Sweet merciful crap, I do not even know where to start with this one. I mean, there was the… and then the… and then he…. and did you see when she? And seven hells, that fight scene! And that fight scene! And that one! ZOMBIES! FIRE! BLOOD! DRAGONS! And then, and then, and then…
....well, they just killed EVERYONE, didn’t they?!?!
They just went to town. It’s like when politicians send out controversial decisions on a Friday afternoon hoping all of us journalist types are too busy/drunk to notice or care. George R.R. Martin is like “Just taking out the trash, bro” except he probably doesn’t say “bro” because he has some goddamn literary ability, bro.
Anyway, all of the deaths this episode hit me hard and for different reasons (hello, privy council), but the sheer number of the dearly dispatched has left me dizzier than a gillespie. Giddier than an aunt, maiden or otherwise. My head’s spinning right round, baby, right round, like a record baby, right round round round.
I’m going to need more than a Bex and a good lie down to recover from that vertiginous conclusion. I’m going to need a lifesize cardboard cutout of Jon Snow, a tub of whipped cream and Band-Aids for the inevitable paper cuts.
But before I crash into a 10-month-long melanchoma, let’s spend one last glorious moment together drinking in every precious drop of a final Raven On Game of Thrones recap for 2014.
Reminder: spoilers will be included below, so only read on if you’ve seen the episode. I mean it, everyone just fricking DIES, you don’t want to miss it. We’re discovering the storyline through the TV series (reading the books after each has finished), so no dropping important future plot points in the comments, or we’ll give you the bog-standard treatment.
Like an overstuffed felafel, Game of Thrones never wraps up neatly. All of our favourite characters had goals this season, and Episode 10 provided mixed results on that front. Some aims were achieved, some slipped through desperate fingers, some characters had to reframe their goal, some ticked off boxes they never even realised existed.
Of course, the obvious goal for many was simply “Don’t get dead” and sadly there was an epic fail from many a favourite on that score.
Let’s start at The Wall, where our noble lover-and-a-fighter Jon Snow marched out to meet Mance Raydar (a welcome return for the King Beyond the Wall after a season and a half).
Mance was understandably peeved at Jon’s loyalty to the Night’s Watch, but revenge was not his priority. Rather, he brought out the wildling equivalent of ouzo and the pair paid tribute to their fallen comrades with a few rounds of overproof. The exchange was just beautiful, highlighting someone’s background doesn’t really matter once you’ve lost them in the confusion of battle. (Mag the giant was a king...Grenn was from a farm).
Jon’s goal of assassinating Mance was derailed by the wildling chief’s offer of peace. “My people have bled too much,” he said, spelling out that it wasn’t mass destruction that he wanted, but security behind The Wall from whatever was heading south.
Tension inside Mance’s tent was broken when horns signalled the arrival of riders, and I got a chance to do my Barbara Streisand impersonation.
“Hello, Stanny, well hello, Stanny, it’s so nice to see you back where you belong…. well, not really where you belong, you’re not even wearing a thick coat you silly duffer, haven’t you heard Winter is Coming?”
That’s right, everyone’s favourite hero (may not be true) came barrelling in with thousands of sellswords and a smug ‘tude. Mance quickly surrendered, but Stannis wasn’t impressed by his refusal to kneel before him (snigger).
Jon identified himself as Ned Stark’s son, setting himself up nicely for a role as lieutenant, deputy, batman (he’s already got the broodiness) etc in Season Five.
Later, Stannis, Davos, Crazy Selyse and little Shireen watched on, as Maester Aemon said the funeral words over the bodies of Night’s Watchmen who died in the Battle of Castle Black, and we took one final glimpse of Pyp and Grenn.
Through the smoke, Jon spotted Melisandre giving him a Look… a Look, you might say, Of Interest. OH HELL NO. You’d better not be thinking about breaking yourself off a piece of that, Kate Bush. I saw him first, and I creepily fantasied about him weekly in a national news website first. Step away from the abs.
Finally it was Jon’s turn to mourn. Urged on by Tormund, confused by the fact he was still alive, Jon took Ygritte’s cold body out to the weirwood tree, and set his old flame alight (too soon?). A few manly tears escaped his brooding eyes and sank down his brooding cheeks towards his brooding abs.
