Not a whole lot of mercy to be had as our season finale of “Game of Thrones” proves George R.R. Martin’s story framework still rules, major (and I mean major) characters fall, and ten million teenage girls cry themselves to sleep. Let’s discuss, after the break.
The season’s weakest storyline more or less ended as weakly as expected. I’m sure I’m not the only one who knew the Dornish version of some James Bondian super spy lipstick wasn’t far behind, after Ellaria Sand planted that big, wet smooch on Myrcella’s lips. Hell, just the fact that Jaime and Myrcella shared a touching father-daughter moment (with all the “next on Montel” awkward and icky aspects of acknowledged incest) guaranteed our little Cersei clone was toast. On a show that rarely makes a misstep, this plot line really fell flat. Worse, it was predictable and cliched. I know the writers can do better. Maybe we’ll get a reboot of Dorne next season.
We had three plot lines collide up in the North, each one handled much better than Dorne. Sansa’s escape, while not entirely satisfying (because it didn’t end up with Ramsay’s balls on a stick), definitely had it’s moments. I would have preferred Sansa take action, her character still seems way to passive for someone whose gone through her arc, but the continued return of Theon was good to see. Their final scene, as they hold hands and take the desperate leap of faith off the castle walls was nice, though it does make me wonder exactly how much it’s snowed.
Stannis’ rapid fall was a thing of beauty to watch, not just because of last week’s Greek tragedy…
…but because it displays both the consequences of hubris as well as a man determined to stick to his destiny, even if it kills him. The moment he finds he lost half his men to desertion, Stannis knows he is doomed. And knows it’s directly as a consequence of his actions. But in true Stannis fashion, he continues to fight forward until the end. It’s interesting, and very satisfying the way the showrunners brought this (and other) plot lines back to the original storyline. And I love that, unlike the book, we actually see the consequences, the lost and dying men, and don’t find out about it via some chain raven sent by the mad hobbit.
Even Brienne’s brief appearance, to gain vengeance against Stannis, was more than satisfactory. Their exchange a the end, Stannis’ recognition that he had sullied his honor – even before Shireen (that was just the final step); and Brienne’s realization that, despite his actions there still exists honor at his Baratheon core. This episode featured a lot of characters giving meaningful looks, and Brienne’s as she swung that final sword was one of these.
I also love the fact that once again a character’s decision to act against type (whether it be Ned’s decision to lie and accept the Black in season one, or Rob’s decision to negate his promises to Frey before the Red Wedding) ends badly. Maybe Brienne’s decision to leave her post won’t have the same consequences, after all Sansa is outside the walls, but I can’t believe it’s not going to come back and haunt her and the prettiest Stark.
Our favorite Stark is having some troubles of her own. Consequences be damned, Arya’s brutal slaughter of Meryn Trant was cheer worthy. I shouldn’t applaud it, shouldn’t be happy that a young girl has been twisted by anger into a killer, but they scene was handled with perfection, from setting up exactly how despicable Trent was, to the slow reveal as the quiet child removes her mask and Trent’s eyes in a few gut-wrenching motions. And her return to the temple, her need to face the consequences, the lessons she learns even as her eyes darken were handled perfectly. I’ll be curious if they follow this plot-line next year, maybe even give it a break (as they did with Bran) and return after Arya has spent time trying to win back the many-faced god’s favor.
In a season filled with anticipated scenes, Cersei’s walk of shame is one of those I’ve most been waiting for. And Lena Headey did it perfectly. I’m certain Cersei’s confession wasn’t genuine, and the camera caught Headey’s every glance to the side, every tightening of the lips as she marked her torturers for death. And it continued during her walk, as she first held her head stiffly upward, still somewhat defiant in her attrition, but slowly – as the taunts to the crowd, the realization she’d be entering the gate not as a queen, but a beaten and bloody penitent – her will began to falter, her eyes welled, and suddenly the evil queen was human again. And because we’re human, we wanted to bring her a blanket despite all of the evils she had perpetuated through out the series.
And hats off to Lena Headey for that scene. All jokes aside, I don’t like graphic, unnecessary nudity. But the courage it must have taken as an actor to step in front of thousands of extras, and make that walk is extraordinary, and should win another Emmy.
Frankly, I was a little disappointed to see this storyline return to book. I always hated the idea that Martin brought back the Dothraki, and especially hated that Dany’s already slow storyline was essentially starting from the beginning. Still, some really nice touches: The fierce dragon that pretty much acted like a spoiled housecoat (and how great was the CGI as Drogon sat and cleaned himself?). Especially liked the bandages Dany had over her hands, hearkening back to the bandages she was forced to wear during her early days of marriage to Khal Drogo and a nice piece of foreshadowing that another Khal was right around the corner.
And real nice to see the set up for next season, with Tyrion once again given a city to rule, an ally he can trust, and no brat king anywhere to be found.
Oh boy… how do we start here. Well first, like many a father this evening, I started by comforting my teenage daughter, going over the many fan theories about Jon Snow, pointing out Melisandre’s appearance at the camp and her earlier fascination with the surly bastard, and walk through the reasons why he’s probably not dead…
I really can’t get over how brilliantly they handled a scene that nearly lost me a Kindle (they don’t respond as well to being flung across the room as books do). I was angry at the killing of Jon Snow in the book. Angry not because Martin killed another major character with minimal explanation, but because that continued sense of repetition, that he’s run out of ideas so is just putting a different set of characters through the same motions.
I don’t know if it’s because the great way they built up to the finale, or the echoes of Julius Caesar in the assassination, but it works…
…and the final pull away shot, with Jon fading and the blood streaming into the snow was the perfect way to end a season… because I simply cannot wait ten whole months.