Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Review: Game of Thrones ("Valar Morghulis")

by richmin3000

*my reviews/recaps will not have any spoilers in the main section as they relate to future events but will have many explanations or clarifications of events currently happening on the screen so if you want to figure it out for yourself, read with caution.

**due to several recommendations, i will be discussing some spoilery stuff at the tail end of the review so please pay careful attention.

read my review of episode 1, "the north remembers " - here
read my review of episode 2, "the night lands" - here.
read my review of episode 3, "what is dead may never die" - here.
read my review of episode 4, "garden of bones" - here.
read my review of episode 5, "ghosts of harrenhall" - here.
read my review of episode 6, "the old gods and the new" - here.
read my review of episode 7, "a man without honor" - here.
read my review of episode 8, "the prince of winterfell" - here.
read my review of episode 9, "blackwater" - here

"This war has just begun. It will last for years. Thousands will die at your command. You will betray the men serving you, you will betray your family, you will betray everything you once held dear...and it will all be worth it, because you are the Son of Fire, you are the Warrior of Light. You will sweep aside this pretender and that one; you will be king." - Melisandre

after last weeks' tightly focused episode, "blackwater" we returned to the usual format of checking in on every major character. at least we got an extra 10 minutes this week to squeeze it all in. for the last time this year, let's check in on our favorite westerosi....

stannis baratheon
stannis made a valiant seize on king's landing last week only to find himself back on dragonstone this week. for a second there he started to regret the choices he's made (i.e. killing his brother) that led him to this point... that is until he starred into the fire. let this be a lesson to all of you kids - don't leave behind your demon-birthing sorceress next time you want to go into battle!

character grade: c (he's sort of a dick - hard to root for him even against the terrible king joffrey)

davos seaworth
probably my favorite character from book 2, he suffered the same ill fate as stannis this past season in that neither got enough screen time to deserve any strong emotional investment. the best scene was a couple of weeks ago when stannis and davos were reminiscing over the seize of storm's end (davos smuggled food to a trapped stannis and his men) during robert baratheon's rebellion. davos' son most certainly perished in the wildfire explosion last week though davos' fate is left less certain.

character grade: b- (i just wish he got more screen time)

daenerys targaryen
dany had a very drawn out story arc this season and that's mostly because a lot of her story was trumped up for fan service. she is not a big presence in the book as her dragons are still young and weak and she is trying to find her way out of the red waste (dessert). each week we were sent off across the narrow sea to check in on dany just to hear her begging or pleading for something else (food, water, entrance into qarth, ships, dragons). finally, she was able to learn that if you want something, you have to take it - coincidentally around the same time she learned her dragons could kill on command. with some money in her pocket and 3 slightly more threatening dragons, she's one step closer to reclaiming "her" throne.

character grade: c+ (she got to be a little to whiny for my tastes - still though, dragons!)

jon snow
jon's storyline, like dany's, took a while to develop. we were stuck at craster's keep for a bit too long. then we had the whole, will they or won't they, with ygritte, before feeling like we rushed through the most important part of his story this past week. i know a lot of people don't pay attention to every line of dialogue but if you're not watching this show, like me, at least twice a week, you better be paying very close attention. a couple weeks ago, qhorin halfhand told jon that he would have to infiltrate mance rayder's wildling camp as a spy. in order to effectuate that plan, qhorin feigned distrust for jon and made sure jon was left with no choice but to kill him. it was a great plot development that would have been better served with more time to draw in the viewers's emotional investment. jon's turn to the dark side was at least aided by the fact that he actually sort of bought in to ygritte's expressions of freedom and wildling way of life.

character grade: a- (really this grade is because ygritte's constant teasing of jon was a joy to watch)

sam and the rest of the night's watch
they learned at craster's keep that mance rayder (the king beyond the wall) has gathered all the wildlings in order to march south. the reasons are unknown. it's possible they intend to attack the rest of westeros, but it's also possible that they are simply trying to escape a growing threat. speaking of that growing threat, we see, in the season finale, that the white walkers (the ones on horses - as seen above) and the wights (the zombies) are marching towards something or someones. it was an ominous scene that sort of came out of nowhere but still provided a lot of anticipation for next season (sort of like the dragons last year).

