It’s here! The season finale of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Nothing quite topped the pyrotechnics of last week’s battle of Blackwater, but we got quite a lot of emotional closure and a ton of question marks lingering for next season.
Warning: Episode reviews contain episode and book spoilers. If you want to remain spoiler-free, follow Leigh Butler’s read of ASOIaF. Tor.com is not liable for your further enjoyment of the series if later books get spoiled in the comments.
For a second there, I thought I was watching an episode of Lost, with that opening shot of Tyrion’s eye.
You can’t keep a good Imp down, but for all his efforts, he’s the Rodney Dangerfield of Westeros. How unfair, to go from acting Hand and true savior of King’s Landing to being treated the same as Tywin’s horse’s shit. (So did they have manure on hand or did everyone have to actually wait for that horse to poop?)
At least Tyrion has Shae. If you haven’t read the books, you can almost believe Tyrion isn’t paying her for her sweet devotion. I would have taken her to Pentos. I’m curious to see where they go with this relationship next season. Peter Dinklage killed it in the one scene he had, getting to the heart of what makes Tyrion the crafty Imp he is. That breakdown was Emmy-roll worthy.
For as stripped of title as Tyrion ended up this season, he’s still a Lannister and better off than Sansa. I was a bit disappointed that Margaery Tyrell (aka Plotty McSidesmile) wasn’t wearing something insane, but she was dressed for the occasion of seducing a king, with that plunging neckline to show off the goods. Clever girl. How hard did you cringe when she told Joffrey that her love for him has “taken root deep inside of” her? That’s how you talk in front of a man’s mother? I was watching Cersei’s face very closely in that scene, but she didn’t look even half as unhappy with this new development as Loras did. Tyrell’s aren’t as okay with pimping out their women as Lannisters and Targaryens are, apparently.
Littlefinger creeping on Sansa.
Sansa’s relief at being relieved of her betrothal is short-lived. Littlefinger. What a creeper. I’ve given up on this Littlefinger being as subtle as he was in the books. But I like Aidan Gillen’s portrayal and I hope to see more of him—and Varys— next season. But it did kind of kill the later surprise. Will we see more of Ser Dontos at all next seaon?
Theon reacted about the same to Ramsay Bolton’s horns pretty much how I reacted to the damn ice cream truck that was parked outside my window at episode’s start. So he totally had my sympathy.
The saddest storyline this season arguably belonged to Theon. If we didn’t see so much of the Starks from their own perspective, would we love them? Just look at how cold Cat was to Jon Snow. The Starks weren’t saints. They were just good compared to the Lannisters. (Which is why I love the books. No one is perfect in the books.) Theon did at least get treated nicer than Ned’s bastard. But his misguided seige of his captor’s home was handled very well. (Barring Osha sneaking around Winterfell in broad daylight!)
I knew it was coming, but I still wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Maester Luwin, Maester of the Iceburn and acting patriarch of Winterfell. Like Sansa said last week, “the worst ones always live.” I guess there’s no question now; next season, we will meet the Reeds on the road north.
And let’s have a moment of silence for Winterfell. It hurt to watch that castle burn.
And no one knows it yet! Cat and Robb don’t even know that Bran and Rickon are “dead” yet. I was sure they’d find out for the season’s finale. Instead, we get Robb’s wedding (under the New Gods? Really?) It was still very sweet though. I liked this deviation from the books very much. It had more emotional weight. It makes sense. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re both painfully attractive and have good chemistry onscreen.
Another bit of onscreen chemistry (of a different kind) I enjoyed this season was Jaqen and Arya. Now we know why he’s called a Faceless Man, right? Too damn cool. I would’ve run away with Jaqen. But I’m not Arya, with, like family obligations and stuff. Damn. If I were Jaqen, I would’ve picked a different new face, not one that looked kinda like Big Ed Hurley from Twin Peaks.
One huge surprise of the night, the scene that had every ASoIaF reader on the edge of their seats was Dany in the House of the Undying. I loved, loved, loved her in the snowy throne room. As my friend Douglas Cohen, who does really great, in-depth episode reviews himself, pointed out… does Dany seeing the Iron Throne in a blizzard suggest that she won’t become the ruler of Westeros until Winter truly comes?
I was disappointed by the lack of multiple visions—the king with a wolf’s head, the smiling corpse behind the wheel of a ship—but it was so worth it to see Khal Drogo again. Oh, Drogo. This show has had a real dirth of hot shirtless men since you went to the Night Lands. Instead we got half a season of stupid brothel scenes. So glad I wasn’t spoiled for Jason Momoa’s cameo. Drogo means something to Dany. Those other strange visions didn’t. It made total sense.
I was surprised about Doreah’s betrayal. I figured the actress left her role for something else, like Rakharo. But I’m glad this storyline got a happy ending. Dothraki looting party for the win! Go, baby dragons!
One deviation I wasn’t totally on board with was the way Qhorin Halfhand’s sacrifice was handled. I don’t think it was clear what actually happened. If I hadn’t read the books, I might have been confused because it happened so fast. TV-Jon is just not as interesting as the more competent, even-tempered Book-Jon. Qhorin’s death was a tragedy in the books, here, it lacked emotion. “You must not balk, no matter what is asked of you.” I think Kit Harrington is one of the weaker members of the cast, honestly. And where’s Ghost?
This season ended exactly where I thought it would. The three horns blowing at The Fist. That certainly didn’t disappoint. Wow. That was even more awesome than I expected. Last season ended on fire, this season ends on ice. Nicely done. This wasn’t the most even of seasons, but it definitely picked up by the end. But next season… there’s just so much to look forward to. And dread. So. Much. Dread.
As the last episode is done, I’d like to take a moment to thank the lively Tor.com commenters. You guys are some of the most well-read, well-behaved commenters around. Kudos and see you next year! (Or, if you want to talk about some TV that doesn’t require much thinking, I’ll see you in the True Blood episode reviews beginning next week.)
What will happen to Ros next year? Do you care? What about Jamie and Brienne’s road trip? What do you think is the most interesting thing about Gilly?
More importantly, what do you think is the most interesting thing about the Game of Thrones season finale?
Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com. She covers True Blood, Game of Thrones, and is also an avid gamer. She has also covered tech and TV for Geektress.com and Action Flick Chick. Follower her on Twitter @tdelucci