Game of Thrones Season Finale

If last week’s drama was all centered around the Starks, this time it’s Dany’s turn. And wow, does she do a good season finale.

But we’ll get to her later: there are still a lot of Starks and Lannisters to cover.

The episode opens a few seconds after the last one ended: Ilyn Payne’s sword is dripping Ned’s blood, his head is held up over the crowd, Sansa faints, and Arya is held tightly by Yoren, who drags her off to an alleyway, calling her “Boy” all the way. When Arya remembers herself enough to say, “I’m not a boy!” Yoren tells her she’s not a smart boy, and roughly chops off her hair. She is to join the Night’s Watch recruits and go north with them, disguised as a boy called Arry. Her disguise doesn’t stop some of the other boy recruits testing her, but she still has Needle and a lot of nerve, and holds her own with assistance from another recruit – Gendry, the blacksmith’s apprentice (and eldest illegitimate son of King Robert). I wonder who was behind getting him out of King’s Landing? My bet would be on Littlefinger…

Rickon, close up
Since you all ignore me, I'll just live here with Dad.

In snowy Winterfell, Bran had the raven dream again – but this time with Ned appearing in the crypt. Osha – unusually for someone who believes in the Old Gods – is sure it’s just a dream, but reluctantly she takes him down to the crypt, where they are set upon by Rickon’s direwolf, Shaggydog. Rickon is hiding in the alcove where Bran saw Ned in his dream – because he wants to be with Ned. He too saw Ned in the crypt in his dreams. Back in daylight, Osha tries to soothe Bran, but when Maester Luwin appears holding a letter, they both seem to know it brings news of Ned’s death.

And on to the next remnant of the scattered Starks. Catelyn goes to the woods to be alone and sob her heart out, and hears Robb doing the same – if by that I mean trying to chop down a tree with his sword. His face when he looks at his mother was just heartbreaking… and Catelyn’s attempts to soothe him emphasise that they may not be that much difference between her and Cersei after all:

Robb: I’ll kill them all. Every one of them. I’ll kill them all!
Catelyn: They have your sisters. We have to get the girls back. And then we will kill them all.

Later that night, Robb and his bannermen discuss strategy. They won the last battle, but the war is just beginning, and with the noblemen of Westeros increasingly fragmented, their allegiances aren’t clear. Allying with King Joffrey and the Lannisters is of course out of the question, but so is joining with Renly, as Robb won’t endorse skipping the inheritance due to the eldest brother – but he doesn’t propose allying with Stannis, either. Finally, Greatjon Umber proposes something else – a return to the North as a separate kingdom, with Robb as its king. Everyone else worships the wrong gods, apparently, and the men of the North only joined the seven kingdoms because they couldn’t defend against the Targaryen dragons: but there are no dragons any more (dun dun DUN). A second lord (Irish accent, hurray!) agrees, and then Theon also offers Robb his allegiance, as his foster brother. Robb is the new king in the North – but how will Joffrey take losing one of his seven kingdoms?

Catelyn then goes to visit Jaime, tied to some stakes in the Stark camp. He’s dirty and bloodstained, but still brazen, and propositions her until she whacks him across the face with a stone. She wants to kill him, but has too much sense to, though he seems not to care either way, and even directs her where to hit for maximum effect. He admits to pushing Bran out of the tower to kill him, but won’t tell her why. She says he’ll go to hell, but he still doesn’t seem to care too much about that either:

Jaime: If your gods are real, and if they’re just, why is the world so full of injustice?
Catelyn: Because of men like you.
Jaime: There are no men like me. Only me.

(Turns out Jaime is an atheist! Someone call Richard Dawkins!)

The Stark who is not a Stark, Jon Snow, has made the choice he was dithering over in the last episode: he is going to leave the Watch to join with Robb. Sam tries to stop him, because you know, that whole “death for desertion” thing, but Jon practically rides over him, and Sam goes sprawling in the mud. Jon seems to be making his escape, but soon riders with torches are following him: Jon speeds up, but a branch gets in the way for his pursuers: it’s Sam, Pyp, and Grenn, who despite failing to catch up with Jon, bring him back to the fold with an impromptu recitation of the Night’s Watch oath (I got chills again! Damn, that’s a good oath).

