Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Game of Thrones, Season 2, Episode 10: Valar Morghulis

Season Finale of Game of Thrones! Wow that passed quickly! Just in case you’re getting lost, here’s another link to HBO’s excellent guide to the series.

After being injured in the last episode, Tyrion wakes up, heavily bandaged and calls his serving boy Pod to tell Varys and Bronn that he’s alive (awake 2 seconds and he’s already thinking of politics). While he was unconscious his room was moved – and he is no longer Hand of the King (since he was only holding the rank until Tywin appeared).

In the throne room, Tywin rides in on a white horse (thankfully they don’t have carpets so it’ll be easy to clean up after) while Joffrey pretentiously welcomes him, thanks him for saving the city and names him Hand of the King. I’m vaguely hopeful about the possibility of Tywin – who doesn’t suffer fools easily – strangling the little monster at the earliest possible opportunity. Indeed Tywin already makes this clear by saying “ta for that” and riding out again.

To reward Baelish (oily little squit) for getting the Tyrells  on side he gets Haranhall, the big impressive dragon-fired castle. It also earns a venomous side-eye from Varys.

And Loras Tyrell is asked to name his reward for bringing his house in support – and Loras asks for Joffrey to marry his sister, Margaery.  Margaery assures everyone that’s what she wants. He protests that he’s promised to another (Sansa) – but the small council (so says Cersei) says it’s wrong for him to marry the daughter and brother of traitors anyway (and Margaery is, politically, a more powerful and useful match). Cersei asks him to set Sansa aside. Pycelle speaks up on behalf of the Septa as well assuring Joffrey he has no duty to marry Sansa (it seems Joffrey is eager to keep Sansa to abuse  after all, she has no champions. He cannot abuse Margaery in the same way he does her). Joffrey agrees to marry Margaery.

Sansa leaves the room, apparently distraught but once her back is turned she starts laughing – until Baelish turns up to offer condolences – and to tell her that she’s not safe. Just because she’s not betrothed to Joffrey any more doesn’t mean he won’t abuse her – and beat and rape her. Not being her fiancé doesn’t mean he won’t touch her. As ever, Baelish is obsessed with Catelyn the Spunky and because of that he will help Sansa.

Meanwhile, Varys is meeting Ros in a brothel (it’s been a while, but Game of Thrones will always return to the brothels) and Ros begins to strip (I think the actor who plays Ros may get a reflex where she starts to disrobe every time a camera is pointed at her) until Varys tells her not to. He instantly begins to question Ros about Lord Baelish – and seeing the potential in Ros beyond just being a prostitute. He also says that he doesn’t tolerate his servants being abused (and I actually believe him, as he’s one of the few people in the show who appears to be decent and not foolish. It’s a short list.) Baelish has made a very bad enemy.

Varys goes on to meet with Tyrion and inform him that during the battle his sister tried to have him killed and that’s why he was attacked and hurt. Bron has also been relieved of command of the city watch as well, the gold cloaks are now in Tywin’s hands. The Hill Tribesmen he hired have also left. At least Varys acknowledges that Tyrion is the only reason Stannis didn’t win the battle – but no-one else will. Shea joins him to examine Tyrion’s wound- he thinks she should charge him double for being scarred and a dwarf, which offends Shae deeply because she is not there for the money. Shae urges him to leave Kings Landing since he can trust no-one there – she wants to flee to Pentos. But he won’t – he’s too good at the politics and he enjoys the politics so much that he can’t bring himself to leave. Shae refuses to go without him.

Brienne, at the behest of Catelyn the Spunky and in the absence of anything even remotely resembling common sense is escorting Jaime Lannister home. He continues to banter with her – especially sexually. They find 3 hanged women with the sign “they laid with lions” attached – probably hanged as collaborators for being friendly with Lannister soldiers. Brienne ties Jaime up, intending to bury them and three men (who will probably die soon) approach mocking Brienne. She pretends Jaime is a thief being taken to justice at Riverrun. Despite that, one of them recognises Jaime – and he has a great method for testing if they’re lying. Brienne kills 2 of them quickly – and 1 of them slowly, just like the three hanged women while Jaime looks on looking rather poleaxed. Oh I like her. Then she buries the hanged women.

