Warning: Loaded with SPOILERS
Last night marked the season two finale of HBO’s epic fantasy series, Game of Thrones. Here are my thoughts:
Tyrian Lannister and Shae
Tyrian (Peter Dinklage) spent the entire season proving how tough, brave and smart he is. He almost single-handedly saved King’s Landing, not only by putting the secret wildfire stockpile to good use, but by leading the battle himself after the Hound and King Joffrey deserted. So what does Tyrian get in return? His sister Cersei sends a knight to kill him, marking him for all time. (Though less horribly than in the books, I might add.) His father arrives, takes all the credit, plus the title Hand of the King, plus the Hand’s sumptuous apartments. Even lets his big white horse take a big steaming dump while approaching the Iron Throne. Reversals of fortune are a big part of why I love Game of Thrones. Not so much for the fantasy elements, although they are well-imagined. For the characters and their often stunningly realistic interactions.
This season, we last see Tyrian in Shae’s arms, brought to tears by her devotion. Now in the books, Shae was loathsome and vile, and I often sighed that Tyrian, for all his brilliance, couldn’t recognize her for what she was. This character is clearly different — perhaps a combination of Shae and one of the Dornish “Sand Snakes”? Anyway, I loved the scene and it made we wish things could work out for them.
Theon, Maester Luwin, Bran and Winterfell
Well, it’s been a crappy life for Theon Greyjoy. The show’s head writers seem to feel that rather keenly, since they’ve twice allowed Theon to speechify about his difficult path in ways he never did in the book. (Or if he did, they made no impression on me.) Theon was ransomed as a baby and brought up by kind frenemies that never quite adopted him. When he returned to his own family, he was mocked as weak and less of a man than his superstar sister. When he decided to betray Winterfell and the Starks, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. In the end, his own men mutinied and carried him off as a prisoner, no doubt to ransom back to King Robb, who has promised amnesty for all Ironborn except Theon.
It’s interesting how Theon’s pity party is allowed to go on and on, while Tyrian simply swallows insult after insult and Sam Tarly, whose own father threatened to murder him, bumbles around happily in the North. Perhaps that’s the point to Theon’s arc? Wallow in self-pity and end up deserted by all?
Not much of Bran, Rickon or Osha, but Maester Luwin gets a nice final scene. I enjoyed that, because in the books he suffers the usual pitiless GRRM end.
Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister
Oh, I do enjoy seeing these two together. The staging of their all-too-brief sequence was brilliant. Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) emerges from the boat a few paces ahead of Brienne (Gwendoline Christie). The camera angle — him walking uphill a bit ahead of her — makes him seem her height, or even a shade taller, as he does what handsome jerks do to strange or unconventionally attractive females … tease her mercilessly. Is she a virgin? Did any man ever care enough to try? Doesn’t she wish he, often called the handsomest man in the kingdom, would try? (Well, that last bit is only implied.)
Then they come upon the corpses of three tavern girls, hanging in the trees. Stark men raped and killed them for serving the Lannisters as customers. Just as Brienne sees the bodies, the actress hits her mark beside Coster-Waldau, towering over him by at least half a head. (Broader, too, in full armor.) When apparent danger arrives on-scene, Jaime begs her for release so he can save them both. Then he gets to watch while Brienne easily dispatches three armed men like they were boys with sticks. The progression of reactions on Jaime’s face — first shock, then respect, then shrewd appraisal — was perfect.
Can’t wait for season three.
Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow, White Walkers and — a Slight Anticlimax?
I wasn’t a fan of the “stolen dragons” plot because I thought the end was too obvious to be interesting. And sure enough, for me, it didn’t amount to much. I did find it interesting that the show’s version of Dany could lock away her betrayers so cruelly. Cutting their throats would have been far kinder. In the books, Dany is hard, as all would-be conquerors must be, but she isn’t cruel. Interesting choice.
As for Jon’s final bit, maneuvered-into-killing-Qhorin-to-gain-the-Wildings-trust … eh. I didn’t feel any particular drama. That seemed rushed. Your mileage may vary, of course.
Finally, at last, the White Walkers and their undead army (Gray Staggerers?) were revealed. As far as the close-up of a White Walker’s face … I’m not sure about the effect, it seemed a little too unreal. Seeing poor Sam surrounded by CGI reminded me of that time a lot of special effects teamed up to drown George Clooney and Marky Mark. But these are my usual nitpicks, because I am a compulsive nitpicker.
Overall, the season was tremendous and I can’t wait for what comes next.