After last episode’s bombshell, fans expressed their outrage, heartfelt sorrow and disbelief. The collective gasp of shock from living rooms around the world roared into a frenzy on Twitter and other social media sites. The aftershock even reverberated across TV talk shows and newspaper headlines as if what happened was like a real life event. A week later, millions of viewers tuned in (or downloaded) to watch a confident, well-written season finale that began with its darkest hour and ended with a rare moment of inspiration. Continue reading Game Of Thrones Season 3 Finale, “Myhsa” review and recap.
I’m starting off with my favorite character in this finale. The writers made a subtle yet clever choice with Arya pretending to be a hungry, clumsy girl which is not out her element having previously taken on the guise of Arry the boy and Tywin’s cup-bearer. Arya’s growing list of personas is by design; all the more symbolic while holding the coin given by the faceless assassin. Arya knows her destiny and what she must do: “All men must die” she says in Valryian.
Author George R.R. Martin subverted expectation when Robb did not avenge his father’s death. So there’s a measure of instant gratification in Arya’s premeditated murder on the man who sewed Grey Wind’s head to Robb’s body. All season her fate has been in the hands of men; escaping the Brotherhood only to be taken by the Hound. As dark and disturbing as it is for a vengeful girl to kill in cold blood, she’s taking control of her fate.
I can’t help but cheer for Arya after all she’s gone through. I also loved the Hound’s reaction. He doesn’t reprimand her for killing he only asks to be told ahead of time. The Hound is not a hero but the image of him protecting Arya on horseback and carrying the Frey flag to get safe passage makes me want to root for him too.
As for Arya’s sister, the cruel irony of Sansa smiling and joking with Tyrion while the viewer knows her family is dead would have been poignant if I cared more about her. Because I’m not as invested in Sansa, it was effective to simply have her teary-eyed and staring out a window with the camera cutting to Tyrion’s empathetic face without having to say a word about the Red Wedding.
Elsewhere in King’s Landing, the small council are relatively subdued over news of their enemy’s demise, with the exception of Cersei’s sly smirk and Joffrey’s tantrum. It’s natural to empathize with the Starks because they are a relatable, loving family torn apart, that I forget that the Lannisters are a family too ensuring their survival.
The Lannisters are the poster child for dysfunction, so it did not occur to me how much Tywin values his family over the whims of its individual members but it makes absolute sense considering the political marriages he brokered. Tyrion will never feel worthy in his father’s eyes, so was he supposed to find some consolation learning Tywin took one for the team by not tossing him into the sea because he’s a Lannister? That’s a low blow Tywin, no Father’s day gift for you!
As encapsulated in the council’s meeting where King Joffrey is sent to his room without a meal, a component of the series’ narrative dismisses the power of the crown and army. For instance, Tyrion points out the King of the North won every battle yet lost the war and Melissandre recognizes her curse on the kings won’t bring Stannis any closer to the throne. Tyrion himself has experienced first hand that power is an illusion. After his demotion from Hand of the King, whatever power he thought he had continues to slip away when he’s forced to marry a teenage bride and all but ordered to father a son.
It’s evident that the Freys and the Boltons believe power resides in Tywin. And his power is tangible; in return for the Red Wedding massacre, the Frey’s secure an alliance with the ruling Lannisters and for Roose, appointment as Warden of the North. Yet, titles and alliances are like a flame flickering in the wind when kings are dying like flies. Perhaps the shadow on the wall in Tywin’s master scheme is not receiving the recognition or the blame for the Stark’s destruction, something the North will undoubtedly remember. Even if they do discover the true mastermind behind the Red Wedding, they’ll think twice before going into war with House Lannister.
There are clear parallels between Theon and Jamie’s story involving the loss of a body part that represented their identity and what they viewed as their source of power in the world. The show’s intent was to portray Theon’s degeneration into a broken shell of flesh and bone with no will to live and having death denied to him, forced to submit to the name of Reek (as in stinking meat). Though Theon’s arc may have some merit in gaining viewer sympathy, I would have preferred one scene early in the season that revealed he was a prisoner and then comeback to him at a later point much like Jamie Lannister in Season 2 where he was off-screen for a long time.
