Violence. Madness. Fire burning all around. This is the opening sequence of the season finale. It’s not a pretty sight. In fact, it’s quite gruesome. Stark banner men are all being slaughtered in the night by members of House Frey and House Bolton. You could say that Walder Frey and Roose Bolton like to finish the job. What is particularly appalling is the site of Robb Stark’s body – without his head – replaced with poor Grey Wind’s head. The members of House Frey chant “Here comes the King of the North” – while the Hound and Arya, on top of his massive horse – look on with horror. Thanks to the Hound’s quick thinking, he grabbed a House Frey flag and off they rode, into the night. The look of shock, despair and horror on Arya’s face will haunt fans for weeks to come.
From horror to comedy – the next scene cuts to Tyrion and Sansa walking and talking along a path, discussing how to play some practical jokes on other people, when Podrik runs towards them. Tyrion has been summoned to the small council. Joffrey looks like he’s drooling over dessert – the news, to Tyrion’s disgust – is that both Robb Stark and his mother are dead. Joffrey, being the sensitive lad he is, states he wants Robb’s head served to Sansa at his own wedding. Tyrion puts his foot down and tells Joffrey enough is enough. Pycelle tries to suck face by saying that Tyrion needs to apologize. Joffrey has a temper tantrum and has the audacity to insult his own grandfather, Tywin Lannister.
Men have been hanged for less. Tywin dismisses his grandson and states that Pycelle should dose him with essence of Nightshade. Joffrey is nothing but a spoiled little brat and clearly doesn’t like it when the Hand puts him in his place. Crowns are just something you wear for decoration. Tywin, as we all know, is the REAL power behind the throne. Tywin and Tyrion have a frank conversation once everyone else leaves.
We find out that Tywin has backed House Frey and House Bolton in order to protect the interests of House Lannister. Tyrion chafes at this and states that slaughtering people at a wedding is abhorrent. Next on the agenda is that Tyrion needs to get Sansa pregnant: the sooner, the better. Tywin comes to the point and states that the family who puts family first will always prevail. A father will always put his family FIRST, no matter what. We find out that Tywin has not had an easy time of being Hand to his predecessor and how he had to put his late wife’s interests before his own – he did not kill Tyrion for being deformed. He spared him – all because he has the right last name. Tyrion leaves the Small Council chambers to tell Sansa the awful news, but we see from her tear stained face that she already knows her brother and mother have been killed. How many more tears will she end up shedding?
In the wilds of the north, Hodor, Jojen, Meera, Bran and Summer find an abandoned keep and take shelter inside. Once inside and settled, Bran tells a ghost story about “The Rat Cook.” The point behind this tale is that the cook had murdered a guest underneath his roof – and once you offer guest rite, you protect those under your roof. The Gods do not take kindly to people who murder guests under their roofs.
Oh, hi Walder Frey! Talk about someone who is a backstabbing, lying, cheating scumbag (not to mention murdering guests even after providing them with guest rite). Walder Frey and Roose Bolton have profited by the Red Wedding and its aftermath. Walder is now Lord of Riverrun and Roose is now Warden of the North. A question that many fans have been asking for a few months finally get answered: we find out that the boy who is torturing Theon Greyjoy is Roose’s bastard son, Ramsay Snow. Ramsay and company have tortured, starved and cut Theon and broken his spirit. Theon begs for mercy, begs to be killed. Ramsay is a sadist and a murdering psychopath. He sits in front of Theon, making fun of him. After hitting Theon a few times, he renames Theon “Reek,” due to the fact that Theon no longer resembles a Lord, but that he in fact looks horrible and dishevelled. You almost feel sorry for him, being strapped to that cross, his body bruised and bloodied, his spirit crushed.
In a weird twist, Sam, Gilly and her baby literally stumble across Bran, Jojen, Meera and Summer. Sam recognizes Summer and Hodor (we see Hodor doing what he does best, smiling and getting all bashful while saying, “Hodor”). He states he knows Jon and tells them all that Jon saved his life when he first came to Castle Black. Bran wants to go north of the Wall. Sam pleads with them to go to Castle Black. He warns them that north of the Wall is full of death: an army of White Walkers and the Army of the Dead are headed south.
We learn that Ramsay Snow has sent a letter to Balon and Yara Greyjoy with an ultimatum – get out of the North and leave or else more boxes will arrive. The first box that was sent – and that Yara opened – contained a severed part of anatomy that once belonged to Theon. Balon, disgusted and angry, states that he will not give up the lands he has fought for over an idiot son who did not listen in the first place. His decision is final and he will not relent. Yara, on the other hand is determined to bring her brother back. She will not abandon him. She sets off with a mercenary group of skilled Iron Born sailors and vows to bring Theon back. I am totally digging her vibe – she’s fierce, loyal and cares enough to bring back one of her own home.
The dragon glass pieces are introduced to Bran, Hodor, Jojen and Meera from Sam and Gilly. Its importance is explained by Sam, who reveals that he killed a White Walker. Meera is shocked – because nobody has killed one in over a thousand years. It’s scary to think that they are out there, getting closer. Sam gives several pieces of dragon glass to Meera, Jojen and Bran for their protection. He and Gilly watch as Bran, Jojen, Meera and Summer depart under the tunnel, in the darkness.
Down in the damp dungeons of Dragonstone, we see Gendry and Davos having a conversation. They both discover that they hail from Fleabottom. How is it that two men who come from the poorest part of town have ended up in the castle of a King? Davos has a frank conversation with Gendry about how he grew up and wanted a better life for his son, hence why he took a lordship from Stannis.
