S01E10 I think it’s safe to say that Game of Thrones had the better season finale last night than its competition, but then again GoT had its source material laid out before hand so it might have had the strategical advantage. Either way, it still kicked all kinds of ass, effectively wrapping up many story lines, setting them in motion for the second season and pulling off one of the funniest scenes ever put on film. Not a bad way to go out.
Let’s start at Winterfell, since the episode started off there and that’s about all the justification I need. Bran is dreaming again and demands to go down into the crypt because he dreamt he saw his father there. He shames Osha into taking him down there (“I’m a cripple” BOOM roasted) and Rickon is already down there. Turns out he had the same dream. Shared dreams mean something deeper is going on. It’s a subtle but effective way of setting up what will happen with him in the upcoming season. Meanwhile all of Robb’s men get fed up dealing with Joffrey this, Renly that, Stannis blah, so they go and pronounce Robb King of the North. A really powerful scene anchored by Richard Madden’s regal stare. He managed to mix humbleness and strength all into one look and it contrasted an earlier scene in the woods when Catelynn and Robb let out their grief over Ned’s death (letting out grief = beating a tree with a sword). Very emotional scene and a good source of inspiration for his actions next season.
"We will kill them all." - Cat
One odd thing was Cat’s interrogation of Jaime. I’m not exactly sure why this was included, seeing as this scene in the books happens pretty far along in the second installment and goes very differently. It makes sense, from a narrative standpoint, that she would accuse him and what not but in the book they get out a lot of information from the captive warrior. The only thing she gets out of him here is that he did in fact try to kill Bran but he wont tell her why (we already know ourselves). Are they just splitting this confession up because Cat doesn’t know about Cersei’s incest yet or was just an excuse to have Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in the episode since he won’t be seen for a while? Methinks the latter.
I was really concerned with how they would end the season at the Wall. Jon’s honor would be tested, as was set up last episode, but I prayed they wouldn’t end on a cliffhanger of him just deserting the wall. Thankfully they didn’t and the final call to battle of the Rangers heading beyond the wall was amazing. Things got a little corny with Jon’s friends all reciting the pledge of the Wall but Commander Mormont’s talking down and rebuttal the next morning made up for it. “I wasn’t talking about your honor,” indeed. And holy hell, I know Sam is supposed to be a craven coward but the way he whined “no” as Jon left? That was just pathetic.
Meanwhile with the Lannisters, Tywin is pissed that Jaime was captured and intends to do something about it. He manages to show a bit of pride in Tyrion when he sends him off to rule the Kingdom through the post of the Hand of the King. For once, Tyrion is speechless. But being the dick he is, Tywin forbids Tyrion from bringing Shae to court. She is of course a little offended but Tyrion has a golden tongue and has her in bed after two lines. He’s a pimp! Also - fun fact, Shae used to be a German porn star before becoming an award winning actress! That’s Europe for you!
Arya gets carted off with a brother of the Night's Watch and he turns her into a boy so she won't rouse any suspicion. I was all sad to see this happen to poor Arya but then she meets Chris from Skins! Since I wasn't around to recap when we first met him can I just say how awesome that is? And if you were wondering if Joffrey is still a dick then you will be pleased to know that he is still, in fact, a huge tool. He starts off ripping the tongue out of a singer's mouth who performs a song about his family and then takes Sansa up to see her father’s head on a spike. He’s a charmer, that one. Sansa almost pushes him off the bridge they were standing on, but the Hound stops her. It shows that Sansa still has some fight in her so there may be some hope for her yet and it sets up her and the Hound's relationship. Good stuff.
More good stuff? How about the scene between Varys and Littlefinger? These two men are the ultimate tricksters. No one quite knows what side they’re on and they both respect the manipulative power of the other so they basically had a verbal sword fight unlike anything we’ve seen. It was a great reminder that we can never really trust either of these men but their slimy ways are just so fun to watch. When Joffrey returned and they turned on those smiles? Brilliant work.
"I warned you that only death can pay for life." - Mirri
Then we head out East to Daenerys and Drogo. Daenerys wakes up to pretty much the worst news possible: her son died in birth and was horribly disfigured, Drogo is basically a vegetable, and her clan has dispersed due to being leaderless. She tries to figure out why the magic woman would lie to her after she saved the magic woman’s life but the gypsy had to open up her eyes. She didn’t really save her from anything. Aw hell nah, Daeynerys won’t stand for that so after a quick mercy killing of Drogo (the greatest warrior finally brought down by a pillow), she ties the magic woman to the pyre. Daenerys lays her dragon eggs around Drogo’s body and sets the thing on fire. Jorah tries to stop her but dragon’s aren’t afraid of fire. He wakes up next morning and we end on one of the most powerful visual scene’s ever. Her clothes have burnt off but she sits there suckling three baby dragons. DRAGONS! And then that’s the end of the season! BOOM! AWESOME SAUCE!
This first season of Game of Thrones has been incredible, effectively setting up this complicated realm and how high the stakes were. Then it pretty much just raised them even higher. And the second season will only be crazier because we have less to establish (I imagine we’ll only have a handful of new characters to acquaint ourselves with) and more time to just get into the drama. Jon is heading off beyond the wall. Arya has joined a group of scavengers heading to the wall with Yoren. Robb has claimed himself king and marches to war. Tyrion is sent off to test his golden tongues strength at King’s Landing against Varys and Littlefinger. Cersei is pretty much a hard core bitch and Joffrey rules with a hot head with poor Sansa caught in the middle. And did I mention Daenerys now has DRAGONS? Yeah, the second season is going to be awesome.
Let’s talk about the cast for a second, because as awesome as the story is, it is the cast that brings it to life and this show has one of the strongest ensembles assembled, especially the kids. Maisie Williams and Isaac Hempstead-Wright, as Arya and Bran respectively, carry huge weight on their shoulders but it doesn’t burden them. Jack Gleeson just oozes the slime out of Joffrey and revels in the bitchiness of the character. Richard Madden, as I said above, truly shines as Robb and is thrust into the crown when a few months ago he was all but considered a boy. Michelle Fairley and Lena Headey, as Cat and Cersei respectively, play two incredibly strong female characters with very opposing strengths and for a show to have two female characters like that is amazing. As Daenerys, Emilia Clark had one of the greatest character arcs on television this season and the level of intensity and compassion she brought to the role is rather remarkable considering it's her first major gig. And Peter Dinklage? That son of a bitch deserves an Emmy.
But I want to leave Game of Thrones remembering perhaps the greatest scene ever. We had our weekly gratuitous boob shot of Roz getting dressed as Julian Glover rambled off some monologue about Kings. He’s old and feeble and can’t remember what he meant to say even after he said it. As the Grand Maester Pycelle, he tried to be polite and walk her out the door but she jets. He looks around and then pops up like he was 20 years younger, does a few squats, crackes a few joints, gets dressed and heads out the door. But not before returning to his normal bent over stoop. It was completely unexpected and hilarious. Definitely one to leave the season on and with that, we’ll see you next season.