Game of Thrones: Mhysa, Review

The third Game of Thrones season ends with the desire for more bloodletting and the most entertaining family on television....

Ten episodes are over. And now my watch begins. Every year amazes at how fast a season of Game of Thrones flies. It is inspiring that they deliver ten movie quality hours of television a year over as many weeks. But that leaves another 42 of them without a single snarky witticism by Tyrion, a boastful declaration of divine right by Daenerys or a moment of pure bloodlust from little Arya. What are we to do with ourselves in the intervening time? Well, besides study the “Families of Westeros” charts like a grad student with a dissertation due in nine months… Thus, I approached this final hour like a bottle of Dornish wine. I sipped it slowly and savored the 2013 vintage and what it means for the brand, as each and every story ended with a bow that leaves us desperate for more.  The finale itself begins with a bang by stabbing us in the gut one last time: The Red Wedding. Remember how angry you were with your TV last week? I imagine it went through the window tonight when Roose Bolton soaked in the thousands of burning dead Stark men that he so smilingly betrayed. On the ground, the carnage is so much worse. Bodies fall everywhere and men are being hanged, disemboweled, beaten or all three for what amounts to a Frey Hat Trick. Even little Arya awakens long enough in the Hound’s arms to finally see her long lost brother Robb. The Young Wolf is being taunted together with Grey Wind. Literally. Those Frey bastards SEWED the wolf’s head to Robb’s body. It is a repulsive moment where writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss almost take a perverse pleasure in twisting the knife in the audience’s still gaping wound. For any traumatized Richard Madden fangirls left after last week, the writers seem gleeful in giving them the final push needed to cancel those HBO subscriptions. At least Arya pays them back much later in the episode. My personal favorite moment of the week comes when Arya and the Hound ride by a couple of Frey men swapping stories about how badly they screwed over the Starks. One of them even takes credit for sewing the direwolf to Robb’s body. In the only moment of solace for Team Stark (everybody), Arya comes to share their fire. As she bats her puppy dog eyes, she can barely contain herself before revealing the hungry wolf fangs. She slits the seamstress braggart’s throat wide with multiple jabs from the Hound’s knife while he comes up from behind to end the lives of three more Frey buggers. And thus begins what is hopefully a long bloody trail of Frey men. There are few rules in Westeros, but killing your guests—at a freaking wedding!—is a bridge too far for everyone. The Seven willing, the land around the Twins will be stuffed with dead Freys. And we all hope each is served up by Arya’s hand. “Is that the first man you’ve killed,” the Hound asks. “The first,” she replies with dead eyes. Oh, there will be more. The Hound does not even seem that upset she used his knife. And hey, she got dinner because those three corpses roasted a perfectly fine bit of meat. Where Arya’s rage goes, everyone feasts! Especially crows, rats, worms, maggets… It is good to see the show’s Arya finally get her violence on, as there likely will never be a better target than someone with the last name Frey. I do not care about Joffrey and I do not care about Tywin. I just hope Arya is able to rain down blood like a Tarantino movie on each and every Frey or Bolton in the land. The way she says Valar Morghulis promises more to come. Not just for Arya, but for the viewer. That girl bathing in rivers of blood like she’s Elizabeth Báthory is our last hope. A time for wolves means a time for Arya’s blade. Plus, as Maisie Williams is the most expressive of the Stark children, this means plenty of happy faces as the new “Lord of Riverrun’s” river veins flood.  On a slightly less chilling note, the older Stark girl is enjoying her walks with Tyrion Lannister in the Red Keep. With a scene that is far more heartwarming than their wedding night (if it can be called that), the newlyweds seem to at least be happy with one another’s company in a perfectly platonic way. They even start scheming how to get back on all those who snicker at them. For Tyrion it means a threat of violence and for Sansa it merely equals putting sheep dung in their bed. These two crazy kids! Unfortunately the romcom is cut short yet again when Tyrion gets the dreaded call to the Small Council’s chamber. Inside the Tower of the Hand, Joffrey is as giddy as a crowned sociopath while Maester Pycelle continues to take his pathetically small victories over the Imp who de-bearded him (this time he