For its second season finale, how can Game of Thrones possibly wrap up the backstabbing, plotting and intense love stories in one episode? With Tywin Lannister now acting as the King’s Hand, the rest of those vying for the crown must rethink their strategies for overtaking the Iron Throne. How will it all play out?

Find out more in our tv show review

 

The Players:

  • Creators: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss
  • Writers: David Benioff, George R.R. Martin, D.B. Weiss
  • Cast: Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Michelle Fairley, Richard Madden, Kit Harington, Alfie Allen, Maisie Williams, Charles Dance, Iain Glen, Sophie Turner, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gwendoline Christie, Sibel Kekilli, Oona Chaplin, Rose Leslie

Episode Title: “Valar Morghulis”

Literally meaning (in Braavos) “all men must die,” was spoken to Arya by Jaqen as a key to safe passage, the response of which is “all men must serve.” Despite his impressive strategizing, Tyrion was demoted from Hand of the King. The Lannisters joined forces with the Tyrells. And Joffrey broke his engagement with Sansa in favor of Margaery. At Winterfell, Theon weighed his options but his men had other plans for him. Robb and Talisa got hitched, Jon Snow inched closer Mance Rayder, and Daenerys was reunited with her dragons.

The Good:

  • Returns: Finally, some serious Daenerys screen time and with it an expected glimpse of her fallen beloved, Drogo and her never before seen child, while venturing into the House of Undying in Qarth. Thanks to the dramatic fall of the sinister Pyat Pree, Daenerys is able to flee and plot for her crossing of the Narrow Sea. Margaery returns to the royal court as Joffrey’s betrothed and Littlefinger is awarded Harrenhal for brokering the alliance.
  • Love: Unfortunately, all of the parsing of riches leaves Tryion in the dust, stripped of his title as the King’s Hand and recovering from a terrifying wound. Shae remained by his side scoring one for the side of the “L” word. It was truly one of the most moving scenes of the season. In more contentious relationships, Robb’s lust for Talisa leaves Catelyn dismayed over the marriage deal she’d struck with House Frey.
  • Beyond the Wall: Holy twists! Not only did Jon Snow murder his brother in arms, Qhorin, sealing his fate as unintended ally of The Wildlings, but he becomes privy to the growing army of Mance Rayder. The White Walkers make their much anticipated debut after a handful of glimpses that began way back in season one.

The Bad:

  • Wanting More: The production budget for this series has to be off the charts, but just 10 episodes for a novel that could double as a doorstop, has left us hanging. With the diversification of the character stories, it has become increasingly difficult to suss out the detail that was seen last season.
  • Characters on the Run: The ambiguity of Theon’s fate trying to stake Winterfell, Bran, Rickon and Osha on the run AND Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie also seeking solace away from warring factions. The complications just keep pile up.

Overall:

Despite a few frustrations, season two proved that Game of Thrones is one, if not the best overall show on TV. If you take into account condensing the source material, special effects and acting. While parts of the episode and season as a whole felt rushed, the finale was a satisfying mix of resolution and intrigue, spearheaded by mysterious characters (i.e. Jaqen and Melisandre). And of course the enduring struggle for the throne!

Rating: 9/10

Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 9:00 p.m. on HBO

What did you think of this week’s episode?