Game of Throne's big, bloody climax was last week. Last night's season finale mopped up the mess, and assured viewers that yes, there will be consequences. The war may be over, but the conflict isn't.
Spoilers ahoy, after the jump.
Robb Stark is still dead. “I hope they don’t show the gross, disturbing thing,” said one of my viewing companions, “what they do to Robb.” Soon, though, we heard various Freys chanting “The King in the North, the King in the North!” and we saw it: Robb Stark’s dead, headless body with his direwolf’s head swaying on top of it. It’s one of the more disturbing images from the series, and drives home the point that the Freys and Boltons didn’t just carry out the Red Wedding as part of a cold, calculated political scheme; they enjoyed it. They were having so much fun at their murder that they decided to mutilate some corpses, do some improvised taxidermy, and parade around with a dead body. It’s also disturbing for viewers/readers because in a lot of fiction you don’t see the corpse, and if you don’t see a corpse, there’s hope, albeit slight, for a possible return of the character. Game of Thrones says “fuck hope” and thrusts your face right in to the reality of the situation: Robb’s dead, and so is his puppy. The Starks have lost the War of Five Kings.
The Kissinger of Westeros Tywin Lannister, meanwhile, is dispassionate and cold in all the ways Walder Frey isn’t. Tywin understands power, where it comes from, and how to use it. When Joffrey makes a scene at the Small Council, Tywin puts him in his place and sends him to bed. “You just sent the most powerful man in Westeros to bed without supper,” says Tyrion. “He’s not the most powerful man in Westeros,” says Tywin. And he’s right- wearing a shiny hat on your head doesn’t make you powerful. One of the biggest themes of the series is that being a king in name and being a ruler in fact are two very different things, and Tywin understands that very well. “Anyman who must say ‘I am the king,’” he reminds his abulatory shit of a grandson, “is no true king.”
Tywin’s understanding of power, though, is precisely what makes him such a cold, nasty bastard. He tries to address Tyrion’s misgivings about the Red Wedding with: “Explain to me why it is more noble to slaughter ten thousand men on the battlefield than a dozen at dinner?” Tywin is kind of like Westeros’ Henry Kissinger. He’s good at what he does, is willing to ally with horrible people when it suits him, and doesn’t give a flying rat’s ass about the rules of war or politics.
Also he essentially told Tyrion to rape Sansa. That is probably the last thing anyone wants to hear from their dad. Gross.
Theon and Varys have something in common now. I fucking hate the Theon scenes from this season. It’s like we’ve all been an unwilling observer to someone else’s extended S&M session. Balon Greyjoy and AshaNoWaitIMeanYara received a package. Theon’s! Yes, Ramsay Bolton thought it would be a good idea to taunt the batshit insane Cthulhu Vikings be sending them a dick in the mail. Balon Greyjoy doesn’t give a shit about Theon (right there with you, dude) but AshaInTheBookAndYaraOnTV actually seems to like her little turd of a brother is ready to bust out her bro from Ramsay’s House of You Don’t Have a Cock Now. Go Yarasha! Gather your finest axe guys and rescue your sibling you barely know!
Also, Theon’s name is
Toby Reek now.
Arya and Hound: Frey Hunters In a touching little display of violence, Arya and the Hound teamed up to kill people. Arya, overhearing some Freys talking shit about Robb, decided that their bodies would be a good place for a knife. She approached they Freys, pretended to be a helpless little girl, and then stabbed the everliving fuck out of them. The Hound, for his part, saw that Arya was in over her head, given that there were three other dudes to deal with. He swept on in and hacked the fuck out of them. After it was over, Sandor and Arya had something of a moment. They bonded. She’s not really his captive anymore- they’re travelling companions. A team. A team that puts blades inside of people.
I want to see a show that’s just Arya and the Hound riding around Westeros and killing bad people. She’s a stab-happy kind with a pair of dead parents! He’s a rogue member of the Kingsguard who plays by his own rules! Together, they fight crime.
Meanwhile, in the boring part of Westeros… Jon Snow had something of a bad breakup with his girlfriend. Ygritte already figured out that he hadn’t really switched loyalties, that he was still a member of the Night’s Watch, and yet she arrowed him anyway. Three times. Um, okay. I think she’s taking it a little badly. Jon seemed alright, though. Definitely in better shape than Robb after taking a few arrows.
Bran met up with Sam, and it was a little odd seeing two parts of the show converge. The sets of characters spend so much time in isolation from one another, that it can be jarring to see two storylines actually intersect. Bran is on his way North of the Wall now, to find, I dunno, magic or something. I’ve read all the way through A Dance With Dragons and I’m still not sure what the exact fuck is up with that place. We also got the story of the Rat Cook, a fairy tale about how the gods punished a man who killed guests under his roof. Violating the laws of hospitality in Westeros is a big no-no, and the series has made it clear that the Freys will face major consequences for the Red Wedding.
Hi Mom! Daenerys Targaryen, fresh off her victory from last week, has another city now. Dany announced to the various former slaves of Yunkai that they were free, and they immediately started calling her Mhysa, which means mother in Made Up Fantasy Language. The season ended showing that Dany has quite a bit going for her: An army, dragons, and an adoring public. She might have a famous last name, but she's solidly earned every bit of her power.
So, um, did anyone else think it was a little weird to have a bunch of dusky brown people reaching out to the blonde white lady and proclaiming her their savior? Dany’s crusade to free slaves and whatnot is admirable, sure, but that scene seemed to say “Hooray! The nice white lady saved us!” Kinda got a weird vibe. Was anyone else made ever so slightly uncomfortable?
Next season promises to have a lot of goodness. Joffrey’s wedding! The Red Viper! More Tyrells! After that, though, the future of the show gets a little dicey. With another season gone, we’re a little closer to the place where the storyline gets all flimsy and undefined, what with the books not being done yet. Like everyone else in Ice and Fire fandom, I'm hoping that Martin sits his ass down, gets hugely inspired, and pulls it out at the last minute to finish the series.
That probably won't happen. In the meantime, I'll be dealing with my dealing with my anticipation by playing the Game of Thrones board game.