Satisfied - Not Overwhelmed.
Game Of Thrones Season 2 Episode 10 recap
I've always been open about the fact that I'm greedy where TV is concerned - the more episodes the better. But I might be transferring to the 10-episode system. It's like a roller coaster, you know? The long pull upward and then the big rush of going down - I can't believe we're already finished season 2.
Having said that, while I felt satisfied with the finale, it didn't blow me away. We're pacing ourselves through the story (and the books) so not everything can be revealed at once but certain stories marched in place for too long relative to the payoff. The biggest offender here, of course, is Daenerys and her band of Dothraki followers. Can it really be possible that she pouted through eight or so of the 10 episodes, only to kick Qarth's collective ass with relative ease once she bothered to do so? I certainly love seeing her gain more steeliness and resolve, but given that the episodes before this one didn't point that out as a deficit, her triumphs last night seemed a little too easy. Wrapped in chains? Dragons can help! Crazy terrifying sorcerer man who multiplies? He's no match for her firepower! It's the only real misstep: she hasn't seemed to struggle to get her dragons back, just went and did it, nor did she struggle with loyalty (didn't you feel like she shouldn't have had so many Dothraki left? I thought most were slaughtered. Or was that supposed to be magic?) once she easily disposed of Xaro. The only redeeming feature here - other than the really incredible scenery- was the beautiful scene with Khal Drogo (and that baby!). I could believe that he's where she draws her steel, from his love or the memory of it, but she's still only a teenage girl. A little reminder that she's facing opposition that will truly trouble her would have been great. Oh, and can we please soon give Jorah some dimension? (Lainey: um, no, because he’s vile and pervy and I hope he dies.)
My other eye-roll came from the wedding of Robb Stark and Talisa (though I liked those vows). I get it - a man falls in love and can think of nothing else but we haven't seen enough to be worried for him that he's breaking his promise or elated that he's loving this woman forever. When he could easily be killed long before his next birthday, is it really such a deal? Obviously for Catelyn Stark (and I'm putting this parenthesis here so Lainey can rage about her - thank you because she is such a f-cking waste of time and I hate her cheekbones ), but other than basic rebellion, is this really going to affect the march of the troops, which would seem to be the most top-of-mind concern right now?
While by and large the stories were compelling and dramatic I was also delighted with the amount of humor here. Theon Greyjoy no longer laments his own certain death, he just wants to figure out how to cut the head off the horn blower. I have to pause and point out how excellent I think Alfie Allen has been here - Theon is a snivelling idiot who, as Luwin points out, is only pretending to be the demonic hardass he's posturing as (and if he had any intelligence at all, he'd see that Luwin's lack of total devastation over the losses of Bran and Rickon would indicate that the jig is, in fact, up) and knows he's reached the end of his rope in terms of anyone's tolerance. Though he was hooded and dragged, presumably to be flagellated in front of his father, I was quite interested in Luwin's inference that he should go to the Wall - his presence there would be a whole new level of softness for the Night's Watch to deal with.
So our other Winterfell originals are sprung far and wide. It's arguably a good thing Sansa didn't go with The Hound (where was he?) since there's not much there any longer. I hope she does stay in King's Landing, not only for her own physical safety in the moment, but because she hasn't been educated by Cersei for months for nothing. Margaery Tyrell may be the new queen, but Sansa knows a few things. I'd love to see who she is without that obligatory “love” for Joffrey hanging around her neck - and so would she. It was fleeting, but was anything so wonderful as that smile of joyous relief that burst across her face? I'm not sure we've ever seen that from Sansa, even when she was first promised to Joffrey, before she knew what that meant. (Oh, and I'm willing to bet Jack Gleeson had a tremendous cold - Joffrey sounded more than a little congested, no?) So she'll stay, at least long enough to hear Littlefinger out, but she's grown so much wiser in her short stay that I suspect she has a few interesting cards to play yet.
Speaking of interesting cards who knew my favourite coupling was going to be Brienne and Jamie Lannister? Of all things I wouldn't have predicted, the two of them being a fantastic duo who can easily outwit any idiots they come across was not high on the list. Of course, Jamie's as surprised as I was and Brienne may be as well but she's not the one who's changing; she'll do what she has to to give those women a proper burial and isn't above vengeance. He's the one who's reorganizing his opinions of what this woman warrior must be like. (Lainey: I totally want to see them do it. Don’t lie - you totally do too.)
And we cannot mention women warriors without discussing Arya Stark. She's made a friend of Jaqen - whomever that man was - and can contact him again. Can maybe learn to be like him. Can subvert her destiny as a once-noble now-fugitive daughter of a traitor? I don't know. She's more intelligent than anyone gives her credit for (though, possibly to her detriment, she's not good at hiding it) and has bigger ambitions. How big, of course, we won't know until she learns what she's up against in a world where she has no home and those who would claim Winterfell as their own are on the run.
I've mentioned that I'm completely unspoiled so I don't know what's to become of Tyrion Lannister, but I can't help thinking that Varys' painted picture is maybe just a little bleak. That nobody will remember him when they discuss why King's Landing didn't fall. Once Tywin gets full scope of just how insane Joffrey is, won't he have to think a little about what role his youngest son played, even if it didn't end in his triumph in battle? I love that Shae is so sure he should never go back to the battlefield - she's quite comfortable pointing out his weaknesses. That's a truer relationship than so many here. Does it have a chance at survival? It's particularly interesting when you contrast it with Melisandre and Stannis Baratheon: that's not a man who needs support, that's a man who is grasping at straws and has already betrayed the entirety of himself. No matter how long he looks for the god in the fire, can he really overcome the human failings he's undertaken so far?
And then, at last, there are our friends in the North. We knew that Jon Snow would have to prove himself sooner or later, and all it took was a little assassination that would have come sooner or later. Now he's to meet the King beyond the Wall.
But speaking of beyond the wall - let's discuss the white walkers. They have been terrorizing us in absentia since the very beginning of this show, and certainly the spectre of them approaching Sam, thousands strong, was ominous. The three strong blasts, and then the approach. Terrifying ...
....Until we saw that one guy's face. The zombie horse was gruesome and evocative. The muscled, animated corpses of the zombified masses, chilling. The one man's wizened face and bright blue eyes:
Am I wrong? Though most of the special effects on this show are done reasonably well - the dragons mean a lot to me - this just didn't land. He didn't look scary, he looked animatronic. Almost cute, in fact. It took me out of what should have been a really terrifying moment, and I got scolded for pausing the PVR and laughing. But if this was the desired effect of the SFX team, I'll need to know why. If it wasn't, I'll need to know why they weren't fired, or the shot wasn't changed. Had we seen the same man at medium distance the effect might not have been so...cuddly ... but I couldn't scare up the chill I knew I was supposed to feel.
Whereas Varys asking Ros to be a spy - that was troubling. Gleeful and exciting too, maybe, but chilling nonetheless.
The long wait begins. Luwin is dead, long live Luwin. Osha is charged with protecting the two little lords. Arya travels. Robb will travel. Brienne and Jamie Lannister travel. Cersei does not travel, though Dylan texted last night that she needs to get the f-ck out of dodge. Blood is indeed thicker than water when everyone's far flung and fighting for the family name. Let's see what happens when they're all under the same roof.
Winter is upon us. See you next year.
Attached - Kit Harington at Guys Choice on Saturday.