Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Game of Thrones 3x10: Mhysa
The episode opens at the site of the Red Wedding, making it clear that the majority of the Stark host is being slaughtered alongside its leader, his wife, and his mother. Arya also regains consciousness at just the wrong time, as she sees her brother's body, his dire wolf's head stitched on in place of his (creepy), paraded about while mockingly referred to as the King of the North.
Props to the Hound for grabbing that Frey banner, ensuring his safety as he and Arya pass through the crowd. I'm curious what his plan is now - with Robb and Catelyn dead, does he plan to take Arya to Kings Landing after all (assuming the Lannisters would pay for her, even if it would be less than he'd have gotten from the Starks), or is his aversion to that world great enough to keep him away? Are we lined up for a season where Arya continues her tutelage in killing under his supervision (because that would be the best buddy cop story of all time)?
Arya's killing of one of Frey's men, while a moment of significance for her character, also gave us a nice moment of comeuppance (albeit a relatively small one). And Maisie Williams totally killed it (pun intended) in that scene, both with her somewhat creepy "lost girl" act and then in her reaction to her first intentional kill.
It was made clear that Edmure is still alive, albeit imprisoned, and that the Blackfish escaped. While Frey isn't terribly concerned about any retribution from him or any other Tullys, especially with Tywin Lannister backing him, Roose Bolton, newly named Warden of the North, doesn't seem as sure. Bastard he may be, I think Bolton is right to be suspicious: after all, he knows firsthand that Tywin is only concerned with the best interests of his family, and wouldn't think twice about tossing Frey to the wolves (or the fish, as it were) if it suited his interests.
Wherever the Hell Theon Is/the Iron Islands
Bolton's discussion with Frey segues nicely to Theon, as the show makes it clear that Theon is indeed being held captive by Bolton's bastard (who gets a name: Ramsey Snow), and has been since he was turned over by his own men at the end of season two (who were themselves flayed and killed, despite handing over Theon, we learn).
From there, Theon gets to participate in a little "there are four lights!"-style exchange with his tormentor, though he accepts his new name of Reek far more easily than Jean-Luc Picard would have (then again, Picard hadn't been through quite as much as Theon).
I appreciated the clarification that Ramsey was not eating Theon's severed penis, because at this point, I wouldn't have put it past either the character or this show...
Apparently a Lonely Island fan, Ramsey does send Theon's dick in a box to Theon's father, along with a demand that Balon relinquish his conquered holdings in the North. While Balon (unsurprisingly) doesn't give a toss about his son, the letter does get Yara into action, as she's determined to rescue her brother.
I understand the show needs to keep checking in with Theon for a variety of reasons, especially in episodes near the beginning and end of seasons, but now that we know the full story of who has him and are being promised a rescue mission led by his sister, I'm hoping that his appearances next season are either fewer or consist of more than just him being tortured constantly.
Joffrey makes sure to end the season in a way that won't let us forget what a reprehensible twit he is, but we also get the satisfaction of watching "the king" get sent to bed without supper, which was pretty awesome.
Joffrey's rant about how Tywin hid in his castle while Joffrey's father won the kingdom was particularly loaded, not only with barely-concealed rage on Tywin's part, but also the fact that Robert wasn't Joffrey's father, a fact pretty much everyone at that table except Joffrey knows.
Tyrion, per usual, found himself involved in some fantastic scenes. It was nice to see him and Sansa bonding over their shared outcast status (I don't imagine the pair will ever grow to love each other, but a friendship born of mutual understanding and benefit would be fun to watch). His scene with Tywin was tremendous as always, both for the subtle way Tyrion expressed his admiration for the strategy behind his father's plan even while finding it deplorable and for the way Tywin gave his son perhaps the greatest compliment he's ever given him (even then, the compliment was "I wanted to kill you but didn't", so it isn't like he's winning any Father of the Year awards). Finally, as much fun as Tyrion and Cersei sniping at one another is, I've also come to enjoy these scenes where they more or less commiserate on their current situation (I particularly enjoyed the comment about how every time they defeat one enemy, the act of doing so creates two more, which makes for an interesting contrast with Dany).
The scene between Varys and Shae was another highlight. I continue to enjoy Varys' seemingly-genuine interest in doing what's best for the realm, instead of what's best for himself or a specific family. And, sadly, as much as I enjoy Shae, I can't deny that I wouldn't mind seeing her leave because Varys is right: she is keeping Tyrion from becoming as awesome as he could be.
And then, near the end, Jamie and Brienne make their long-awaited return to Kings Landing. Having Jamie go unrecognized as he entered the city was a nice indication of just how different he is now compared to when he left, though I could have done without the scene of his reunion with Cersei being staged and shot like a reunion of two long-lost lovers (even though they are). Similarly, I would have liked to see Jamie and Brienne's reaction to news of the Red Wedding, and to get a better sense of what's next for both of them, but I suppose that'll have to wait til next season.
More storyline connections! I was afraid Bran's efforts to conceal his identity would mean that Sam would pass by without sharing information, but thankfully, the presence of a direwolf, Hodor and Bran's condition was enough to tip off Sam.
And hey, the fact that Sam has more Dragonglass weapons makes his abandonment of the dagger he used on that White Walker a little more reasonable (though still, take the dagger Sam!).
The story Bran told of a man who was condemned for killing a guest beneath his roof did a nice job of contextualizing what a big deal the Red Wedding was. It's a shame there wasn't a way to have worked that in before the wedding.
Jon's reunion with Ygritte went about as well as can be expected, and though she shot him full of arrows, I'm pretty sure he's right about how she feels about him (she did confront him alone, and we know she's a better shot - I took those arrows to be an indication of just how pissed she is at him for leaving rather than a genuine attempt to kill him, but maybe that's wishful thinking on my part). And once again, Rose Leslie is the MVP of the Jon/Wildlings scenes, as she says a lot with very little words thanks simply to her performance.
With Mormont dead, leaving the Nights Watch without a Lord Commander and Jon (who was being groomed for that position by Mormont) back at Castle Black, what's the over/under on how long before he's named commander?
Even more storyline connections! Stannis receives word of the impending threat of the White Walkers, and thanks to Melisandre's precognition and/or Stannis' trust in it, he decides its time to abandon his hunt for the throne for the time being and prepare to defend Westeros against the threat from the North, making him the first character with significant power to finally do something about a threat that reaches all the way back to the show's earliest minutes.
Give Melisandre credit: whether her religion is all hooey or not, she's not a hypocrite when it comes to it. She could very easily have told Stannis about the threat to the North and still insisted he kill Davos, but either out of genuine fear of the threat (which requires Davos to fight) or devotion to her visions of the future, she passed along what she saw and kept Davos alive.
I wonder if that's the last we'll see of Gendry for awhile, or if we'll be following his storyline next season as well.
Stannis' daughter is correct: there is no good reason for that "g" to be in the word "night".
After a really strong season, Dany ends thing with a bit of a confusing thud. It wasn't entirely clear what was happening in this scene: is the idea supposed to be that these are the slaves who joined her after Jorah, Grey Worm and Domino Nabisco threw open the gates of the city to the Unsullied last episode? In which case, why are they only coming out now? Or are these the non-army slaves whom the leaders of Yunkai are releasing to Dany now that their army has defected to her side?
I get that the end was a celebration of Dany being hailed as a liberator, and the fact that now she has something of a kingdom, not just an army, and that the showrunners seemingly like to end their seasons on Dany scenes (that's two out of three now), and that final shot was absolutely gorgeous, but the execution of what exactly was happening could have been more clear.
As expected, this episode, like the previous finales, was more about processing the fallout from the previous episode's big events and setting up the next season than it was delivering big moments itself. Though any episode that followed "Rains of Castemere" was likely to feel like a letdown, "Mhysa" does do an effective job of giving most of the characters a moment of significance for their personal arc to lead out of the season: Sam and Jon make it back to Castle Black, Bran crosses over into the North, Arya intentionally kills someone for the first time, Sansa learns of her mother and brother's deaths, Theon's family learns of his capture, prompting a rescue mission from his sister (and on a metatextual level, the identity of his captor is made clear), Stannis is alerted to the threat of the White Walkers and becomes the first person of significant power south of the wall determined to do something about them, and Jamie makes it back to Kings Landing and his sister-lover (and, to a lesser extent, Tyrion receives probably the closest complement he'll ever get from his father, while Dany's big season-ending moment really came last week, when Yunkai fell).
Most remarkable, of course, is that Benioff and Weiss managed to find these moments of significance for most of their characters considering the end of this season marks a point somewhere between halfway and two-thirds of the way into the third book (depending on who you ask), rather than the end of it. Which just makes me all the more eager for whatever is ahead in season four.
Though out of necessity required to bounce from place to place more than the previous two episodes, this one continued the season-long trend of strong thematic transitions from each location.
The only noticeable absences, I think, from this episode were the Tyrells.
Tyrion: Anyone named Desmond Crakehall must be a pervert.
Sansa: I heard you’re a pervert.
Tyrion: I’m the imp, I must maintain a certain standard.
Davos: Do you know how to swim?
Davos: Don’t fall out.