And that’s how you end a season!
Although Daenerys’ storyline got a bit too messy for my taste in the past two episodes (Maz basically murdered Drogo and Dany’s unborn son because she wanted revenge all along?), Fire and Blood‘s final scene succeeded in making everything worthwhile. The sight of Dany rising from the ashes of the pyre completely unharmed with her three baby dragons is immediately iconic, and it’s a true turning point for the show. Up until now, Thrones has only flirted with magic and fantasy, but here it embraces them full-on in an utterly magnificent sequence. In addition, seeing everyone bow down before Dany and her newfound power is enormously satisfying when contrasted with the beginning of her journey in the pilot. Outstanding!
The aftermath of Ned’s death on the Starks is particularly brutal. Catelyn stoically walks past her army without breaking down, then loses it in the forest only to catch a frantic Rob shattering his sword on a tree. Their hug is gut-wrenching, and their vows for revenge are absolutely blood-pumping. Also, I like that the show doesn’t show us Bran’s reaction to Ned’s death. All we get is the knowing look on his face when he sees Maester Luwin with the raven’s note and the camera assumes a wide shot. Elegant and poignant.
Fire and Blood also does a splendid job of painting King Joffrey as a true menace. He viciously cuts out a poor singer’s tongue and then forces Sansa to stare at her father’s head on a pike. It’s all so gruesome and harsh, and it elevates his villainy to whole new levels. I haven’t been a big fan of the Sansa character (mainly because she’s been so incessantly annoying), but Sophie Turner is remarkable here, capably tapping into the character’s hopelessness and misery. And how could you not root for the character after the King orders her slapped?
I do wish that Jon’s journey was more impactful. I loved the fact that he left The Wall in search of his family, but didn’t completely buy his deciding to stay so quickly soon after. Something about the entire shebang felt a tad anticlimactic. Nevertheless, I’m curious to see the adventures of the Lord Commander and Jon beyond The Wall next season, as we barely got any White Walkers this season!
Finally it’s a small scene but the finale also reveals that Grand Maester Pycelle is far less frail than he appears to be. Not only does he take the whore Ros to bed, but he squats, stretches and jumps like a rowdy teenage. Thus, just like Varys and Littlefinger, he’s been playing a role all along. Compelling stuff, and Julian Glover is perfect in the role.
Bits & Beheadings
– The title of the episode is the motto of House Targaryen.
– The opening moments of the finale are just gorgeous, with the blood-tipped sword that sliced off Ned’s head and Arya hugging Yoren. Then as Arya is carried off (and later given a haircut), we catch glimpses of Sansa fainting and Ned’s headless body. It’s just relentlessly bleak.
– So Osha and Bran are best friends now? Love that she carries him around, and I’m majorly intrigued by the fact that both Bran and Rickon shared the prophetic dream about Ned in the crypt. How?
– There’s a fascinating little touch where Sansa almost pushes Joffrey off the ledge. Why does The Hound stop her? Is it just luck that he hands her the handkerchief in that exact moment?
– Great moment with the Stark bannermen bowing down and pronouncing Robb Stark as the King in the North.
– Since Jaime isn’t in town, Cersei has been sleeping with her cousin, Lancel, Robert’s squire. How unsettling. Also, Lena Headey has precious little to do in the finale. Not okay!
– Tywin wants Tyrion to be the acting Hand of the King and to not take Shae with him. Tyrion decides to do so anyway. Ha!
– I felt nothing as Dany suffocated Drogo. The man did rape her after all, and I can’t for the life of me understand why she loved him. Nevertheless, the death scene was beautifully filmed with an elegantly-framed panning shot through the curtains as Drogo’s body gradually starts to seize.
– A gem of a scene: the face-off between Catelyn and Jaime. Michelle Fairley and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau are both amazingly talented, and watching them butt heads is a real pleasure. Highlights include Jaime admitting that he actually pushed Bran off the ledge, and Cat smashing Jaime in the head with a rock.
– The most satisfying moment of the finale: Arya fighting back at the bullies and threatening the “fat boy”. I’m genuinely worried for Arya having to travel with the new Night’s Watch recruits (rapists and the like). Also, having Gendry (Robert’s bastard son) join her is a clever narrative intersection.
– Is Jorah in love with Dany? Because his face as Dany kissed his cheek spoke volumes.
– Dany really embraces her evil tendencies this week as she orders Maz to be tied to the pyre and burned alive. So ruthless!
– Seriously I love how camera cuts into wide shots as the episode ends and Dany’s dragons screech. Goosebumps.
Kings & Quips
Robb: I’ll kill them all … … Every one of them. I will kill them all.
Catelyn: My boy. They have your sisters. We have to get the girls back. And then we will kill them all.
Jaime: You look lovely tonight, Lady Stark. Widowhood becomes you.
Catelyn: My son Bran. How did he come to fall from that tower?
Jaime: I pushed him out the window.
Jaime: I hoped the fall would kill him.
Varys: (to Littlefinger) A man with great ambition and no morals … I wouldn’t bet against you.
Varys: Do you spend a lot of time wondering what’s between my legs?
Littlefinger: I picture a gash like a woman’s. Is that about right?
Boy: You better give me that sword!
Arya: You want it? I’ll give it to you. I already killed one fat boy. I bet you never killed anyone. I bet you’re a liar. But I’m not. I’m good at killing fat boys. I like killing fat boys.
Jeor: If we beheaded everyone that ran away for the night, only ghosts would guard the Wall.
Daenerys: I am Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen of the blood of Old Valyria.
Maz: You will not hear me scream.
Daenerys: I will. But it is not your screams I want. Only your life.
I had some issues with this, but it was still a first-rate season finale with a mindblowing ending. What a season!