Game of Thrones Season 2 Finale Recap: Fire and Vengeance Rule in “Valar Morghulis”
Maybe it was inevitable after the epic triumph of Season 2, Episode 9: "Blackwater," but we found the Game of ThronesSeason 2 finale a letdown. There were some standout scenes — especially Theon's speech and Jaime and Brienne's brief interlude — but some of the biggest moments fell flat.
But that's okay. This season has still been satisfying overall, and the pieces are in place for a fascinating Season 3. So read on for Wetpaint Entertainment's recap of Season 2, Episode 10: "Valar Morghulis."
King's Landing: Tyrion's Fall From Grace
Tyrion lives! But, as Maester Pycelle gleefully tells him, he's no longer Hand of the King. No, that honor has been usurped by daddy dearest. Tywin literally rides a horse into the Throne Room, which is bathed in more ominous red light than normal, while Joffrey declares him Hand. And that's not the only post-Blackwater shakeup. Littlefinger is granted Harrenhal for bringing the Lannisters and Tyrells together (ironic, since that is the false prize Tyrion offered him back when he was trying to smell out the rat). And, oh yeah, Joffrey dumps Sansa to take Margaery Tyrell as his bride-to-be instead. To his credit (kinda), he actually pretends to give a damn about breaking his word, and only agrees to the switch when Pycelle assures him that it's fine in the eyes of the gods, because the Starks betrayed him.
At first, Sansa is gleeful about this change — her smile as she walks away from the gathering is a lovely moment from Sophie Turner — but Littlefinger creepily warns her that Joffrey will still rape and beat her, just on the side, now. He waxes lyrical about how much she reminds him of her mom (which, given his obsession with Cat, is gross), and then offers to help get her home. She declares King's Landing is her home now, for no apparent reason. I mean, we wouldn't want Littlefinger creeping on us, either, but it seems better than being stuck under Joffrey's sadistic thumb.
Later, Varys pays Ros the prostitute a visit, and she shows her boobs because that's gotta happen. Varys, being a eunuch, isn't impressed. He doesn't want her body, he wants her mind. He wants to take her into his employ, presumably as a spy. He promises to take care of her, and says that while Littlefinger is scary, he knows the other man's weakness. And… yeah, that's the last we hear of this. We guess it'll get picked up next season? Random.
Next, Varys swings by Tyrion's new, low-rent lodgings. He breaks the bad news: Cersei tried to have Tyrion killed; that's why he was attacked by one of Joffrey's men during Blackwater and now has bandages all over his face. And oh, not only is Tyrion no longer Hand, but Bronn has been kicked out as head of the City Guard, and basically all the power Tyrion has built up is gone. Peter Dinklage acts the hell out of receiving this news, especially given that he only has half his face to work with. Varys warns that he won't be helping Tyrion anymore, but he says they are still friends and promises people will remember what Tyrion did for the city. And, aww, he has one last gift: Shae!
Shae unveils Tyrion's injured face, revealing a big scar that he calls monstrous, but we think is kind of awesome. It's certainly way less gruesome than his wounds in the book. She begs him to run away with her to Pentos to eat and bang and generally live the good life, but he enjoys playing politics too much. She promises to stay by his side.
We'll admit: We're predisposed to like Jaime and Brienne's antics because we enjoy them in the books. But even given our bias, we think this was clearly one of the best sequences of the episode. It begins with more of Jaime's patented delightful banter, but turns serious when the duo stumbles on the bodies of three tavern girls who have been killed by northerners for cavorting with Lannister men. You know, just in case you hadn't figured out that everyone sucks in this world.
The offending soldiers show up. Brienne and Jaime improv a story, but one of the soldiers realizes who Jaime is, so Brienne is forced to be a total badass and kill all three men — two quickly, and one slowly and painfully, because they had implied that they prolonged the death of one of the girls. Damn. Jaime is clearly startled by her brutality, and also her killing of Stark men. She reminds him that she doesn't serve the Starks, just Cat, and Cat wants her to get him to King's Landing, so that's what she'll do.
The Riverlands: A Marriage of Passion
Sadly for Cat, Brienne is just about the only person who listens to her anymore. Now that they've had sex once, Robb wants to marry Talisa. Cat thinks this is a terrible idea. Robb is promised to one of Walder Frey's daughters, and Walder Frey is not a good man to cross. And, come on, even Joffrey at least pretended to care that he'd already promised his hand in marriage. Cat also makes some good points about how passionate love isn't always the best foundation for marriage (clearly, Robb has never heard of the "honeymoon phase" of relationships), but Robb isn't having it. He and Talisa tie the knot. So, that's a life choice he has made.
Dragonstone: Fate in the Fire
Stannis is back at home, and he is not happy with Melisandre and what he sees as her false promises. She said he would win the war, and instead he suffered a terrible defeat. So he, uh, strangles her for a bit? That seems ... not very honorable. That's an addition we could do without. He does let her go, though, the better to concentrate on his angst. It seems to finally hit him that he killed his own brother based on Mel's prophecies. She says the war has just begun; this was just one battle. He will eventually betray everything he once held dear, but it will all be worth it, because he is the Son of Fire, the Warrior of the Light, the chosen one, blah blah blah. He doesn't believe her, so she shows him her fire. There's a wonderful close-up of the flames in his eyes as he says he does see, now. We guess Melisandre isn't going anywhere after all.
