After last week's bloodbath, our final episode was, all-in-all, a delight: full of small victories for some and relentless horror for others.
I don't think I want to watch Game of Thrones this week. It's too draining. My emotions are too brittle after last week. I don't have the coping strategies. I might just take a break, regroup and...
Seriously, I don't even have testicles but I still felt them retracting up somewhere behind my navel. Boy, that man can glower.
After last week's bloodbath, our final episode was, all-in-all, a delight: full of small victories for some and ongoing relentless horror for others. A lot went on, so let's kick off our final Raven On Game of Thrones episode recap.
Reminder: spoilers will be included below. Only read on if you've seen the episode. 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 will put Tywin Lannister in your bedroom to stare at you while you sleep. Never speak; just stare. He's disappointed in you. Yes, you. He can see you crying and doing that thing under the blanket.
The episode began with the wholesale slaughter of Stark loyalists outside The Twins, with Roose Bolton doing a fairly good Daniel Craig impression standing on top of the roof surveying the carnage.
The Hound, meanwhile, sneaks a Frey banner to escape the fiery madness, but not before groggy Arya sees Robb's body paraded on the back of a horse - with Grey Wind the direwolf's head sewn onto his decapitated body.
Arya finally becomes the beloved killing machine we have all been waiting for; her delivery of justice to a Frey soldier boasting about his achievements around a campfire was masterly. “Sorry,” she deadpans, after dropping her coin of Braavos. Then whoosh came a dagger and squish, there goes some nameless shill.
“Was that the first man you've killed?” inquires the Hound, after dispatching the rest of the soldiers. “The first man,” Arya replies, not a hint of regret to be found. Unlike her stabbing of the stable boy with Needle in series one, Arya had no fear this time around; she's lost her mother and brother, and there's no reason to stick around trying to find her family anymore. Valar Morghulis! Off to Braavos with you. Find Jaqen H'ghar and become a Faceless Man and KILL EVERYONE FOR OUR ENTERTAINMENT. Just make sure to tell the Hound if you're going to steal his weapons for murderous use again, mmmkay?
Meanwhile, brother Bran is telling horror stories in the abandoned Night Fort, about the Rat Cook who killed a king's son and served him up as pie.
One of my favourite technical things about Game of Thrones is the way it's edited to move seamlessly between character threads. Bran's declaration that the gods cannot forgive killing a guest under your roof is followed immediately by a cut to UTTER BASTARD Walder Frey slurping wine and gloating like he just murdered a bunch of people.
There follows a nice scene of exposition, with Frey decrying Robb Stark's “pomposity” while acting like the jerkiest jerk who ever jerked. Roose Bolton looks at Frey like a model looks at unwanted cellulite (you're so dead, Frey), then kindly fills us in on key information - Blackfish escaped (yay!), Bolton is now Warden of the North (boo!) - before confirming the identity of Theon's torturer: his bastard son, Ramsay.
Ramsay, it seems, enjoys a bit of dinner time philosophy. Not so much “if a tree falls in the forest, can anybody hear it?”, more “if a man has his faithful friend removed, can he still feel it?”. It's a legitimate, if psychologically-damaging, question. Poor Theon tries to retain some dignity, but ends up acquiescing to Ramsay's new nickname for him - “Reek”.
There's one thing for sure, life on Ramsay street is decidedly un-neighbourly.
For the first and only time this series we got a scene with Balon Greyjoy and Yara! They've obviously been spending time consolidating their lands and getting haircuts, but have now found themselves playing the worst game of Deal or No Deal ever.
'Damn. I was hoping for the fifty grand.'
Having accepted the package containing Theon's, well, package, Balon is all too happy to consign his son to the history books. After all, he won't be kraken anything ever again. But Yara goes all salty sisterly for once and vows revenge on Roose Bolton and the Dreadfort. Yeahhhh. I liked Yara as a character in season two, and I'm glad she'll be back for season four, flaying some buttocks of her own and putting heads on Pykes.
Bran, Jojen, Meera and Hodor get a shock when Sam Tarly and Gilly emerge from the well to surprise them while sleeping. Despite Jojen's clumsy attempts at hiding Bran, clever Sam identifies him straightaway and nobly offers to help him in any way. “Take us beyond the wall then,” comes the reply. UM, WHAT? SRSLY. NO. But Bran is insistent.
