CliqueClack TV

Game of Thrones finale: Did it meet expectations? – Beyond the Wall

With the second season finale of 'Game of Thrones' now in the books, Bob and Ivey take a look back and see how well 'Valar Morghulis' wrapped things up. Spoilerphobes beware, the scope of discussion includes all of the books!

The second season of HBO’s epic Game of Thrones has finally come to a close. This year, we’ve seen everything from battles to bastards, from White Walkers to weddings. “Valar Morghulis” served to wrap up the myriad storylines across Westeros and Essos. The episode has generally been received well, but there is a strong contingent of people who weren’t happy with the way things were ended, and perhaps the season in general.

As always, Beyond the Wall is for folks who have already read the A Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R. R. Martin. If you’re trying to stay unspoiled for future seasons, this is not the column for you.


All things considered, I thought “Valar Morghulis” was a pretty good episode. Considering that our main characters are scattered across a continent or two and  are involved with several stories that remained unconnected, I think that producers D.B. Weiss and David Benioff did a yeoman’s job pulling everything together.

You recently asked me when I was complaining about something or the other – as I am wont to do – why I liked the novels and the show if I have so many problems with them both (Note: Specifically, Bob was giving me a hard time about the fact that I don’t particularly like many of the characters that are introduced in the next couple books). There are many ways to answer that particular question – even some that don’t involve calling you names – but the one that jumped out at me in the finale was wonderful character moments. The exchange between Pycelle and Tyrion to open the episode was dripping with continuity awesomeness. From the coin that Pycelle gives Tyrion “for his troubles” to the fact that he seemed to be in the non-hunched-over-man mode that we saw hinted at last season, it was a reward for those who pay close attention to everything going on.


Indeed. I can understand a bit why folks might be disappointed with the season as a whole (though I thought the finale was an excellent wrap up, and very similar to last season’s, when the climax really occurred in the penultimate installment). The fact of the matter is that A Clash of Kings is not as strong of a book as A Game of Thrones. Thrones had such a nice clean story arc for a lot of the characters. Kings seems like Martin really settled in and knew that this was going to be a long series.

I do think there are some aspects that didn’t translate as well to the screen. For instance, I believe that the biggest flaw of the season  –and it was not one that the writers could overcome — was that the big climactic event: the Battle of Blackwater. Either Joffrey  — a sadistic megalomaniac — or Stannis — an unlikable megalomaniac — was going to be sitting on the Iron Throne. At least there was Tyrion to root for.

I really enjoyed that the episode very effectively touched on every character — and pretty much every minor character too — and gave a little wrap-up to their stories.

Photo Credit: HBO

6 Responses to “Game of Thrones finale: Did it meet expectations? – Beyond the Wall”

June 6, 2012 at 10:44 AM

You don’t like Strong Belwas?

Okay, so the finale on TV was good entertainment. The season as a whole was good, considering the third book’s story was the best one and the season was necessarily going to be a lot of set-up for that. BUT, there were some changes I really didn’t enjoy. To wit:
-Shae sure looks like she’s really in love with Tyrion, even when he’s not around. That doesn’t match the book at all, where she was basically a prisoner and made the most of it until the time came when it was more profitable to betray him. This Shae won’t do that unless strongly coerced, which changes the story considerably.
-Jamie killing his kinsman to get out of jail (ineffectively) makes him *way* less sympathetic, and seems untrue to the character. Instead, they are making Cersei more sympathetic, which is really the wrong Lannister to humanize IMO.
-I can’t even keep track of who the characters around Dany are, because they don’t spend enough time developing any of them (except for Jorah). Heck, I looked at her bloodrider (who was with her at the House of the Undying) and said, “Did they change actors?” Don’t even know who that guy is.
-I still hate the invented character of Ros and how she’s involved in everything and awkwardly shoehorns nudity into every scene she’s in. I’m guessing she’ll wind up in the Eyrie somehow by Season 4.
-They made Brienne more bloodthirsty, Jon Snow more ignorant/immature, Margery more slutty and power-hungry, and Littlefinger less careful. Eesh.