dropped a letter, forcing Tyrion to reach down to pick it up). The matter is a note from Walder Frey that, for all its strained attempts at cleverness, states Robb and Catelyn Stark are dead. Joffrey is beside himself and the thought of adding Robb’s head to his collection. He even plans to serve it as a meal to Sansa during his upcoming wedding! “No,” Tyrion rasps. “She is no longer yours to torment.” And in the BEST scene of the night, Joffrey begins acting up by insisting, “Everyone is mine to torment!” Oh yeah?! Tyrion threatens to kill the king in his retort. As Joffrey fumes to perhaps have Tyrion’s tongue cut out, he ignores his mother’s soothing hand and whines like Dante Hicks, “I AM THE KING!” And then Tywin steps in to scold that anyone who has to say those words is no true king. more: Game of Thrones Season 8 – Everything We Know This is why at the end of the day you have to love the Lannisters. As despicable and dastardly as they all are, including Tyrion to degrees, they can just be so much more entertaining. I have shed my proverbial tears over Robb and Cat, but their war councils have never been so addictively watchable that I wished I had a bowl of popcorn. Anyway, Joffrey escalates things even more by inferring that Tywin is a coward while his “father” (Robert Baratheon, not Jaime) won the last real war; Tywin merely hid in Casterly Rock. At this point, my imaginary popcorn is flying. The tension finally subsides when Tywin orders Joffrey to bed without his supper. He even suggests (commands) Pycelle to give the brat some nightshade. Like a boss, Tywin Lannister just ordered the leader of Seven Kingdoms be drugged up. That just happened. Familial fireworks aside, the most fascinating moment of this scene is that Tywin demands Tyrion stay behind for a little tete-a-tete. Since Tywin clearly basks in the glory of his underhanded and quite evil victory over Robb Stark, it is curious that he seems compelled to defend his sneaky motives to Tyrion. For all his japes at his short son’s expense, Tyrion remains the only member of the Small Council who Tywin seems remotely interested in receiving counsel from. Even if he ignores it. He may despise his youngest son, but it is almost gratifying for the junior and his fans that Tywin always concedes this son’s mind as the sharpest and most important, besides his own, in the capital.  Tyrion reveals disgust over the Red Wedding and what it could mean for future relations with the North, not to mention his own marriage. Tywin slyly implies that Walder Frey will bear the brunt of the small folks’ anger and suggests that Tyrion simply rape Sansa. He then insults Tyrion by admitting that he wanted to drown him when he was born. Seven Hells, this family is amazingly awful. Oh yeah, there was more to this episode. After finding out that Sansa has learned of her mother and brother’s death, thereby cementing a lifetime’s worth of needed therapy for a doubtless survivor’s guilt (she thinks she’s the last Stark), Tyrion gets drunk with Podrick Payne and laments Joffrey’s evilness with Cersei. The Queen Regent agrees that Joffrey is a “terrible one,” but that will never take away the fact that he is her son whom she loves. The Lannisters end the season having won everything but being utterly miserable. Between Tywin’s marital scheming and Joffrey being God’s Perfect Asshole, there just is not a lot of joy to savor, even in their greatest triumph. That goes double for when Jaime and Brienne finally reach King’s Landing. In a sequence that I wish was much longer, an exhausted and wordless tag team end their road trip by crawling into a city that takes them for country folk. In a terrible time jump, we then witness Jaime finally reunited with his twin/lover. What about Tywin? What will Tyrion think of seeing the only other Lannister that loves him in town? Will Joffrey want to talk with the uncle whose accused of being his father? And wouldn’t both Jaime AND Brienne have some horrific reaction to the news of Catelyn Stark’s butchery?! That is all swept under the rug for next year, by which time we will forget the significance of this reunion. It is practically a lost opportunity if not for Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s acting. The sister’s face turns from the shock of her years-absence love returning to pure despair at the sight of his missing hand. Despair and the faintest hint of disgust. Cersei is not exactly a woman who pities or empathizes with weakness, likely because she would be forced to recognize it in herself. There is a similar small shift in Jaime’s eyes that speak almost of anger about his missing hand. Not just at its removal, but also with the judging stare of Cersei. But again, all that must wait until next year…read more: Game of