Remember a few weeks ago when we were all facepalm about Sam dropping the dragonglass dagger? Turns out he'd taken all the dragonglass from the Fist of the First Men, so he was able to arm up the “Hodor Four” for their adventures beyond the wall. I loved that framing shot of them going through the tunnel, complete with Summer the direwolf waiting in the light at the end. Awww. Apart from a bit of Warg magic, Bran's storyline has been a bit of a bridging one this season, so I hope he gets plenty of action next year.
Sam goes on to Castle Black, where he hooks back up with blind old maester (Master? Maester!) Aemon, and scores Gilly temporary lodgings. Aemon orders him to write to all the lords of Westeros to warn them of the white walkers and the army of the undead (two different things, apparently!) marching towards them. Go, Sam! Write like the wind! There's no time to lose! You must get those ravens flying, so EVERYONE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD HAS TIME TO COMPLETELY IGNORE ANYTHING HAPPENING NORTH OF WINTERFELL.
Jon Snow was also on his way back to Castle Black, but then he took an arrow to the knee. And to the back. And to the side.
Ygritte sprung him while having a (sadly not naked) freshen-up at a pond. He cried, she cried, he told her he loved her and that he knew she'd never hurt him, then she said, “you know nothing, Jon Snow” and pinged him thrice with the widowmaker. But we've all been there with our partners, amirite? “I love you!”, “I love you too!” Thwip. Those two will kiss and make-up, you mark(sman) my words.
Thankfully Jon's horse managed to find its way back home in time for the Stark bastard to fall into the safe hands of the Night's Watch, and even recognise Pip and Sam. But he'll need a lot of nursing back to health. I'm happy to volunteer. Just take all those furs off, Jon, let me rub those wounds with ointment (by “wounds” I mean “abs” and by “ointment” I mean “my grasping, needy hands”.)
We spent a lot of time on Dragonstone this episode, as Davos wrestled with his conscience about Stannis' use of blood magic to regain the seven kingdoms, and the impending sacrifice of Gendry. Their scene in the dungeon was one of the most beautiful two-handers all series - both of them Fleabottom scum, now in positions they never expected. Gendry's explanation of why he surrendered to the red woman - “Big words, no clothes” - was genius.
That reminds me, I must finish choreographing my new burlesque routine with the Concise Oxford Dictionary.
Davos develops such sympathy for the Baratheon bastard that he sets him free in a rowboat with simple instructions such as “don't fall out”. He then proudly takes the rap, but produces the letter from Castle Black to warn Stannis of impending doom from north of the wall.
Surprisingly, given Stannis' recent re-warming to Davos, it's Melisandre/Kate Bush who saves him from execution for letting Gendry go: she throws the note into her fire and declares the war Stannis has been fighting is all pointless. Stannis is all “ha ha, you've been saved by the Fire God” while a bright dawning sun emerges over his shoulder because it's, like, SYMBOLIC.
Let's head to King's Landing, where Sansa and Tyrion are settling into married life by plotting pranks on douchebag courtiers. I just love Game of Thrones' attention to the little details, and the sight of ladies of the court giggling when Pod raced past them made my night. He really is a sex machine, that guy.
Tyrion is called to the small council where he learns of the red wedding. As an aside - what was with Pycelle dropping the message on the floor? We all know he's putting on that shaky, old man act - I thought he was trying to do a switcharoo, but I didn't see anything untoward happen. So why make a point of it? Your theories welcome.
Joffrey, of course, is as excited as a serial killer at the Murderlympics at the news of Robb Stark's demise. He demands to be sent the young wolf's head to serve Sansa at his wedding. 'Cause, you know, he's a charmer.
Throwing another one of his patented tantrums, Joffrey really puts his foot in it when he tells the oh-so-quiet Tywin that King Robert fought the real war while the Lannister patriarch hid at Casterly Rock.
Cue this awe-inspiring terror gaze:
I hope Charles Dance gets a pay bonus every time he delivers one of these withering stares. I wouldn't be surprised if Tywin himself is responsible for the eventual slow separation of Joffrey's goose-pimply skin from its meat.
