Game of Thrones Finale Review: “Mhysa”

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Last week’s Red Wedding was such a tumultuous upheaval of an event for Game of Thrones, it seems that this week, with the season finale, the showrunners wanted to balance things out with perhaps one of the most subdued episodes in the show’s lifespan.

Game of Thrones tends to do this, positioning a rather eventual episode right before the finale (Ned Stark, Blackwater Bay), but even by past standards, this was a rather soft spoken farewell for the show, and is really just a bridge to a season we’ll now have to wait a year for.

The extended hour long episode had us traveling all over the map, and made sure we checked in with just about every major character before we bid them adieu for the year. Well, the ones that are still living.

We start in the immediate aftermath of the Red Wedding, and watch as Arya witnesses the sickening sight of her brother’s corpse with the head of his slain direwolf paraded through the streets. She takes off with the Hound, and some time later comes across a band of Freys bragging about how they sowed the beast’s head onto her brother.

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New  Halloween costume idea…

After she slays the braggart, we get perhaps the most chilling exchange of the show.

“Was that the first man you killed?”

“The first man…”

Arya’s making a list, and checking it twice. Valar Morghulis

King’s Landing is naturally celebrating the demise of Robb Stark and his army, with Joffrey practically tap dancing as he receives the news. But his mood soon turns sour when his uncle threatens him with death and Tywin tells his mother to put him to bed (“The king is tired“). In an episode that was constantly jumping around, Tyrion managed to have a few good scenes. This one, where his father explains the most selfless thing he ever did was to let him live, his banter with Sansa before she learns of Rob’s death, where it seems the two may indeed have a relationship someday, and his drinks with his sister, who reveals that her children are all she has to live for. Later, that’s proven untrue as her brother-lover Jaime finally wanders back into King’s Landing sans sword hand.

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Varys attempting to break up with Shae for Tyrion. Was that really done at Tyrion’s request, or was Varys taking matters into his own hands? It seems like the former, and really, this incredibly awkward triangle does have to end sooner or later.

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“What if I just get your handmaiden pregnant and you say it’s yours?”

It seems we’ll have to wait until next season for Joffrey’s wedding, which seems odd as it’s been planned for literally the past ten episodes. But structure-wise, I suppose it’s not really ideal to have two weddings right in a row.

Up north, we have a rare character plotline crossover as Bran and his escorts run into Sam and Gilly in some secret lost tunnel that goes under the wall. Bran must go north for reasons that are still unknown, but according to Jojen Reed, it’s the way they’ll be able to stop the White Walkers. Can Bran just warg himself into all of them and have them commit seppuku on dragonglass blades? Let’s hope so.

Jon Snow learns why you don’t break up with a wildling as Ygritte fills him full of arrows as a final parting gift. Those talon marks in his face look pretty rough, but I think I cringed the most when he arrived at Castle black, his back full of broken arrow shafts ,and then they flip him over onto them. Come on guys! You don’t need to be a maester to know that’s probably not the best move.

Stannis is now taking a keen interest in what’s happening up north, as his Lady of Light and Fire is eager to fight a war against cold and darkness. Davos does the noble thing by saving Gendry, much to the audience’s delight. That beach scene was unnervingly tense, as at any moment I was expecting a flaming arrow to light Gendry’s little rowboat on fire. If Game of Thrones has taught us anything, it’s that that the good guys’ best laid plans don’t usually pan out too well.

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“I, Stannis Baratheon, sentence you to die. Just kidding.”

At long last we finally learn that it’s Ramsay Bolton who has been the one torturing Theon all these weeks (months? it’s hard to tell). You may have been able to guess he was a Bolton this season as Theon has literally been strapped to their house’s sigil for ten weeks. Ramsay’s father, Roose, has just murdered Robb, and Ramsay himself is toying with Robb’s original betrayer, whom he’s now named “Reek.” Lord Greyjoy gets Theon’s dick in a box (“It’s a dick in a box!”), but he’s unmoved to do anything about it. But Theon’s sister Asha leaps into action and claims she’s going to rescue her little brother. Her motivational speech there where she’s assembling  her crew felt a little out of place, considering we haven’t seen her in ages and it seemed like something out of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, but hey, all the best of luck to you, girl.

