Season finale time in Game of Thrones! But moderate your throbbing anticipation, as we all know by now that Thrones finale time means epilogues to the big action of the year, which happens in the previous week. But they normally include an exciting climax to that season’s Daenerys storyline to make the last episode feel more final, so there’s that to look forward to, right?
Oh. Well, never mind. There’s always next year. I’ve dropped a few implied spoilers already, but just to be clear, the proper ruinous ones are coming soon.
The Lannister Court Of Arseholes
Normally, I start by picking out the biggest storyline, but really, it was a pretty even split this time, as the show whistlestops around everybody to show us how season three wound up. The best bit, as often happens, was the Royal Court at King’s Landing, where Tyrion, Tywin and various other poor bastards are still going round and round.
Charles Dance continues to steal whole episodes with only one scene, and Peter Dinklage holds his own too – a nice callback to their equally grim chat in the first episode. Tyrion comes close to achieving a workable platonic alliance with Sansa, only to have it ruined by his father. Considering Tyrion was a major sympathetic character in earlier seasons, it’s a bit downheartening how things keep getting worse for him nowadays.
On the plus side, his misery coincided with that of Cersei (who finally realises that Joffrey’s just scum) and they have an almost-civil conversation. And then Jamie returns in the final minutes, which opens up the possibility of some slightly-too-squishy family bonding time between the siblings. But will Jamie’s character developments on the road make it hard to fit back into the Lannister Court of Arseholes? I’m also guessing ever-sympathetic Lord Tywin won’t be too pleased with gallant knightly son losing his sword hand.
There’s A Lotta “Elsewhere” In Game Of Thrones
Up north, Jon and Sam finally return to Castle Black, and their lives have been so shit for the last two years, the old ruin feels kinda homely. They won’t get to enjoy it for long, though, as not only are the Whitewalkers coming, but King Stannis and his entourage too. Good luck enjoying your manly banter with that lot grimming up the place, chaps. Good scenes in the meantime, though, as Sam finally gets some heroism, Jon has a sad moment with Ygritte and King Stannis (kinda) tries to take up the Good King post recently vacated by Robb Stark. (Who appears this week with his head chopped off and replaced with that of his wolf. Bloody hell.)
In the ongoing contest about who has the worst life, Arya Stark is a strong contender. After the massacre of her family last week, she goes even further down the path of revenge-driven violence. Good job she’s got the Hound as mentor. Theon Greyjoy, though, also has a good claim for most miserable man. Nice to see movement in his arc, but both Arya and Theon’s storylines this year have felt undirected at times.
Lastly, Daenerys. In previous years, she provided the actual action of the finale, but this time, she gets… one fairly small scene at the end, where the slaves welcome her into Yumkai as “Mhysa” – or “mother”. This is one area of the plot where it’s pretty obvious this was an adaptation of only half a book, as it trundles along and just stops. Impressive final shot, though.
A Storm Of Summary
This is our final section, so probably time for thoughts about the broader Game of Thrones third season. The book they’re half-adapting did leave them with characters who spend most of the first half plodding through countryside to reach their second half storyline, and for better or worse, they’ve stuck with that, and taken a good stab at making it interesting.
Overall, despite occasional niggles, I’ve loved it. I like the scale, the expansive cast, the way it rewards attention and good acting. The finale itself was lots of good scenes but without a wider shape, so maybe not the best episode, bit languid at times, but it does leave everyone in an interesting place for next year, and I’m already pretty excited about that.