Full of murder, mystery and escape this season finale covers all of its bases.
Picking up right where we left off last week, Jon Snow is on his way to Mance Rayder. In a surprise turn of events, Mance treats Jon like a diplomatic guest toasting the dead and offering food. (If you’ll recall breaking bread means you’re safe under their roof, with the exception of the Red Wedding — who could forget that?!) As the two discuss their options an unknown army descends upon the wildlings. Surprise! Stannis Baratheon’s come secure in his place as King. Does the man have good timing or what? Or perhaps the lady behind the man is to thank, Melisandre is the puppet master after all.
“We do not kneel.”
Mance wants the safety/refuge of the Wall, but refuses to obey the common customs there. There’s always one leader who bucks the system. And while refusing to kneel seems relatively harmless, it’s a disrespectful action that cannot be tolerated lest more follow suit. In that moment we are given a glimpse of the kind of king Stannis might be. With a wise emotionless expression he solicits the advice of Jon Snow after learning of his noble lineage. That speaks volumes about his nature. Stannis is a man who strives to be fair, he isn’t petty and he prefers blunt emotionally unfettered exchanges. These are not bad qualities to have in a king. He has my vote.
So The Mountain isn’t dead. Yet.
Given the fools laboring over his body he might be wishing he was. Maester Pycelle and Qyburn strike me more as experimental mad scientists and less like a doctors. Perhaps in ancient times that’s what it takes to be a doctor. Albeit brief, the medical scene was enough to make me cringe while simultaneously expressing gratitude to live in a world with modern medicine. No matter how much the “doctors” torture this man with their medicine he cannot survive. Not after being poisoned. Unfortunately the show didn’t make that as clear as the books did.
Cersei refuses to be shipped off to High Garden as a blushing bride. And if Daddy doesn’t cave to her demands she’ll tell the world the truth. For his ears only Cersei confirms the truth of all those nasty rumors, yes she loves Jamie and not in a brotherly way. Better yet, all of her kids have been fathered by him with no legitimate claim to the throne. Her confirmation is like a knife to the heart. In one swift stroke Twyin loses his leverage and caves to Cersei. He’s created quite the manipulating scoundrel. Like father like daughter.
If that wasn’t enough, Tywin is forced to face the son he wished he’d never had. The son he maliciously condemned to death. The son who escaped his imprisonment. What a perfect episode to air on Father’s Day! Tyrion confronts Tywin in an epic father/son scene. Caught, literally, with his pants down Tywin refuses to acknowledge any vulnerability even as Tyrion aims an arrow at his heart. Lacking the ability to respect his son, he never bothered to fear him either. See, size doesn’t matter. Little guys can do just as much damage as the big ones.
Everything has a price in life including freedom. Daenerys is forced to face some hard truths both about the slaves she freed and the dragons she must imprison. Her rebellious teenaged reptiles are out of control wreaking havoc on the villages and burning the innocent. Until a better option presents itself she’s forced to lock her dragons up though I am not sure this is wise. Chaining an out of control creature doesn’t teach it how to behave. She’s treating a symptom and not the real problem. Same goes for the slaves. Now that they are free they don’t know their place in society. Their masters provided food and shelter something the freed slaves are now searching for. The simple solution is to become a slave again. Problems solved. Some would rather deal with the devil they know than the one they don’t.
Bran resurfaces to face his fate along with some devils of his own. As Bran’s group reaches the “tree of life” (the only living thing in an otherwise frozen world) an army of skeletons attack. How do you kill an attacking skeleton?! You can’t. Predictably one of their group dies, the psychic Jojen. His loss doesn’t hurt as much as some of the other deaths in the series. In part because we’ve spent so little time with Jojen. Though his death will surely mean more to those who’ve read the books. Led by a “child” whose people are often called “The Children” (isn’t that creepy?) Bran, Hodor and Meera come face to face with the three-eyed-crow. Bran’s visions were real.
Meanwhile, in a funny twist of events Brienne and Podrick come face to face with Arya and the Hound. Realizing who Arya is, Brienne insists on fulfilling her promise to Lady Stark. Something the Hound finds ridiculous as he retorts with “there’s no safety you dumb b*tch.” Brienne still has a noble sense of duty, one that hasn’t yet worn away with the defeat of experience. As there can only be one alpha, it’s time for a showdown. It’s Brienne vs. The Hound. The Hound wraps his fist around Brienne’s sword till they bled gaining a temporary, but fleeting upper hand in the fight. But it wasn’t enough.
To Arya the Hound says, “Go on girl. Get another name off your list.”
He’s near death and would rather not suffer in his remaining moments of life. I can hardly blame him. But what I find interesting is that Arya forfeited her opportunity to kill him. Perhaps she decided he’d earned the right to suffer like anyone else. Either way with the Hound gone Arya is now truly free. With no chaperone and very little family left she sets out on an adventure of her very own. I can’t wait to see how Arya’s strengths develop in season five. She’s easily one of the most interesting characters both in the books and in the series.
In search of a new home, Arya and Tyrion leave Westeros and all of its bad memories behind them. Where will season five take these two courageous characters? And what will become of Jon Snow as he grudgingly works with Stannis to keep the realm safe?
While the finale ties up several loose ends it wasn’t the jaw-dropping mind-blowing spectacular event I’d expected it to be. Perhaps my expectations were unreasonably high. It was an excellent fast-paced episode with no dull moments, truly I cannot complain. It’s always hard to find the perfect way to say “goodbye” at the end of a season and while this wasn’t perfect it was close.
Aurora Snow Says