Finally, we close with Dany, still dramatically removed from the rest of the story. It’s like she’s in a completely different world, but I suppose her plotline will pay off eventually. The freed slaves of Yunkai come out to greet her, calling her “Mother” and making her crowdsurf. Really all of these plotlines converge in ways that are as close to happy endings as we’re going to get for a season finale, which for this show, is something of an anti-climax. There’s a real lack of immediate cliffhangers, other than the general “what’s going to happen  next” mantra of the entire series.

It was a quiet finale, but I suppose it was somewhat necessary after last week. Still, it seemed more like an hour of tidying up rather than making too many significant steps forward, which is not how TV finales usually operate. Until next year, I suppose.

Book Discussion (Spoilers)

Not a whole lot to say this time around, but everyone who said Joffrey’s wedding wouldn’t be the finale were right. That’s simply too major of an event to be placed back to back with the Red Wedding. If I had to guess, it will be the season opener which will have everyone talking and saying things like “Game of Thrones is BACK WITH A VENGEANCE!”

Did Ramsay Bolton really send Balon Greyjoy Theon’s cock in the books? I can’t recall. I also was half expecting Balon to die this week, and when he does, I hope they make it a bit more clear than it was in the books. He was simply blown off a bridge, right? If they just show that happening, that’s going to be the most anticlimactic character death in the show’s history. Not that he’s really been around all that much. They really have downplayed the Ironborn a lot in general on the show, but perhaps that will change next season. And as I recall, Balon’s death wasn’t as cut and dry as all that, and there’s still some mystery as to whether it was intentional or not.

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“Brother, you will live to molest me once more.”

I liked how they had Arya kill that Frey soldier with the coin trick she used in the books to kill a guard to escape from Harrenhall. But does that scene replace the one where she and the Hound butcher the Harrenhall men at the inn? I thought that was pretty late in the third book, and I don’t really know what Arya will be doing for most of next season. Perhaps I’m remembering timelines wrong.

The scene with Varys and Shae was interesting. They really make her a lot more attached to Tyrion in the show than she was in the books. When Tyrion got married in Storm of Swords, she was just like, “meh, we can still bang.” Then, when she eventually betrayed him, it wasn’t the most outlandish twist, as she’s just a whore. But here, they’re painting her as a much more devoted character. Is this faux break-up the start of her turning against him? I think they’re going to flesh out her character’s turn a lot more than they did in the book, which is a good thing.

Anyway, I understand completely why they broke this season in half, and I think that way they’re going to have both one hell of a season four, both at the beginning, and at the end.


  • Emilio

    Spoilers

    Oh, man, I really wanted to see Joffrey’s death. I predicted the show to kill Balon and Joffrey in this episode… my bad. Still, the episode ended without a memorable moment. I liked the season 1 ending, with Robb marching against the Lannisters, loved the second season finale, with the white walkers marching to the wall, but this one, with Daenerys being praised for something that happened two episodes ago (and also, she didn’t do it, was Mormont, Grey Worm and Daario the ones on the line), was not strong enought.

    I was hard to see the profanation of Robb’s corpse, reading the book I imagine it quite different (the body sitted at a table, a hand holding a coup and the other holding a fish, while Grey Wind’d head hanging back). But the realism of the show was far worse: it wasn’t stylized violence, it was brute violence and It played well.

    And about HBO, I also liked something that you all must not know: I live in Perú and thou I have cable, usually TV shows take some time to be aired (weeks sometimes, a full season late in others). But Game of Thrones is aired the same night as in the US so we do not need to download it to see it on time. I think it is a smart move, decreasing piracy and letting fans of TV really be surprised with the show (imagine trying to live spoiler free with every TV show you watch, it is almost impossible). I hope other networks do the same with their own shows.