character grade: b (the night's watch is plenty fun. sam is in love with gilly. plus they found dragonglass)

theon greyjoy
from robb's right-hand-man to prodigal son to conqueror to murderer to fool. it's been quite the season for my favorite character this season (not even close to my favorite in the book). his story has been, by far, the most disheartening in an emotionally significant sort of way. his speech this last week was great even though his fate is left unknown. if you recall, robb said any iron-born could return home if they surrender, except for theon. i assume that his men accepted robb's offer, but the show has not divulged the specifics just yet so we're left to just assume (which is never the best way to go about things in this world - take note).

character grade: a+ ("and whoever kills that fucking horn blower will stand in bronze above the shores of pyke!")

bran stark
the little lord of winterfell had a tough go of it this season (not that last season was much better). he witnessed the destruction of his home (though we are left to wonder how - the greyjoys surrender yet winterfell still burns? hmmmmm) and most devastatingly, the death of his people - the commoners he swore to protect and watch over. now, he's on the move after sneakingly waiting out the greyjoys in the family tombs, with osha, hodor and rickon. though we haven't seen it recently, let's not forget about his wolf dreams either.

character grade: a- (loved seeing him, as acting lord, send the farmer two orphan boys to help him - the same boys that later were burned by theon. i'll also miss maester luwin who helped provide bran with great counsel while his entire family was away.)

robb stark
he's another character that didn't have much to do in the book so his story arc was sort of forced this season. he didn't really go on the move all that much and dealt with a lot of drama, such as theon's betrayal and his mother's betrayal (releasing jamie lannister). thank god he found someone to help him with all that kingly stress. i actually liked the love story angle between him and talissa (aka jeyne westerling) though i can't imagine it's going to be all rosy from here on out.

character grade: b+ (all his talk about trying to live up to his father's standards makes it easy to root for him)

brienne of tarth
another of my favorites from the book. brienne is everything i thought she would be and more, especially the way she swats men off of her like flies. i thought her intense sadness over renly's death was forced just as i thought her allegiance to catelyn was forced, but her interactions with jamie have been gold thus far and i expect that to be the case next season as well.

character grade: b+ (more brienne and jamie please)

arya stark
let's see... we started off the season with her on the kingsroad heading up north until she was captured and brought to harrenhall. she spent a good chunk of time swapping stories with tywin lannister and making friends with a faceless man named jaqen h'ghar. now she's back on the lamb with her friends, gendry and hot pie. it's funny that i've heard complaints about how dany's story didn't progress, even though no one has progressed less than arya, with no complaints. that's because she's simply a joy to watch.

character grade: a- (valar morghulis!!!!!!)

sansa stark
you're a woman now sansa and will need to work on your lying skills if you're going to make it out of king's landing alive. speaking of which, i thought she had left with sandor clegane (aka the hound) last week. i'm sort of confused. either way, she's no longer betrothed to king joffrey which seemed delightful until petyr baelish ruined all of her joy. now she has two suitors trying to run off with her, offering their protection services. so many great men... how will a girl choose?

character grade: b+ (she really stepped it up this year as she learned that life is not a fairytale)

petyr baelish
i'm sure some of you are wondering why i'm including littlefinger in this recap, but he is and will continue to be an important cog in this world. i like that even though varys and littlefinger did not share much screen time this year, you can tell that they are always keeping an eye out for each other. earlier this year, petyr told cersei that information was power, to which cersei replied, "power is power." you can't really argue with that. as this season has progressed, lord baelish has shown that he is a man with growing power. he brought catelyn stark the bones of her late husband and gave her the idea of releasing jamie lannister so that she could get her two girls back alive (a lie of course). littlefinger then had a little meet-n-greet with the tyrells to discuss their plans post-renly. he then went to harrenhall to discuss with tywin an alliance between the lannisters and the tyrells. and in these past two weeks, we saw the result of all of petyr's backroom dealings. tywin and sir loras tyrell saved king's landing. joffrey and margaery tyrell are set to be wed. the two richest and two of the strongest houses are united now. and as a prize, littlefinger became lord of harrenhall, a title once falsely promised to him by tyrion (during his rouse to trap maester pycelle as an informant for cersei) earlier this year.

