Spoiler-free summary: In the final episode of season 3, the Capital receives news from the Twins, Tywin and Joffrey have a disagreement, Bran tells a ghost story, Theon’s captor is revealed, the Greyjoy’s make their decisions, Ygritte takes revenge, Sam arrives at Castle Black, Stannis shifts his focus and Dany meets the people of Yunkai.
*Episode spoilers from here on*
- Arya killed a man. And he was a Frey.
- JonGritte : ‘I know you won’t hurt me’ – ‘You know nothing Jon Snow’
- Major characters finally coming together, such as Sam and Bran, Sam and Jon and Jaime and Cersei
- Tyrion drinking with Podrick – “Keep up!”
- Davos saved Gendry!
- Stannis abandoned the War of the Five Kings and looked to the north – why isn’t everyone doing this?!
- Beautiful shots captured the tragic devastation of the Starks banners at the Twins (the shots of flaming men were reminiscent of Blackwater) and Daenerys’ liberation of Yunkai.
Why ‘Mhysa’ could’ve been better:
- There was a lot of dialogue, a lot! Some of it better than the rest. I know we’ve come to expect E9 to be the main emotional climax and E10 to be more of a set up for the season to come, but I expected more action of the finale. Just a bit.
- While some scenes felt over-long, other important ones like the return of Jaime were disappointingly brief
- It…didn’t pack any punch. The last scene was supposed to be epic, but it had more ‘messiah’ cheese than a babybel.
At the end of season 2, Arya uttered the words ‘Valar Morghulis’ (all men must die). However her priorities lay in being reunited with her family. Now, with Robb and Catelyn dead and House Stark desecrated, the same words tumble from her lips.I can’t wait for season 4.
Because of the decision to base Season 3 on the first half of ‘A Storm of Swords’, this finale was kind of like stopping in the middle of a book. It didn’t have much punch because it’s more of a breather than an end. There is action to come, but by my calculations a lot of it has to happen in the first few episodes of next season, so it’s a shame they couldn’t have let some of that action seep in to this finale. As an episode of over an hour in length, it was composed mainly of lengthy dialogue to set the stage for season 4.
After witnessing the aftermath of the Red Wedding, including the nightmare-inducing sight of Grey Wind’s head sewn on to Robb’s body, we quickly turn to King’s Landing. Tyrion and Sansa’s banter-filled stroll suggests that this mismatched pair is actually quite a match. This is perhaps the most sincere we have ever seen Sansa. She is no longer spoilt, hysterical, naively optimistic or sulking. She seems genuinely excited about the prospect of teaming up with her fellow outcast husband and putting ‘sheep shift’ in the beds of their enemies. The little detail that Sansa doesn’t actually know the word ‘shit’ was endearing and amusing.
However their playful plot is cut short when Tyrion is called to a Small Council meeting by Pod(sex-god)rick. News of the Stark’s demise at the hands of the Lannisters, Freys and Bolton’s has reached King’s Landing. Somehow I don’t think there will be any playful banter between Tyrion and Sansa for a while.
A common theme in Game of Thrones has been the illusion of power. In ‘Mhysa’, Tywin proved that despite not wearing a crown he is by far a more powerful player than Joffrey. As Tyrion remarks, he can send the ‘most powerful man in Westeros to bed without his supper.’ Robb also had a King’s power, yet despite never losing a battle, he perished.
Cersei is a character who survives on the threads of power. As a woman and a queen, her ability to wield it is rife with contradictions. Lena Headey somehow makes the most loathsome character understandable, and Cersei’s revealing scenes with Tyrion are always some of my favourite. It’s a small detail, but I noted the sincere smile Cersei gave Joffrey when he grinned at her during the Small Council meeting, perhaps remembering the happy little boy that kept her from throwing herself from the Red Keep. There are so many dimensions to these characters, even the ones you want to hate.
As a fantasy series GoT is unique in its lack of distinction between good and evil. When Ned Stark appeared to be the hero of the series, his head was swiftly removed. While we are horrified by the Red Wedding and condemn Lord Walder and the Lannisters , Lord Walder is nothing more than a proud and prickly underdog on a quest to ruthlessly prove his betters wrong. Tywin has his own reasons for the massacre, and Tyrion is both a Lannister and popularly one of the best characters in the show! Nothing is clear cut, which is what makes this story believable and engrossing.
Jon Snow is surely a man of honor. Right? However last week he had to choose between honoring his vows, and honoring a love born of dishonor. It’s a similar decision to the one Robb faced, except Robb chose wrong and paid sorely. One could say that getting shot with three arrows is a painful price, too, but hey, I feel ya Ygritte. It’s easier to embed three arrows in the person that is breaking your heart than sit there crying like an idiot. Rose Leslie is a great actress. I loved how Ygritte’s entire body reacted when Jon told her he loved her, how the bow came back as a reflex.
Bran’s storyline was back to a slow burn this week as he, Meera and Jojen continued to head for the Wall. It was great though for two reasons. First, his tale of the Rat Cook really emphasised the unforgivable nature of the Red Wedding in Westeros. Second, the warm satisfied feeling I get when two groups of characters finally come together is just the best. Sam meeting Bran was a highlight of the episode. “I’ve been around Ghost enough to know a Direwolf when I see one.”
In less warming revelations, the freaky man torturing Theon was unveiled as Roose Bolton’s bastard son, Ramsay. He kindly sends Theon’s recently amputated manhood to his father with a ransom, which gives us our first glimpse of the Greyjoy’s since last season. While the ever horrid Balon Greyjoy renounces his son, Yara decides to take matters in to her own hands. She vows to find her brother and bring him home in what is a major plot point going forward.
I commend the show for turning what was initially one of the dullest storylines in to one with texture and direction. Stannis in Dragonstone is no longer something I yawn at. The clever shot of Melissandre and Davos as a devil and angel was a bit cheesy perhaps, but it worked. These characters are no longer one dimensional, and I feel that I have a better grasp of their motives and perspectives. Stannis isn’t unjustifiably grim. Davos is no longer ‘that guy who hangs around Stannis’. An adorable addition to their story has been Shireen Baratheon, and as i’ve mentioned a few times this season, Melissandre is no longer ‘crazy witch lady’ but someone I can almost empathise with. Kudos, season 3.
Daenery’s final sequence looked beautiful, but it seemed like an average end to the series. I would’ve preferred something focusing on the north, to match this episodes emphasis on the coming threat of the Whitewalkers.
Season 3 has at times been disappointing. If you consider what it had to portray – bear fights, hand amputations, Dany’s sack of Yunkai, the climbing of the Wall – it just didn’t pack the punch expected and came across as thin. This might’ve been a result of complacence at the awesome source material, or just a struggle by the producers to portrayal numerous storylines as the series continues to expand. And in one as sprawling as this, can you blame them?
Nevertheless, season 3 has had some great moments, memorable guest stars, and showcased superb acting and beautiful sets, costumes and direction. It’s easy to forget that even an average episode of Game of Thrones is still fantastic television.