And that’s it for season two. My summary and thoughts on the finale are after the break. Read them and then leave your reactions in the comments. Valar Morghulis!
Spoiler Note: This post is for those who have read A Clash of Kings. As such the post itself and the comments will contain spoilers. If you haven’t read ACoK yet, you can discuss this episode in our non-book reader recap. Thanks!
Quick summary this week, as I really want to get to my thoughts. Starting off in King’s Landing, where Joffrey hands out awards for the successful battle. His father becomes hand, Littlefinger becomes Lord of Harrenhal and Margaery becomes his new betrothed. Littlefinger promises to save Sansa. Meanwhile, Varys has found his own little bird. Tyrion is defaced and disgraced, although he still has a few supporters in the capital. Namely, Varys, Podrick and Shae. Most of all, Shae.
In Winterfell, Theon laments his situation while Luwin gives him some advice. Theon decides to ignore it at his own and, sadly, Luwin’s peril. After the Bastard has left his mark on Winterfell, Bran and Rickon and Hodor and Osha make their way top-side to discover Luwin. The maester urges them to travel north. He bids them farewell and then asks Osha to send him off. The little company heads north while Winterfell smolders in the background.
Jaime and Brienne are on their own journey and they come upon some Stark guards. After some interrogation, they finally realize the identity of Brienne’s captive. Unfortunately for them, they’ve messed with the wrong chick. Brienne quickly dispatches of the guards while Jaime looks on in admiration.
Also setting out on a journey is Arya, who is leaving Harrenhal with Gendry and Hot Pie. Until they run into Jaqen, who tells Arya that one day she too can become a Faceless Man. He gives her a coin, teaches her the words “Valar Morghulis” and then changes his face.
Meanwhile, Robb confronts his mother over his new-found feelings for the lady from Volantis. Robb ignores his mother’s counsel and says his vows before the gods and men.
In the frozen north, Jon and Qhorin remain captive and they are headed to see Mance Rayder. Qhorin breaks free from his bindings and attacks Jon. Rattleshirt lets them fight it out and after a quick tussle in the snow, Jon runs him through. “We are the watchers on the Wall,” Qhorin whispers to Jon with his dying breath. Rattleshirt frees Snow and Ygritte escorts him to his new King.
Across the Narrow Sea, Dany enters the House of the Undying. She wanders through vision after vision, of the Throne Room covered in snow to Drogo craddling Rhaego in his arms. Eventually, she finds her dragons, in chains. Only to end up in chains herself, at the hands of Pyat Pree. With a word, she commands her dragons to breath fire and Pyat Pree is no more. Dany frees herself and heads to Xaro’s mansion, where she finds the King of Qarth in bed with Doreah. After stealing his key and opening Xaro’s vault, they discover it is empty. So they decide to fill it. Before leaving Qarth though, they manage to grab a few parting gifts. Enough to buy a small ship, at least.
Lastly, beyond the Wall once more, this time with Sam, Grenn and Dolorous Edd. As they bust each others balls, they hear a horn blast, and then another and then a third. Grenn and Edd flee, leaving Sam alone in an increasingly-building snowstorm. Emerging from the storm are wights… and then, riding a dead horse, a White Walker. The camera pulls back and reveals a whole army of wights and White Walkers, advancing on the Fist of the First Men and the Night’s Watch.
What I Liked
Three horn blasts – Wow at that ending, they really went for it! I thought we’d get the three blasts and then Sam’s reaction and maybe a far away shot of a bunch of walkers. Instead we got the Walking Dead all up in here. From the moment the third horn blast sounded and the snow started billowing and the music got louder, the whole scene took on an eery feeling, and then, the wights start shuffling in, and I thought that would be all, but no. The hooves of a horse, the camera pans up to reveal flesh and blood hanging from the horses neck and then further to the ancient-looking White Walker on his back, crystal sword in his hand. E-P-I-C!
Tyrion and Shae – That was a surprisingly touching scene. For a minute there, I thought they might have Tyrion actually head to the Free Cities! But no, he stays and Shae demonstrates her devotion by staying with him. It will be interesting to see how this relationship develops next season.
The House of the Undying – I really liked the House of the Undying. Yeah, it was changed from the book, but I knew going in there was no way they would show all the visions that they showed in the book. I was just hoping for something creepy and atmospheric. And that is what we got. First, the haunting scene in the destroyed throne room of the Red Keep. Just beautifully shot. Hats off to Alan Taylor on this and many other shots in the show. And then… Drogo! I knew Jason Momoa had been on-set to film a scene but totally forget about it when watching the episode. No lie, I started to tear up in that scene. And I don’t ever cry when watching movies or TV shows. And then Dany finds her dragons and we actually get a reason that the warlocks want the dragons and why they want Dany there with them. I don’t remember that from the books. And then the twist at the end, with Xaro and Doreah, was very well-done. Tied up all the loose ends in Qarth in a satisfactory way, that was fitting for a TV season finale. Great adaptation.
Jaqen says farewell – The face changing was creepy! Wish they could have had Jaqen actually wave his hand over his face, but I guess that would have cost too much. I’m just glad they kept it in, because there was a moment there where I thought he was just going to leave without changing his face.
What I Didn’t Like
Theon loses Winterfell - I really liked the scene between Luwin and Theon. I didn’t like the way Theon eventually lost Winterfell. Dagmer knocking him upside the head was not nearly as dramatic as Reek, who he assumed was his savior, betraying him and burning Winterfell to the ground. I really liked how they handled Theon’s storyline up to this point, but felt that the payoff here was not as good as it should have been.
Jon and Qhorin – I had been holding off on saying anything about this storyline, waiting to see where the writers were going with it, but damn if they didn’t completely mishandle this one. Now maybe my judgement is clouded by the fact that the Halfhand is my favorite minor character in the whole series, but I felt like the way this played out in the book was much more epic, more cinematic, more dramatic and, most of all, made sense to the reader. The show gives us Jon screwing up at every turn and then in the end somehow getting the best of Qhorin in a scene that I’m sure at least a few new viewers found totally confusing. Why not have Jon remain with Qhorin? Allow Qhorin to be the mentor he should be to Jon. Get the viewers invested in Qhorin as a character. And then, have the tension mount as Jon and Qhorin flee. We care about both of these characters and we don’t want either of them to die. But it looks like one will have to. “Is your sword sharp, Jon Snow?” And then, make it clear in their final showdown that Qhorin is sacrificing himself. In the show, we get Jon screwing up left and right, flirting with Ygritte for a couple episodes, and then killing Qhorin out of what seemed like nothing but self-defense. Seriously disappointed that this storyline wasn’t as epic and emotional as it could have been.
Those are my thoughts on this finale. Overall, I thought it was a great way to end this season and set-up season three. What did everyone else think? Share your thoughts and don’t forget to vote in our “rate the episode” poll!