At Robb’s camp, Catelyn the Spunky and Robb are discussing Walder Frey – because Robb is considering marry Talisa rather than the Frey daughter he promised to marry. Catelyn calls him reckless and urges him to keep his oath – which makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately Robb also says that Catelyn has little standing to call him reckless which… well, yeah he has a point. This is the problem with being The Spunky, your calls for common sense are risible.

Robb and Talissa are married, common sense officially stamps its foot and leaves.

Stannis is discussing things with Melisandre, especially that whole “your victory is foretold in the flames” thing. He strangles her and demands to know where her god is – eventually she gasps that he’s inside Stannis (great, one of the few women who was powerful in her own right and she gets abused). Stannis also drags up some guilt for murdering Renly. Uh-huh. Melisandre is convinced that the battle may be lost but the war isn’t over yet and she’s convinced he will be king eventually – which they see in the fire (or she’s put some nice smokey things in the flame). I thought this storyline was done, not quite yet it seems.

Theon Greyjoy is in Winterfell and vexed somewhat by a hornblower from the surrounding armies – which is using psychological warfare extremely well. He’s waiting for a reply from his father and he can’t evens end more ravens asking for help because he had them all killed. Maester Luwin keeps reminding Theon how kind the Starks were to him, just for some added twist. But Theon is bitter because he was a prisoner and he’s tired of being told he was lucky to be a prisoner. Maester Luwin urges Theon to run – and to avoid the shame of being a coward by joining the Nights Watch where all his crimes are automatically forgiven. It’s a great scene of grief and acceptance and Theon playing a role, trying to be what he is not – there’s a lot of emotion here and it’s really well acted.

Next day it’s time for a big old speech which sounds nice but doesn’t impress anyone as his first mate clocks him on the back of the head, (yes, I laughed! So many of these shows are won by Big Fancy Speeches that it’s glorious to see it undermined – especially after last episode when we had a few) The Iron Islanders are too practical and stoic a people to be swayed by Big Fancy speeches. Then he stabs Luwin in the stomach with a spear – which is really uncalled for, I thought. The Iron Men leave

Osham, Bran, Rickon and Hodor sneak out of hiding to find a huge number of dead bodies and wreckage and fires - and the mortally wounded Maester Luwin. He tells them that they may come back, they need to flee north – there are too many enemies south. He urges Osha to protect them and asks her to end his suffering. Another powerful scene – there’s some quality acting here.

Daenerys, the Whitest of them All is still in Qarth with her loyal servants Kovarro and Ser Jorah, going to the House of the Undying to get her dragons back. Daenerys magically gains entrance to the doorless tower, leaving her retinue (if 2 people count as a retinue) behind.

Inside, Daenerys hears her dragons and climbs the tower. She comes to a room that is a replica of the throne room in Kings Landing, though empty and snow falls from the sky through the ruined ceiling, she almost touches the Iron Throne but is pulled away by the sound of the dragons, going out into a snowy wilderness. In a Dorthraki style tent she finds Khal Drogo, alive and holding a baby. She sits with them but doesn’t stay – pulled away by the cries of her dragons. She leaves again and finds her dragons tied to a pedestal.

Now there’s some powerful scenes – as Daenerys rejects everything she ever wanted to get her dragons. The clone warlocks join her, telling her that their magic came back to full power when the dragons were born and that their power is strongest when they are near the dragons – as the dragons are strongest when she is with them. They chain her arms next to the dragons, to hold her prisoner with them. This annoys Daenerys and her dragons – and even as teeny tiny dragons they can breathe and awful lot of fire, killing the warlock and breaking the magical chains.