Jon Snow looking astonished
Gormless Jon is gormless

The next morning, Jon is back as if nothing had happened, serving breakfast to the Lord Commander. Jon practically falls over with shock when Mormont alludes to his attempted escape, but Mormont is not concerned. He tells Jon that if it’s war he wants, they’ll soon have one on their doorstep; the wildings are organising themselves into an army, and Mormont is leading a force of Watchmen out beyond the wall to find Benjen and to find out what is really going on up there. Jon goes with him.

Mormont: Honor made you leave, and honor brought you back.
Jon: My friends brought me back.
Mormont: I never said it was your honor.

The last Stark, Sansa, is stuck in King’s Landing, watching Joffrey mete out justice to a singer who was caught singing very disparaging things about Cersei in a tavern. Joffrey applauds the man, then offers him the choice of losing his hands or his tongue. Tongueless Ilyn Payne takes out a knife and a pair of pincers (how handy!) while Joffrey invites Sansa to walk with him – he has something to show her. Along the way he speculates on how soon it’ll be until he can “put a son in her” (I practically levitated with disgust. ICK). His surprise turns out to be Ned’s head on a spike, along with those of his guard and Septa Mordane’s. Cringing away at first, Sansa hardens up in the face of Joffrey’s continuing cruelty, and even gets in a jab of her own:

Joffrey: I’m going to give you a present. After I raise my armies and kill your traitor brother, I’ll give you his head as well.
Sansa: Or maybe he’ll give me yours.

For that piece of cheek, she gets slapped, hard, by one of the Kingsguard. She takes a step towards Joffrey, on the narrow walkway – to throw him down? Throw herself down? Both? – but the Hound offers her a handkerchief to wipe her bloody mouth, and the moment is gone. He tells her to keep it – she’ll be needing it again.

Elsewhere in the Red Keep, Cersei has just received a letter – news of Jaime’s capture, we presume? – and she’s not happy. Her naked cousin Lancel utterly fails to pick up on this, and is only excited that there’s a war on – like “when you were young.” This gem does nothing to help Cersei’s mood, and she orders him back to bed. Why she is sleeping with him isn’t very clear – it’s been strongly implied that she ordered or encouraged Lancel to serve Robert the wine that led to his death, but surely she wouldn’t have had to sleep with him to get him to obey? She certainly doesn’t seem to like him very much. Although, we can safely say she definitely has a type: must be blond. Also, a blood relative.

In the Lannister war camp, they have also just found out about Jaime’s capture and Tywin is Not Happy. Lancel’s father Kevan suggests trying to negotiate a peace settlement with Rob, but Tyrion is disparaging: Joffrey’s decision to execute Ned means a peace between them and the Starks is impossible. Tywin orders everyone out, and to Tyrion’s surprise, pours him wine – and tells him he’s to go to King’s Landing to act as Hand in Tywin’s place while Tywin and his army camp out at Harrenhal (we haven’t seen here yet, but it will be a feature next season). Tywin has had enough of Joffrey thinking he’s in charge, and wants both Joffrey and Cersei to toe the Lannister line (the one he is drawing, naturally); he also wants to keep an eye on potential traitors like Pycelle, Littlefinger, and Varys. Tyrion seems pleased and baffled by this sudden attention and acknowledgement from the man who’s always despised him, but there is a catch: Tywin forbids him from taking Shae with him to the city. Tyrion decides to take her anyway…

Pycelle in his nightshirt
Now, if only I could remember where I put my pants.

Speaking of the potential traitors, we also have an extended scene with Pycelle and Ros. Ros is highly bored by him (he seems to be a regular client) and he rabbits on about Mad King Aerys and Joffrey’s potential as king until Ros gets dressed and leaves. Left alone, Pycelle seems to be a lot more energetic than he usually seems, and deliberately hunches over before he leaves the room. I wasn’t sure of the point of this scene, though: is Pycelle trying to get at Littlefinger through Ros, somehow? Are the writers just showing us that Pycelle is devious? Given he’d survived so long in King’s Landing, I would have thought that was obvious. And speaking of possibly pointless scenes and Littlefinger, he and Varys had another encounter in the throne room: they trade verbal jabs and express their mutual admiration for each other with a subtext which may require a microscope to see.

Varys: A man great ambition and no morals – I wouldn’t bet against you.
Littlefinger: And what would you do, my friend, if you found yourself sitting up there?
Varys: I must be one of the few men in this city who doesn’t want to be king.
Littlefinger: You must be one of the few men in this city who isn’t a man.
Varys: Oh, you can do better than that.

Not that I’m complaining, I’d be happy to watch these two spar all day, but we already know they’re both devious, and in Littlefinger’s case, very ambitious. The subtle implication at the end that neither of them gives a shit about Joffrey is something I’d already assumed.

