought and to clarify things I didn’t really catch. Until next season!

  • Lance

    Allison, I agree this last episode of the season didn’t feel like it had enough “oomph.” I liked Season 3 a lot, and much of that had to do with the fact so many episodes ended in a way that really shocked and impacted the viewer. This one though… I would have thought it an only okay episode in the middle of the season, and as the end of the season it left a bit to be desired.

    I kind of suspect after the grisliness of the previous episode, the writers wanted to pull back and try to reassure everyone there were family-friendly (or as close as GoT gets to it) reasons to keep watching the series. The scene where we hear Yara talk about how she’s going to rescue Theon felt like something out of a different series altogether, or maybe a movie like Bravehart. Not very Game of Thrones-y.

    And Dany being held aloft by freed slaves as her dragons fly overhead is a much weaker ending than season one’s end, where we saw the dragons for the first time. Or even the scene of all the white walkers at the end of season 2.

    Perhaps the one thing I liked about this episode is how they’re building up to the Big War between the walkers and all the different kingdoms, giving us a sense of the scope of the overall story, and how it’s all going to (eventually) come together (I hope).

    Anyway, I thought this was a pretty good season, with only the finale itself being kind of a minor letdown. Bring on season 4!

  • Lance

    Allison, I agree this last episode of the season didn’t feel like it had enough “oomph.” I liked Season 3 a lot, and much of that had to do with the fact so many episodes ended in a way that really shocked and impacted the viewer. This one though… I would have thought it an only okay episode in the middle of the season, and as the end of the season it left a bit to be desired.

    I kind of suspect after the grisliness of the previous episode, the writers wanted to pull back and try to reassure everyone there were family-friendly (or as close as GoT gets to it) reasons to keep watching the series. The scene where we hear Yara talk about how she’s going to rescue Theon felt like something out of a different series altogether, or maybe a movie like Bravehart. Not very Game of Thrones-y.

    And Dany being held aloft by freed slaves as her dragons fly overhead is a much weaker ending than season one’s end, where we saw the dragons for the first time. Or even the scene of all the white walkers at the end of season 2.

    Perhaps the one thing I liked about this episode is how they’re building up to the Big War between the walkers and all the different kingdoms, giving us a sense of the scope of the overall story, and how it’s all going to (eventually) come together (I hope).

    Anyway, I thought this was a pretty good season, with only the finale itself being kind of a minor letdown. Bring on season 4!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sangbaran Sam

    damn…i thought King Joffrey would die in the finale!

    • TheOscarRP

      He’s not a Stark, so he’s not one to whom bad things happen. He’s going to marry Margaery though, who seems to be the only person besides Tywin who can control him, so we might have some interesting moments there next season…

      • http://www.facebook.com/sangbaran Sam

        remember the 3 leeches Stannis put in the flames…believe me it will work!!

      • prathap

        but he does eventually die right? along with the other lannisters except tyrion?

      • http://www.facebook.com/sangbaran Sam

        I have read till book 4 but this is no place for spoilers!!
        suggestion to all….read all the books…they are simply awesome!!

      • prathap

        also i heard a rumour that joffrey rapes sansa in this episode… glad to know that never happened. also they dont exactly show theons cock in the box. its only insinuated.

      • http://www.facebook.com/sangbaran Sam

        If I remember correctly Joffrey never rapes Sansa.
        cocks are not shown in season 3…so it was good that it was insinuated.

      • Homer Lannister

        Btw, it wasn’t the leeches that got Robb Stark. Tywin had been planning the Red Wedding way before Melisandre and Stannis did their thing.

      • http://www.facebook.com/sangbaran Sam

        say that to Stannis and Melisandre…the God of Light had planned it all the way!!!
        we can look it as a coincidence or fate or black magic…take your pick!!!

  • Nick

    Last week should have been the finale, it had all of the elements of a great finale and this week was so calm . This week felt like a season premier rather than finale

    • Brad

      This has been the template that the show has followed since season one. All the big things happen in the penultimate episode and in the finale it is usually set up for where the show intends to go next season.

    • erasmus654

      Yes, you totally hit it right on the head. That IS how it felt.
      Damnit.

  • erasmus654

    It’s really been the week of bad season finales – both Game of Thrones AND

    Da Vinci’s Demons!

  • Harry Palm

    “where ARE my lemon cakes”, “supper” not “super”, “there are WORSE people”, the only thing Ramsay LITERALLY ate was a sausage. Does no one proof read her articles?

  • chris gault

    This season was quite boring … nothing exciting happened at all … this show is so over rated

  • Hop

    Finally. It’s over. YAY!

  • ikkf

    I threw my copy of the book across the room a second time when I read about the head sewn on to Robb’s body.

  • Pingback: GAME OF THRONES Season Three Finale Scores 5.4 Million Viewers, Up 28% Over Season Two Finale | Collider

  • Yurine

    It didn’t really feel like a season finale.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sangbaran Sam

    After re-watching the last 2 episodes of Season 3 I think I liked the finale better!!
    Perfectly pitched…it paves way for all the extraordinary twists and turns we are waiting to happen in Season 4.. a definite up on Season 2 finale for me
    Season 1 finale cannot be matched.PERIOD.

    PS:The only blip IMO in the Season 3 was the Theon Greyjoy storyline…dragged a bit too much.

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  • Jack Flack

    “flawed with an uneven tone” – That’s meaningless drivel.

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