Written by: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Chances are pretty good that you watched "Blackwater" and thought to yourself, "I can't believe this isn't the season finale!" which is the usual reaction when watching the penultimate episode of a given season. As amazing as "Blackwater" was, there are still several other plot lines we need to get back to, and everything from the aftermath of the battle to Daenerys going to rescue her dragons makes significant progress in "Valar Morghulis", the jam-packed finale of season two. Although the season doesn't end on some exciting cliffhanger or some major revelation such as the birth of three baby dragons, it does leave us with an (appropriately) ominous outlook of what lies ahead.
If you're anti-House Lannister, then King's Landing must be pretty freaking dreadful for you right now: Tywin's arrival in King's Landing allows him to take over as the new Hand of the King, leaving all of Westeros currently in control of Joffrey, Cersei, and Tywin. And now that he's no longer the Hand of the King, Tyrion is left with essentially no position of power. The endless barrage of BS that Tyrion gets continues; everyone gathers to celebrate Tywin and his help with winning the Battle of Blackwater (in a scene that shows Tywin's horse, for who knows what reason, take a shit on the floor), while the real hero of the battle, Tyrion, is left alone in a tiny room to recover from his wounds. Despite Shae suggesting for the two of them to leave King's Landing, Tyrion insists on staying, believing that he truly enjoys talking and planning with everyone in the Capital, even if they treat him like crap. This is not a dumb decision on Tyrion's part, and my gosh am I thankful that he wants to stay, because Game of Thrones would kind of suck without Tyrion. Tyrion could run away and live out his days eating, sleeping, and whoring, but how long until he gets bored with it? What's going on right now in King's Landing, this is what Tyrion lives for. Why? Because he's so damn good at it.
So, how is poor Stannis doing after such a crushing defeat? He blames Melisandre for pressuring him with promises of a great victory and nearly strangles her to death. But Melisandre continues to reassure to Stannis that all will work out well for him in the end, having him stare into a flame in order to renew his faith. I'm glad that Stannis shows a questioning attitude towards Melisandre as opposed to accepting everything she says as the word of God. It's Game of Thrones dipping its toe in the water of one of the various ways that George R.R. Martin loves to defy usual fantasy tropes: false prophecies and defiance of heavenly beings. Stannis thought he would win the Battle of Blackwater, especially because of the confirmation he received on the part of Melisandre. But he lost the battle. How could the Lord of Light defy him so? We'll have to wait until next season to see if any more divine intervention comes Stannis' way.
Where to next? I think we can skip talking about Brienne and Jaime, because whese two will be on the road together for at least a little bit longer, so we'll have other chances to talk about their budding relationship later on. Speaking of relationships, Robb Stark confesses to his mother that he is in love with Talisa, and despite Catelyn warning Robb of the dangers of breaking his oath to Walder Frey, Robb marries Talisa. Maybe I'm just being skeptical, but I could never get fully on board with the way Robb and Talisa's relationship develops. It's almost painfully obvious that the two would get together from the moment they meet and strike up a conversation. Why else would Robb be talking to this girl, if it's not to fall in love with her? Almost no pair of boy and girl that really become acquainted with each other in Game of Thrones ever avoid falling in love.
Meanwhile in Winterfell, Theon continues to get no love. Roose Bolton's bastard son is about launch a siege, and Theon is fully aware that he doesn't have the numbers to fight. Despite insistence from Maester Luwin to flee and join The Night's Watch, Theon rallies his men and gives a passionate pre-battle speech. Aaaaaand Theon's men decide to knock him out, proceeding then to fatally stab Maester Luwin before they depart and take Theon to wherever they plan on taking him. Quite the surprising turn of events, and once we find out exactly where Theon is taken, we'll realize that he's about to go from top of the world to rock bottom.
Alright, so now we get to what are easily the two most important scenes of the finale: Daenerys entering the House of the Undying and the closing scene beyond the Wall. Daenerys has several visions as she enters the House and searches for her dragons. She first has a vision of a ruined, snow-covered throne room, where the roof has been ripped open. Daenerys slowly walks up to the throne and reaches out to touch it, but before she does, she hears what sounds like a baby crying. This takes her to a tent where she finds Khal Drogo, clutching a baby boy. Daenerys is not sure if she is dreaming, but after a touching reunion with Drogo, the cries of her dragons causes Daenerys to leave.
Game of Thrones normally likes to be very subtle with its foreshadowing, which might make some people a little upset about these visions and how they're giving us direct hints about if Daenerys will ever end up on the Iron Throne. Through seven seasons, there has yet to be a clear answer on what exactly this vision is supposed to represent. An educated guess I've heard several times is that King's Landing will eventually be destroyed (the room covered in snow and the roof being destroyed), and though Daenerys will come close to taking the Iron Throne, something will happen to prevent her from seizing it (she reaches out to touch the chair, but stops at the last second). As we get close to the very end of the series, moments like this vision of the snow-covered Throne room are ones we want to be sure to have in our back-pocket, because they drop important clues on how everything will shape up when all is said and done. I also love how this vision has inspired several theories about how Daenerys' story will come to an end. Once season 8 airs, I know people are going to be bringing this scene up.
And finally, the scene beyond the Wall: Qhorin Halfhand goads Jon Snow into a fight, with Jon killing him. The wildlings free Jon and promise him a meeting with Mance Rayder, the King-Beyond-The-Wall. Mance Rayder should the least of Jon's worries though, because there are White Walkers nearby, and we get our first direct glimpse of one here. Sam and his group hear three horn blasts (meaning White Walkers are approaching), and poor Sam gets left behind as the others flee to safety. Sam watches as a large group of wights begin to approach his direction, along with a White Walker riding an undead horse. The Walker lets out a high-pitched shriek, as the camera zooms out to show us just how large the horde of marching undead actually is. I've said it several times already, but I'm going to keep saying it, because the White Walkers show up sporadically during the first few seasons. This is also a ridiculous way to describe Game of Thrones to someone who's never seen the show:
All of this fighting for the Iron Throne is, in reality, complete and utter bullshit. The White Walkers are the true threat, and they will kill everyone.
So we've come to the end of what has been a marvelous season, and "Valar Morghulis" does all of the right things to close out season two without missing anything that needed to get resolved. Each major story line makes significant progress, setting up for a season three that is certain to bring more raging intensity and memorable character interactions. It only gets better and better from here on out, as the stakes grow higher and higher and the body count grows larger and larger.
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