But he didn't look back. Heroes never look back.
Down in King’s Landing, it appears that the Mountain actually survived his duel with Oberyn Martell, which is about as fair as dysentery. At least my guess that the Red Viper had poisoned his spear was right - Grandmaester Pycelle seems determined that he’s not long for this world, prodding his mysterious two-pronged fork into Gregor Clegane’s barnacly sticky bits.
I too would let the Mountain fall right off himself, but Cersei seems insistent he survive. She leaves him in the hands of experimental scientist Qyburn, who’s rigged up some sort of blood transfusion device. Mmm, golden staph.
Cersei must want the Mountain alive to protect King Tommen, her remaining son. Her goal now certainly is to keep him alive, and more importantly keep him loyal to her.
By the time she sees Tywin she’s got her rage head back on, telling her father that she ain’t marrying Slow Lorus no matter what he says, and she ain’t leaving her son to be the rope in a Tywin/Kate Middleton tug o’war.
When he once again tells her to shut it and do what she’s told, she threatens to detonate the Fat Man of GoT politics - the thermonuclear bomb that is her and Jaime’s twincest.
Tywin refuses to believe her, and Cersei takes a perverse delight in exposing his wilful ignorance for all these years. We’ve been doing it under your nose, Dad, cop that, you old bastard. Flounce, flounce, flounce.
Cersei’s next stop is Jaime’s chamber, where he’s once again inspecting his entry in the Westeros Who’s Who. Cersei gets straight to the point, which is “Told Dad about the shagging, sorry not sorry”. All she wants is her brother-lover back.
It could have been maybe possibly slightly somehow a teensy bit romantic if it wasn’t utterly gross. Then they did it on the table. For crying out loud, PUT IT AWAY YOU TWO.
Daenerys can’t make head nor tail of her new subjects, many of whom want to sell themselves back into slavery because they miss the warm comfortable embrace of no freedom. Change is scary you guys, which is why I’m still wearing this Hypercolour t-shirt.
Dany allows them to sign yearly contracts with their masters, which Ser Barristan warns is a slippery slope. Workplace reform, you see, it’s always controversial.
The Mother of Dragons also can’t find head nor tail of her biggest baby, Drogon. He has developed a terrible tendency to burn small children as well as animals, then disappear for days on end.
Dany’s despair forces her to lock up her other two children, Rhaegal and Viserion, much to their chagrin. Our last glimpse of Dany is her tear-stained face as she closes them in Meereen’s catacombs, forced to reflect on how far she still is from her goal of invading Westeros to take the Iron Throne.
Given Dany’s triumphant end to Season 3, this was very much a reversal of fortune, more evidence that the reality of power is far more complicated that the initial taking of it. No wonder Robert Baratheon whored all the time. Speaking of which, where was Maario? Still off in Yunkai? Sad. Dany could’ve done with some sexy comforting after the dragon business.
How about a big hoorah for Bran and the Scooby gang? (RIP Casey Kasem). Finally, something actually HAPPENED in their storyline: they achieved their goal and found the weirwood tree! They had a moment, in the eerie warm light, all looking at each other tenderly!
Then the zombie skeletons attacked, because they may have trudged through snow and sleet and ice and wind for weeks, but they needed a challenge, you know?
Meera refused to leave a weakened Jojen and fought like a champion, while Bran warged into Hodor again to kick some serious skeletal ass. Well, kicked the place their asses would be if they had them.
Then, whoosh, a zombie skeleton stabbed Jojen right in the belly, and just kept stabbing.
Then there were fireballs going everywhere, and a tiny person came out of a cave entrance beneath the weirwood and said spookily “Come with me, Brandon Stark”, and then Hodor was lifting Bran into the cave entrance, and then the tiny person said “He is lost” to Meera and then she held her breath and slit Jojen’s throat and then ran into the cave and then the zombie skeletons followed them but exploded on impact with the cave opening.
Phew. I’m pooped after all that and I just watched it all happen.
The tiny person ‘fessed up that they indeed where the legendary Children of the Forest, but were obviously much more ancient than men. She led them to the roots of the weirwood, entwined in which sat…. Gandalf!
