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Monday, June 4, 2012

Game of Thrones 2x10 - "Valar Morghulis"

Honestly, I don't know if it gets better than that. Better than the book's ending. Unbelievably good. So good, I feel like Game of Thrones had its way with me.

In the wake of the glorious victory by House Lannister against the murderer and traitor Stannis Baratheon, poor Tyrion was cast aside and marginalized. Cercei had Ser Mandon Moore try to kill Tyrion but he only succeeded in slashing up his face. (Still a less ghastly deformity than Tyrion suffers on in the book. Peter Dinklage is still the star of a hit television show, after all.) Tyrion is no longer Hand of the King, as Grand Maester Pycelle was delighted to inform him. Bronn (dearly absent from the episode) is no longer Commander of the City Watch. The Mountains of the Moon men are gone from King's Landing. Tyrion is all alone. Not all alone. Varys is his friend, as much as he can be. He has his loyal squire Podrick Payne. And he has Shae. Tyrion should really go to Pentos like Shae suggested, but what will he do in Pentos? He's the star of Game of Thrones, and the best shit happens in Westeros.

Meanwhile, the celebration in the Iron Throne room is tainted, literally, by a load of horseshit. The one true King, Joffrey, names Tywin Lannister Hand of the King, gives Harrenhal to Littlefinger, absolves House Tyrell of their earlier rebellion with Renly, and Joffrey agrees to cast aside Sansa Stark, the daughter of the traitor Ned Stark he was bethrothed to so he can marry a woman who has always loved him from afar, and he her, Margaery Tyrell. Getting publicly dumped by an evil King she hates should be the happiest day of Sansa's life, and she got like two seconds to celebrate, before Littlefinger burst her bubble and reminded her she'll always be Joffrey's prisoner and he'll still beat her and probably rape her even with his new bride-to-be. Littlefinger promises to get her home.

Home? Sansa doesn't even know she has no home. Theon Greyjoy is betrayed by his Ironborn men, who never liked him to begin with, in exchange for their lives. Theon simply reeks of pathetic, though he gave a hell of a rousing speech to the Ironborn before Cleftjaw bonked him in the noggin and bagged him special delivery for Ramsay Bolton. Whom we never did see in season 2. Cleftjaw speared Maester Luwin for good measure. When Bran, Rickon, Osha, Hodor, and the dire wolves emerged from the Stark crypts, they found Winterfell burned to the ground and Luwin dying by Ned's heart tree. Luwin gave the same advice to Theon he gave to the little lords: go to the Wall, to Jon Snow. Safer there for them than South to find Robb. Oh man, if Maester Luwin only knew what a bad idea that turns out to be.

Speaking of Robb, despite or perhaps in spite of Catelyn's reminders that he swore an oath to Walder Frey, the King in the North willingly chooses to become an oathbreaker and marries his favorite hot nurse Talisa. Just a reminder: being an oathbreaker is the absolute worst thing you can be in Westeros. Even worse than being a kinslayer or a kingslayer.

The kinslayer, Stannis, was able to escape to Dragonstone to lick his wounds after suffering the most humiliating defeat in the history of the Seven Kingdoms. I mean, he lost a war to Joffrey. And he killed his brother. For what? Again, the scorecard reads: Joffrey 1, Stannis 0. Melisandre reminds Stannis that he only lost a battle, not the war itself, and makes him see some vision in her fires where he gets to be King, probably. No news on the fate of Davos Seaworth, the Onion Knight.

The Kingslayer Jaime Lannister and Brienne run afoul of some scummy, rapey Stark men who recognized Jaime. Thus, Brienne had to kill them in quick, impressive fashion. Jaime stopped making fun of her once he got a load of her battle prowess. He was probably even a little turned on. Besides doing his sister, Jaime really likes killing. We don't know how far they are from King's Landing, but they'll get there in season three.

A subplot squeezed into the jam-packed finale is Varys visiting Ros and getting her on his side against Littlefinger. He probably needs a little bird spying for him in Harrenhal.

Escaped from Harrenhal, Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie meet Jaqen for the last time. Jaqen offers to take her to Braavos, where she can learn to be a Faceless One and some day kill all the people whose death she prays for every night, but Arya decides to stay in Westeros to find her brother and mother. And her sister. Right. Her. Still holding a grudge against Sansa. Jaqen gives her a coin which she can cash into anyone she meets from Braavos as long as she says the magic words: Valar Morghulis. "Jaqen is dead", but Jaquen was a lot handsomer than his new face.

Beyond the Wall, Jon Snow and Quorin Halfhand are being taken to see Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall, and Quorin picks a fight with Jon so Jon can kill him and get in good with the Wildlings. Jon is pretty well screwed now; he killed a fellow brother of the Night's Watch. But now he's an invited guest into Wildling City and not merely a prisoner.

In Qarth, the payoff to Daenerys' story that's slow burned all season finally pays off, and it was pretty spectacular and worth it. I honestly have no recollection of how this played out in the books, but the show blew me away. Daenerys enters the House of the Undying and is treated to things she's always wanted but never seen: She sees the throne room of King's Landing and the Iron Throne for the first time. (Note that Daenerys saw the vision of the Iron Throne but chose not to sit. She wouldn't do so unless it was the real thing. I think there's a life lesson there.) Then she is taken to the Wall and beyond, where there's a tent containing The Greatest Surprise: Khal Drogo and Rhaego! This was incredible. It's astounding that considering how it started, Drogo and Daenerys is the greatest love story in Game of Thrones. Daenerys gets to speak to her sun and stars one last time and have the closure she needed. That was awfully nice of the bald magicians to do that for her. But then, their plan was to chain her up for eternity, because their magic returned when her dragons hatched and the magic is strongest when the Mother of Dragons is with her "children". But they don't know who they were fucking with. This is Daenerys Stormborn and with a magic word, she can have dragons burn you to smithereens! How fucking awesome was that?

With her dragons back, Daenerys ties up loose ends and discovers her handmaiden Doreah betrayed her to Xaro Xhoan Daxos and helped him steal the dragons. This bummed me out. Doreah was the hot one. She taught her Khaleesi cowgirl and missionary. Daenerys opens Xaro's vault to find it empty; all his constant, endless stories we all had to listen to about how he came from nothing and is now the richest man in Qarth were all just lies. Daenerys seals Xaro and Doreah in the vault because Daenerys Targaryen is not to be fucked with. Then she gives her Dothraki Khalazar what they wanted since they arrived in Qarth and lets them loot all of Xaro's gold and jewels so they can buy a ship and get the fuck out of there. Fantastic.

Finally, beyond the Wall, three horns means the White Walkers are coming, and Sam gets to meet them first hand. By them, I mean, a lot of them. A whole, whole lot of them. Game of Thrones just threw down the gauntlet to The Walking Dead: You think you have zombies? So do we. WINTER HAS COME.

A fantastic finale. It's going to be a long year until season three.

Valar Morghulis.