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Game of Thrones finale review – The war has just begun

My Maiden Voyage Through Westeros — Are you new to the ‘Game of Thrones’ world? Each week, I will review it from the perspective of someone who has not read the series. You won’t find spoilers from the book here, just a review of the show itself.

- Season 2, Episode 10 - "Valar Morghulis"

The finale of Game of Thrones was like much of the season — slow. Pieces in the game moved around, but not much changed from the beginning of the season. Or, has it?

When the Game of Thrones finale ended, I noticed a mix of responses on Twitter. Some loved the finale, while others were underwhelmed by it. I’m in the later group on my initial watch of “Valar Morghulis.” I have to wonder if the split is between those who have read the second book and those who haven’t.

I haven’t enjoyed this season nearly as much as I did the first season of Game of Thrones. The multitude of storylines made it more difficult for a non-book reader to understand what was truly happening in some cases. A single missed line of dialogue could prevent complete comprehension; that’s why I viewed episodes a few times. I would pick up something new each time I watched. For that reason, this is going to be a preliminary review and I most likely will write a follow-up after watching the episode again.

Melisandre said it best when she told Stannis the war has just beginning and that it will continue for years to come. Over these ten episodes, not much changed in King’s Landing. Joffrey began the season sitting on the Iron Throne and he ended the season there as well. It was infuriating to see his control solidified by defeating Stannis. The spineless, sadistic king ran away from battle leaving his uncle to lead the charge. And, instead of getting the glory, Tyrion was sliced across the face, nearly killed, while Joffrey and Tywin celebrated the victory.

Tyrion can do everything right and he will still be cast aside by his own family. Perhaps, he will be able to find happiness away from his family especially since he has Shae by his side. He has survived as a half-man all these years, so a scar is not going to hold him back. Tyrion played the game well and I expect he will continue to do so.

Elsewhere in King’s Landing, Tywin took his position as the Hand of the King. The Lannisters’ new alliance with the Tyrells freed Sansa from her marriage to Joffrey. Though Margaery’s quest for power is going to cost her much more than she is expecting. She couldn’t possibly know the horrors of Joffrey and still be excited to be his wife.

Unfortunately for Sansa, she is still not free. She probably would have been better off going with the Hound. At least as Joffrey’s wife, the Queen, she would have been protected. Now, as his plaything, he can treat her however he chooses. Will Brienne be able to negotiate a trade for Sansa in time?

Far far away, Daenerys was put through a magical maze to save her dragons. She was tempted with what she wanted most in the world, including the Iron Throne, Drogo, and her son. She forsake them all to be reunited with her dragons. Dany and her dragons will be a dangerous force. Though they are small now, they were still able to use their fire to free Dany.

Dany doesn’t handle betrayal well. The empty Qarth vault was not a surprise, but Dany’s decision to leave Xaro and Doreah in the vault to die was unexpected. A harsh sentence for what they did. But, now she can claim Xaro’s riches to buy herself a ship to return home.

There were quite a few other happenings on the finale. Luwin’s death went hand-in-hand with the destruction of Winterfell. I’m not sure one could exist without the other. Theon destroyed the lives of many people who helped him throughout his life. Will he be able to overcome what he did at Winterfell? He turned on the Starks and isn’t accepted by the Greyjoys. His future doesn’t look bright.

Beyond the wall, the situation became serious. I would have been devastated if Samwell was killed at the end, but how will he survive on his own? Jon and Sam’s story with the Night’s Watch was boring this season, but that looks to change next season with the King-Beyond-the-Wall and the white walker army. Also, Jon will have to come to terms with killing his fellow Ranger and deal with his growing feelings for Ygritte.

The second season turned out to be a series of moves, which look to set up for the coming winter and a more complex battle for the Iron Throne next season. I’ll write more after watching the finale again and about the season as a whole.

Many Odds and Ends

  • The marriage between Robb and Talisa was a pleasure to see. There was happiness despite all the horrors of war and in Westeros. Unfortunately, Robb’s broken promise to the Frey’s is sure to cause him major problems in the future.
  • Brienne is not someone I would want to cross. She is a fierce fighter with a moral code. Please let Brienne and Jaime get the opportunity to fight. I’d love to see her take him down. She doesn’t have to kill him, but better him in a fight.
  • Arya and Jaqen have such a unique relationship. I can’t wait to see when she decides to call for him again. Will she make it to her family?
  • Will Littlefinger ever get caught with his hand in the cookie jar? Seriously! How is it he can manipulate everyone and still come out unscathed?
  • The partnership between Varys and Ros is one to watch next season. They both have access to information. How will they use it?

Photo Credit: HBO

6 Responses to “Game of Thrones finale review – The war has just begun”

June 4, 2012 at 9:57 AM

Next season is sure to be excellent.

I decided as of this episode that the portrayal of Varys is possibly my favorite, although Tyrion remains my favorite character.

June 4, 2012 at 10:09 AM

Varys, FTW!

Maybe my favorite character from the books.

June 4, 2012 at 10:02 AM

A very fair review. As a reader of all the ASoIaf books I was a bit disappointed earlier in series two, but then I made a concious decision to separate the books from the television series. I enjoyed the whole of the series, even the major changes in Dany’s and Jon’s storeys (both very much needed to keep the viewers interested). And the final episode was also very enjoyable, although I obviously weren’t shocked by anything that happened in it (minus Doreah sleeping with Xaro… what a whore!). It still saddened me with Lewins death. I can fully understand why you will have to watch each episode more than once though, and no doubt I’ll do the same. In the mean time, before the third season, I’m going to read all the books again, just so I can define the difference between them and the TV!

June 4, 2012 at 10:16 AM

In her defense, she was a whore.

But I was sad to see her go.

June 4, 2012 at 10:06 AM

Don’t ever read the books (unless the show gets canceled)! I love reading your reviews. It’s fascinating to see the story from the vantage of someone discovering the tale via the TV show.

Not sure how you manage to avoid spoilers, but Godspeed in that effort!

June 5, 2012 at 11:43 AM

Thank you for this! I thought my review was the only negative one. I was starting to feel a little awkward having the unpopular opinion!

We’re very much agreed on many points. This episode felt like exactly that: an episode. It didn’t feel like a finale in any sense. ‘Blackwater’ (the previous episode) felt more like a finale than this one did. I have high hopes for the third season, though.

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