Why is it that Game of Thrones finales are always so…blah?
This one was no exception, though it was definitely better than last season’s. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Theon Greyjoy’s torture scene wasone of the epsisode’s highlights. And when that’s the case, you know things aren’t good.
The episode starts off well, with a sweeping aerial view of slaughter at the twins, as the ever-slimy Lord Bolton gazes out over the carnage. Apparently he was just waiting to murder Robb Stark the whole time. “He was insufferable,” Bolton complains to his partner-in-crime, Lord Walder Frey. “He ignored every piece of advice I gave him.” I struggled to recall a single time Robb ignored Bolton’s advice. He let Bolton send his bastard to retake Winterfell, and that worked out for the best–oh, wait.
Ah, yes. He refused to let Lord Bolton torture the prisoners. Wow, who knew Bolton would get so sore over something so trivial? Get a grip, dude.
We then cut to King’s Landing, where, surprise of all surprises, Cersei is depressed and bitter, Tyrion is flippant and bitter, Joffrey is cruel and petulant, and Tywin is cold and stern. Tyrion and Sansa do, surprisingly, seem to be hitting it off–at least until news of Robb’s death comes to crush her. That might put a damper on their relationship. But in all honesty, nothing new or exciting is really going on here.
The characters in this episode are pretty static, with a few notable exceptions. The best of these is Arya Stark, who provides the standout scene of the episode. Maisie Williams is amazing as, in a few brief minutes, she manages to channel all the rage and grief her character is feeling. We also see her character begin a most unpleasant change–while Jaime Lannister seems to be edging towards redemption, it seems as though Arya is slowly losing her humanity, as she is dealt blow after cruel blow, losing, one by one, everyone she ever loved. “Valar Morghulis,” she whispers–all men must die–and the emptiness in the voice of a child like her voice is chilling. She has killed her another man–not by proxy this time, but with her own hands.
On Dragonstone, Stannis Baratheon plans to sacrifice Gendry to the Red God. “What is the life of one boy against the lives of thousands?” he muses. In the background, Melisandre and Davos offer advice, hovering over each of his shoulders like an angel and a demon. But which is which? Cruel as it sounds, Stannis has a point.
But Davos is having none of it. He frees Gendry, and is on the verge of execution–oh, great, the last honorable character in the show, about to die, we’re all thinking–when he pulls out a letter from the Night’s Watch, saying how they’re under attack from an army of zombies and they need help. Melisandre immediately agrees that the best thing to do is abandon the war and rush straight to the wall. What? If the war of five kings was so irrelevant the whole time, then why were they fighting it? Why didn’t they just go to the wall last season, when they still had enough troops to make a difference? Everything is wrapped up way too easily and conveniently, luckily for Davos. I guess some good characters still can catch a break, after all. The best thing about this rushed scene is honestly the gorgeous red sunlight slanting in through the window–it distracted me the whole time.
Speaking of wrapping things up, we finally get to find out who burned Winterfell. The news is delivered in the msot anticlimactic way possible–a throwaway line from Roose Bolton, which makes me wonder why they left last season on such a cliffhanger if they weren’t even going to bother with a dramatic reveal. To non one’s surprise, Theon’s torturer is revealed to be Roose’s bastard son, named Ramsay. Ramsay is a terrible character and his scenes are gratuitous as hell, but I have to give props to the actor playing him–he is really nailing the role. He is so gleefully, terrifyingly evil that he gives Jack Gleeson true competition in the most scary psychopath department. This time around he munches on a sausage, which, HBO being what it is, I truly feared was Theon’s penis. Luckily it was only pork–oh, thank god. “What do you think I am, a savage?” Ramsay demands. He then succeeds in finally breaking Theon, giving him a new name–Reek.
Theon’s father receives his son’s dick in a box (the song was wrong–it’s not a good gift). He looks vaguely unhappyabout it, and just when you think we have a complex character on our hands–he casually condemns his son to a terrible death for the sake of his crown. This came as a surprise, and not a welcome one. We already have enough morally black characters–how about giving us the morally grey ones the books are famous for? Asha Greyjoy decides to take a ship and attack Ramsay, wherever he is. Wait, didn’t the Greyjoys conquer the north? Why do they need to take a ship with “50 of the best men?” Why don’t they go siege the bejeezus out of him with all their troops instead? I don’t understand, and probably never will–the tactics in this show are about the sort of things a 6 year old with a Stratego board could dream up.
In other news, Bran is still going beyond the wall, and everyone else managed to get back to Castle Black–I was going to say in one piece, but in poor Jon’s case that isn’t exactly true. He returned looking like he was Boromir out of Lord of the Rings, with his face scratched up and three arrows sticking out of him. If he follows Robb into the grave, all the hopes and dreams of the fan girls will be crushed forever. The scene between him and Ygritte was suspenseful, but I was wondering the whole time where the rest of the wildlings were. Did they just trust her to finish him off on her own? Oh, those trusting, trusting wildlings.
And then there is the final scene of the season, Dany’s liberation of Yunkai. Well, I can say one good thing about it–the music was good. Great, even. But I did not experience the soaring sensation of triumph and hope I had been looking forward to. Instead, as I watched blond, white-as-snow Dany lifted by a crowd of adoring, worshipful brown people, I couldn’t help but cringe. This sort of imagery sure won’t help Game of Thrones defend itself against any accusations of racism.
So that’s all until next season, where hopefully we can stray a little farther from the giant-episode-9-and-then-bland-finale formula that has been working so not well thus far. Mhysa wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t finale material–except for the Arya scene and a rather touching moment from Shae, of all people.
Until next spring.