Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Game of Thrones 2.10: "Valar Morghulis"

“Look around you. We’re all liars here. And every one of us is better than you.”

After the successful tension and focus of “Blackwater,” I was a little disappointed to find that “Valar Morghulis” once again returned to the rather disjointed storytelling we’ve been seeing all season on “Game of Thrones.” This episode attempted to wrap up some of the season’s plotlines and leave us with some cliffhangers for next season. That made it even a little more disjointed than usual, because it wasn’t like they could skip any of the ongoing plots for the week just to pick it back up next week. This is it until next spring. I think, in some ways, that people who read the “Song of Ice and Fire” books before watching the television series (I’m choosing to read each one after the season in which it is depicted on television) can get more out of “Game of Thrones.” It probably doesn’t feel so disjointed because they know where each of the stories are going. For me, it’s just being spoon fed the action in tiny little doses. There really isn’t any time to invest in one plot before it’s on to the next. That makes me sad because I really do love spending time in Westeros and really getting immersed in that world. The frantic pace and switching between plots has taken away some of that immersive feel in the second season.

Tyrion wakes up to an incredibly creepy visual. He’s in a rather tiny, sparse room in the Red Keep, and worse than that, Grand Maester Pycelle is looming over him, staring. Rightfully sensing that Pycelle is probably up to no good, Tyrion quickly calls for the guard and asks the guard to inform Bronn or Varys that he’s alive. There is no guard, and Pycelle informs Tyrion that he’s been demoted. We cut to the throne room where Joffrey is taking audiences, and we quickly find out what happened to Tyrion’s status. After achieving victory in the Battle of Blackwater, Tywin has been reinstated as Hand of the King. The victory also came courtesy of an assist from none other than Loras Tyrell, Lord of the Flowers. Guess once Renly was killed his next choice was the Lannisters? I think the biggest reason that the Tyrells are now supporting the Lannisters is that Joffrey is going to marry Margaery now. Margaery said she wanted to be queen more than anything, and her brother wants to grant her wish. Loras asks Joffrey to marry his sister, and Cersey and Pycell assent in an obviously staged performance for the crowd. And poor Sansa is unceremoniously dumped. After all this goes down, Littlefinger finds Sansa and says he’ll help her escape King’s Landing. Littlefinger is such a creeper.

Elsewhere in Westeros, Brienne is still transporting Jaime back to the Lannisters. While they’re traveling, they come upon three strung-up dead tavern girls. Quite a grisly sight. Brienne is determined to give the women a decent burial, but some Stark soldiers crash the party. They start questioning why Jaime Lannister is out and about and why Brienne is with him. Brienne, because she’s badass (and appears to have a death wish) just kills all the Stark soldiers and gives the tavern girls a burial like she wanted to in the first place. In other Stark news, Robb and Cat have a huge argument over Robb’s love life, which must be hella awkward for Robb. This seems like one situation where, no matter what Mel Brooks once said, it isn’t good to be the king. Robb really wants to marry Talisa, which is kind of odd considering he hasn’t really spent all that much time with her. Cat, however, continues to remind Robb that he is honor bound to marry a Frey daughter in exchange for the river passage Lord Frey provided Robb and his bannermen near the end of last season.

Somehow, Stannis and Melisandre are still alive even though they were defeated at the Battle of Blackwater and they’re really kind of boring. They’re arguing over the battle, each blaming each other for the poor outcome. The argument turns into an actual fight, and Stannis starts strangling Melisandre. Just as it looks like Melisandre might not survive, Stannis stops the strangline. Melisandre has Stannis look into a fire, and something he sees there makes him feel more hopeful about winning the Iron Throne. I hate to tell Stannis, but if anybody is going to win Westeros and the Iron Throne through fire, it’s going to be Dany. She’s got dragons after all. In other really unlikely candidates for Iron Throne news, Theon is still hanging around Winterfell. The place is under siege by Stark forces, and Theon is really pissed about it. He throws quite the tantrum to Maester Luwin, and Luwin suggests that Theon run away and take the Black. Theon thinks he’s gone too far down the traitorous road for redemption, so instead of taking the Black, he gives a big, rousing battle speech. And then his first mate promptly shoots him in the back. He shoots Luwin, too.

Back in King’s Landing, Varys and Tyrion are having an important conversation about Tyrion’s future in King’s Landing. Varys informs Tyrion that Cersei has already tried to have him killed once. It’s pretty obvious that she’ll probably try to kill Tyrion again. Shae is at risk too, so Tyrion brings her into the discussion. Shae really wants for the two of them to run away to her homeland of Pyke, but Tyrion wants to stay in King’s Landing and play the game. Playing the game is something he enjoys and is actually good at, and he doesn’t want to lose that. For some reason I don’t quite understand (probably because ten episodes isn’t nearly enough to flesh out these characters properly), Shae says she’ll stay in King’s Landing with Tyrion. Her reasoning is that she is his and he is hers. It’s sort of an informal pledging themselves to each other as we quick cut to a real wedding between Robb and Talisa. The Stark wedding appears to be a New Gods (the Seven) wedding, which is odd since the Starks are supposed to worship the Old Gods. I guess Cat was behind that, considering her family does worship the Seven. I wonder if this could cause some problems for Robb with his bannermen?

Speaking of Northerners, Bran and Rikon and their entourage are still very much alive, of course, even if nobody but they know it. Winterfell is burning, and they go to survey the damage. Outside of the compound, Maester Luwin is propped up in the Godswood, still alive but mortally wounded. He tells Bran and Rikon to start traveling North to the Wall. They need to find Jon. Osha stays behind with the Maester for a minute and mercy kills him (with his approval, of course). Speaking of Jon, he’s not going to be much help to Bran and Rikon right now because he’s still in the custody of the Wildlings. The Halfhand wants to ingratiate himself to their captors, so he starts goading Jon about his rather inglorious heritage (he does have a traitor father and unknown mother, after all). Jon is just pissed in general (when isn’t he), and he kills the Halfhand. Ygritte and the rest of the Wildlings think this is awesome, of course, and they say they are going to take him to Mace, the King Beyond the Wall.

Across the Narrow Sea in Qarth, Dany and her crew go to the House of the Undying to fetch her dragons. Somehow, just by standing in front of the building for a few seconds, Dany is transported inside the tower. Inside the tower, Dany walks through a mysterious door, and on the other side of the door is winter. There’s a tent, and inside it are Khal Drogo and Raego. Kind of random, but it was cool to have Jason Momoa back on the show, even if he didn’t get to do much. The reunited family has a brief moment, then Dany goes back through the door where her dragons are waiting. The head warlock appears, and he says that when Dany is around, the magic of the dragons are increased, this in turn increases the magic of the warlocks. So Dany is going to be their prisoner now, too, and she’s chained up. That doesn’t exactly last long, though. The dragons burn the warlock, and Dany is free. Dany goes back to the house where she was staying and confronts both Xaro and her remaining handmaiden, who just happen to be in bed together. She locks the pair up in Xaro’s empty vault, and she takes everything of value that she can from Xaro’s house to buy herself that one ship she needs to travel to Westeros. The season ends with Dany completely kicking ass. As it should.

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