With Joffrey shuffled off to be drugged and kept quiet, Lohan-style, Tywin launches into another lecture to Tyrion about the importance of maintaining the family name. He backed the whole red wedding massacre scenario to stop the war, asking Tyrion why it was more honourable to send 10,000 to death on the battlefield, when you could achieve the same result by knocking off 10 at dinner (echoing Stannis' reasoning for sacrificing Gendry).
Then he goes full demento by insisting Tyrion immediately get his new bride up the trident.
“A good man does everything in his power to better his family's position, regardless of his own selfish desires,” he tells his youngest son.
Yeah, Tyrion, this whole “I don't want to rape people” attitude is so SELFISH, dude. Sheesh. Anyone would think you had a moral compass and honour and, you know, basic human decency. And all this, after your Dad was nice enough to not throw you into the sea when you were born. You'd think you could pay him back with some loyalty.
Meanwhile Varys tries to convince Shae to leave King's Landing, handing over diamonds and stressing her presence endangers Tyrion. Apparently only the family name matters in Westeros, which means Madonna, Cher, Rhianna and Pink would have a hard time in the seven kingdoms.
It's convincing stuff, but not enough to make Shae actually go. “If he wants me to go he can tell me himself,” she declares, tossing the diamonds onto the ground. I love Shae; I hope she's making the right decision, or even if it's the wrong one, that she doesn't die because of it.
Tyrion and Cersei have an almost-sweet conversation. As much as Cersei likes to think she is a cold, hard bitch - and as much as she is, admittedly, a cold, hard bitch - she really just wants someone to talk to, and only Tyrion understands their father. They discuss the futility of trying to destroy enemies when that just creates new ones; and the Queen Regent suggests that all Sansa needs is a kid, and she'll be happy. Sure, if she's anything like Cersei, she'll lead a life of restrained desperation that will turn her innocent loveliness into a brittle concrete of twisted bitterness, but hell, at least she could start collecting shells, hey? Jokes aside, Cersei is a tragic figure, albeit one you struggle to feel sorry for.
When Jaime “country boy” Lannister arrives home Cersei lets out a sound that's a cross between her breath catching in her throat and a relieved sigh. I'm like, where's the big reunion hug and kiss guys? And then I'm like, oh yeah, you're related, don't bother, I'm cool.
Finally, we end the series, as we so often do, with Daenerys having a public relations victory - freeing the slaves of Yunkai and receiving their overwhelming devotion while her dragons roam the azure skies. If Margaery is Kate Middleton, Daenerys is Lady Di (too soon?). She knows how to work a crowd, becoming everyone's “mhysa”. Also, it's a little known fact Lady Di used to love a good mosh.
The best moment of the episode, the series, and possible the entire history of the known universe, was Hodor shouting his name down a well. “HODOOOOOORRRRRR!”
It's only fitting that the best lines go to Tyrion this episode.
Threatening Joffrey: “Monsters are dangerous, and just now kings are dying like flies.”
Endrunkening Pod: “It's hard to be drunk all the time. Everyone would do it if it were easy.”
I mentioned the sausage scene, yeah? Did you all get that the sausage was, like, a metaphor for Theon's penis? The one that just got cut off? So Theon has no penis? Should I mention penis a few more times? I wonder what Hodor calls a penis?
I can forgive the lack of Littlefinger, Kate Middleton and Slow Lorus, but really, couldn't we see Lady Olenna one more time? Just one last rip-snorter of an old lady put down from Diana Rigg?
Also - a whole hour-long finale and not a single boob or untamed arse cheek in sight! How are we supposed to last another year without a last hurrah of nudity? Don't make me get out my camera again - my last foray into amateur Game of Thrones pornography ended in an expensive copyright dispute (however, you can still access “Game of Bones: Something is Coming” through selected classy torrent sites).
To conclude: Game of Thrones final episodes are always more about preparing for season four than wrapping up season three. Here, there were some lovely set-ups - the return of Jaime, Sam and Jon, the moving on of the “Hodor Four”, Arya's transformation into awesome killing machine, and Daenerys' avengers assembling. It's a delicious platform for more butt-kicking, nude-getting, hero-slaying, dragon-flying, magic-happening, Tywin-glaring action next year.
Until then, let's talk in the comments. I'd like to do a season recap too, so feel free to note down your favourite moments this year - because without you, faithful Throners, all this would be as useful as a second glove for the Kingslayer.