It’s been ingrained in our psychological makeup to have affinity for characters who start making decisions to do the right thing, even those as morally complex as Jamie. The Kingslayer’s self-less actions such as saving Brienne from rape and impulsively jumping into the bear pit informed his character as much as his hand amputation. Plus the bath scene, a symbolic baptism of sorts, transformed him from a dishonorable, backstabbing knight into a man who saved the realm from a mad king. It was a tease with Jamie arriving in Cersei’s room, I hope we get to hear their conversation (assuming they talked ;)).
As if we didn’t have enough reasons to hate the Boltons, Roose’s bastard son named Ramsey Snow is confirmed to be the man abusing Theon. One consequence of withholding the identity of the torturer is getting the explanation to what happened at Winterfell a full season later. Some fans that did not pay close attention or haven’t read the books found it confusing even if the producers intended it to be a mystery.
I did feel a bit queasy about the box containing Theon’s favorite toy (at first I thought it was all the Iron Islanders that Ramsey flayed), but I liked that Yara didn’t scream or cry. She’s tough, defying her father’s wishes and on a mission to save her little brother though she tries to hide how much she cares for him. Yara has the potential to be a fan favorite like Brienne, but I don’t think TV viewers are given much to invest in her at this point.
Up north, Bran’s scenes are closer to what I would have liked earlier in the season. Telling scary stories around a campfire builds the friendship between these kids, which was lost in the bickering with Osha. One issue on the show is that I haven’t warmed up to the Reeds yet which is unfortunate since they had a whole season to develop their characters. Tying back into to the Red Wedding, Bran’s tale about the man who was turned into a giant white rat after killing his guests is a great allusion to the rodent-like Walder Frey after he slaughtered the Northerners beneath their roof.
Bran’s voyage beyond the Wall is reminiscent of the first season finale with Jon. I thought Bran would have asked Sam to keep their chance encounter a secret from Jon. I guess its clear to Sam that Bran is following his destiny which doesn’t involve reuniting with brother. But what’s Sam going to say if Jon mentions seeing his brothers’ direwolves?
An ongoing obstacle with Jon’s story is his inner monologue doesn’t come across without Sam as a sounding board so it’s good to see they’re reunited at Castle Black. After last episode’s abrupt break up, Jon and Ygritte’s relationship needed closure and there’s nothing like riddling your ex with arrows and tears streaming down the face that says it’s over. While I like actress Rose Leslie and Ygritte, her final scene with Jon didn’t emotionally resonate with me as much as it should. Even though Jon says he loves her, the performance feels like he’s still holding back his emotions. Or maybe it’s because I’ve already experienced these moments from the book?
With several story lines converging and the White Walker threat on its doorstep, the Wall’s ecosystem will develop further when Stannis Baratheon answers Maester Aemon’s call to arms, brought about by Ser Davos and his new-found literacy.
There’s a similarity between Ser Davos saving Gendry from sacrifice and when Ned spoke out against King Robert Baratheon’s plan to assassinate Daenerys. Davos is guided his principles in deciding not to sacrifice one innocent life to possibly save thousands of others. Certain of aspects of Ned live on in Davos so hopefully he can represent someone who stays true to their values without losing their head.
Davos and Gendry’s talk about growing up in Fleabottom underscores the inequality of the social class systems in Westeros. The plight of the powerless and journey of empowerment is a central theme of GOT, above all in Daenerys’ story. As the hour started to wind down I started to wonder if I was going to get my Dany moment, since a finale wouldn’t be complete without her.
At first I was underwhelmed but after allowing her scene to sink in, I appreciated the uplifting feeling it left me with, something few and far between on this show. Game of thrones continually asks where does power come from and has explored many different aspects to this question. What I liked about the ending is that it’s layered and broad enough so viewers can choose for themselves what it means, in the same way that the Yunkai slaves chose to herald Dany not as Khaleesi, Conqueror or Emancipator but as Mother.
Although I may have nitpicked at some issues, they are relatively minor and can be addressed next season. Overall, this was a solid episode to cap off a really good season. It’s going to be a long ten months waiting for Season 4. Big thanks to all the Game Of Thrones / A Song of Ice and Fire fans that take the time read this blog and for sharing your thoughts in the comments. Did this season meet your expectations? What story arc are you most looking forward to next season?