Khal Drogo: Maybe I refused to enter the Night Lands without you. Maybe I told the Great Stallion to go fuck himself and came back here to wait for you. Daenerys: That sounds like something you would do.
Thinking about the events that unfolded, I must say last night’s finale was a bit of a mixed bag—with extremely high highs, and moderately high ‘lows’ for lack of a better word. The episode as a whole wasn’t firing on all possible cylinders but the parts that were more than made up for anything one could consider lacking. My biggest gripe: no Bronn, just a passing mention.
Tyrion, the hero of last week’s “Blackwater” awakens to find Grand Maester Pycelle standing over him and discovers that King’s Landing has turned its back on him. There will be no lasting hymns praising him as the victorious Half-man, whose strategy and tactics kept Stannis at bay. The official story is that Tywin saved the day. On top of that, all of Tyrion’s allies are gone, including Hill tribes who “were paid handsomely” and the only mention of Bronn is that he has “been relieved of his duties” as City Watch Commander, indicating he is likely alive and kicking somewhere in the city. Whew. Tyrion, now abandoned and badly scarred, briefly ponders his own value aloud and even rejects Shae’s invitation to leave for Pentos. True to his character, it was refreshing to see the gears in Tyrion’s head turn as he began to scheme and plot how to get up and dust himself off after such a big fall.
Stannis, having found his way back to Dragonstone kirks out on Melisandre following his failure to take King’s Landing. There is no mention of whether Davos survived the explosion, but Stannis did finally express some genuine regret over the part he played in arranging Renly’s death. Before there was only doubt and denial, and Stannis was already presented as a stern, humorless man; now he finally gets the chance to open up, even if it this vulnerability may partially be attributed to his dabbling in the occultist beliefs of the Lord of Light.
Robb choosing to marry Lady Talisa was not only reckless, considering the oath he was breaking (to wed one or Lord Walder Frey’s daughters) that his mother negotiated so that his armies could cross at the Twins, but perhaps could be viewed as irresponsible in military context. Either way their secret marriage ceremony didn’t seem all that important in the grand scheme of now. What did seem a bit more urgent was the delivery of Jaime Lannister by Brienne, and sadly their 5 minutes together wasn’t enough on the meat and potatoes side, even on a show where time can move in huge increments week to week. Brienne’s encounter with three Stark patrol men who are subsequently dealt with after their own admission that one of the three lynched women did not die quickly (for their crimes of ‘laying with lions’), I think earned her some major respect by Jamie who has only been antagonizing her up to this point. I just wish the two of them would at least have King’s Landing in sight by now, but they’re clearly still in Stark-occupied territory.
Nothing continues to go right for Theon, who by now is experiencing pangs of regret for his actions, and even Maester Luwin has begun to express sympathy. Despite belting out a rousing speech, his own men mutinied against Theon rather than follow him to certain death. Leading up to this point it was funny seeing Theon get increasingly agitated by the horn blower among the unseen men of Lord Bolton’s bastard son. And sadly Maester Luwin asks Osha to end his suffering, though this action is done off-screen, so there’s always a chance… The one thing that was not clear during Bran, Hodor, Osha and Rickon’s escape is who was responsible for the burning of Winterfell? Dagmer and the rest of Theon’s men or Bolton’s bastard?
And Arya didn’t get much to do except say good-bye to Jaqen H’ghar, who reveals that he is a member of assassins known as the “faceless men” who can instantly change their appearance. But before they part ways he gives her a coin and the password ‘valar morghulis’ should she ever need to reach him again. Also verrrry interesting that Arya’s old dancing master Syrio is from the same city as Jaqen. Is it possible both are the same man? Does this mean if either character ever reappears that they could be played by a new actor? Oh the possibilities…
Sadly Ser Jorah didn’t have much to do after getting stranded outside of the House of the Undying (which bore a strong resemblance to the final level in the NES classic “Battletoads”), leaving Daenerys to do most of the heavy lifting as she navigated her way around inside (which coincidentally bore a strong resemblance to a “Zelda” dungeon). We finally got a glimpse of what Pyat Pree’s warlock magic could do, summoning chains and causing hallucinations of the unconscious. I have to say it was pretty cool to finally get to see the dragons in action, engulfing Pyat Pree in flames upon Daenerys’ command. This demonstration was just a snippet of the species that used to rule the world before extinction. Very cool to see this power harnessed. Xaro finally received his comeuppance after the reveal of his lies, including the betrayal of her former handmaid Doreah. Seeing the look in Daenerys’ eyes when she sealed them in Xaro’s empty vault, she has now proven she is a force to be reckoned with, employing Dothraki sensibilities when it comes to dealing with betrayal. The last scene we get of Daenerys and what remains of her Dothraki party looting Qarth’s gold to finally buy a boat, albeit a small one, according to Ser Jorah.
The last locale, Beyond the Wall, featured perhaps the most important reveal, that of a truly massive White Walker army, led by a gruesome-looking general atop a zombie horse. Despite my feelings regarding the general inferiority of CG effects over practical ones, the sight of the Wights looked damn good. How does a series with an average of $6 million per episode manage to rival that of Hollywood blockbusters??? While the dragons themselves can be hit-or-miss, there was nothing about the Wight general that was lacking, the production values of this scene was the most impressive use of CG to date on television that I’ve seen. The only comparable scene on tv that has come close was the occasional scale of similar scenes on The Walking Dead, but this was a real technical achievement for what’s possible on a tv budget.
Some random thoughts:
I am quite curious to see who is cast in the role of Mance Rayder, considering all we’ve heard of him thus far, and I’m really going to miss Qhorin Halfhand after he sacrificed himself to paint Jon Snow as a traitor to the cause, much like Mance Rayder himself.
When Baelish told Sansa he could help her escape, the most immediate thought I had was that he was planning on marrying her to get her to safety; at least from the way he worded it, mentioning Catelyn several times. Baelish is one of those guys whose sneer alone just makes your skin crawl as you anticipate every disingenuous word he utters.
And if there’s one scene that was sorely missed, it would be that of The Hound on his way up North, without his little bird Sansa.
Final Grade: A+
TRR TV Revue by Jacob Aquino