And now it ends. For 10 months or so anyway. This first season has been quite the ride. And it ended with a bang tonight. What did everyone think? My recap and thoughts are after the break. Feel free to leave your reactions in the comments.
Spoiler Note: This post is for those who have read the first book. As such the post itself and the comments will contain spoilers. The new viewer recap and discussion thread can be found here.
The finale starts off right where episode nine ends. We see a bloodied Ice and then an out-of-focus Ned’s head. Yoren carries Arya out of the crowd, but not before she steals a glance at Ned’s headless body being dragged away. For those new viewers who were still wondering, yup, Ned is well and truly dead. Yoren calls Arya boy and starts hacking her hair into the cutest pixie cut you ever saw. “Do you want to live, boy? North, boy. We’re going north.”
Back at Winterfell, Bran is having his three-eyed crow dream again. Actually he is telling the dream to Osha. Only this time the dream ends with him seeing his father down in the crypts. He convinces Osha to take him down there. He gives her (and the new viewers) a brief history lesson and we hear Rhaegar Targaryen’s name for the first time
in the series since episode two. I suspect Rhaegar will get more development next season. Speaking of firsts, Shaggydog makes his first appearance, frightening Osha and Bran. Rickon is down in the crypts too and he has had the same dream of Ned. Bran heads back to the surface where he meets Maester Luwin and gets some sad news. And allow me to take a moment and praise Donald Sumpter’s performance this season. A performance that has flown under-the-radar a bit, but his Luwin has been superbly acted. Looking forward to seeing more of his work in season two.
Cut to Robb’s camp, where Catelyn is walking through camp and all the Northerners are bowing to her. A touching scene. She keeps her composure long enough to make it out of camp. She finds Robb, hacking away at a tree as if it was King Joffrey himself. Robb and Catelyn both promise revenge on the Lannisters. “We will kill them all.”
Meanwhile in King’s Landing, Joffrey is holding court. Marillion, who is none the worse for wear despite his sojourn to the Vale and run-in with the tribesmen, is there before the King. He has been caught signing a derogatory song about Robert and Cersei. Joff gives him a choice, he can keep either his fingers or his tongue. He chooses fingers. (It certainly seems Marillion’s part in the show isn’t going to last as long as it did in the books.) Joffrey then takes Sansa to see the head of her father. That Joff sure is a charmer. In a wonderfully acted scene by Sophie Turner and Jack Gleeson, we see just how vicious Joffrey is as he has his Kingsguard beat Sansa. Sansa remains brave in the face of this cruelty. She even entertains the notion of throwing Joff to his death. The Hound stops her and then wipes the blood from her face and offers her some kind words. San/San fans rejoice!
Back to Robb’s camp. There is a debate over whether they should ally themselves with Stannis or Renly. The Greatjon declares that Stannis and Renly mean nothing to him. What do they know of the North? There is only one king that he would serve and he bows before Robb. “The King in the North!” The other men take up the call. “The King in the North! The King in the North!” An epic scene, although I wish they would have saved it for a bit later in this episode.
Next Catelyn goes to speak with Jaime. The chains have done nothing to lessen his arrogance. Cat slaps him around a bit and insists that the injustice in this world is caused by men like him. “There are no men like me. Only me.” Cat asks him about Bran. Jaime admits to having attempted to murder him by throwing him from the window, but he doesn’t say why he did it.
In King’s Landing, we see Cersei has taken a new lover. Apparently she likes to keep it in the family because now she is sleeping with her cousing, Lancel, the king’s former squire. She has a letter although we don’t learn what it says. Does it say that Jaime has been captured? That would be interesting as it would mean she was sleeping with Lancel before she knew.
Somewhere in the Riverlands, Tywin is meeting with his lords to discuss their next move. The Starks have Jaime but to get him back seems almost impossible. They can’t make peace with the Starks since Joff just beheaded the head of their family. And with both Renly and Stanis declaring themselves king, they have their hands full. Tywin decides to retreat to Harrenhal and sends Tyrion to King’s Landing to serve as Hand of the King and keep Cersei and Joffrey in line. But he has to leave his whore behind.
