Game of Thrones Review: "Valar Morghulis" (Season 2 Finale)
I thought The Walking Dead wasn’t coming back until October, but the zombies are on the march once again. Poor Sam, who’s afraid of his father, his own shadow and girls, bears witness to the army of Walkers—sorry, White Walkers—at the end of Game of Throne’s second season. But there are plenty of other loose ends to
wrap up leave hanging.
First up, those of you who haven’t read the book or impatiently looked it up on Wikipedia were thrilled to find out that Tyrion is still alive. Tyrion would have been more thrilled to discover that himself if he hadn’t woken up in King’s Landing’s equivalent of a janitor’s closet facing a smug Grand Maester Pycelle, who’s gloating over the Imp’s fall from grace. Varys—one of the more intriguing characters during Season 2—lets him know that his scars were a gift from his sister Queen Cersei, who tried to kill him during the chaos of battle. “There are many who know that without you the city faced certain defeat,” Varys says. “The king won’t give you any honors. The histories won’t mention you. But we will not forget.”
But the courage he showed on the battlefield escapes him when Shae approaches. He’d been too scared to believe that she might actually love him, but at his lowest she proves her faithfulness.
Love is also at the heart of one of the two weddings called off during the season finale. King Robb Stark breaks his promise to marry Lord Frey’s daughter after falling for the foreign nurse Talisa. The two young lovers are wed secretly in the wood at night. After a big show in the throne room, King Joffrey breaks his engagement to Sansa and agrees to wed Margaery Tyrell, Renly’s former betrothed. Now it’s Petyr Baelish promising to take Sansa northward, but Sansa has heard that promise before.
Stannis wrestles with his the theological implications of his defeat in Blackwater Bay. He doubts putting his faith in a fire god, murdering his brother and leading his men into “the gates of the seventh hell,” until he sees something in Melisandre’s flames that makes him believe once again.
Like so many soccer fans, Theon Greyjoy is being driven mad by the vuvuzelas surrounding Winterfell. Master Luwin advises him to run to the Night’s Watch on the wall, declaring that the man Theon is pretending to be is not the man he is. Theon admits as much but has gone to far to pretend anything else. He gives a rousing speech to his men about dying in glorious battle before they knock him out, burn the hold and flee back home. He’ll wake up far from the castle maybe having even won some measure of honor from his father.
Daenerys braves the House of the Undying, where the warlock Pyat Pree intends to imprison her with her dragons. But Daenerys and her pets have other plans. After a pit stop to see Khal Drogo and her baby, a little dragon fire wins their freedom. She’ll have her ship after locking her betrayer Xaro in his own treasure safe.
The episode’s name comes from Arya’s story, as she encounters Jaqen H’ghar who gives her a coin that will summon him in need. As she begins a journey outside of Harrenhal, her younger brothers begin one of their own, fleeing the ruins of Winterfell.
But it’s up north where the real action is. Beyond the wall, Qhorin Halfhand lets Jon Snow kill him in an attempt to win Jon their captors’ trust. He’ll meet Mance Rayder as the Man Who Killed the Halfhand, rather than just another captured crow. But Rayder may soon be the least of the night watchmen’s worries. It’s those Walkers headed towards their camp that will send them scurrying. And while the zombies in the The Walking Dead were scary, they weren’t carrying swords or riding on undead horses. Season 1’s finale promised dragons. This time we get a legion of the undead.