Original Air Date: Jun 19, 2011
Meg – Staff Writer
It’s the end of the road for Game of Thrones’ freshman season. I can’t believe the season is over. I mean, I know they’re getting ready to start filming Season 2, but… what am I supposed to do until then? WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?
Erm, okay, my personal crisis precipitated by serious Westeros withdrawal aside, let’s take a look at the episode. While Joffrey made me rethink my stance on nonviolence, Arya got a make-under, Tyrion got a new job, and Dany proved once and for all that she is the blood of the dragon.
Previously, oh I don’t know if you were paying attention, BUT THEY CUT NED’S HEAD OFF. We pick up moments later, with thick drippy blood oozing from the executioner’s sword. As Illyn Payne dangles Ned’s head for the crowd, Sansa faints and Arya gets dragged away by Yoren (probably a good move, since Arya was seriously about to up and murder every single person in the square).
Normally I oppose violence – particularly against women and children. In Joffrey’s case (a child who sort of looks like a woman), I am totally willing to reconsider. I want to smack him in his stupid smarmy mushroom face and feed him to a rabid herd of hamsters. BUT I DIGRESS.
After cheerfully ordering Ned’s execution, Joff sets about deciding the fate of a bard who had the misfortune of crooning an anti-establishmentarian tune. Joff orders the bard’s tongue cut out by Ser Illyn, who is totally jazzed about inducting more members into the “We Lack Tongues Club” – King’s Landing Chapter.
Joff spends the rest of the episode terrorizing Sansa and dragging her to look at her father’s head, which he’s thoughtfully mounted onto a pike. How… nice? Joff insists that they will still be married and that he’ll knock her up asap. When Sansa talks back to him (go Sansa!), Joffrey decides that since it isn’t kingly to beat a woman, he should have one of his guards smack her across the face on his behalf. HATE HATE HATE.
There’s a great little moment where it looks as though Sansa is going to push Joffrey off a ledge. Was that scene in the book? I can’t remember, but I really liked it.
We have a seemingly pointless lengthy interlude in which Maester Pycelle does yoga stretches and blathers on to a bored naked prostitute (what is it with this show and monologuing amid nudity?). There may have been some broader philosophical meaning to this scene (beyond giving us the “Fire and Blood” episode title shout out), but in a season finale, with so many competing storylines, it seemed like a waste of precious minutes.
What’s far more interesting and well done is the exchange between Littlefinger and Varys, as they discuss what they would do if they were seated on the Iron Throne. They trade barbs about Littlefinger’s scheming and Varys’ nether bits, before affirming their mutual admiration (with just a dash of loathing and a dollop of mistrust) and getting back to work. As they put it, it doesn’t matter who holds the crown, since they really hold the purse-strings and the power.
We leave King’s Landing with Arya getting a Mia Farrow haircut, a new name (“Arry”), and a new gender identity—she’s going to pretend to be a boy and go to Wall with Yoren and his new recruits. One of her fellow conscripts is Gendry, King Robert’s semi-secret bastard. Some pugnacious little sh*ts try and bully her, but Arya clarifies that she will, in fact, cut a bitch.
Robb and Catelyn have just learned about Ned’s death. Cat is stone-faced, while Robb attacks trees with his sword and collapses on his mother’s shoulder crying that they will “kill them all.” Cat requests that they rescue Arya and Sansa first, and then kill them all.
In an episode filled with great scenes, here’s another one of my favorites. Cat goes to see the captive Jaime, who is exactly as we’ve come to expect him in these situations – full of ill-advised douchery and bravado. Jaime taunts Cat and tells her that she’s a sexy widow and that she must want him to warm her bed. And yes, Jaime is very handsome and sassy, but that is not the point! You do not say these sorts of things to the woman who just had the love of her life beheaded by your idiot nephew. Why is there no Emily Post for this sort of crap? The expression of rage and disgust and a whole host of other emotions on Michelle Fairley’s face in this scene is amazing.
Robb’s men debate whether to support Renly or Stannis (the dueling Baratheon claimants) against Joffrey. Greatjohn (who I adore and want to conscript as my new drinking buddy – minus the casual attitude to mutilation) stands up and makes the case for northern self-determination. He says that he doesn’t give a crap about Renly or Stannis or any of the south-born nobles. He says that they should rule themselves and, turning to Robb, “there sits the only king I need to bend my knee to.” Robb’s bannermen draw their swords and start chanting to “the king in the north!”
Against Sam’s pleading, Jon rides off to join Robb and kill Joffrey (I support this agenda). Knowing that desertion is a surefire ticket to headlessness, Sam, Pip, and the others chase him down and invoke his oath to the Night’s Watch and their bonds of brotherhood to get Jon to come back with them.
Jeor lets Jon off the hook for his 30-minute desertion and implores him to think of the bigger picture. As he says, “When dead men come hunting for us at night, do you think it matters who sits in King’s Landing?” Jeor leads Jon and a contingent of watchmen out beyond the wall to recover Benjen (dead or alive) and discover the truth of the horrors beyond the wall.
Although we last left off with Jorah carrying Dany into the burning tent of death, we skip ahead this episode to the aftermath.
Dany wakes up and Jorah gently tells her that her baby died. That witch Mirri strolls in to tell Dany that not only did her son die, but that he “was monstrous, scaled like a lizard, blind, with wings.” Shut up, Mirri.
By taking the life of Dany’s son, Mirri brought Drogo back from the dead. In principle that sounds good, right? Except Drogo is a complete zombie (minus wanting to eat brains) and spends the entire episode catatonic until Dany pitifully smothers him with a pillow.
When Dany confronts Mirri, the witch sort of shrugs it off, all “yeah, well your people killed my people, so…” Hate her.
As Dany despondently adds her dragon eggs to Drogo’s funeral pyre, Jorah begs her not to throw herself on the flames, saying “I won’t watch you burn.” It’s all very sexy. Dany is touched and addresses the ten people left in her horde. She says, ”I am the dragon’s daughter. I swear to you that those who would harm you will die screaming.”
Dany has Jorah tie Mirri to the pyre before she sets it alight. As Mirri screams, Dany walks through the flames to the center of the pyre. In the episode’s only weird time shift, we suddenly find ourselves in the morning (I find it hard to believe that everyone would have fallen asleep amid the dying Mirri’s screams and the crackling flames). Everyone wakes up to find Dany, unharmed amid the pyre (although her dress burned off, making her look like she walked off a harlequin book cover). And what’s that in her lap, at her shin, and on her shoulder? Dragons—and they are adorable.
And we’re out! I adored the season – my only complaint is that it was too short and that I want Season 2 to start, like, tomorrow. I love where things concluded. After everything that’s happened – and especially the devastating loss of Ned last episode – the finale gave us some hope and had us leave everyone on the brink of transformation. Arya and Gendry are heading north, Robb has just been declared the King in the North, Jon and the Night’s Watch are heading out to explore the mysteries beyond the wall, and Dany has just hatched a brood of dragons. What did you think of the finale? What did you think of the first season? What are you hoping for next season?