And finally, on to the woman of the moment: Dany. She wakes up unpregnant in her tent and asks Jorah for her son – but the baby never lived, and according to Mirri Maz Duur, was a monstrous thing with wings and scales and infested with worms. The death required for Drogo’s life wasn’t the horse, it was Dany’s baby. (Though, practically speaking, would her premature baby really have survived in those circumstances?) And the life she bought wasn’t all that great: Drogo is alive, but in a kind of waking coma, unresponsive to anyone. He is not a Khal any more, and so most of the khalasar have left: only a few slaves, Rakharo, and Dany’s handmaid Irri seem to have stayed.

Dany rounds on Mirri for deceiving and betraying her: Dany thinks she bought Mirri’s loyalty when she “saved” her from rape, but Mirri doesn’t see it that way: she had already been raped three times; her temple was destroyed, and people she had dedicated her life to healing were murdered. Mirri didn’t want saving: without her people and her temple, she does not want to live.  At least she saved the world from Dany’s son, and now he will not become a marauder like his father. (I loved Mirri here. She is mean, but she’s right, and she has a steely kind of fuck-you calm.)

Close-up on Drogo's face as Dany reaches for a pillow
Easiest. Acting Job. Ever.

Alone and grieving, Dany tries to revive Drogo, but nothing works. Realising he is as good as dead anyway, she smothers him with a pillow and has a funeral pyre built for him. She frees the remaining slaves, has Mirri tied to the pyre and the fire lit. As Mirri screams, Dany takes the dragon eggs she got as a wedding present, and wearing her wedding dress, walks into the fire.

 

When dawn breaks the next morning, there is nothing left of the pyre but ashes – and a naked Dany, covered in soot, holding three newly-hatched dragons (sorry, Greatjon Umber!). Jorah and Rhakharo drop to their knees and swear allegiance to her as Khaleesi in her own right. This makes her the first female character to lead as herself, not because of her connection to husband/father/son.

Dany, with a dragon screaming on her shoulder
FEEEEED MEEEE

 

Whew. For an episode which at times just felt like the preview for Season 2, there is a lot packed into it. The politics are getting ever more complex, with the various factions (Starks, northmen, Tullys, Freys, and perhaps Greyjoys?; Lannisters; Renly and the Tyrells; Stannis; the Night’s Watch; the Lords of the Vale; and of course Varys and Littlefinger on their own sides as usual) all lining up for “The Clash of Kings.” Is Arya going to get back to Winterfell? Will Tyrion be able to control both Cersei and Joffrey?

The fantasy element is also well and truly here: what kind of power do Bran and Rickon have, with their dreams? What are the White Walkers, anyway? And even though I knew it was coming, Dany standing in the ashes with her three baby dragons was a jaw-dropping moment – but are they a better asset for a takeover of Westeros than 40,000 Dothraki?

Will you be watching Season 2? It starts filming in Belfast at the end of July: should I try to sneak on to the set? Votes please!

 

 

52 thoughts on “Game of Thrones Season Finale”

  1. Something I’ve been thinking about with regards to Renly (slight spoiler warning!!):

    It bothers me that they would make him obviously gay when I don’t even remember the alleged gay insinuations in the books. In the books, Renly was one of the few nobles who (may have) had a kind heart and good intentions, although he was a bit clueless. I don’t remember any other male nobles in the books who were good and kind to the commons the same way. Ned was good and honourable, but it wasn’t the same. In the future seasons, when Renly plays a larger role, his kindness to and popularity among the commons will become more apparent, but I fear viewers will mostly identify him as the gay wanna-be king. It would annoy me greatly if his character’s sensitive and kind traits are overlooked or reduced to another argument for him being gay (as in “the ‘real’ men on the show don’t act that way”).

    Did I misread his character in the books and do you think I’m way off base with my prediction of how the viewers will relate to his character on the show? Am I not giving people enough credit? I’d like to bounce this off someone. Maybe I’m just prejudiced about how gay people are portrayed on tv.

    1. I didn’t pick up on it exactly either, but I read some book quotes somewhere that kinda point him to it. (“put Renly in a bed with a woman and she’ll come out still a virgin”, he’s got a ‘rainbow guard’).

      But I definitely don’t want him to turn into token gay man.

