This season has flown by so fast I can’t even believe that it’s over. I’ve said before that this series could benefit from either longer episodes ala BBC, or a longer season. There is so much story to tell that it’s next to impossible to cover all the bases without a storyline or two suffering. There have been a few episodes this season that felt a little disjointed because of the break neck speed in which the writers jumped from one place to another. Others have dragged a bit but overall, the second season was stellar and think, in the end, the writers did a bang up job.
The second season finale visited a lot of places and a lot of characters so I was thankful that they gave us an extended episode. Given, some of that time was taken up by the especially long flashback intro, but with a show like this, I feel that was needed. Plus, the audience could use a refresher since last week’s “Blackwater” episode only focused on the events surrounding King’s Landing. Since we haven’t seen the bulk of the cast in two or more weeks, there was no doubt that the writers were going to squeeze in as many as they could in to the finale. The visits may have been brief, but the impact on what’s to come was huge.
The start of the episode reminded me a lot of “Lost”. Any time I see a close up of an eye, that’s the first thing that pops into my head. The eye in question here is Tyrion’s. At first, it looks like he’s watching the war rage around him after he took the blade to the face last week. In a blink, it switches to a new location and we see Maester Pycell hovering over him looking rather smug. Tyrion’s alive but his situation has taken a turn. Pycell, rather happily, informs Tyrion that his father Tywin has assumed the title of Hand of the King and all of his men have been replaced or have left the city.
Meanwhile, kudos are being handed out by Joffrey in the throne room. Tywin enters on his horse to accept the position of Hand, but not before his horse takes a big dump right before entering the room. Perhaps that’s a sign of things to come? Anyway, he graciously accepts the Hand’s pin and leaves. Littlefinger is given Harrenhal, and the rights, lands and titles forever and ever amen. All because he united the Tyrells and Lannisters, which allowed them to defeat Stannis.
Ser Loras was granted any request he wanted and he used it as a betrothal his sister Margaery (Renley’s widow) to Joffrey. After a big show of Joffrey trying to honor his situation with Sansa, he’s told that in spite of things, he can accept Margaery as his Queen. Sansa looks jaded, until she walks away and no one is watching. It’s a break in her character that was actually very quick, but very effective. That is until Littlefinger approaches her and tells her that even though she’s not bound to Joffrey anymore, doesn’t mean she’s free. He tells her that Joffrey will use her, but since she reminds him so much of Catelyn, he’ll help get her out of King’s Landing. I don’t trust him to do anything of the sort. She really should have left with the Hound when she had the chance. I’m still mad that she didn’t.
Varys pays a visit to Ros in the brothel and after she tries to cop a feel, she realizes who he is and gets nervous. He tells her that he wants her to be his partner. He’s got something up his sleeve and whatever it is will pit him against Littlefinger. Varys then makes his way to see Tyrion. He informs Tyrion that it was Cersei who ordered his death and he’s not safe. He also tells Tyrion that even though it was he who saved King’s Landing, no one will remember his efforts, but Varys will. Before Varys leaves, he tells Tyrion that they will not see each other for a while, but then has Shae brought in. Tyrion is self-conscious of his war wound, even though it makes him look tougher, but she won’t have any of his self-pity. She tells him that they should leave because his life is in danger. He tells her he can’t because the game is all he knows and it’s what he’s good at.
Catelyn tries to convince Robb that it’s not a good idea to be with Talisa. He tells Cat that he loves Talisa but Cat reminds him of his promise to the Frey’s. He’s betrothed to one of the Frey daughters in exchange for his army’s passage across the bridge they control. Cat tries to tell him that he could come to love the Frey girl, and tells him how she and Ned started out. What she says doesn’t hold much water however, in light of her recent actions letting Jamie go. Robb walks out of her tent and is next seen marrying Talisa under the night sky. Tsk tsk tsk….that’s going to throw a wrench in a lot of machines. But I’m all for any scene with Richard Madden.
Stannis is reeling from the ass whipping he got in King’s Landing and he takes his frustrations out on Melisandre. She tries to convince him that it’s just the beginning and he hasn’t lost the war, but he won’t hear any of it. I think it’s the first time we’ve actually seen any sort of emotion from Stannis, even if it results in him strangling Melisandre. He doesn’t finish the job however and after a brief bout of grief over Renley, she has him entranced once again. Man, that woman is going to be his undoing for sure.
On the run
Arya has fled Harrenhal along with Gendry and Hot Pie thanks to Jaqen H’Gar. Jaqen meets up with Arya and she asks him how he does what he does. He tells her that he can teach her, but in order to do so, she’ll have to go with him to Braavos. She considers it but then tells him she can’t, and that she has to try to find her brother, mother and sister. Jaqen gives her a coin, instructing her that she ever needs him, to simply give it to someone from Braavos and say the words “valar morghulis”. She tells him she doesn’t want him to leave, but then he tells her Jaqen H’Gar is dead and his face transformed to look like another. Neat trick, but I wish they could have extended this scene a bit. I loved the exchanges these two had and Arya clearly made an impression on the Faceless Man. I hope we get to see more in the future.
