Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Game of Thrones 3.10: "Mhysa"

“Oh, monster? Perhaps you should speak to me more softly, then. Monsters are dangerous, and just now kings are dying like flies.”

The third season finale of “Game of Thrones” was not nearly as action-packed as the penultimate episode. It would be hard to top the horror and the drama that is the Red Wedding, really. A more sedate denouement for a finale is what we’ve come to expect from “Game of Thrones,” and really, most HBO shows in general. The climax happens in the penultimate episode, and we have the finale to see all the characters’ reactions to those events and set up some storylines for the next season. “Mhysa” accomplished exactly that. It was kind of disjointed, as many episodes of “Game of Thrones” are, but in this case, it made more sense. In the season finale, we want a final glimpse of what all the major characters are up to. It provides closure and an idea of what to look forward to next year. In this episode, we saw the characters react to the Red Wedding, and we saw Jon, Bran, and Stannis all be placed in interesting positions for next season.

This episode picks up with the end of the Red Wedding, and it’s quickly apparent that the brutality isn’t quite finished just yet. There’s still fighting going on between Stark and Frey men around the Twins, and the Hound and Arya are kind of caught in the middle of it. The Hound manages to get Arya to safety, but not before she sees a truly horrid sight. The Frey’s have sewn Grey Wind’s head on to Robb’s body, and they’re parading it around chanting, “The King in the North.” The look on Arya’s face when she sees this is just heartbreaking and another reminder that this is the second time she’s been in proximity to a family member’s murder. Arya doesn’t throw a pity party, though. The Red Wedding basically causes all her rage to boil over. She and the Hound come across some Frey men sitting by a fire in the forest, boasting about their Red Wedding exploits. Arya doesn’t hesitate to start stabbing them, and when they fight back, the Hound finishes the job (presumably to preserve his chance for a ransom, although I don’t know who he thinks is going to pay it now).

Also early on in the episode, we get a quick (rather painful) scene of the Red Wedding victors gloating. Both Walder Frey and Roose Bolton think that they’ll really be sitting pretty now that they have defeated the Starks. Bolton, for his part, is due to be named the new Warden of the North by Tywin. Interestingly, Bolton reveals that his bastard son, Ramsey Snow, is the sadistic asshole who has been torturing Theon. Bolton seems quite proud of his son. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. We get another Theon torture scene, where Ramsey tries to get Theon to say his name is “Reek,” but the really interesting scene is what happens back in the Iron Islands when they learn of Theon’s fate. The way they learn of it is as disgusting as you would expect from Ramsey. He sends them Theon’s severed penis. Balon doesn’t really seem to care any more about his son than he did last season, maybe even less now since he “isn’t a man” anymore. Yara, however, refuses to give up on her brother, and she put together a strike team of the very best Ironborn fighters.

Again, the part of the episode I enjoyed the most was all the King’s Landing drama. Early in the episode, Tyrion and Sansa seem to be warming up to each other a bit. They go for a walk and have a rather adorable conversation about how they’re both social pariahs, and Sansa starts planning out how they could take revenge on their tormenters by hiding shit in their beds like Arya used to do to her. They start to recognize kindred spirits in each other. Whatever happiness there is between Tyrion and Sansa is short lived, however. Tyrion is called to a Small Council meeting where Joffree is gleeful over news of the Red Wedding. He’s so sadistic that he wants Robb’s head to serve to Sansa at his and Margaery’s wedding. Tyrion seems to be the only Lannister with a sense of decency, and he tries to shut Joffrey down. Joffrey keeps acting like an ass, though, until Tywin literally sends him to bed without his supper. Once Joffrey leaves, Tywin and Tyrion have a tense conversation about what each of them is willing to do for the family. Tywin claims that letting Tyrion live was his sacrifice for the family, but I think that’s weak. Tyrion is easily the most decent, clever of the Lannisters, and he really doesn’t get enough appreciation. The fact that her family was indirectly just killed by Lannisters isn’t the only obstacle for Sansa and Tyrion. The other is Shae. Varys suggests to Shae that she leave King’s Landing because she’s a liability to Tyrion, but she refuses.

Near the Wall, there’s an interesting meeting of sorts at the Nightfort. Bran, Jojen, Meera, and Hodor are camped at the Nightfort on their way beyond the Wall when they run into Sam and Gilly, who are on their way to Castle Black. Sam recognizes Bran and Hodor from Jon’s stories, which kind of throws Jojen and Meera for a bit of a loop. Bran’s perfectly welcoming, at least, when Sam describes how Jon has saved his life multiple times. Sam gives Bran his dragonglass dagger, and then he Gilly, and the baby continue on to Castle Black. Watching Sam try to explain Gilly and the baby to Maester Aemon is rather hilarious. Gilly suddenly deciding to name the baby Sam doesn’t help Sam’s case that he hasn’t broken his oath. Maester Aemon asks Sam to start writing a large quantity of letters, presumably to warn Westeros about the White Walkers. Jon also shows up at Castle Black, only half conscious due to Ygritte shooting him with three arrows before he could completely escape the Wildlings.

One of the letters Sam sends out happens to reach Dragonstone, and it turns out to be a good thing Davos has been learning to read, because he shares the letter with Stannis. Davros first helps Gendry escape before Melisandre can do whatever horrible thing she has planned to do to him. Stannis is furious about this, but thankfully, when Davos breaks out the letter, Stannis listens. It helps that Melisandre is looking into the fire and makes a cryptic comment about the real war being in the North. Stannis decrees that he will send Davos and a fighting force North to help fight the White Walkers. This sets up for season 4 what might actually be the most interesting use of Stannis and Davos yet. Up until now, I’ve found the whole Dragonstone plot to be pretty boring.

This episode, while low on exciting plot twists, is chock full of interesting character moments. Some of these, naturally, take place in King’s Landing. One of these is a conversation between Cersei and Tyrion as Tyrion is well on his way to getting drunk following the news of the Red Wedding. Cersei tries to convince Tyrion to get Sansa pregnant as soon as possible so she’ll have something happy in her life. Cersei talks about how the joy her children have brought her, even Joffrey when he was little. You can see she’s kind of horrified at how Joffrey turned out, even if she can’t bring herself to say it. Also, Jaime finally makes his big return to King’s landing. It’s interesting that the people of Fleabottom mistakehim for one of them in his new, hand-less look. Cersei is just plain shocked to see him at all, I think.

As is quite common for “Game of Thrones,” we end the season with a big Daenerys moment. She’s still in Yunkai, and it’s the aftermath of the battle where she (indirectly) freed the slaves. I don’t really understand why in this scene she gets all the credit. She just sent men to carry out her bidding. It’s not like she was actually there with a sword or something. Now that would be badass. Daenerys and her Unsullied are waiting outside Yunkai as the slaves break through the gates, apprehensive about whether the slaves will accept her or continue to revolt. It turns out to be the former, and in spades. The slaves all approach her and start chanting, “mhysa,” which means “mother” in their language. And so we end season 3 with Daenerys basically crowdsurfing among the freed Yunkai slaves as they worship her.

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