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Game of Thrones Episode 210, Valar Morghulis

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Game of Thrones 210 Valar Morghulis

After the explosive battle and brilliant writing of last week’s Battle of Blackwater, season two of Game of Thrones ends with…a flaccid anti-climax, the result of juggling too many plot lines and adding a few meaningless ones for good measure.

It’s not that this episode didn’t have some cool moments, and it’s not that I don’t feel for the writers who had the unenviable task of trying to untangle all these plots and cast new lines for next season. I mean, I love Ros as much as anyone, but even though we got to see her boobs again, do we really need some kind of Varys/Ros partnership story? Unless they make it a full-on exploitation flick (The Eunuch and the Whore, coming this spring from New Line Entertainment. “She’d have him by the balls…if he had any.”), then count me out.

And then of course there’s Robb and the Naughty Nurse. There are times when the series will have to diverge from the novels for valid reasons. But this? This severely mucks with some major story issues, using a completely invented character who serves no purpose whatsoever. The whole thing is just terrible. In one day they go from a firelight romp in Robb’s tent to the cheesiest wedding scene ever. This was just terrible, miserable, pathetic…oh, whatever.

Brief visits with Tyrion (instead of a brutally ruined face, now he just has a super-manly scar; and something seems to have rekindled some sort of love between he and Shae) and Stannis (he’s pissed at losing the battle and suddenly skeptical of Melisandre’s future fire powers; she apparently gets him high and now he can see wacky visions in the fire too) wrapped up their season two stories for all intents and purposes. Best line of the episode might go to Stannis, who when he first looks into the fire and with a skeptical scowl, says, “I see fire.”

The first really pivotal scene was the curt promotion of Tywin to King’s Hand by his grandson. Tywin and his horse do a good job of wordlessly showing what they think of King’s Landing pomp and circumstance. Joffrey is quickly wooed by Margaery Tyrell, who manages to be seductive out in the open (“I’ve heard tales of your bravery, and their roots grow deep inside of me,” is a strong contender for line of the episode, too). Joffrey tries to be seductive back, for some reason his charm reminds of Wooderson from Dazed and Confused, creepily hitting on high school girls.

It’d be a lot cooler if you did.

Meanwhile, Sansa is literally moved to tears of joy by the cancellation of her wedding to King Doucheface, but Littlefinger reminds her she’s still his toy – only to promise to help her escape, motivated purely out of love and respect for Sansa’s mother, no doubt. I’m sure Littlefinger feels those things, but of course that man plays the game as well as anyone – look, it got him a damn castle!

Brienne and Jaime are still on the road together, and they run into some Stark men who are acting a bit roguish, murdering camp followers for sleeping with Lannisters. They mock Brienne, and line of the episode might go to my wife: “Look at the size of her! I don’t think I’d laugh. Even if I was a douchebag.” Brienne kills the crap out of them, and they move on.

Now, over to Theon, sitting in Winterfell surrounded by the men of House Bolton, who are blowing vuvuzelas outside all night and driving Theon mad. Hey Theon, you’re never getting laid again.

He gives a stirring speech to his men, who play along, then knock him out so they can deliver him to the northmen and go home (those were the terms Robb offered). The one Ironborn guy needlessly stabs Maester Luwin in the stomach, then they burn Winterfell to the ground. Osha, Rickon, Bran and Hodor find Luwin, who gives them a genuinely touching farewell and suggests they head north, for the wall. I love Natalia Tena as Osha – her slow, dark eyes give the character a feeling of strange, earthy wisdom.

At this point, the Starks, essentially the core characters of season one, are in tatters. Robb is the only one who’s in a remotely happy place right now, and it sure looks like he’s about to botch that royally (pun intended). Even their seemingly invincible ancestral home is destroyed.

Arya’s scene bidding farewell to Jaqen was well-played, especially her frustrated, reluctant mention of having to find her sister. In her heart, Arya wants to become a stealthy assassin like Jaqen, hunting down all the people on her list. But she’s a Stark, after all, and can’t shirk her duty (if only Robb were so stolid). “Valar Morghulis,” are the magic words Arya must say to any Bravosi when she wants to find Jaqen again. Then he turns back with a different face, then walks away.

Then there’s Daenerys. She goes on a little D&D adventure into the magic tower of the warlocks of Qarth. What sound like screams of horror at first turn out to be the cries of her dragons. She trips through futures and pasts that never happened, then finds her three children chained to a pedestal. The FX on the dragons remain impeccable – I still find them utterly convincing (moreso than Jason Momoa’s stick-on beard). The whole thing is resolved rather easily though, without much effort on Dany’s part. She basically says, “Get ‘em, dragons,” the dragons set the warlocks on fire, and she walks out. So the warlocks never accounted for the part where the dragons breathe fire? I mean, seriously, that whole deal played out like, “You will stay here…FOREVAH! MuahahahahaHEY! OW!” Another great effect with the warlock burn, by the way. Those are challenging, and it looked like they blended CGI with a live burn really seamlessly.

Dany locking her servant in the empty vault with Xaro seemed out of character for her. Xaro, yes, but why would Dany punish the girl just for sharing his bed? It’s not like she sold Dany out or anything. I get that they’re trying to show how this experience has hardened Dany, stiffened her resolve and so on. I can’t seem to think of a non-phallic metaphor for this. Anyway, the Dothraki are happy to loot, and now they’re all gonna buy a boat.

Oh yeah, and Jon Snow sworded Qoren Halfhand, which totally turned Ygritte on. Did you see the look in her eyes? That look totally said, “Stabbing gets me hot.” The way Halfhand goaded Jon into killing him in anger felt different to me from the way it played out in the novels, where it was a more pragmatic decision. It’s two very different men who kill Halfhand for very different reasons, novel Jon Snow versus TV Jon Snow.

Things aren’t quite over yet, though. As much as I disliked this episode, it did end in truly spectacular fashion. Or, as my wife put it, “Just in case you didn’t think we had enough crazy stuff, we got ice zombies. A fuck of a lot of ice zombies.” Seriously, I should just have her write these things. So Sam Tarly and his not-so-doughty black brother are digging for elk poo when the horn blows. Once, twice, three times it’s zombies! Slow Sam hides behind a rock, so we get to see the awesome army of White Walkers shambling out of the snow. Plus the rare appearance of a zombie horse, with some kind of White Walker general astride it. The whole thing was just deeply, profoundly awesome. But, uh, how is Sam going to get out of that mess?

If season one was the Saga of the Starks, and season two was all about the war, season three is shaping up to be one long road trip. Sansa is set to flee King’s Landing. Arya is on the run again. Bran and company are heading for the wall. Jon Snow is blundering around the snow with the Wildlings. Jaime and Brienne are heading for a castle that no longer exists. Dany is likely to leave Qarth. Everyone’s on the move, and there doesn’t seem to be one clear, unifying story to pull them all along. It will be interesting to see how the writers pull it off.

I sure hope it involves more ice zombies.

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Posted by on Sunday, June 3rd, 2012. Filed under Dark TV, Headline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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