The other scene that happens in between was with Brienne and Jamie. Last we saw of the pair, Brienne loaded Jamie into a boat and she rowed them away from Robb’s camp, down the river. The final scene with them starts when Brienne rows the boat ashore and ushers Jamie out. The whole time he jibs and jabs and tries to get under her skin, but to her credit, she doesn’t bite. They come across three women who have been hanged and Brienne is compelled to give them a proper burial. That is until three unruly soldiers interrupt her efforts. After laughing at her for being a woman, one of the men thinks he recognizes Jamie as the Kingslayer. They deny this of course and tensions escalate. Jamie realizes that Brienne is not someone to be trifled with when she cuts down all three men rather quickly. He informs her that they were Stark men and she tells him once again that she doesn’t serve the Starks, she only serves Catelyn.
Theon knows he’s surrounded and knows his end is near. He realizes he’s not going to get any help from his father or his sister for that matter. Maester Luwin gently counsels him and tells him to run. He tells Theon to head north to the Wall and join the Night’s Watch. Theon seems to consider it for a moment, but knows he in too deep with being the man he’s trying to be. Luwin tells him that’s not the man he is, but Theon tells him it’s too late to turn back now.
Theon rallies his 20-ish men and gives a big speech about honor and dying in battle. The men seem to go along with him until they knock him out and cover his head and bind his limbs. Maester Luwin tries to stop them, but gets a spear to the gut for his efforts.
Later on, Osha, Hodor, Bran and Rickon make their way out of the crypts to find Winterfell has been burned down. Their people are dead and nothing is left. They find Maester Luwin by the Godswood and he tells Osha that they need to pack up as much food as possible and head north to the Wall for safety. The scene between Luwin, Bran and Rickon is one of the best I’ve seen. I actually teared up a bit. Death scenes are a dime a dozen with this series, but none have been a slow death with time for goodbyes. It was actually rather sad. We last see the four of them, along with Summer and Shaggy Dog, outside the walls making their way north, while Winterfell burns in the background. So. Depressing.
Dany is still on a quest to find her dragons and it leads her to the warlocks House of the Undying. Once inside the outer wall, Dany walks around the center tower looking for a way in with Jorah close behind her. Somehow, she makes it in, but he doesn’t see where and ends up where he started, but without her. He looks to the sky and screams “KAHHLEEESSSIIIII” but it doesn’t do any good. Dany is inside the temple, grabs a lit torch and makes her way to find her babies.
After walking through one door, she finds herself in the ruins of the King’s Landing Red Keep, where the ceiling has given way and snow is falling. She approaches the Iron Throne, but doesn’t touch it. Instead she walks away and through another door. This one takes her to just outside the Wall, where she sees a tent. Inside is Drogo and their baby Rhaego. It’s all moon of my life, and my sun and stars and whatnot, but she resists their call and resumes her quest.
Finally she finds all three dragons, but they’re restrained. Pyat Pree shows up and tells her that their power is greater in the presence of the dragons, and he restrains Dany as well. Their power may be stronger, but it’s no match for the mother of dragons. Dany give the command and the dragons light the place up along with Pyat Pree.
Dany escapes the temple with her babies and makes her way to Xaro’s house. There she finds her missing handmaiden in bed with Xaro. They beg for mercy, but Dany’s done with being nice. She opens Xaro’s big vault to find it as empty as Al Capone’s. That is until she has Xaro and her ex-handmaiden’s asses thrown in there. Afterwards, Dany and Co. raid Xaro’s house for everything of value so that she can buy a ship and make her way across the narrow sea.
North of the Wall
Jon and Qhorin are still the prisoners of the wildlings and are being led back to Mance Rayder’s camp. Ygritte had a hold of Jon’s rope and keeps bonking him on the head with his own sword. She keeps trying to get him to join their cause, and actually that is what Qhorin wants as well, for Jon to go undercover for lack of a better term. Making this happen, and believable however, comes at a cost. Qhorin has a go at Jon with a sword, calling him traitor and hurling insults at him. The wildlings decide to let them at it and Jon is given his sword back. After a brief battle, Qhorin takes Jon’s sword to the gut and gives his life for the cause. This seems to appease the wildlings and they cut Jon’s binds. Ygitte then leads Jon over to the ledge where they look down on the massive army of free folk that Mance Rayder has assembled. Needless to say, it’s a little sobering.
The last scene of the season showed Sam, Edd and Grenn collecting stuff for the troops. They hear the horn blast, then a second, and then…a third. If you remember a few episodes ago, Sam informed them that three blasts meant white walkers. Edd and Grenn haul ass back to camp but due to his physical limitations, Sam can’t make it back and has to hide behind a boulder. That’s when he sees them. The wights and the white walkers making their wait to the Fist of the First Men.
And that’s Jenga folks. The second season is done and it’ll be another 10 months or so until the third starts. The dips in the season were more than made up for with the perks. Ayan and Tywin, Arya and Jaqen, Robb becoming a leader, Tyrion and everyone, Jorah….well just Jorah is enough for me. The only thing I think this season needed was more direwolves!
Even though I mentioned how extended episodes would only benefit this series, I do realize they, nor an extended season is going to happen. I can only imagine the boatloads of cash this show costs to produce and that would make it that much more expensive. However, the writers need to tread carefully next season when even more characters are introduced because if it was difficult giving ample time to everyone this season, it’s only going to get worse with later seasons.
Regardless of what happens, I’ll be there, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, patiently, or not so much, awaiting the start of the third season.