I do have to wonder what Daenerys’s actual plan was beyond “go to the warlock house, get my dragons back.”

Daenerys enters Xaro chambers where he sleeps (with one of her handmaidens) and somewhere she has dug up a whole load more Dorthraki. She takes the key to Xaro’s vault, which she opens to find contains nothing. She has both Xaro and is lover imprisoned within. They pick through his real wealth (much smaller than rumoured) to find enough spoils to buy a ship. Where are Xaro’s guards? He’s just taken Qarth, does he have no forces at all?

Arya, Hot Pie (yes that is his name, the fat kid is named after pie. And he’s obsessed with pie *sigh*) and Gendry have escaped Gregor Clegane at Harranhal and are walking the wilderness – under the gaze of Jaqen H’ghar who disappears and reappears spookily. Arya begs him to show her his tricks, to become a Faceless Man but to learn, she would have to come with him to Bravos. Arya refuses, she has to find her family but Jaqen gives her a coin to help her find him again. He leaves, changing his appearance as he does which is totally not creepy. You can go through episodes of Game of Thrones with nothing mystical at all and then every now and then you get these little reminders that magic is there.

Ygritte, the Lord of Bones, Jon, Qhorin and a lot of wildlings are all heading the Mance Raider. Qhorin tries to escape and kill Jon, calling him a traitor, per his plan from the last episode. The Wildlings let them fight (because keeping them alive to question isn’t a good idea?) and in the end, Jon kills Qhorin. Naturally this will ingratiate him with the Wildlings and Mance Raider.

Sam and the other Nights Watch are doing menial tasks when there are 3 blasts of the horn – Grenn and Ed run leaving Sam behind as shadowy shapes appear through the blizzard – undead bodies shambling forward, zombie style lead by an extremely creepy White Walker on a rotting horse – there’s a whole army of them

That was a good season finale in a way. We had all the drama of the big battle in the last episode, this just touched every storyline and let us know where they are – and what is going to come next. The problem is that "where they are" can be summed up with "do we care?" on so many. And not just Daenerys, Jon and Theon (actually one of the few storylines where something happened). Yes they had to remind us of everyone but it was a trifle dull

Joffrey and Margaery – I always pity any woman who ends up in Joffrey’s clutches 9though I think Margaery is in a powerful enough position to reject any such abuse). At the same time I think Margaery is going to chew him up and spit out the bones, quite possibly Cersei’s as well. The Tyrells seem to be as devious as the Lannisters without being, y’know, evil and without being burdened with silly Stark honour? All hail queen Margaery, woe betide any who stand against her.

I am glad to see that Loras’s voice did choke a little over Renly, some acknowledgement of grief is appreciated.

Ros is becoming a tool to another man, she exists to be used. But there’s probably a lot to be said that the one man who doesn’t see her as a sex object is Varys the eunuch. I’ve always said that Varys may be the best ruler and servant of the kingdom in the show.

Daenerys annoyed me – she seemed to have no plan other than to walk in and get her dragons – and it works. And then she takes down Xaro with what? The remnants of her Khalasar? Why is Xaro so unprotected?

And the Starks just don’t deserve to win at this point.

Kudos to them spending money on the White Walkers, they were frightening.

The treatment of Tyrion by the Lannisters is very typical of them. After all, Tyrion swanned into town with very little and quickly assumed power, marginalising Cersei and overruling Joffrey. He co-opted the Small Council, took the Gold Cloaks and lead the men into battle, likely securing the armed forces behind him as well. Of course the Lannisters, being power hungry snakes, weren’t going to let him have that power. He’s too influential, too powerful and, really, not all that friendly to Tywin and Cersei.

It shows the Lannisters for how little loyalty they have –but it also shows how much Tyrion is not truly considered one of them (and how he doesn’t consider himself one of them in turn). His strength is not an asset to the Lannisters, it’s a threat. Equally, though, it shows how Tywin respects and fears Tyrion’s capabilities but doesn’t Cersei’s (or even Jaime’s).