It’s the Game Of Thrones Season 2 Finale, entitled “Valar Morghulis”, but we have no time to unpack that title cause we have 7,800 plots to wrap up, so let’s just go straight to the lightning round – the darting from plot-to-plot in this episode almost felt like the movie Magnolia, but with fewer dragons (there were a bunch of dragons in Magnolia, right? Phillip Seymour Hoffman was like 7 dragons himself, I think. Whatever, this is not what we came here to talk about. Magnolia-Dragon Night is Tuesdays.)
The episode opens with a classic eye shot reminiscent of our old recappin’ grounds LOST:
It’s the eye of Tyrion Lannister, who narrowly avoided a another shocking Game Of Thrones death in the second-to-last episode (at that rate, in Season 3 they would’ve had to kill off, like, George R.R. Martin, or at least one of his R’s). After some taunting from “The Maester of Slams”, Tyrion receives an unexpected visit from Varys, who explains that Tyrion is no longer Hand of the King, that he’ll receive no credit for his bravery on the battlefield, that Bronn has been relieved of his command too, and that Cersei instructed Mandon Moore to kill Tyrion during the Blackwater battle, and for good measure, a puppy Tyrion really liked was given chocolate by Ilyn. MONDAYS.
Tyrion is also visited by the slightly more pleasant Shae, and he removes his bandage to reveal his scar to her:
On the plus side, Tyrion now shares a face-scar with the other best character in HBO history:
In the Iron Throne room, Joffrey is presenting everyone who isn’t Tyrion with a massive honor; Tywin Lannister is named Hand of the King, Littlefinger is named “Torture Mayor Elect” of Harrenhal (what did he do to win the battle? Throw a prostitute at Davos?), the peasant who threw poop at Joffrey is named Archduke, and Loras Tyrelle is allowed to ask anything of the king, in addition to 500 maidens sent to his room who will have sex with him instantly upon his return and “won’t take no for an answer!” Loras asks Joffrey to take his sister’s hand in marriage and join the houses in an attempt to create grandchildren so blond, they can deflect dragons’ fire. Joffrey, in a rare show of something at least in the (very general) ballpark of ‘honor’, replies that he’s already sworn a vow to Sansa and doesn’t want to dishonor the gods, but Cersei and Pycelle are both like “Actually the council has determined that none of us give a sh*t so go wild!”
Sansa is initially relieved to be out of her royal obligation, but Littlefinger quickly rains semen on her parade, reminding her that she’s not just gonna be allowed to walk away freely, cause after all, Joffries gon’ Joff. He offers to sneak her out of King’s Landing and into the arms of Catelyn Stark, and they instantly succeed, then Sansa asks her “oh one more thing…where’s Jaime Lannister?” and Catelyn smiles and shrugs, freeze frame, end of Season.
Just kidding! 7,798 plots to go!
Speaking of Lady Stark, she and Robb are discussing his new infatuation with Talisa, and mother warns him not to break off his obligation to the dangerous Walder Frey and to always honor his vows seriously:
She tells Robb “Your father didn’t love me at first, but now he’s head over heels! Sorry, are we not joking about that yet? I just thought, you know, present company…nevermind.” Robb responds, “Maybe that’s how people did things in your day, mom, but things are different now! It’s the year Bleventy-Eight Manticore, I can do what I want!”
I really enjoy the turn Robb’s character has taken; he’s witnessed his father’s relentless honor still result in his own decapitation (and a bastard child), while the largely honor-less Lannisters control the Iron Throne, and extra-schemey characters like Varys and Littlefinger have survived like 7 different regimes (they’re basically the Alan Greenspans of King’s Landing. In terms of longevity, not prostituting/penile equipment). As a result, Robb’s finally given himself the leeway to make a selfish, dishonorable decision, clearly motivated by love, but also a symbolic declaration that he’s no longer going to value empty honor above all other considerations in this all-too-short life (Average lifespan for a Westeros inhabitant = 55.8 Minutes).