  • Cheryl

    I found this finale a little quieter then others as well.
    I’m hoping if Brienne stays at Kingslanding for a while that Cersei is nice to her, considering she saved Jamie’s life (but I wouldn’t be heart broken if she gets insanely jealous and spiteful as well)…then again, I haven’t gotten this far in the books yet so maybe it’s not even touched on.
    Now I must decide what Game of Thrones t-shirt I need for Season 3. Season 1 was Targaryon (for the dragons of course), Season 2 I went Lannister (for Blackwater and mostly for Tywin)…Season 3 (part 1) I really don’t know. No one family came out ahead this time…unless I go Tyrell? or I go Hodor, because he always wins! 🙂

  • Walder

    Cheryl, I suggest you a Frey T-shirt or a Bolton one.

  • Alex

    SPOILERS

    I can’t imagine that the scene with Arya and the Hound at the Inn gets cut out due to the Frey scene. The inn scene is where the Hound receives his wound that eventually cause Arya to abandon him, Arya also gets Needle back at that point.

    I was also surprised that they even brought back Balon Greyjoy. I had imagined that we would get what we got in the book, a passing mention of him falling to his death (most likely through the use of Ramsay telling Theon).

    I also understand the decision to make Shae have an intense devotion to Sansa. Since after Joffrey’s death the blame is cast upon Tyrion and Sansa, it makes Shae’s betrayal of Tyrion at his trial more believable with her doing it to protect Sansa as opposed to just doing it for coin.

    My guess is that Balon Greyjoy kicks the bucket in the premiere next season, Joffrey’s wedding occurs during the 3rd or 4th episode, the rest of the season plods on with the impending trials of Tyrion, Battle of Castle Black in the penultimate episode, and Tyrion’s escape/kinslaying in the finale.

  • Shalekendar

    The Hound “Where’d you get that knife?”

    Ayra “From you…”

    The Hound **checks belt** The next time you do that TELL ME first.

    No memorable moments? That was AWESOME!

  • I’m hoping they maintain an aura of mystery surrounding Balon’s death – it’s not directly shown in the books, only referenced and never fully explained. I’m guessing the Purple Wedding will be fairly early on, possibly even episode 1 or 2 as a cliffhanger. Can. Not. Wait.

  • Purdman

    Paul I think you misinterpreted what Arya says to the Hound after shanking that guy.

    “Was that the first man you killed?”

    “The first…man”

    The point being she has already killed someone, a boy, back in King’s Landing, but this is the first grown man she’s offed. But yes it also hinted she liked it and would be the first of many.

  • XenoIrish

    Book spoilers:

    In the books it’s only strongly implied that Theon was castrated, so there was no mention of a dick in a box.

    I was kinda hoping we’d see Bran and the group run into Coldhands as a big wtf moment to end the season, but oh well…

    I also thought that they would kill Balon and Joffery in this season to tie it to the three leeches, but I guess they can still throw that scene on the “Previously” reel next season and ruin it for us then.

    I would hope Joffery’s wedding would be very early in the season, my O.C.D is bothered by Jamie being back before the wedding and not after.

    As meh as the final minutes were this season, if next season ends with epilogue of book 3 I think we’ll all be happy with seeing that twist play out on screen.

  • Ferryman

    Is it only me, or did anyone else immediately think of Jar Jar Binks when the crowd of slaves were crying “Mhysa”?

  • IJM

    *contains book discussion and spoilers(?)*

    I kind of disagree with this being a slow episode, I thought the first few of the season where all the characters were just wandering around were actually a lot more boring. At least this one kind of summed up what everyone was doing at the closing point, instead of having a full episode focusing on minor things that were just needed to bring the plot forward. Also, as for there not being a “grand finale”, I guess the show runners decided to do it this way because it’s the half way mark of SoS and there’s still big things to come.

    About the Arya / Hound scene at the campfire, that won’t be a replacement for the inn scene. The people at the inn were actually characters as opposed to random Lannister ****s, as that situation has big consequences on their travels. I also think it was very funny (probably not intended that way) how Clegane’s once again eating something in the background when Arya’s playing around with the coin. It just makes me smile, the big bad Hound having a break from being a badass, enjoying life and having a bite when he can 🙂

    I don’t think Ramsay actually sent Balon a dick in a box in the books, because Theon’s castration is only implied between the lines. The show could not have made it any more obvious though, and I thought that sausage scene was just a little too on the nose. Speaking of sau… er, Balon, I kind of like they’ve had him in the show this long – the circumstances of his death are a bit obscure in the books, maybe there will be a bit more clarity on the matter on the show – although it might be spoiling future events for the book readers. I think it’ll be really funny if GRRM writes an episode next season that debunks a lot of the theories that the book readers have, just to kill their spirits (he likes killing things I hear) and to get revenge on the book nerds spoiling the Red Wedding to the people only watching the show.