      1. Thanks for pointing out those quotes! I’m surprised at myself for not making the connection between the barbs and his sexuality. I guess I thought they were just the usual insults that men throw at other men to question their abilities and/or masculinity. Do you remember if similar insults were directed at Loras? I mean, he was quite flamboyant, but was he too skilled to be made fun of, you think?

    2. I thought it was relatively clear in the books that he was gay or bisexual. Maybe I was primed to read more into it because of the type of society it was set in – there was no way he could have been openly gay , hints were the only way forward. I do hope the writers give him a nuanced character, but I think they’ve done a fairly good job so far with portraying characters from what would usually be ‘minority’ groups (Tyrion, all the women!, the Dothraki).

    3. Actually I’m much more irritated with his portrayal in the books than on the programme. The hints are pretty explicit (as when Jaime says something to Loras like ‘I’ll shove your sword up someplace even Renly never found’). But there’s just so much stuff about how flamboyant he is, and how much he loves fancy clothes and pretty things, and his ‘Rainbow Guard’. It’s nice that he’s portrayed as really good and popular and likeable, but there was just something in the constant insistence on Renly’s decadence that rubbed me the wrong way. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

  2. I loved the finale.

    The actress playing Catelyn Stark impresses me more with every episode. That scene with her and Robb was heartbreaking.

    Dany and the dragons were great, though I would’ve liked if all her hair was burnt off, like in the book. It made the scene in the book so much more dramatic. However, I get why the hair stayed in the TV show.

    Mirri Maz Dur’s speech was fantastic. The actress’s delivery was spot-on. I felt sympathy for Mirri and understood why she did what she did.

    There’s a wealth of top-notch acting in this show, the production values are awesome, the plot is intricate and fascinating and the dialogue is so damn great.

    I just finished book 2 and am now even more impatient to see season 2!

    1. That scene was really powerful for being so short. Robb’s face was just… made me cry.

      Probably they spun it so that anything that is biologically Dany (i.e.: her hair) survives fire. Though really her abilities – whatever they are – are so vague even in the books that the writers have a lot of room to play with .

      There’s a wealth of top-notch acting in this show, the production values are awesome, the plot is intricate and fascinating and the dialogue is so damn great.

      Expertly summarised!:)

      1. Re: Dany’s hair

        Something I really like about the way the book is adapted is that slight deviations – like Dany’s hair not being burnt off – are handled sensibly. There’s a reasonable argument for keeping her hair.

        The only scene (not in the finale) that disappointed me deeply was Tyrion’s battle scene. He actually acquits himself very well on the battlefield and they ripped that away from him in the show. That battle was a turning point for Tyrion and the show watered down the impact by (IMO) almost playing Tyrion for laughs. I had this uncomfortable feeling that there was an element of “haha, look at the funny dwarf trying to fight and being knocked down like a child”. I’m going to rewatch and I hope that my initial impression will be dispelled because doing that to Tyrion would be a cheap trick in an otherwise sterling series.

        1. Interesting. I actually thought they were playing the mountain men for laughs there – they’re so thoughtless that they run over their commander. Tyrion in the series has previously been shown doing pretty well in a fight – he saves Catelyn’s life when they’re ambushed in the Vale. It may be that the writers are saving Tyrion’s Big Battle Scene until a later series – I’m being vague so as not to be spoilery, but Tyrion plays a major part in a major fight later on.

          Also, no other characters were shown in that fight either – I’m guessing they’re saving the battle scenes for the next series.

          1. I know which later major fight you’re referring to and I think Tyrion leading men into action in the first battle is part of what gives him the impetus to do what he did in the second.

            I don’t have an issue with them not showing the details of battle 1 in the show, but they made a point of showing that Tyrion didn’t actually fight. That’s what bothers me. It is very possible they were actually playing the mountain men for laughs but it still feels like it’s at Tyrion’s expense. Know what I mean?

            1. I do. But I also think that they have made Tyrion such a well-rounded character – and also one of the few who’s consistently and deliberately funny – that if this is at his expense (which I didn’t see it as, but that’s not to say that it won’t be seen that way by most viewers), it’s something that doesn’t reduce him as a character. Also I’m betting that him being the King’s Hand will be where they make it his change to leadership very clear. FWIW, it also seems to be something that they put in later:

              From an interview with the producers,

              DB: We did have plans to show Tyrion marching into battle behind The Mountain. We had a whole way we wanted to shoot it following Tyrion’s eye level as The Mountain is just (cutting soldiers down). Ultimately we had to make some really tough decisions. We ran out of time to shoot it properly and we much rather have a great scene with our characters than a crappy version of the battle.