Theon's scenes are some of the best of the episode. First, we learn that Bolton's bastard has apparently arrived; Winterfell is surrounded. Theon killed all the ravens a few episodes ago, so he can't send for help. The Ironborn are screwed. Theon's clearly half out of his mind, ranting and raving. He reflects on his time as a captive in Winterfell, explaining that he spent years being told how kind the Starks were, how much he owed his captors. When he puts it like that, it's easy to see why he's snapped. Luwin encourages him to sneak out and go join the Night's Watch as a way to redeem himself, but Theon thinks he's gone too far. He might not be totally evil at heart, but he can't go back now. Alfie Allen sells the heck out of this scene; it's hard not to feel sad for him, despite everything he's done.
Outside, Theon gives a fantastic, crazed speech to his men."We die today, brothers...but our war cries will echo through eternity." He wants to go down in history. Again, Alfie Allen knocks this one out of the park, eyes bulging, fist pounding against his chest — he's a man at the end of his rope; desperate and suicidal. But instead of getting a grand last stand, he's knocked out by his own men, who then stab Luwin and peace out. If you were confused by this scene, remember that Robb had agreed to let all of the Ironborn, minus Theon, go free if they surrendered.
Later, Osha, Hodor, and the young Starks sneak out of the basement, to discover Winterfell is burning. Sort of. There's just kinda ash everywhere and people are gone. It's honestly not as impactful a moment as we would have liked. They stop by the Godswood where they find Luwin dying. Luwin instructs them to go north to the Wall, and tasks Osha with protecting the Starks. They follow his instructions. As they walk off, we see massive amounts of smoke rising from Winterfell. Now, that's a dramatic image.
On the Road: The Path Not Taken
Jaqen finds Arya and co. as they walk along. She tells him she wants to learn to be an awesome assassin like him; he says she can, but she needs to come with him to Braavos. Hey, that's where Arya's Dancing Master was from! She declines his offer because she needs to find her mother and brother and, yes, even her sister. He gives her a coin: If she ever changes her mind, she just needs to give it to someone from Braavos and say "Valar Morghulis," and she can come give all the names she wants to the Red God. She begs him to stay but he tells her Jaqen is dead, and then changes his face. Yeah, turns out he's a "faceless man," AKA a shapeshifter. Awesome.
Dany's story has had the most changes from the books this season, and this episode was no exception. In the books, her adventure into the House of the Undying was far more surreal and prophetic, a series of nearly incomprehensible scenes that foreshadow events to come. Intense fans have spent hours dissecting each and every one. Here, there were only a few scenes, and they seem more metaphorical than truly prophetic.
First she wanders through a snow-covered version of the Throne Room. Then she's at the Wall, and finds a tent with Drogo in it. Hi Drogo! And he has their kid! They whisper sweet nothings and she cries about how she can't have kids and it's very touching, but kind of pointless. Then she finds her dragons, but — oh no! — the warlock appears and tells her she will stay there, in the House of the Undying, forever, tending her dragons and letting the warlocks draw strength from them. Her arms are magically shackled. Things aren't looking good for the Mother of the Dragons, until she realizes she is the Mother of the Dragons. Her babies set the warlock on fire. Whelp, that's solved, then.
Overall, we found the entire sequence a bit disappointing. It wasn't as disorienting or intense as we wanted, and Dany's takedown of the warlock was pretty underwhelming for a scene that involves dragons lighting a dude on fire.
And then we were given an even bigger change: Dany's handmaiden Doreah was sleeping with Xaro, so Dany ruthlessly locks them both in Xaro's vaults and steals his stuff to buy a ship. We don't like this. It makes Dany seem too vindictive; she may be willing to do things like burn a woman to bring her dragons to life, but she's never struck us as the type to lock people in vaults merely as punishment. That's a pretty awful thing to do to someone.
But hey, on the plus side, she has her dragons and some money, so that should help her get to Westeros one day.
Beyond the Wall: The Walking Dead
Beyond the wall, Ygritte and Jon are still full of banter. They might get to resolve that sexual tension at some point, because Qhorin Halfhand starts another fight with Jon (which for some reason is allowed to continue even though in the past their fighting was stopped) and Jon totally kills him. "We are the watchers on the wall," Qhorin reminds Jon as he dies. Now the wildlings believe Jon is one of them. It's good timing, because two seconds later they arrive at Mance's camp, and his army is huge. Jon is going to need to think on his feet if his newfound spydom is going to be of any help at all.
And to finish out the season, we have Sam getting separated from the rest of the Night's Watch just in time to run into a giant horde of zombies led by an Other. We see an Other! It's big and twisted and has glowing blue eyes! And a zombie horse! And, seriously, there are a ridiculously large number of zombies. So that's a nice reminder that while everyone south of the Wall is playing at politics, the real threat is growing in the wilds of the North.
See you next year!
No Tyrion line of the week this week; all the credit goes to Peter Dinklage's non-verbal acting as he realizes he's lost everything.
Tyrion's squire, Podrick Payne, remains loyal and awesome. Cool kid, Tyrion got lucky with him
Tywin's horse poops everywhere before he marches into the Throne room. That seems like symbolism.
Margaery Tyrell continues to impress. Girl knows how to play the game. We have a feeling she and Cersei will have some interesting interactions next season. Either they'll team up, or they'll butt heads; either way, sparks will fly.
Drogo is notably less buff. Still hot, though. Seeing him is a nice surprise.
Best line of the night goes to Drogo: "These are questions for wise men with skinny arms."
Sam still has a thing for Craster's daughter, Gilly.
We also enjoyed Theon's obsession with killing the hornblower. Good touch.