There were good changes too, though:
-I was weirded out at first by Arya being cupbearer for Tywin instead of Roose Bolton, but it really, really worked. A lot of her Book 2 storyline was padding and I’m glad they condensed it to a more engaging plot while simultaneously giving us a chance to see what was going on behind the lines.
-Similarly, they did everything they could to make Dany’s storyline more interesting, up to getting her dragons kidnapped as motivation for her moving forward. Good move, because she really has nothing going on at this point.
-I liked seeing more of what’s going on with Robb. I thought it was well-handled and will pay off emotionally at the Red Wedding.
-I like the character of Sansa more in the show.
-I love getting more scenes with Varys. That portrayal is spot on.

I had more to say, but I forgot it. That’s probably enough for now. Season 3 is going to be awesome.

June 6, 2012 at 4:29 PM

I’m not sure I agree with your picture of Tyrion and Shae’s relationship in the books. While I won’t go as far as to try to qualify (or quantify) Shae’s potential love for the Imp, I think Tyrion’s perspective was straight forward. I think he loved her as much as he could given his history and the situation.

I really don’t agree with the perception that she was a prisoner in the books. And I think her eventual betrayal has more to do with doing what she had to do to stay alive, because even in the face of whatever feelings she might (or might not) have had for Tyrion, saving herself was the first priority.

June 7, 2012 at 11:47 AM

I suspect that the Tyrion/Shae changes are designed to take us to a different place than in the books — one where: (a) Tywin sends Shae away “wherever whores go” and even repeats the Tysha lesson to Tyrion with Shae; (b) Tyrion does not commit a certain act involving a chain of hands before confronting Tywin (making him more sympathetic); and (c) we have Tyrion searching for a character afterward who we have come to know, instead of an unknown person from his past who the audience has met only through his tale in Season 1.

June 6, 2012 at 2:23 PM

Storm of Swords was a great book and the lead-p for next season makes it look like it will be outstanding. Feast for Crows was the weakest of the books, dealing mostly with the more uninteresting characters and not really moving the story line along very well. Frankly, I read it some years ago and do not remember any of it except the very end. Dance of Dragons was much better. If they make it to a fourth season i expect that they will mostly follow Dance of Dragons and cut out most of Feast for Crows. There is no doubt that Danerys, Jon, Tyrion and Arys are the most interesting of the major characters and their story lines move the plot along the best.

June 7, 2012 at 11:55 AM

You need to try a re-read of AFfC — it has grown on me, especially after I read aDwD. AFfC also has several important storylines for Cersei, Sansa, Arya, Sam, and (of course) Brienne that the show can play with (after some very aggressive condensation, especially in Brienne’s case). Cersei’s ill-considered decisions regarding the new High Septon’s requests and the Iron Bank’s demands also throw very important and aggressive new players into the mix, and make the story less predictable.

June 11, 2012 at 3:03 PM

All in all, I’m generally happy with the final episode and the season overall. I’m still concerned that they’ve mishandled some key relationships and motivations for actions, but to their credit, the writers have deftly dodged some landmines I thought they’d set for themselves already. However, I was hugely disappointed with the handling of the House of the Undying. It was such a powerful and meaningful part of the novels, but the TV version was at best underwhelming and at worst, misleading. To my mind, they took the worst possible road here: either portray the scene faithfully to provide the allegorical context from the novels or just skip the whole thing. Instead they provide an attempt at creepy foreshadowing that foreshadows little or nothing! Over the 10 hours of TV time this season, there’s 10 minutes I’d gladly trade to pick up some of the other lost details that, if casting rumors are true, are going to get slipped in after the fact in Season 3. Trying to cover the first half of SoS while patching holes in ACoK will definitely keep them busy over 10 more hours!

Powered By OneLink