After last week’s “Red Wedding,” we are given a giant episode filled with stuff for…next season. Such a great buildup but this finale did not really stick the landing. It was a good episode and I guess after last week I was hoping for out of this world awesomeness. Instead we are kind of given little snippets and vignettes of the state of things in each part of Westeros. Definitely fun and all but I guess since I did not read the books that as a strictly TV viewer of GOT, I wanted some kind of cliffhanger or another plot device that would give me some sense of closure for now. Instead I am left thinking that we have to wait 42 weeks to find out what happens next. While some plot-lines were sewn up in this finale, I kept thinking one thing: this is “smart TV at its finest.” The way GOT draws us in to be invested in these characters and this drama is done remarkably well. Leaving a finale does not have to be a jaw drop ending but feel like there is some sense of conclusion to the season. I just did not get that impression despite it being must see geek TV.
It is quite a scene after last week’s bloody ending we start with the remaining Stark bannerman being overwhelmed by Roose Bolton and his crew. In a brash state of bravado Frey’s bannemen have the newly deceased King of the North on a stick, literally. Where once the head of Stark was replaced with the head of the direwolf Grey Wind. Khartoum anyone? Just in time for the celebration, Arya awakes and sees the gore. This kid is going to need some serious therapy at some point. She just cannot seem to catch a break but I feel that she is in good hands with The Hound. Strangely the pair makes an odd couple tandem that reminded me of the classic Besson flick The Professional.
Seeing Tyrion the diminutive outcast walking with his beautiful new bride Sansa, also an outcast for her last name was for a moment sweet before Tyrion was summoned to a council meeting. If ever there was a scene that could be compared to HBO’s The Sopranos, it was the meeting of the Lannisters. A giddy Joffrey is bursting with excitement at the news from Frey’s raven as Tyrion arrives. It was an interested tableaux with a towering Tywin at one end, Tyrion at the other and Joffrey in between. For a moment I was struck at just how sincere Tywin was in trying to keep the family name. When Tyrion gives Joffrey his comeuppance after he boasts that he will place the Robb’s head on Sansa’s plate at his wedding. It was a tense few minutes and spoke volumes about Tywin as both the Hand and as a father. Tyrion’s reminder to Joffrey that “Kings are dying like flies” when referring to the late Robb Stark is a killer jab to Joffrey as he pouts and yells at his Grandfather for how he was just spoken too. At this point I really thought Tywin shined as he explained why the King was tired. The realization that Tywin has been playing us did not come until my second viewing of the episode. After all, it seems that it was he that ordered the hit on the Starks. Tywin lays out how things will play out to his tiny son and that he and Sansa must consummate the marriage and produce an heir sooner than later. Tyrion remains to be the most likable Lannister and the only man that can bring their kingdom to be restored. Lord Varys explains this very well as he tries to persuade Shae with diamonds to leave the kingdom. Naturally the fire in Shae’s belly made her refute the offer and stay in King’s Landing until Tyrion says. Next year.
Before heading back to King’s Landing, we catch up with Arya and the Hound. The young Stark has certainly had her share of heartache and hearing men talk about her late brother fuels her anger enough to make her first kill. It was an odd moment to see that the girl in Arya had left and the woman that she is becoming. While Frey’s main hall is cleaned of all of the blood, he enjoys the spoils of his well-earned victory. I gotta say that Frey is a damn scary character and listening to him regale in his winnings (a new wife) of the slaughter is downright cold. I think that we all knew that he was a pretty bad dude from the get go but again, wow.
While Theon Greyjoy has been in the backgrounds of this season as a captor to Ramsay Snow, Roose Bolton’s bastard son is one sadistic SOB. Finally we TV viewers get a name for this creep. While eating pork sausage and filling us in that he has cut off Theon’s Greyjoy’s manhood, Roose eats and for a minute think that he is eating, well, you know. Yikes. This guy and Joffrey should play racquetball on the weekends. While begging for death at Ramsay’s hand, I am not quite sure what his endgame will be though but how much more torture can Theon endure? At least his sister Yara is planning to rescue him with or without Balon’s help….next season. Dammit. I am seeing a pattern here.
In Dragonstone it was interesting to see Davos and Gendry bonding over about both being from Flea Bottom. Davos sees a bit of himself in the young lad and is sure to tell Stannis such before he orders his death after admitting to let Gendry go out to sea on his own. I was a little confused on how swiftly Davos was able to manage an escape for Gendry but there are bigger questions afoot. But hold that order, the Red Woman cancels it out letting Stannis know that Davos will play a big part of the future war. Nice save for the old man with a heart.
Returning to King’s Landing, Tyrion and his big sister continue to discuss her pending marriage to Loras. In a moment of weakness, Cersei actually is nice and tells her brother that he should give Sansa a child so that she can have some happiness in her life. She talks of Joffrey as a baby and what a delight the little monster was as a tot. First Tywin and now Cersei shedding a tear? In the words of M. McFly, “This is heavy.” I can just see a three year old Joff with a crown demanding more graham crackers like Stewie from Family Guy. A little monster that wants to rule the world. A cleaned up Brienne and Jaime are strolling around with the common folk and give each other a nod of acceptance to each other as the giant woman flanks her charge. It is another “nice moment” of the episode. Cut to Cersei’s chambers and her brother/lover has returned and the two are speechless for a moment. I guess that is what I would have expected after all that has gone down in the realm.
Jon Snow is tracked down by his true love Ygritte but that is not enough for the woman and she puts the Medieval equivalent of a cap in his ass by lacing three arrows into the bastard. Sam and Gilly meet up with Bran and company and implore him to go to Castle Black at once. Unfortunately the little Warg turns down the offer despite Sam’s pleading. It does not seem like ANY of the Stark’s will ever be reunited. Thankfully Jon’s horse takes him back to where Sam and Pyp are and the former has truly become a real hero. And if there is one thing I have learned, it is that in Westeros it is much more difficult to be a hero than a villain.
The Queen of Dragons was saved for last and Daenerys frees yet another tremendous number of slaves to add to her growing army. The free people embrace her and begin to chant “Mhysa,” an old word for “mother” as she walks her way through the crowd. Yeah it was cool to see all three dragons for a micro-second and seeing Dany be embraced was nice. The overview of her massive army was a nice touch. But just then, I knew things were at an end and the credits would roll. The more I have digested it the day after I think that a “B+” is a fair grade for the episode as a standalone but an “A” for setting up next year hence the “A-“. I am have complete faith in the cast and production that Season 4 will be another terrific but seriously, when is winter coming already?