Varys and Shae have an equally frank conversation about being an outsider in King’s Landing. Varys remarks how Shae has had a positive influence on Tyrion and how Sansa is caught in the middle of all the political intrigue. Shae is still upset about Tyrion being married to Sansa, but what can she do? How can she compete with a young, beautiful girl with a famous last name? Varys pleads with Shae to get out while the going is good – and gives her a stash of diamonds to leave as soon as possible. He paints quite a compelling picture of what her life could be like, should she leave. However, he’s also blunt enough to say that he knows she loves Tyrion but that she is a distraction to Tyrion. And distractions are not good for the realm, especially someone like Tyrion Lannister, who may be the salvation that King’s Landing needs. Unfortunately, Sahe tosses the diamonds back and retorts that if she’s going to leave, she needs to hear it from Tyrion.
We see Tyrion drinking with Podrik, and the men are interrupted by Cersei and her smug face. Cersei taunts Tyrion about married life and then has the nerve to tell her brother that he needs to give Sansa a child. You know, because children would make up for all the doom and gloom that goes on in the Seven Kingdoms. Tyrion calls her on her bluff – even having a child like Joffrey makes her happy?! Cersei goes on a small rant about what a “jolly little fellow” Joffrey was as a baby and toddler. I somehow doubt that, but – I digress.
Tyrion says one of the most powerful phrases in the episode: “Every time we deal with an enemy, we create two more.” Smart, shrewd and pensive. I’m talking about Tyrion, NOT Cersei!
We see a group of Frey men sitting around a fire in the woods. Arya just happens to slide off her horse. The Hound watches. Arya, pretending to be hungry and cold, wants to sit by their fire. They are rude towards her but when she offers money, they change their tune. Not for long. Arya kills her first man without flinching. The Hound has her back and kills the other three men swiftly. There is no remorse, no tears, nothing. She picks up her coin. “Valar morghuils.” Our toughest Stark is becoming an assassin in training.
Ah, the road to true love is never smooth. Jon, taking a drink from a small pond, hears the sound of a bow being bent back and knows instinctively that it’s Ygritte. She stands in front of him, arrow poised to shoot. He pleads with her, he tells her he loves her and turns his back on her. She shoots him three times, wounding him quite badly in the process. He rides off on his horse and she stands there. Well, it’s all very fine and dandy to cry Ygritte but, honestly, you shot him with the arrows and not the other way around.
Back at Castle Black, Sam, Gilly and baby are talking to Maester Aemon about what has been going on. Aemon reminds Sam about his oath but Sam takes the opportunity to remind Aemon that the oath states that the Night’s Watch protects everyone. Aemon requests that all the ravens be fed and sent out that night to everyone possible to warn about the impending Army of the Dead and the White Walkers.
Meanwhile, Davos and Shireen are together, reading through books and missives. Davos reads a scroll from the Night’s Watch and tucks it away, as it is important news. Stannis and Melisandre still want to sacrifice Gendry in order to appease the Red God and foretell prophecy. Davos has had enough of Melisandre and her black magic rituals. He goes to let Gendry out of the dungeon and helps him to escape. You just know that Stannis is not going to be happy.
Jon, wounded badly, makes his way to Castle Black. Sam and Pip see him and Sam orders the men to pick him up and carry him gently. Then we see Jaime and Brienne come through the gates of King’s Landing. Jaime is finally home. Nobody seems to recognize Tywin Lannister’s once ‘golden boy.’ He makes his way to Cersei – and she turns around in shock, to see how changed Jaime’s appearance is, especially his stump. Returning back to Dragonstone, guess who is in trouble? Davos is arrested for letting Gendry go. Davos gives the scroll to Stannis and states that something terrible is coming for everyone south of the Wall. Melisandre reads the scroll and puts it in the fire. She sees a huge battle – the biggest threat is in the north. On the Wall. Stannis is still upset and wants to have Davos killed. However, it is Melisandre who comes to Davos’ rescue. The War of the Five Kings is nothing compared to what is happening north of the Wall.
I enjoyed about 90% of this season finale. However, the one major gripe I have is how it ended. While I am happy that Dany and her dragons are acquiring power and freeing slaves, was it necessary to have her end off another season finale? Really? Is she the only character that is worthy of this? Last year, we saw the White Walkers make their way to the Fist of the First Men. They are the army of “ice.” So, it dawns on me that Dany’s growing army is one of “fire.” This episode was called “Mysa” – High Valaryian for ‘mother.’ Are there not other mothers in this series?
Yes, it’s all nice that she is trying to do some good in the world by freeing slaves and armies and having them follow her but really? Having her end off yet another season finale? As a reader of the books, I could think of a couple of storylines that could have had more kick to them. As in it would have left people wondering and freaking out for the next year. This particular ending did nothing for me. And I am a HUGE Game of Thrones fan. All of my guests who were at my house watching the finale agreed. This was a letdown for all of us. I did like the ending piece of music that was used.
291 days to go until Season Four!
Highlights: The Hound and Arya. This is where we see the birth of a little mercenary! The scene with Tywin, Tyrion and the small council. As well, Tyrion telling Joffrey that ‘Kings are dying like flies.’ And – dare I say – when Tywin was talking to Tyrion, did we actually see a tear in Tywin’s eye before he stormed out of the room?! Also, Davos and Gendry talking and discovering the common bond of being low born.
Bittersweet: Bran and company’s meeting with Sam and Gilly.
Traumatic: Seeing poor Robb’s body with Grey Wind’s head and the ending. Sansa staring out the window, her face stained with tears.
Lows: the ending scene. I am sure that there will be people who will disagree but I have also read a lot of reviews and fan opinions on-line and they are all in agreeance.