Robb marries Talisa under cover of night in a traditional Northern ceremony, where both parties simultaneously recite the words from Radiohead’s “Fitter Happier”:
Arya Stark and her fellow Goonies are free from Harrenhal, and Jaqen, free from his killing contract to Arya (she says his name three times and he’s unjinxed), gives her a special coin and tells her that if she ever needs him again, to give that coin to anyone from Braavosi (such as, any of the Reaal Houseewivees? You are more than welcome to stop reading this recap immediately after that joke, you’d be justified) and to recite the words “Valar Morghulis”, an old Braavosi proverb meaning “The Valor of Julianna Margulies”.
That should be nice and easy to remember! Rolls off the tongue almost as well as “Klaatu Barada Nikto”:
Arya tells Jaqen she wants to learn his “Faceless” killing ways, but she can’t accompany him now because she has to find her family. Jaqen says goodbye, then makes a STARTLING exit:
So THAT’S how Jaqen kept killing people and eluding the guards at Harrenhal! Makes sense now.
Brienne of Tarth continues lugging Jaime Lannister towards King’s Landing, even though Arya left that place 43 episodes ago and Sansa may be sneaking out as well, and Jaime continues his in-vain attempts to bate the unfazed giantlady with odd insults:
They come across three rowdy Stark soldiers who cannot stop laughing about Brienne being a woman (their laughter was the reason the episode had to be 10 minutes longer), but one of the men recognizes Jaime Lannister (“I saw that dude on a ComiCon panel with Hank Azaria and the creator of Bones!”) and when Brienne and Jaime both try to improv their way out of it using what they’ve learned from overhearing their friends talk about UCB classes, the men don’t buy it, and tell them “Both of you answer this question at the same time: What is his name?” Jaime shouts out “Joffrr…ou?” just as Brienne shouts out “Blamie Blannister”, then there’s an awkward pause and Brienne kills all of them, making sure to kill the third one slowly (she did put the sword up through his crotch, I’m assuming? Cool – standard GoT M.O.).
I really like that Game Of Thrones made Brienne a character who seems like she really could plausibly kill the sh*t out of people; she’s not some super-sexy anime character who’s secretly got a DEADLY SIDE, or some boring concession to show that “women can be tough too!” but it’s just some petite female actress somehow beating up fifty dudes just because the movie needed to have a woman beat up fifty dudes. When Brienne kills three people it seems completely believable, making for a much less patronizing “tough woman” character than, say, the Charlie’s Angels movies (though everything else about those movies is correct.)
Stannis has returned to his Risk-table room at Dragonstone and lashes out at Melisandre for ‘reading a false prophecy’, and Melisandre’s like “Ahhh, you’re right, I misread the part where you lose to a backtalking royal dwarf,” and Stannis chokes her for a while, the yoooje. Melisandre tells Stannis he needs to be patient, and makes him look into the fire to see something revelatory:
What did Stannis see? I guess for now it’ll remain a mystery, like the Pulp Fiction briefcase, or anything that happened in Transformers 3.
Over at Winterfell, Theon Greyjoy is in way over his dicktip, and with the city surrounded by Northern armies, he pleads with Maester Luwin for advice on how to get out of the mess he’s created (“We were just rehearsing for a play!”) Luwin tells him to run through the night back to Pyke, but Theon says he’ll never make it and even if he did he’d be called a coward, so he decides that the only option remaining is to stay in Winterfell and fight with only 20 men, and he gives his best irrational rallying cry:
The men cheer loudly to humor him, then Dagmer knocks him out and the soldiers drag him home. When Maester Luwin witnesses this, Dagmer stabs him to make sure we got one semi-important death in the Finale:
Bran and his comrades emerge from the crypts at Winterfell to find the entire castle destroyed, which I didn’t understand (Dagmer and Co. couldn’t have done it, right? So was it the other Northern soldiers who Robb Stark’s companion had rounded up?) Luwin tells Bran that he has to go meet Jon at the Wall, because they have too many enemies in the south, whereas the Wall is only about to get attacked simultaneously by a band of 10,000 organized wildlings and an army of nearly-unkillable zombies. Hope your nut-throwing aim is good, Rickon! (Already can’t wait for Season 3).