Yes, JRR Tolkien’s own white-bearded wizard popped up to make a guest appearance as “the three-eyed raven”. I’ve got absolutely no idea who he was meant to be, so Gandalf it is. He tells the crew that he’s been watching them all their lives from 1001 eyes, that Jojen knew he would die but helped Bran anyway, and that he would help Bran find what he has lost. Bran thinks this means his ability to walk, but he’s wrong.
“You’ll never walk again… but you will fly,” Gandalf told him.
Does this mean Bran will warg into birds for the rest of his life? Seems a bit elementary given he can possess humans. Could it mean… dragons? Will he warg into one of them, or ride on top of one? And how in ten types of cursive font are he and Dany going to cross paths? Or… are there more dragons?
Pod may have some things in common with horses, but staying put isn’t one of them. An angry Brienne stalks off after waking to find their steeds missing, and comes across Arya, practising her water dancing in the lee of a bluff.
The subsequent exchange between the pair was a highpoint of the finale: a touching meeting between two women warriors, and a wonderful glimpse into what might be. You can see Brienne taking Arya under her wing, becoming mighty avengers doling out all manner of justified stomping. But Arya is too wary, and the Hound now too possessive.
When Brienne realises who Arya is, she sees her goal crystalise before her, sees a way of fulfilling her vow to Catelyn Stark, begs Arya to come with her, and orders the Hound to sit, bad dog.
But with two phenomenally tough fighters, the stand off could only end in violence. Brienne and Sandor Clegane’s battle was brutal, vicious, with much spilling of blood and teeth. It was captivating in its ferociousness; two outcasts struggling to survive, knowing somewhere in their hearts they both want the same thing for Arya but cannot resolve it any other way.
Brienne eventually gives in to animalistic rage, pounding Clegane back with blow after blow, all control lost, until the Hound tumbled backwards down a ridge.
The bloody affair, with temperatures so heated and bellies full of fire, was followed by one of the most calculated sequences we’ve seen.
Arya happens upon the Hound as he lies dying. He urges her to go with Brienne (you see! He did know it was right for her), and she says she doesn’t need to be saved. He says she won’t last, she says she’ll last longer than him. And then when he begs her to finish him off, to strike at his heart, when he taunts her with stories of his crimes, she does nothing.
She just stares at him. Watches him. Utterly freaks him out.
I wouldn’t say it was as cold as ice, but rather deliberate, mindful, like a chess player psyching out an opponent by just refusing to make the winning move even when checkmate is in sight.
The she takes the bag of money he stole from the Riverlands farmer, turns her back, and walks away.
The Hound's tale this season has been one of uncertain redemption, and his final pleas of "Kill me!" were a request for mercy, a knowledge that if she eased his suffering, it was some measure of forgiveness for his no-good life.
But she wouldn't let him have it. She doesn’t look back. Heroes never look back.
Instead she makes her way to the Vale’s port town, Gull Harbour (thank you, online Westeros maps), and begs a captain to take her north to The Wall. But he’s not sailing north - he’s heading home, to the free city of Braavos.
Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes.
Arya produces the iron coin she’s been carrying ever since Jaqen H’ghar pressed it into her hand at the end of season 2. The captain looks at it in astonishment, but before he can ask, she utters the phrase “Valar Morghulis”. He touches his head and replies “Valar Doharis” and we all whoop like Homer Simpson getting a donut.
Arya Stark: Faceless Man. BRING IT.
Well, I guess that just about wraps up this epic recap, I think I’ve covered all key plotlines….
...don’t worry, I’m just joshing you.
We, the audience, had one final goal - seeing Tyrion survive a death sentence.
Tyrion is let out of his cell late in the night by Jaime, who keeps doing these nice things after doing terrible things to his sister and so we keep getting conflicted.
He tells Tyrion that Varys awaits to take him to the Free Cities, and they share a touching goodbye. “Farewell, little brother,” Jaime said.
“Thank you for my life,” Tyrion replied.
It was so sweet. Damn your eyes, Jaime Lannister.
But just as safety was within reach, Tyrion changed his mind and took a different path, winding up in the Tower of the Hand.