    I loved this episode actually, it was a nice balance of all the characters to sum storylines up before the next season. And we had plenty of Hodor 🙂 Hodor.. hodor… hodor… (echo)

  • IJM

    @ Ferryman: lol 😀 Should watch the scene again, to have a look if they put him in the crowd as a Waldo-esque easter egg …

  • Draugr

    *Spoilers*

    Certainly not surprised to see Jeoffrey’s death, but when I saw Balon I thought he was going down, heh.

    As I remember it, They sent a note and a piece of flesh from his finger, or something like that. It was not his Junk.

    I agree, it is interesting how they are writing the Shae character a little differently.

  • Chrisd765

    *****Spoilers*****

    I didn’t expect Joff’s wedding to be this week, it would take up to much time, leaving little for other character to have there ends tied up for the next season. Also if i remember rightly some of the Dornish are introduced before the wedding namely Oberyn Martell. It was Tyrion who rode out to meet him which would be hard for him to do after the wedding.

    Also the changing of time pace by having Jamie and Brienne return to King’s Landing before the wedding doesn’t feel right to me and the reunion between Jamie and Cersei seemed very bland compared to there heated and more emotion driven reunion in the book, then again incest sex, in a chapel, in front of a corpse would probably rustle a few jimmies. The problem i see is that it will prevent to development of Cersei’s relationship with Osmund Kettleblack.

    Shae’s rewrite seems odd, especially if they have her do the full turn against Tyrion and Sansa during the trial which will after her talk with Varys will seems like a full change of character.

    Arya just stole the whole show with her little poor little innocent girl act to stab stab stab and her back and forth with the hound. I did think that they might have sped up there journey and closed the book on The Adventures of Arya and the Hound, which i think could make a funny spin off of them going round solving problems, and set her up for the next stage of her journey in season 4.

    All I can think is bugger now I have to wait for both the show and the next book which will be goodness knows when.

  • Pedro

    SPOILERS:

    There is a popular theory that Balon Greyjoy was killed by a faceless man, if the show actually shows his death maybe they’ll even use jaquen (yes i know it’s implied he’s in the citadel). The theory supports that euron sold a dragon egg (the one he claims that he tossed to the sea) to pay the faceless man. “I dreamt of a man without a face, waiting on a bridge that swayed and swung. On his shoulder perched a drowned crow with seaweed hanging from his wings.”
    Anyway concerning this episode i didn’t like the way they portrayed stannis (again), he’s really much more of a dick than in the book. And i didn’t like Jaime’s arrival before the purple wedding and the anti climatic reunion with Cersei. As for the next seasom premier I’m counting on the introduction of the martells plus balon’s death!

  • Monchofos

    I just really hate Shae.

    I liked the episode, maybe it was because it gave us some tyrion and davos, number one and two favourites, and Arya, my third one, and Bran fourth. I kinda droled during the Daenarys moment which I knew it was a dull Daenarys rules moment of which I am honestly fed up with.

    I cant believe they showed Robb, I thought that if they were going to show it was going to be just a glimpse of him in the hall or a cell, not parading about, I was never much of a Robb fan after the whole Jeyne/Talissa crap but seeing that was brutal.

    Its incredible how much the show actually can make you feel more for some characters, in the books I only care about Tyrion, Arya, Bran, Davos and Jaime but in the show I really liked Robb’s characterisation even if he was an idiot. Liked the line Roose Bolton says to Frey that he just never listened, also if Roose’s actor wasnt so great I would have hated him smiling, which is also the case with Tywin but seriously, Charles Dance rules. Also liked Cat from the second sesson on.

    Still not a Daenerys or Jon fan, although Jon gets better in the end of Storm of Swords but Kit I cant fucking act Harrington is going to blow it.