The strange wave of denial from some circles of the Game of Thrones viewership got a definitive wake up call: Ned is dead. Head on a spike dead.
I would have jumped up out of my chair and freaked the fuck out in delirious joy if Sansa had shoved Joffrey off that bridge. For that split second, I thought she was going to. Even though I knew she wouldn't, I thought she was going to. But good for Sansa that she was defiant, even if she got the shit slapped out of her for it. Sansa is a Stark, after all.
I was surprised by two things: The show took it much easier on Sansa than George R.R. Martin ever does in the book. A couple of hard slaps, enough to draw blood, but TV Sansa got off easy compared to book Sansa. Book Sansa got punched in the gut and pummeled by Joffrey's goons. The other thing that surprised me is the Hound's courtesy; TV Hound (Sandor Clegane) is much more gentle than book Hound.
Arya's not the type to care about such things, in light of the horrible tragedy she and her family suffered, but that haircut Yoren gave her is also a hideous tragedy. It's supposed to be, of course, to help disguise her as a boy, but still. Tragedy on top of tragedy.
The naked guy with Cercei was Lancel Lannister, who was Robert's squire and the one who gave Robert all that wine that got him gored by the boar. Lancel is Cercei's cousin, but Cercei bangs him on the side in the absence of her twin brother since he sort of resembles Jaime.
The scene with Grand Maester Pycelle was weird; apparently it was crucial to make time in the final episode of the season to establish that the old man isn't as feeble and Grampa Simpsony with his droning stories than he makes himself out to be. And that he bangs Ros. Very important we see Ros naked again too before the season is wrapped, I suppose.
The Cercei/Lancel and the Pycelle/Ros scenes were added scenes not in the book.
More importantly, the scene with Catelyn and Jaime where Catelyn learns it was Jaime who pushed Bran out of the tower (but not why) was ported in from season two. And it's only half the scene. The full scene happens towards the end of "A Clash of Kings", where a lot of exposition and some surprising turns go down between Catelyn and Jaime. George R.R. Martin really held onto the "mystery" of Bran's fall all that time before Jaime confessed why he did it (all of the reasons why). In my opinion, the Jaime/Catelyn confrontation was the single best chapter in "A Clash of Kings".
As I said last week, the primary duty of the men of the Night's Watch was indeed to stop Jon Snow from doing something stupid. Oathbreaking is the worst thing you can do in Westeros. I loved the Old Bear Mormont calling Snow out on his "midnight ride". "Honor made you run, honor brought you back." "My friends brought me back." "I didn't say it was your honor." Jon Snow screws up a lot, but he learns. Great set up for major Beyond the Wall Action in season two, with the Night's Watch riding out in force to find out what the Wildlings are up to.
I loved the "mutual respect" scene between Varys and Littlefinger. Two unlikely men to rise to important roles to play in the game of thrones.
Tyrion got the greatest attaboy of his life from his father, even if Tywin "has always been a cunt". Tyrion is Acting Hand of the King in season 2. Big promotion for the biggest little man in Westeros. And Shae's coming with him. Oh man, so much good stuff will happen in season 2...
Robb Stark is THE KING IN THE NORTH! THE KING IN THE NORTH!
Robb: "I'll kill them all!"
Will you, Robb? I wish. If only Game of Thrones were a different type of story, the kind we sometimes wish it were where good does win and evil is punished cleanly and definitively.
Sadly, this is the bitter end of Khal Drogo, whose tenuous claim to life made by death and blood magic by a bitter old crone was ended by his Khaleesi and her pillow. Daenerys' journey has been the greatest of any individual character, when you consider who and what she was when she was sold to Khal Drogo by her brother. And I wasn't sure if they'd go all the way with the crazy ass ending of the book for the show, but they sure did: Daenerys' stepping into that fire and not only emerging Unburnt, not only bare ass nekkid, but with three live dragons, one even suckling her teat.
There be dragons in Westeros!
This was a phenomenal season of television. I've grown to love and become more than mildly obsessed by "A Song of Ice and Fire", but the Game of Thrones television show has lived up to all of its potential, and even exceeded it. The show is true to the books, made alterations and additions that only enhanced the story, adding new insights and perspectives on many of the characters, and it was all just excellent, well-acted, beautifully written, and fun.
I can't wait for spring 2012 to have this story continue! Joffrey Baratheon. Stannis Baratheon. Renly Baratheon. Robb Stark. It's A Clash of Kings next year! Who do you like? Who sits the Iron Throne a year from now? Place your bets.
And remember: Winter is Coming.