THIS WEEK on Game of Thrones: “Mysha”
There’s a lot of mixed reaction to this finale on the web. After a kick in the nuts right off the bat with the aftermath of the Red Wedding massacre, the final episode of this season of Thrones brings things down a notch to a very steadily paced character piece. Longer, drawn out conversations between sometimes-unlikely pairs of characters round off the episode before ending on a strange note of Disney-esque triumph, instead of the standard game-changing fare that past finales of Thrones have employed.
More than ever, it’s palpable just how constrained the show feels by its 10-episode limit every season. There’s barely enough time in this extended finale to visit every character just once or twice and quickly touch base to set things up for Season 4.
The back half of Martin’s third novel, a Storm of Swords, will likely serve as the backbone for Season 4, while elements from later books are already creeping into the show all over the place. It’s difficult now to even decide ‘where’ in the book we are at this point; every story has stopped someplace different. It’s become a truly fascinating experience to watch how things are adapted, and if Season 3 was a good indication, the rules are quickly becoming loose with the adaptation of the rest of the saga.
Let’s touch base with every character’s story and see where everyone is, and what’s coming for them next year.
The Stark family is devastated; its patriarch, his wife and eldest son are all dead. Sansa, Arya, Bran, Rickon and Jon are now all separated and scattered across Westeros.
Sansa, still caged in King’s Landing didn’t even have to deliver a final line this season. One teary glance took care of everything. More of her family dead and gone, and her last escape – with Petyr – dashed away from her. She thinks she’s done and forgotten, and the last Stark alive.
Arya has a vital moment onscreen as she essentially comes of age as a killer. With some brutally surprising violence, she ends a Frey at the side of the Kingsroad, bitterly enraged by seeing her brother’s headless corpse trotted around like a trophy at the Twins with Greywind’s disembodied head propped on top.
The Hound provides comedic relief in the background by sitting down to some corn on the cob after dispatching the soldier’s two comrades without breaking a sweat.
Bran and Rickon part ways; the elder of the two goes north of the Wall, following the instructions of new allies Samwell and Gilly. He has with him most of his companions: Hodor, Jojen and Meera Reed. The wildling Osha has turned south with Rickon in custody. Bran is in pursuit of the three-eyed raven he sees in his dreams, in order to better understand his new, emerging powers.
Jon Snow has survived an attack from his scorned lover, Ygritte, only to make it back to the Wall in bad shape and half-delirious with pain. He’s a crow again, and probably the most capable soldier on the Wall with Mormont a corpse a few miles away at Craster’s Keep.
Edmure Tully, Catelyn’s brother is a prisoner of Walder Frey, and the Blackfish, his uncle, has escaped the massacre. Some of the Tully line is still around after all.
Over at King’s Landing, Tyrion isn’t shy about tossing threats out at his nephew with alarming frequency. Dude just doesn’t seem to care anymore, practically fancying himself untouchable by the look of it. His secret love, Shae, isn’t however. Varys tries to bribe her away from Tyrion’s life, an effort that quickly fails.
Joffrey himself is elated at Robb’s death, but gets carried away enough this his small council is forced to sharply curb his enthusiasm. The boy king goes to bed hungry and pissed with his caretakers, including Tywin, the real head of the monarchy in the capital.
Cersei’s story doesn’t seem to evolve much over the course of an hour, until Jaime arrives and changes everything in a single stroke.
At Dragonstone, everything seems to suddenly change at an instant when word reaches the lords of Westeros – Stannis obviously included – that the White Walkers are descending on the Wall. Melisandre, Stannis, Davos, Gendry – the whole plan just seems to transform at the arrival of this note from Samwell in the north. It’s as if the show (and story?) had no clue what to do with Stannis, except to conjure spells and curses from afar – which may or may not be working; Robb was named in a curse, and he did die after all – and now, there’s suddenly new purpose for the last Baratheon. Sure, let’s go to the Wall! And take your fire priestess there to combat the icy advance of the Walkers. Suddenly, it all makes way too much sense, doesn’t it?
At the Dreadfort, we learn that Theon’s torturer is in fact, as suspected, the traitor Roose Bolton’s bastard son. He’s sent his victim’s manhood off to the Iron Islands, prompting Yara Greyjoy to launch an impromptu mainland assault, no doubt her main story arc for next season, and he’s forced Theon to take on a new name and identity as the final act of his mental torture. The name: Reek. Reek the eunuch, with the phantom cock.
And finally, good old Daenerys, with surprisingly, one of her weakest scenes of the series, despite its incredible cinematic ambition.
Let’s not kid ourselves, the shot is beautiful visually. That much isn’t questionable; flying out of Yunkai’s ‘foyer’ with thousands of unshackled slaves reaching for their ‘mother’ – the titular ‘Mysha’ – is an iconic image. It somehow rings with an incredibly hollow sound however, as people are starting to realize how little Dany is doing lately to be earning these moments. Her soldiers and captains have been taking care of business for weeks, and she’s delegated at best or lounged with her dragons at worst, letting things happen around her instead of being an agent of change herself in her scenes.
What did you all think of this third season of Game of Thrones? The show is a runaway success. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon, and has a rich future, as long as Martin can keep supplying material to build his saga to a satisfying conclusion. The man has two more books planned in his seven-part saga, and needs to get them both out in the next four years or five years to realistically avoid the show catching up to him and writing its own ending.
It’s a fascinating conversation for book-readers to have. Sound off below!
Budrickton, First of His Name, Warden of the Actual North (Canada)