Meanwhile in Qarth, Daenerys resumes storming towards the House of the Undying after taking a week off last week to be amazed by the Blackwater fight, and magically enters the door-less stone silo while her dragons are sitting on top of a giant pile of grain (nah, but that would’ve been amusing). The House is, of course, a giant, dark, creepy mindf*ck, and Dany, hearing the distant caws of her dragons, comes across a circle of doors and enters the one marked “NOTHING SHADY HERE”. It opens into an empty, wrecked Iron Throne room with snow falling, but Dany finds a desert tent, enters, and is right back in her former Dothraki furnishings (my friend Nate accurately commented, “This is some Black Lodge sh*t right here.)
Dany enters the tent to find everyone’s favorite guyliner-raper Khal Drogo standing there holding a baby that looks nothing like them. They share a tender dream-moment together where Drogo proclaims in Klingon, “If this is a dream, I don’t ever want to wake”. The entire time this sequence is occurring, we kept expecting Pyat Pree to appear in some sudden crazy-ass way:
Impressed but undeterred by Pyat’s spot-on Drogo impression, Dany returns back to the main chamber, where her dragons are in chains, and, surely enough, the warlock is there waiting for her (although his entrance was far less creepy than I expected – I kept assuming he was barely out of the frame on every shot in that sequence and pre-prepared myself from the “AH!” jump-moment when he’d eventually be revealed, which never really came.) Pyat tells Dany that his magic is stronger in her presence, just as multiple Pyats chain her to the walls, but Dany instructs her dragons to breathe fire at him, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s BABY’S FIRST HOTSTEPS:
Pyat is burnt to death, leaving Ilyn Payne as the show’s creepiest remaining character, and Dany goes to confront Xaro, who’s (literally) in bed with Doreah:
Dany opens Xaro’s vault, only to find it empty, and decides to imprison Xaro and Doreah in the vault as an homage to “The Cask Of Amontillado,” a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, author of the famous Westeros poem “The Mail”. Dany’s soldiers pillage Xaro’s house to earn money for ships, in a humorous reversal of the garden-party scene a few episodes ago when Dany kept telling her men not to touch things, and long story short, the top 58 ranking officials at Qarth are now dead. Next in the line of succession? Hot Pie, Arya’s chubby friend. UHHHHOHHH!!! Season 3 Fever: CATCH IT!
Finally, a Season of Awesomeness wraps up beyond the wall, where Qhorin Halfhand’s plan to get Jon to infiltrate the wildlings moves on to Phase 2, aka, the “You Killing Me” phase. Qhorin breaks from the pack, cuts his chains, grabs a sword and fake-hurtles at Jon, and the bastard squares off against the legendary ranger:
Jon ultimately kills Qhorin, to the awe of his wildling captors (“That was surprising, and no bones about it!” says Boney Bonerson), and the impressed Ygritte tells Jon it’s time for him to meet Mance Rayder. She shows Jon a valley occupied by thousands of wildlings who’ve set up camp, and just when you thought the last scene of the Season would be the revelation of the much-hyped Mance, the show cuts to Samwell Tarly and his two other companions searching for pieces of animal poop to burn.
Soooo…with one minute left in the episode, we’re sitting there thinking, Season 1 ends with the introduction of dragons perched on a naked blonde, and season two is gonna end with Jon’s chubby friend literally looking for pieces of sh*t? Nope! A horn sounds once, twice, and three times: The never-before-used signal for “White Walkers”. Samwell and his companions scramble but he’s left behind in the cold, only to make terrifying eye contact with the apparent leader of the white walkers (“I told you so and also I shit my pants and it froze so I can burn that now!”):
The walker ignores Samwell, lets out a battle shriek, and Game Of Thrones Season 2 ends with an army of undead marching on The Wall – the same Wall that a band of 10,000 wildlings is about to attack, and where Bran is headed to meet up with Jon – and threatening to invade all of Westeros just as perpetual winter is about to strike. Guess that pretty much wraps up all the loose ends! We probably don’t even need a Season 3.
Game Of Thrones Finale thoughts? Thoughts on Season 2 as a whole? Favorite parts? Stuff we missed? Predictions for Season 3 (no book-spoilers plz, you diligent book-reading persons!) Leave ‘em all in the comments!
That’s all for the season – Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting and correcting my 9 billion mistakes per ‘cap and for all the very nice feedback. This’ll be our last tv recap for a while, so enjoy that Dalmatian Photoshop all summer long!