character grade: b+ (i am currently rewatching season 3 of 'the wire' and it's great seeing this actor
portray cunning politicians on both shows)

cersei lannister
there are few, if any, characters from the book that are more detestable than cersei. joffrey is pretty awful, but he doesn't get the pages that cersei does in the books. in the show, however, i found her to be my "most improved player" from season 1 to season 2, meaning i went from hating her to really enjoying her character. this season gave her a lot of depth of motivations and allowed us to at least empathize with her a bit more than i would have ever thought possible. she loves her kids and resents being born a strong woman in a world dominated by strong men - she should start a support group with arya and brienne.

character grade: a (look on the bright side - at least 2 of your kids are decent)

tyrion lannister 
everyone's favorite character i presume. theon still takes that honor for me, but that doesn't mean tywion wasn't just fantastic this year. 'a clash of kings' (aka book 2) was all about tyrion and his short lived reign as hand-of-the-king. the show did a great job fulfilling our excitement after his father, lord tywin, sent him to rule in his place at the end of season 1. tyrion was a perfect fit for a place like king's landing and he single handedly protected the capitol from stannis' army (at least he evened the odds and then prolonged the battle long enough for his father's late heroics). it's quite sad that he's now shacked up on in some room out of everyone's way now that he's no longer the hand. it's even sadder that he's getting none of the credit for saving king's landing. let's not also forget that varys tells tyrion that cersei was the one who ordered sir manden to kill him during the battle (which resulted in the large scar across his face) and now his doctor (aka maester) is the same guy he put in the dungeons earlier this season. how did things turn out so bad for tyrion all of a sudden? at least he has shae by his side.

character grade: a+ (can't wait to see the lannister family dynamic now that everyone - sans jamie - is in one place)

joffrey baratheon
i'm starting to think that the actor who plays joffrey should be nominated for an emmy due to his ability to draw universal hatred from viewers. joffrey didn't have much of a story arc this year as he did a strong character arc, which was simply about the realization that he's a complete and utter douche. i realize that last season he was pretty awful, but i feel like my emotional reaction to him this year should be reserved for people who would do harm to my immediate family - not characters on tv shows. somehow, someway, joffrey made it out of this season alive and in better shape then he left last season. his family is reunited, his enemies (stannis, robb, renly) are weaker or dead and he is set to join the great houses of lannister and tyrell by marrying margaery.

character grade: b- (a little too much joffrey being a *unt. he truly is stannis' nephew - oh wait, no he's not!)

no hyperbole allowed ratingA
i thought one of the best, if not the best, episode of the season. at 70 minutes long, it didn't feel nearly as rushed as previous episodes and i thought it did a great job leaving most of the character's stories in good places. a couple of confusing things included sansa staying in king's landing and the burning of winterfell. at least with the burning of winterfell, i think there were practical reasons, such as with casting and time, that they are going to leave that storyline for next year.

everyone's major criticism this year was that the show was too short (or that the books were too long) so that episodes felt rushed and too packed with characters. though i certainly agree, i think the showrunners did an excellent job making tough decisions and constantly bringing to the forefront and exploring the major themes from the book, like power and loyalty. 

next season, the plan is to split book 3 into two 10-episode seasons, meaning that we'll have a lot more time to hang out with each character and get invested into each of their storylines. this will be important as even more characters get introduced and major plot developments occur at every turn. i can't wait!

i've been excited to guide us through season 2 of game of thrones and would appreciate any comments or feedback to help structure these posts for next season! you can write to me at, or via twitter @hyperboleNOT, or on our wall on facebook at, or just write something in the comments section below.


- we need more roose bolton and his bastard son, ramsay snow. roose should have been at harrenhall by now and ramsay obviously is the one who burned down winterfell, which should be a great place to start at the beginning of season 3.
- the storylines for catelyn, jamie, brienne and robb all sort of went into book 3 already so i guess we now have to deal with the riverlands, the blackfish and edmure tully (cat's brother). i assume that season 3 will end with the red wedding because honestly, how could it not. i already can't stop thinking about it since i definitely shed at least one tear when it happened in the book and almost punched a wall.
- we'll also meet the brotherhood without banners and the brave companions which should add a whole new level of pain and gore. 
- the reed children have officially been cast as characters so that should be sick.
- dany building an army will be awesome.
- the politics of king's landing, the anti-tyrion backlash and the whole jon as a wildling storyline are all amazing too.

i'm getting a little too worked up even thinking about this. it's time for me to go and read book 5! see you all next year.


  1. They're in Thor. They can be seen here: