Game of Thrones S2E10 “Valar Morghulis”
After last week’s thrilling battle for King’s Landing, the season two finale, “Valar Morghulis”, was not only going to have big shoes to fill, it was going to have to bounce around at a hurried pace to check in with everyone who took a bye week last episode and head back to King’s Landing to deal with the ramifications of the Battle of the Blackwater. With that in mind, “Valar Morghulis” could have easily come across as an episode that bit off more than it could chew, but it doesn’t. In fact, every scene was enjoyable and well-made and really left you wanting more, like any good season finale should. We have a load to talk about including a changed picture in King’s Landing, drama on both story lines beyond the wall, the end of the Greyjoy era in Winterfell, and Dany reclaiming her dragons and putting the city of Qarth behind her. All that and much more to get to so let’s get it rolling.
We’ll start in King’s Landing and learn about the aftermath of The Battle of the Blackwater. The big question is obviously what happened to Tyrion so let’s get that out of the way. Tyrion does manage to survive, albeit with a large scar running diagonally across his face. The physical damage seems to be the least of his concerns though. He wakes up not in the chamber of the hand, but some small dark room at the bottom of the red keep which Pycelle informs him are his new permanent chambers. He also tells Tyrion that Tywin is back and serving as hand of the king once again.
Varys stops by to pay him a visit and Tyrion gets some even more bad news as Varys tells him Tywin has removed Bronn from head of city watch and sent his hill tribers home, leaving Tyrion powerless. Varys leaves him with some comfort though. While acknowledging that most people will not give Tyrion credit for his role in the battle, Varys lets him know he’s fully aware and grateful for Tyrion, admitting the city would have fell without him. After that, he leaves and reveals that he fetched Shae and the two of them meet for the first time since before the battle. Shae further confirms her loyalty to Tyrion and even asks him to come to Pentos with her so that he will be safe. Tyrion declines the offer, saying that playing the game is something he’s good at and enjoys. The odds may be stacked against him more than ever now, but this is what he was born to do. Asking if Shae will leave without him, she says she’s not going anywhere. “I am yours and you are mine”. Season two was a great time for Tyrion and with season three shaping up to be a lot worse, at least his relationship with Shae seems to be past the money aspect and is purely genuine. He could use any positives he can get.
Staying in the capital, we turn our attention to Joffrey, who is in the process of handing out rewards to those who fought well in the battle. Tywin is first up, Joffrey names him the savior of the city and Tywin returns to being Hand. Littlefinger is rewarded handsomely for brokering the alliance between the Lannisters and the Tyrells and is given Harrenhal. Lastly, Loras comes up and asks to join their house to the crown, asking Joffrey to marry his sister, Margaery. Joffrey ultimately agrees to it after Cersei and Pycelle convince him that Sansa’s father’s “treason” free him from his marriage oath to Sansa in the eyes of the gods. Sansa lets out a smile at the news, probably the first smile she’s had all season. While it was great to see, she’s not quite out of the woods yet as Littlefinger points out. Littlefinger offers to help Sansa escape the capital, knowing Joffrey will keep her around to torment anyway. Littlefinger has always been a sneaky fellow but I hope he’s genuine here. In a way, being betrothed to Joffrey was a blessing because it offered her a small sense of security as future queen. With that out of the way, Joffrey can and will do what he wants to her, no restrictions. Not something I particularly look forward to.
Those are the winners, how about the losers? Stannis is back at Dragonstone, fuming over his defeat. He sends his anger towards Melisandre, wondering how someone who claims to see the future couldn’t see the fact that he was going to lose. He even begins to strangle her but relents when Melisandre makes him aware of just how big his part was in making the shadow assassin. Melisandre then asks Stannis to look into the fire which he does. Melisandre asks him if he sees “it” and apparently he does. What “it” is, we don’t know but what is certain is that Stannis will continue his war for the crown and Melisandre will be at his side as he does so.
At the Stark camp, Robb tells his mother about his decision to not keep his marriage oath to House Frey. Cat is adamant that Robb shouldn’t cross House Frey and tells him that it won’t be flashy, but he will come to learn to love his wife and he’ll be an honorable man, keeping his word. Robb doesn’t listen to his mother and later that night marries Talisa. Nothing Cat said to her son was wrong but she had no good will with her son due to her recent actions so nothing she would say was going to change his mind. In any case, Robb is an oathbreaker now and he’s got no choice but to deal with the consequences of it, no matter what they might be.
Brienne continues her transporting of Jaime to King’s Landing and they meet a rather gruesome sight trekking through the woods. Three women’s corpses hang from a tree and Brienne insists on burying them before continuing their journey. Three Stark men come along the road and we learn they were the ladies killers. One of them recognizes Jaime and once they can’t lie their way out of it, Brienne resorts to fighting the men. She makes quick work out of two of them and slowly kills the last one (mirroring the way they killed the ladies, two quick deaths and one…). Jaime points out that the men were loyal to the Starks and Brienne once again points out she doesn’t serve the Starks, she serves Cat. I don’t imagine this being the last people who give Jaime and Brienne trouble and they have an interesting dynamic between them so this is a plot line I look forward to continuing next season.
In Winterfell, Theon is facing certain defeat as Roose Bolton’s bastard and his army wait out Theon and his significantly smaller fighting source. Luwin gives Theon some final advice, suggesting that he escape through the tunnels and join the night’s watch. It’s not bad advice but Theon rejects it thinking that Jon Snow would kill him in his sleep for his crimes against the Starks. Theon finally admits that he’s not really the guy who committed all these awful crimes this season but also admits he’s gone too far to do anything else. With fighting being his last option, Theon rallies the troops and gives quite the riveting speech. Was it enough to inspire his men to a tremendous upset? I suppose we’ll never know as Dagmer knocked out Theon just after his speech. Seems like they took up that offer of safe passage home for yielding. Luwin walks in on this, outraged at what has happened and Dagmer spears Luwin in his side as he falls to the ground. There was no need for that but this show has proved plenty of times, that this in an unforgiving world so I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised.
When the coast is clear, Bran and his crew emerge from the crypts and assess the situation, and it’s not particularly a good one. Despite the fact that the Iron Islanders yielded, it sure doesn’t look that way as Winterfell is a burning mess. They head over to the forest and there they find Luwin bleeding out. Luwin admits his pride and love of serving the Starks and with his final piece of advice, tells them to head to the wall where Jon will make sure that they are safe. After he says his goodbyes to the kids, Luwin asks Osha for the gift of mercy, which she gives to him. The group takes Luwin’s advice as Bran, Rickon, their two direwolves, Osha, and Hodor start their journey to the wall.
Over in Qarth, Dany and Jorah finally head over to the House of the Undying and the magic of the place very quickly separates them as Dany finds herself inside and Jorah outside, unable to get in. Dany stumbles into a room with many doors and goes through one and it leads to many interesting sights. The first of which is the throne room destroyed and covered in snow. She then goes through the northern gate of the wall and enters a tent where she finds Drogo along with their son who seem to be safe and sound. Staying in the illusion was probably very tempting but she leaves when she hears her dragons back in the door room. There she sees her dragons are chained up and Pyat Pree emerges. Before you know it, Dany herself is chained in. Not looking worried in the slightest, Dany tells her dragons “dracarys” and they all set Pyat Pree ablaze and unchain themselves. With Pyat Pree’s magic gone, Dany’s chains turn to rubble and she heads out of the tower, dragons in hand.
Now knowing that Xaro Xhoan Daxos played a role in this scheme, Dany goes over to his palace to take care of him as well. Xaro is in bed with Doreah, who apparently was in the scheme as well which doesn’t bode well for her as they have a very bad punishment coming their way. First looking to take him of his wealth, Dany is shocked to find that Xaro’s bank cell is empty. Dany quickly decides to make something out of nothing and decides to throw Xaro and Doreah in the cell to starve to their deaths. While there was no gold inside the vault, there’s still plenty inside Xaro’s house which Dany and friends decide to take for themselves. Jorah says that it will be enough to buy one ship. And with that, we end the rather odd season arc for Dany.
We’ll end by checking in on the two plot lines beyond the wall. Qhorin is fully committed to getting Jon to look like a spy so he decides to provoke Jon into a fight with him which proves lethal, as Jon sends a sword through his front side and out his backside. Impressed that Jon would kill such an important night’s watch men, the wildlings are convinced that Jon’s defection is for real and untie him. They make their way to the massive wildling camp where Ygritte tells Jon he will meet the king beyond the wall, Mance Rayder. Will he see through this spy game or be convinced it’s real as well? We’ll be finding out next season.
We end the season with a Sam scene. Sam is out with Edd and Grenn looking for supplies when something they couldn’t imagine happens. The horn blows not once, not twice, but thrice, signifying white walkers. Panic immediately sets in as the three run back to the night’s watch camp at the Fist of the First Men. Sam being Sam, trips and gets left behind to fend for himself. He’s wasted far too much time though so all that’s left to do is hide behind a boulder. While hiding, Sam takes a peek to see what’s coming and there he sees the white walkers and an army of wights. A horrified Sam goes back to hiding but he doesn’t do that very well because a white walker sees him and stares him dead in the eye. The gods must be looking out for Sam though because the white walker doesn’t hurt or kill Sam and instead leads his army southward, towards the Fist. In a season that was based so much on politics, having the last scene be a white walker one was an excellent choice to remind us that while the political side to the show is fun, the real issue is an army of the undead that won’t care who sits the iron throne. These guys are heading south and Westeros better be ready to deal with it.
Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie start walking and quickly run into Jaqen. He offers to take Arya back to Braavos where she could learn his assassin ways and take care of the people on her death list. Tempting offer but Arya decides against it, wanting to see her family. Jaqen gives her a coin and tells her to show this and say “Valar Morghulis” to any man from Braavos if she ever changes her mind and wants to learn his ways. He departs saying Jaqen is already dead, taking that face off and putting on a new one. Weird. Hopefully we learn more about that later on.
I love how the Bolton’s played a horn outside Winterfell all through the night to mess with Theon. I’d say it worked pretty well.
Tywin entered the throne room today on horseback. His horse “unloaded” in the throne room. I feel bad for whoever has to clean that up.
Pretty tame season as far as big deaths. “Valar Morghulis” did not confirm the status of Ser Davos Seaworth but if he is alive, all starring cast members for the season have finished the season alive. A tad ironic given the note below this one
Valar Morghulis is High Valyrian for “All men must die”.
Quote of the day is my favorite bit from Theon’s speech. “And whoever kills that fucking horn blower will stand in bronze above the shores of Pyke!”. I just found that horn so darn funny.
“Valar Morghulis” checks in with every relevant plot line, providing closure to some and setting up others for further exploration in season three and does so in a very exciting manner.
Episode Grade A
Season Grade A-