*Full spoilers for each episode herein!
Game of Thrones finale this week and, just like the end of season one, the end is something of a comedown from the episode preceding it.
Such a big, sprawling season ender. Where to begin?
Like so many soccer fans, Theon Greyjoy is being driven mad by the vuvuzelas surrounding Winterfell. Master Luwin advises him to run to the Night’s Watch on the wall, declaring that the man Theon is pretending to be is not the man he is. Theon admits as much but has gone to far to pretend anything else. He gives a rousing speech to his men about dying in glorious battle before they knock him out, burn the hold and flee back home. He’ll wake up far from the castle maybe having even won some measure of honor from his father.
Much of the finale’s format mirrored the Season 1 finale, “Fire and Blood” – with a ton of fallout scenes that dealt with the aftermath of a big penultimate episode, coupled with a big moment from Daenerys. Yes, so far it seems that the big King’s Landing stuff goes down in episode nine, leaving Dany to finish off her story, with her biggest moments, in the final chapter. Which is fine. And the Dany bits of this episode were great. The best of the entire season for her, in fact. Her trek into the House of the Undying, including her unexpected reunion with Drogo and Rhaego, was fantastic. It really helped remind us of the woman she was back in Season 1, which I think is important given how strong and boastful, to a fault, she’s had to be this year. Watching her walk away from the two of them, towards the shrieks of her baby dragons, made a powerful statement. Oh, and watching Dany and her horde steal all the gold and jewels, like they wanted to do when they first arrived, was a nice touch.
Meanwhile, Sansa, thanks to (HBIC) Magaery Tyrell’s queenly ambitions, is off the hook and Joffrey, at least in public, is acting fairly King-like. Oh, don’t get me wrong. He’s still a monster through and through, but it looks like he at least now knows how to act the part in court. Maybe Tywin’s presence has something to do with it. And as for Arya- she’s now out and about with Gendry and Hot Pie, taking a mysterious coin from Jaqen, who finally revealed himself to be a “Faceless Man.” And with that, Jaqen was no more; magically creating a new face for himself.
But it’s up north where the real action is. Beyond the wall, Qhorin Halfhand lets Jon Snow kill him in an attempt to win Jon their captors’ trust. He’ll meet Mance Rayder as the Man Who Killed the Halfhand, rather than just another captured crow. But Rayder may soon be the least of the night watchmen’s worries. It’s the White Walkers headed towards their camp that will send them scurrying. And while the zombies in the The Walking Dead were scary, they weren’t carrying swords or riding on undead horses. Season 1’s finale promised dragons. This time we get a legion of the undead.
Rated: 3.5 heartbroken dwarves out of 5