              (Also off-topic totally, but after they were asked why Hodor was naked:

              D.B. WEISS: I just feel, what’s so scary about dicks? Half the people in the world have them, why not put them on television?

              The first comment thread on that page is also hilarious but full of spoilers.)

  3. Excellent finale. I loved every minute of it. I didn’t see the death of the Khal coming at all – I was shocked. Though a part of me thought, ‘I hope Dany totally gets it on with Jorah’. They have a certain sexual chemistry, methinks.

    (I haven’t read the books, so a girl can hope).

    I can’t wait for season 2 – and I hate that HBO makes you wait a whole year. *whine*

    1. Viserys did imply that Jorah had a thing for Dany when he tried to steal the dragon eggs, way back when. There was definitely a spark when she kissed him on the cheek!

      I know! I’m hoping to sate myself with True Blood and maybe The Borgias in the meantime. And the fifth book, of course.

  4. I will absolutely be watching the next season! I’m just heartbroken I’ll have to wait until next year…

    And yes, please, DO sneak on the set! :)

    Thanks once again for the recap; I’ve really enjoyed them and your snarky comments.

  5. Once again … great recap and LOVE the image captions “Since you all ignore me, I’ll just live here with Dad.” particularly!
    I really liked that Pycelle was obviously feeding Ros the info he wanted Littlefinger to have.
    All in all, one of my favourite eps of the season.

  6. I really hope the Hound is going to somehow help Sansa out and that Arya is able to get somewhere safe. Joffrey is evil and I’m curious to see how he and Tyrion will get on…When Catelyn had her talk with Rob I immediately thought about gang violence retaliation and how this is no different. I was rooting for Jon Snow to bust out and go roughride with his brother but alas he was convinced otherwise. Maybe him staying will be helpful to Arya somehow.

    I was furious when I realized Mirri had deceived Dany and that the other Khal were right to question her being able to help Drogo in the first place. Dany Dragonpants=Halloween costume!

  7. Hah, glad I’m not the only one who noticed the Northern guy’s Irish accent! And yes – you must sneak onto the set!

    Awesome season finale. Bring on A Clash of Kings! And yes, I have raced through the books in the last few weeks. :) Any casting thoughts? I’m particularly intrigued to find out who they get for Stannis and Brienne…

    1. ha, yes! And Aiden Gillen’s slips through every so often too.

      Ralph Fiennes as Stannis? Though he’s far too VIP to do it, I’m sure.
      I really don’t know about Brienne. I think they’ll go with someone unknown for her.

      1. Yeah, I’ve heard Gillen’s from time to time. The only Irishman on the show who’s managed to keep his accent is little Jack Gleeson!

        Interesting choice for Stannis! I imagined someone more… dour, I guess? Brienne is really tough because one has to wonder where they’ll find an actress who fits her description. I have a sad feeling they’ll wind up with someone ‘Holywood ugly’ – they’ll take an attractive girl and give her a bad haircut…

        1. if it wasn’t a total anachronism they’d probably give her thick glasses… I do hope they go with someone worthwhile and tall and muscular and all that (though I doubt they’ll go for someone actually as ugly as Brienne is supposed to be).

            1. I keep thinking of much older actors for Stannis and I have to remind myself that he’s younger than Robert. His grim personality makes him seem like an old “get off my lawn” type of guy.

              Dominic West…interesting. I could see that.

              What do you think of Christopher Ecclestone? He has the height and the bulk and he’s a brilliant actor, whose eyes can bore holes through you when he’s playing cold or angry. Actually, the more I think about it the more I like the idea of Ecclestone as Stannis.

              1. Christopher Eccleston would be amazing – he does the cold so-sane-he’s-insane very well. Good call! Plus the geek world will be buzzing with a former Doctor Who in GoT.

                I always thought Stannis was older than Robert but looking at the books again he’s the middle brother. Must reconfigure brain!

                  1. I don’t think it’s ever stated outright, but he’s younger than Robert. They ‘aged up’ all the older characters as well as the kids on the show; Ned and Robert are only meant to be in their thirties, but Sean Bean and Mark Addy are obviously older. Apparently Martin wanted it that way because the characters would *look* older than someone in their mid-thirties would look in the real world.

                    Long story short – I guess they could probably cast anyone who looked like he could feasibly be younger than Robert and older than Renly! So sadly, Gabriel Byrne would be a bit too old.

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