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Monday, June 10, 2013

Game of Thrones 3x10 - "Mhysa"

Here comes the King in the North!
Here comes the King in the North!
The King in the North!

Arya Stark has seen a lot of horrible shit in her 12 or so years on Westeros, most if it involving the violated corpses of her immediate male relatives. She was still groggy from the floggin' on the noggin the Hound gave her (before smartly taking a Frey banner so that they wouldn't be massacred like the legions of Stark bannermen), so she didn't quite register what she saw. Nor did the show put too fine a point on it, because it's one of the most repulsive, ghastly things George RR Martin wrote in the book, but that was supposed to be Grey Wind the direwolf's head sewed onto the beheaded corpse of the late Robb Stark. So I like to think it's the same on the show too. Because I'm a romantic. Later, Arya and the Hound happened upon the Frey soldiers who took credit for decapitating Grey Wind and Arya couldn't take it anymore. Nor should she. Invoking the coin Jaqen gave her in the season 2 finale (callback!), Arya rabidly stabbed the soldier in the neck while the Hound felt obligated to murderize the others. Valar Morghulis. Arya Stark has just taken her first step into a larger world... of killing.

"Mhysa" is a very talky episode to wrap up the season and put everyone in place for next season and beyond. The Red Wedding, of course, is the talk of the realm, or at least the Southern portion of the realm. Reactions must be gauged and motivations weighed in as to why it happened. We knew Walder Frey committed the heinous act of killing guests under his roof because of the slight of Robb breaking his oath to marry Talisa, but there was more to it, which Walder happily conveyed to his accomplice Roose Bolton, the new Warden of the North. It's a very old grudge Walder held against Catelyn's father Hoster Tully for coining the nickname "The Late Walder Frey", and to a lesser extent, a grudge Frey holds against the rest of the realm for thinking him a disgusting old coot. We learn Edmure is in a dungeon and he never got to bed his new bride Roslin. The Blackfish escaped after taking Westeros' longest, most eventful piss. Bolton, for his part, hated Robb Stark for his arrogance and for ignoring his advice at every turn. No more bowing to the Starks for the Boltons; they now control the North. Sunrise, sunset. Bolton also definitively established the man torturing Theon is his bastard Ramsay Snow, and explained the whole gambit of what went down at Winterfell, which is still a complete ruin we've not seen since the end of season 2, despite the opening credits routinely stopping by its smoking crater.

Ramsay also made it abundantly while eating a sausage that yes, indeed, he cut Theon's dick off. No, he won't kill Theon and put him out of his misery, but he did give Theon a new name: Reek. Reek, it rhymes with peek, as in this whole storyline is a peek at what happens in book 5. Meanwhile, the news of what's happened to Theon along with an ultimatum to withdraw all Ironborn forces from the Bolton-controlled North arrived by raven at Pyke. Balon Greyjoy was expectedly quick to forfeit the son he never liked and ignore the threat, but the daughter he does like committed her first act of rebellion. Because despite Theon being dope and a skeev who went to third base on her while riding a horse, Yara understands family. In defiance of her lord father's wishes, or maybe rather preferences, Yara gathered fifty of the Iron Islands' best killers and their fastest ship to save her idiot brother. It's impossible for the Greyjoys to ever watch Saturday Night Live on Pyke, but nonetheless, Yara found out what her least favorite digital short is:

Speaking of defying your king, Davos Seaworth doesn't see any other way to do business. Somehow, Stannis made him Hand of the King again, and Davos used his new found skill at literacy to learn of the Night's Watch's warning of the impeding attack of the White Walkers. There's also Gendry, sitting in the dungeons of Dragonstone, possibly in the same cell Davos was recently in. Davos has a bit in common with Gendry, both born in Flea Bottom and finding their fates at the mercy of the whims of the highborn, but his pleas to Stannis about letting his nephew live fell on deaf ears. Davos hates all of this red god magic stuff, but Stannis actually made a good point that the Targaryens used the magic of dragons to conquer the Seven Kingdoms in the first place. What's good for the dragon is good for the stag, right? Nonetheless, Davos can't help himself from committing treason and helps Gendry escape Dragonstone. Stannis rightfully sentences him to death until Davos plays the "Winter is Coming" card and even Melisandre concurred that it's Stannis' role in the grand scheme of things to be the one to meet the threat of the White Walkers. And for that, he'll need Davos to help him raise an army. Davos escapes death once more by the skin of his teeth.

Hey, does Stannis ever stop and ask himself, "What kind of weird ass king am I, anyway? I know exactly two people: a lowborn smuggler who keeps betraying me for my own good, and a hot nudist witch. If I expand my relations to my family, I've got my kid with the half face of stone and the crazy wife with all my stillborn sons in jars."

With Osha and Rickon off to the Last Hearth and off the show, presumably, Bran, Jojen, Meera, and Hodor have made it to the Nightfort, famous for a ghost story about a man punished by the gods for murdering someone under his protection. The kids and Hodor get a good scare when Sam and Gilly appear from the black gate, and for the sake of expediency and convenience, Sam knows all about Bran and Hodor from conversations he and Jon Snow had off camera. Sam fills them in on his encounters with the White Walkers and I guess I owe Sam an apology for calling him an idiot when he left the dragonglass behind because he had tons more on him, which he distributed to Bran, Hodor and the Reeds. For reasons no one quite understands or agrees with, Bran must go beyond the Wall to find the three-eyed raven and refused to go with Sam and Gilly to Castle Black. Well, good luck to them. I hope Bran's adventures beyond the Wall work out better than what happened to the garrison of crows Lord Commander Mormont sent out there. Sam and Gilly watch the bravest little crippled Stark and his weirdo friends march off to their white doom, to go get the shit kicked out of them by White Walker love.