There, on his father’s bed, lay a sleeping Shae.
She stirred, calling “Tywin?” and “My lion”.
But it wasn’t Tywin, it was the little lion, the one she had betrayed on the stand. Here she was, doing it again lying down.
A eternal glance of regret, despair and resolve passed between them before Shae grabbed a knife and Tyrion leapt on top of her. He tried to hold her down, she scratched at his eyes. Then he grabbed her necklace and threw his weight off the bed.
As he sunk down, he squeezed the air out of her, leaving her warm flesh to slowly cool. “I’m sorry,” was all he could say, the regret writ large on his face.
Then he grabs a crossbow and goes searching for Daddy.
Tywin too had a goal. The man just wanted a few minutes of privacy to drop the kids off at the pool. Now I’ve heard you parent types, complaining about little Jassiyca or Currandyn or Sayshashelle or Blywyx forcing their way into the loo when you’re trying to concentrate.
Frankly, you should be thankful the only crossbow they’re bringing into the lavatory is a Nerf JoyKill 4000, the darts of which are as soft and absorbent as that roll of Quilton three-ply.
For his part, Tyrion’s goal was vengeance, not just for the crappy hand of cards that his father dealt him throughout his life, but for Shae. Tyrion murdered Shae, but in his mind it was Tywin who was ultimately responsible.
Their father-son Privy Council meeting was...I can’t find the words. It was poetic, that’s for sure, Tywin’s position meaning he had to look his son straight in the eye as he asked him about Shae, and the trial. It was hair-raising and it was honest and it was more intense than a coffee enema.
The mighty Tywin Lannister, who swept armies before him, who destroyed his enemies so thoroughly that songs were written about them as a warning to others… shot on the dunny.
“You shot me,” Tywin said incredulously after the first arrow, released upon his describing Shae as a whore for the second time.
“You’re no son of mine,” he spat, trying to win one final stoush between them.
“I am your son,” replied Tyrion, calmly. “I have always been your son.”
The second arrow is loosed and Tywin slumps on the throne.
Didn't Tywin get caught out on a different sort of throne.
Tyrion is spirted away by Varys, who is seen looking impassively at King’s Landing for a final time before taking his place onboard a ship, next to a crate carrying a murderer and a patricide.
But they didn't look back. Heroes never look back. Also, Tyrion was in a crate.
I’m still so confused. There are so many questions. Was Shae a plant from the beginning? She did really seem to love Tyrion. Did she really try to escape when Tyrion was arrested, or did she go straight to Tywin? Or did that happen after her testimony? And if Tywin wasn’t going to let Tyrion be executed, what was he going to do? He didn’t seem to be in on Jaime’s plan. Why, why, why?
Yay! Best Moments
How to choose? There were so many epic ones, so instead I’m going to choose a brilliant little touch - Jojen’s lifeless eyes reflecting the trace of a fireball set off by the Child of the Forest. The expanse of the universe in microcosm. Gorgeous.
Zing! Best Lines
Tormund Giantsbane: She loved you. Jon: She told you? Tormund: No. All she ever talked about was killing you.That’s how I know.
So, so true, for all of us, really.
The sight of the young Meereen girl’s bones, charred to stone by Drogon, was horrible.
The Hound’s femur poking out of his thigh was pretty gross too, as was his brother’s nauseating poison-induced sores. But they deserved those.
No Sansa/Arya reunion! I wanted that so much. I even had a T-shirt design ready to go. Now I’ll just have to go with my other design, a picture of Arya’s face above the slogan “Aryan Supremacy”. That’ll be OK, right? Right?
Ladies and gentlemen, Throners all, thank you so much for having me onboard once more as your Game of Thrones recappespondent. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - I come for the brilliant show, but I stay for the even better company. You guys are the best.
If you’re in Brisbane this coming Sunday June 22 , I’m hosting the 2014 Theatresports Grand Championships at the Powerhouse, and would love to see you there. You might enjoy my rather Mother-of-Dragons inspired outfit, and am happy to chat all things Game of Thrones after the show. Just remember no spoilers.
Until next season, may the steel be sharp, may the night be dark and full of terrors, and may the Valar be thoroughly Morghulised.