The battle is over and the dust has settled, and now in the finale of the second season of Game of Thrones the Lannisters and Baratheons are left to pick up the pieces while the other significant characters are moved into place for their roles in the third season. Tyrion Lannister is alive, wounded gravely but still breathing. The very grand maester he disgraced is tending to him, and clearly hasn’t forgotten his treatment at Tyrion’s hands as evidenced by some underhanded barbs. Tyrion finds out that he’s not the Hand anymore, and realizes that he has little to no power anymore. This last episode is the completion of Tyrion’s Robespierre-esque cyclical storyline that takes place throughout A Clash of Kings. His terrific rise is all tossed away over night as he is left injured and powerless in his modest quarters in the bowels of King’s Landing. He hasn’t given up, though, as he is determined to stay in King’s Landing and play the game, even if it means his life will be at risk. In an emotional moment with Shae, Tyrion accepts his need for the political machine and finally looks past Shae’s status as a whore to fully trust that she truly cares about him.
Joffrey names his grandfather Tywin to be Hand in a regal ceremony amongst a delighted crowd. He also honors the Tyrells, Renly’s widow Margarey and her brother, Renly’s former lover Loras. He grants them a request of the crown, and they have one, albeit a powerful and unexpected one. Margarey wishes to be queen. And just like that, after a clearly rehearsed dialogue among the royal family, Sansa Stark is cast aside in favor of the Tyrell family. The Tyrells have been focused on more in this season than the second book, and hopefully that is prefacing a bigger role for them in the future. They are certainly an interesting family with ambitions and motivations all their own.
Jon Snow is finally forced to act on Qhorin Halfhand’s staged betrayal. The Halfhand attacks him as they are being escorted to the wildling base, and a bewildered Jon slays him in front of the wildlings, effectively earning their apprehensive trust for the time being. This story has certainly taken a dramatic twist with his new role as a spy, and it will be interesting to see how the series adapts the events that take place as he goes deeper undercover. It is revealed that Stannis is also alive, along with the red woman Mellisandre. Stannis is still enraged about their loss, and does not hesitate to take it out on Mellisandre, almost choking her to death whilst yelling “Where is your god?!” He does not kill her, though, and in the end she convinces him to look in the flames and see what she sees. Their relationship thus far has been far more convoluted and sexual than their roles in the books, as evidenced by scenes like this one. This will make the next season interesting for fans of the books and newcomers alike.
The Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister pairing continues to be interesting, full of witty dialogue and gruesome killing (two of the season’s greatest assets), and their journey is one to look forward to in the coming installments of the series. Theon Greyjoy’s story continues its tragic route, albeit in a slightly different manner than the books. After a brave and inspiring speech about death and honor to the Ironborn, his men promptly turn on him, deciding to abandon him and murdering the grand maester. Bran and Rickon are able to escape with Osha and Hodor, but Winterfell is put to the torch. Arya has one last encounter with the mysterious Jaqen H’ghar, who reveals that he is one of the faceless men of Braavos. He gives her a strange coin and the phrase “valar morghulis” as a parting gift, then disappears as another man entirely. Finally, there is Dany. Her storyline has been somewhat neglected of late, but her conclusion is fantastic. She has to navigate the treacherous sorcery of the House of the Undying and come to face the sinister warlocks, who try to imprison her and draw power from her dragons. They have her in chains, and all seems hopeless until Dany gives the command to her dragons to breathe fire. At once, all three spit flames at the warlock, incinerating him and destroying his magic imprisonment of the three dragons and Dany herself. This triumphant ending draws great comparison to the end of the first season. Whereas that conclusion saw Dany first emerging as the mother of dragons with her newborns, now she has grown into that role and finishes off the second season by showing how powerful she has become with the dragons by her side.
The second season of Game of Thrones is now finished. This season saw the show growing into a species all its own, with a better budget and more freedom. Whereas the first season was almost religiously faithful to the books, now the makers of the HBO show have clearly become confident to cut, add, and change where they see fit. It will certainly be interesting to see where this newfound confidence goes, and if the trend of deviating more dramatically from the books continues in the third season. Rumor has it that the third book, A Storm of Swords, will be split into two seasons. This makes sense considering the amount of mind-blowing and important content this book contains (brace yourselves, new Thrones fans), but the increased amount of time may also mean the people at HBO will stick closer to the books. Only time will tell, and there certainly is a frustrating amount of time between this ending and the next season. Although the premiere date has not been set, it seems that another whole year will pass until fans are able to see the show on television again. It’s been an exciting and dramatic season, and the next promises to be even better. In the meantime, to stay connected with Game of Thrones check out their facebook page and twitter account.