Across the sea, Dany awakes. Jorah tells her the bad news, her son is gone. He was stillborn and a deformed monster besides. Drogo lives, however. Mirri Maz Duur takes her to see her “sun and stars.” He is nothing but a vegetable now. No son, no khalasar and now no khal. Dany talks to Mirri, why did she do this to her? She saved her life. “Look at your khal and you see what life is worth when everything else is stripped away.”
Back at the Wall, Jon is saddling up his horse in the night. He is going to leave Castle Black and join up with his half-brother Robb to avenge his father’s death. Sam attempts to talk him out of it and gets nearly trampled.
In Tywin’s camp again, Shae is packing to leave while Tyrion tells her what his father told him. His father forbids Tyrion to bring her with him to King’s Landing. Everyone always has to do what he says, Tyrion complains. Shae pouts and Tyrion relents. After all, “The King needs a Hand and the Hand needs…” A personal whore, apparently. Hey, that season two sexposition has to come from somewhere!
Jon is galloping through the woods, away from the Wall. He is being chased. He ducks under a branch, but one of his pursuers his not so lucky. He eats it. Turns out it is Sam. First trampled and now knocked off his horse by a tree branch? He’s having a rough night. Jon turns back to make sure Sam is okay. Pyp and Grenn are there too. They want to bring Jon back to Castle Black. Don’t you remember your oath? They ask him. Since he seems to have forgot, they recite it to him, give him his sword, and change his mind. Despite my snark, I actually really liked this scene. I got chills when they recited the oath.
Back with Dany now, where she is tending to her mostly-dead khal. (Where’s Miracle Max when you need him?) Dany realizes that keeping Drogo alive in this state is not right. So she mercy kills him. Khal Drogo, badass of all badasses, dies twice. First from a scratch he inflicted on himself, second from his puny wife smothering him with a pillow. This is what makes this show (and the books) great.
We then get a couple of season two table-setting scenes. First, some sexposition with Ros and… Pycelle? Yup, it seems Pycelle isn’t the kindly old grandfather you might think he is. He is actually a lying, whoring, schemer who acts much more frail than he really is. Oh, and Varys and Littlefinger? They are still here, serving the new King and acting as shady as ever.
And Arya? She is joining a ragtag group headed to the Wall with Yoren. We meet Hot Pie and Lommy Greenhands who try to bully her around, but Arya (Arry now) is having none of it. She gives as good as she gets, and gets a hand from Gendry. He was ditched by his armorer (presumably because with Robert gone, he wasn’t getting payments for him any longer) and has decided to take the Black. They set out from King’s Landing with 1,000 leagues to go to get to the Wall.
Meanwhile, up at the Wall, Commander Mormont reveals that he knows about Jon’s nighttime escape attempt. “If we beheaded every one who deserted for a night, the Wall would be guarded by ghosts.” He tells Jon that he needs his full commitment to the Watch, now more than ever. They are going beyond the Wall, in force, to find Benjen Stark and whatever else is out there.
Back to Dany, where she and what is left of her khalasar are gathered around Drogo’s funeral pyre. Rakharo places the dragon eggs on the pyre, Dany orders Mirri Maz Duur tied on the pyre as well. She sets fire to the structure and then walks into it. Dawn. The pyre is a pile of ashes. Jorah walks up to what is left of the structure and amidst the rubble sits Dany. Craddled in her arms are dragons. Jorah falls to his knees. “Blood of my blood. I am yours.” She rises. Her black stands atop her shoulder and spreads his wings and screams.
And the credits roll on a truly amazing first season of Game of Thrones. This final episode was a bit more slow moving than some of the other late season episodes, but holy shit, that ending. They nailed the dragons. They looked amazing.
My biggest complaint of the episode was that they put the King in the North scene way too early. It should have come later in the episode, instead of the Pycelle and Varys/Littlefinger scenes. It would have made for three epic endings (four if you count Arya’s), that all had season two implications. So even though that scene was cool to watch, I felt it would have had more punch if it had been later in the episode.
The rest of the episode was very good though. Catelyn and Jaime’s conversation was great. Can’t wait to see what they have in store for Jaime in season two. The scene between Joffrey and Sansa was phenomenal. Sansa is starting down a dark path, but I love how Sophie has given her an inner strength. She has really come into her own as a character. And seeing Arya with her little group at the end was a great tease for season two. As was Jon’s epic ending. Oh yeah, and there were dragons! Roll on season two!