Thrones Season 8 Predictions and Theories A little further from the capital, Dragonstone is also having a bit of an upheaval. Fearing for the boy’s imminent immolation, Ser Davos sends Gendry on a rowboat toward King’s Landing. It is a good thing too, because Melisandre and Stannis are so flabbergasted by this noble treachery that they even laugh as they order the Onion Knight to his death. In the worst change of the season, Davos’ life is spared not because of a note he revealed from the Night’s Watch. Yes, that tantalizes audiences with the reveal that Stannis is going to sail North toward the Wall to fight Ice Zombies. But instead of that letter saving the Onion Knight’s life, Stannis still plans to see him burn. It is Melisandre saying Davos will have use in the future war that spares him. The writers of the show are really going out of their way to ensure we hate Stannis. Still, it promises that we are shifting to a new stage for viewers. The War of the Five Kings is over. Renly and Robb are dead and the Ironborn are little more than nuisance. Stannis is not relinquishing his claim to the Iron Throne, but he is departing, thus ending, that War for another. “This War of Five Kings means nothing,” hisses Melisandre. “The true war lies to the North.” ICE ZOMBIES! Here we come! Which brings us to the North. A lot happened up there.  Firstly, Ramsay Snow (we finally discovered his name compliments of a Lord Bolton monologue about his bastard son) tortures Theon Greyjoy by eating a penis-shaped sausage. Luckily, we all knew it was a trick because there is no way Theon was that gifted. Otherwise, Ros would have never left. But he does break the last mental block in Theon the Eunuch’s pride until he accepts that his name is Reek. Hey, that rhymes with meek. Which sounds like weak. Which is what Reek is. The penis in question did find its way to Pyke, the biggest of the Iron Islands. There, Ramsay gave new meaning to “Dick in a Box” when it arrived for Balon Greyjoy and sister Asha. It also came with a promise for more bits of Reek (that is name now) to come unless the Ironborn give up their stupid land grab in the North. Balon Greyjoy, proving himself twenty times the monster previously thought, simply shrugs at the Lonely Island joke sitting on his table. “He cannot further the Greyjoy line,” the father condescendingly explains to Asha. Not only does he no longer care if Reek lives, dies or comes in small pieces, he will not even attempt a rescue. Reek, you betrayed Robb Stark for this?! Asha also sees Balon’s reaction as one of pathetic cowardice and an inability to face reality. Hence, she promises that next season she will sail up the Narrow River with 50 Ironborn and bring Reek back! Are you taking note, Starks? If you say you are going to do something, then do it!  To his credit, Bran Stark is a man of his word. The boy, along with the Reeds, Hodor, and furry Summer, reached one of the decrepit Night’s Watch castles where Sam and Gilly happened to be. It is so freaking rare for storylines to overlap that I made special note to enjoy this. It may be the only time Bran and Jon’s stories directly interact. It is only a few moments, but it felt as earned as The Avengers to see Samwell Tarly and Bran Stark share the same screen. Sam even suggests Bran join him back to Castle Black in hopes of meeting up with Jon. But alas, George R.R. Martin and HBO do not want us to have too much of a Stark reunion, lest it ruin our tears. Thus, Bran forces Sam to show him a way through the castle and to the great frost Beyond the Wall. After his good deed for the episode, Sam returns to Castle Black with Gilly like he is running things. He stands up to Maester Aeomen when the old Targaryen suggests that he fathered Gilly’s child. He gets Gilly room and board and when asked if he his writing is better than swordsman ship, he boasts “by miles.” You kill one Whitewalker and you think you’re hot stuff now? Good on you, Sam the Slayer.  Less happy is Jon Snow. Last week, I was honestly surprised they chose not to have Ygritte hit Jon with an arrow. In the book, Ygritte wounds Jon during his escape and that is it for a while. I actually thought the show was softening this love story. In short, I’m a fool. They saved it for a new scene where Ygritte alone finds Jon and shoots him not once, but THREE times. Jon even declares that he loves her, but that he has to go home. When you profess your love to a girl and she pokes you with multiple projectile objects, chances are it’s over. For all the Jon/Ygritte Shippers, it was a rough week. First Robb Stark and then Jon Snow?! Does HBO just not want women between 18-35 watching this show? But fears were rested when Jon’s horse brings him back to Castle Black safe and sound and ready for a next