Meanwhile, Jon Snow and Ygritte have probably the worst breakup ever, at least on this series. Jon said sorry/not sorry for bailing on Ygritte but she knew he was a crow double agent all along. Ygritte and Jon do love each other, but she also loves him enough to stick three arrows in him while he rode off. Three arrows stuck in him! Jon Snow really is Boromir's kid. (So was Robb, come to think of it. He had more arrows in him.) Jon made it to Castle Black, finally, collapsing in front of his old friends he hasn't seen in ages, including Sam. Sam and Gilly had made it to Castle Black prior and reported to blind old Maester Aemon (Targaryen) of all they had seen and what had transpired. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and Maester Aemon even allowed Gilly and her baby, now named Sam, to remain as guests of the Night's Watch. Sam writes the 40 letters sent by 40 ravens to the realm of the need of the Night's Watch for aid against the White Walkers. At least, for the moment, with Jon and Sam reunited, Gilly and her baby safe, there's a little bit of good news at Castle Black to go along with all of the horrible news. (I mean, Jon doesn't even know about Robb yet.)

At King's Landing, news of the Red Wedding was met with approval by the Small Council, except for Tyrion, who was pried away from starting to get along rather well with his new bride Sansa (despite the stern looks of Shae) when Podrick - he who makes the ladies giggle and swoon - summoned him to the Tower of the Hand. Joffrey was jubilant that Robb and Catelyn Stark are dead. Except for Stannis, effectively the War of the Five Kings is over, thanks to Tywin, who masterminded the Red Wedding affair. Joffrey royally fucked up when he told his grandfather he was a coward for "hiding under Casterly Rock" while his father Robert won the Iron Throne - everyone at the table was like, "Ooooh." Tywin fucking sent Joffrey to bed, while it was still daytime like Joffrey was Bart and Lisa while living in Ned Flanders' house. Tywin dismisses everyone except Tyrion, who, mind you, still has not impregnated Sansa. (Prompting Tywin to state outright: "I'm not going to rape her!") The old grudges between Tywin and Tyrion flared up again. When Tyrion returned to his chambers, he found Sansa already learned about the Red Wedding. Before Podrick called him to the Small Council, Sansa was telling Tyrion about Arya's practical jokes of leaving sheep "shift", re: shit, in holes in Sansa's mattress. I guess Tyrion will be finding some shift under his couch. It's the only revenge Sansa has.

Here's the thing about Tywin: What he wants, besides all the stuff he already has like the power to control the Seven Kingdoms from behind the scenes and the preservation and security of the Lannister family, is someone to talk to. He liked Arya because she had the capacity and wherewithal to engage him in conversation. So does Tyrion, except 1) Tyrion can't help but remind him of his dead wife and 2) Tywin has a hard time looking past all of Tyrion's flaws. Plus Tyrion, being one of his kids, harbors all kinds of daddy issues of his own that always worm their way into every conversation. And yet, Tyrion is the one man (besides Varys or Littlefinger, whom Tywin would never entrust personally) in all the Seven Kingdoms who actually could understand Tywin's reasoning and stratagems. This is something Varys understood and tried to explain to Shae, when he gave her the smoothest "attagirl, now please GTFO and don't come back" speech I've ever heard to get her to leave Westeros. Varys even told Shae to shine bright like a diamond, here are some diamonds. Shae threw them back at him. Big mistake, girlfriend.

One of the highlights of the past two seasons has been the little verbal jousts and tete-a-tetes between Tyrion and Cercei, another Lannister who's in desperate need of someone intelligent to talk to, even if it's the misshapen little brother she despises. Only a Lannister can understand the inner torment of another Lannister and Cercei once again bares her soul about how unhappy she is, except for her children, including Joffrey, who also makes her deeply unhappy, but he didn't when he was very young. Cercei also pretty confidently stated he isn't marrying Loras Tyrell (all of the Tyrells were noticeably absent from the last couple of episodes. And come to think of it, so is Bronn. Where the hell is Bronn?! Was he at Tyrion and Sansa's wedding?) But into everyone's gloom and doom, a little light must shine, and finally, after two and a half seasons, Jaime has returned to King's Landing and to his sweet sister. We only got a moment to see them reunited, and Jaime came in stump-first.

Game of Thrones has established a pattern of the ninth episode of every season being where the most batshit crazy, game-changing killing happens, and the finale ends with something uplifting involving the true heroine and beating heart of this story, Daenerys Targaryen. Compared to the prior two seasons, Daenerys has had a really good year. I mean, Tywin had a great year, but Daenerys even moreso. She walked out of Qarth with all of Xaro Xhoan Daxos' money, went to Astapor and acquired 8,000 Unsullied and Ser Barristan Selmy, now at Yunkai, with the help of Daario Naharis, she took Yunkai with almost no bloodshed and freed all their slaves. Plus she must be regularly moisturizing and conditioning, because she looks better than ever.

So it's only fitting we once again say goodbye to another year in Westeros with our beautiful Kahleesi as she waited for the gates of Yunkai to open and all of her freed slaves to come out and greet their new Queen. Which they did. Daenerys gave them all back their lives and self-determination, and they greeted her with a new word: "Mhysa", meaning "mother". And like the rock star Queen that she is, Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, the Unburnt, the Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, and Kahleesi of the Dothraki is crowd surfed by the people of Yunkai. Everything's coming up Kahleesi!