Another dramatic and emotionally scarring season of Game of Thrones has finally reached it’s finale episode. But don’t despair, because it is sure to be the most action-packed and jaw-dropping episode of the show so far, with a huge amount of major moments packed in, so many that the episode is 10 minutes longer than normal. Spoilers to come.
The episode started off with the conclusion to last week’s epic battle at the wall. Jon went out beyond the wall to try and kill Mance Rayder. Before he got the chance however, the wildling army was taken by surprise by an attack from the army of Stannis Baratheon, probably his finest moment. A little disappointing that we didn’t get to see the army chanting Stannis’ name, but he still came across as pretty badass. This is the moment that convinced many people that Stannis is the best man for the throne – he admitted that he had been trying to win the throne to save the kingdom, when he should have been trying to save the kingdom to win the throne.
We then caught up with the Mountain, who had been left in a coma by the poison that Prince Oberyn used against him in the trial by combat. Former Maester Qyburn promises Cersei he will try and save him, despite Pycelle saying it is impossible. As we know, Qyburn was stripped of his chain for dabbling in necromancy, and he tells Cersei that the process may change the Mountain somewhat. This scene basically confirmed a long-standing fan theory, that I won’t go into now..
Cersei then went to Tywin, to try once again to get out of marrying Loras Tyrell and being separated from her son. She blackmails him by threatening to tell people the truth – that all her children are bastards, and the rumours about her and Jaime are true. Tywin refuses to believe it, but it’s clear that he knows its true, and it is his worst fear. Cersei then goes and makes up with Jaime – although the way Jaime just shoved the white book, detailing all the great deeds of former Kingsguard members, aside to lift her onto the table goes against all his character development. The twin’s relationship is meant to be deteriorating at this point, presumably, that will be the main theme of next season.
Then came the last interesting Daenerys scene for a while, as a farmer came to lay the charred bones of his daughter at the queen’s feet, who had been killed by Drogon, the largest and most wild of her dragons. She was left with no choice but to chain them up, although Drogon was nowhere to be found. The CGI looked amazing as always, and it was definitely Emilia Clarke’s best acting all season.
The dead brothers of the Night’s Watch then received a moving send-off. There was a good, eerie moment when Melisandre and Jon Snow glimpsed each other for the first time, through the funeral pyre. It was a great reference to a line in Melisandre’s only POV chapter in the book when she is looking into the fires – “I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahair, and R’hllor shows me only Snow.” Tormund, tied up as a prisoner, then convinced Jon to take Ygritte north of the wall to burn her, where she belongs.
We then caught up with Bran and company, for the first time since episode 5. After almost 4 seasons of mysterious dreams, Bran finally found where the three-eyed Raven is. But before they could reach the tree under which he lives, they were attacked by skeletons that rose up from the ground. It was a huge shock when Jojen was killed, as he doesn’t die in the book, and this seems to confirm that he doesn’t have any major role to play in the future books. They were saved by Leaf, one of the children of the forest, who was throwing fireballs. The main problems here is that she didn’t look inhuman enough – a lot of show watchers didn’t even realise she wasn’t human, which is a big deal. Finally, we met Bloodraven. Again, he was a little underwhelming – he was just an old guy sitting in a tree, when he should have been literally part of the tree.
Then came one of the biggest changes from the books, and in my opinion one of the best. Brienne and Podrick chanced to come across Arya and the Hound, and the Brienne and Sandor ended up in a vicious fight over Arya. Brienne came out victorious, but Arya slipped away. Some book readers have claimed that the Hound should have easily beatern Brienne, but they are forgetting the Hound was still recovering from his injuries. Arya then went to the Hound, and refused the give him the gift of mercy, despite him begging her to kill him. Some really good acting from Rory McCann, who will be missed. However, the changes to the relationship between the two characters mean that using the same way Arya left him in the book didn’t really make sense. The Hound fought Brienne to protect Arya, and then she left him to die in pain. It just seems wrong.
Finally, it was time for the main event. Jaime came to Tyrion’s chamber, and set him free. Their farewell was touching, but I was shocked they left out the conversation they were supposed to have about Tysha, and their falling out, as that was what set Tyrion off with wanting to kill his father. Tyrion then found his way to his father’s chambers, and strangled former lover Shae who was in his bed. It seems as though Shae is replacing the role Tysha played in the books. Tyrion’s final confrontation with his father was well done, and Charles Dance will be missed very much on the show. Tyrion – and Varys’ – escape from the city was one of my favourite scenes in the whole show – incredibly atmospheric, with the bells ringing to announce the death of Tywin, and a palpable sense of impending doom. It seems Varys is accompanying Tyrion in his escape, which will be interesting, and it keeps a popular character on-screen for next season.
The season ended with Arya. After failing to book passage to the wall, she pulled out the coin Jaqen gave her in season 2, and said the words she was taught – Valar Morghulis. “Valar Dohaeris” replied the captain. “Of course you shall have a cabin.” It was a decent way to end the season, but when I was expecting something a bit different, it felt a bit of a let down at the time.
Overall, the finale was a solid episode, but I feel the scenes where Jon burned Ygritte and Dany talked to the first slave could and should have been cut so as to fit in the conversation between Jaime and Tyrion, as it is a very important moment, and they definitely should have ended the season with the massive cliffhanger that comes at the end of A Storm of Swords.