season. Good thing too, because not only is Winter Coming, but so is Mance Rayder’s army. Not to mention Ygritte. The girl Kissed by Fire is as mad as Hellfire and in Westeros, castration is an unfortunate way of life…Perhaps Jon should just stick his head in the snow before she gets there? The episode chose to end on a somewhat euphoric note. Dany, who went a whole hour without being present, takes pleasure in the spoils of her victory last week over Yunkai. In a surprisingly beautiful sequence, some 200,000 slaves pour out of the city’s front gates to greet Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons. She tells them that they are free and they tell her that she is their mother. They even let her do a little Crowd Surfing as the trio of dragons fly by. It is a moving sequence because after the bitter pill of the last two episodes, this moment reminds us there are happy or optimistic moments to Game of Thrones. Indeed, the writers are practically begging us to recall Episode 4 of this season when Dany roasted Astapor to the ground. Like the perpetually incoming Henry V, Dany is the lost king (or queen) destined to rise up and give her homeland a happy ending from those damned French Lannisters/Whitewalkers.  Yet, I would be remiss not to worry about what this will do to Dany’s psyche. Let’s just keep in check that the Targaryens are not exactly the most rational and levelheaded of people. After her son with Drogo died, she chanced fate by roasting with her dragon eggs. She latched onto those three winged dinosaurs like a cat lady and now she has 200,000 people calling her mother. The last thing I think any Targaryen needs is MORE ego stroking. This may be the birth of Westeros’ greatest hero or tyrant. And so ends Season 3. Overall, the finale is about what anyone should expect at this point. Entertaining with a side of promising hooks for next season, but nothing astounding. Besides Daenerys’ amazing dragon-birthing scene to send Season 1 off on a high note, none of the Season Finales in this show have been that spectacular. Game of Thrones strangely defies traditional television logic in that way. Rarely do the best bits happen in either the Season Premiere or Season Finale. Rather, the greatest stuff is nigh exclusively in the episodes between. Like the closing of a book, the final chapter is a resolution for the crescendo reached earlier. In this case, that climax was Roslin landing her fish and wolf pelts. Given that Season 3 ends in the middle of the book, they could have chosen an amazing cliffhanger (as a book reader, I can think of at least three they chose to leave for next year), but that is the nature of the beast. And like a Pavlovian Dog, I think I am starting to enjoy that. Beyond this tradition, Season 3 has proven itself a cut above what came before. Both Seasons 1 and 2 of Game of Thrones were superb. But whereas one was weighted down by heavy exposition for half of its season, the other suffered from an unanchored pacing and television writers trying to figure out how to draw a smooth plot around a pure ensemble. In Season 3, they finally found that balance. Each week moved effortlessly into the next as the tension built and the amazing moments increased. Unlike the first two seasons, there was not a slow episode. Some viewers may have not felt the mounting sense of impending war (or battle) like the first two seasons, but now that the last glass of Frey wine has been spilt, I think we see it is so much more rewarding not knowing where this season’s elopement would end. And along the way, there were so many amazing moments that could have been Season Finales as big as Ned Stark’s head: Jaime losing his hand; Tyrion marrying Sansa; Jaime and Brienne going into the bear pit; DAENERYS STORMBORN TARGARYEN DROPPING THE VALYRING D-WORD (DRACARYS) ON ASTAPOR. But nothing will beat that Red Wedding. There have been amazing TV deaths (read about them HERE). But none has been as mercilessly stunning in the breadth of its cruelty and horror. It is a TV moment that makes Ned and Blackwater look like the good ol’ days in comparison. Where most shows start to stumble, Game of Thrones ends its third season at its peak. Not just for the series, but for whatever is on television. You may be furious that the Lannisters, Freys and Boltons got away with it. You may even be swearing off the series forever as you wipe away tearstains on your Family Stark Posters; cursing out this review for even posting this image:   But you will be back. Like Arya, where else can you go except for the jugular? This reviewer is already expecting Season 4 and all the shocks, blood and death that will come with it. Until then, game well played. Den of Geek Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


4 out of 5