Game of Thrones – Season 2 Episode 10: Recap

Valar Morghulis

Disclaimer: This is a recap of the tenth and final episode of Game of Thrones Season Two, and contains spoilers about the episode. Read only if you've already seen the episode, or care not about taking the train to spoiler town.

Screen Art
Title Game of Thrones - Season Two, Episode 10
Studio HBO
Director Alik Sakharov
Starring Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Etc.
Genre Fantasy
Rating TV-MA
Release Year 2012

And here we are, at the season finale – even if they didn’t explain the title of this episode (shhh to those of you who’ve read the books, don’t spoil it for everyone else), Game of Thrones went out with their guns blazing. So let’s get started.

Tyrion woke to unhappily find that his father, after rescuing the city from Stannis’ attack, had relieved him of being Hand of the King and essentially undid everything that Tyrion had put into place to both seal his own power (thus protecting his neck) and attempting to make life in the city a bit better for the peasantry. And to add injury to insult (yes, I went there), he’s got a shiny new scar across his face that just adds a bit more to the mystique of already being a dwarf. Despite all of that – the loss of his power, wealth, and (un)questionably good looks – Shae attempts to convince the littlest Lannister to run away with her to Pentos, where they will “eat, fuck, and live.” Promising as the offer sounds, Tyrion turns her down in favor of staying in King’s Landing, because it’s all he knows. It’s all he’s good at. Playing the game with Varys, outwitting his already fairly dimwitted sister, it’s what he enjoys. And he admits all of this to Shae with a touch of shame, believing that he’ll have lost her as well. To his surprise, Shae tells him that he has a shit memory: “I am yours, and you are mine.” Aw!

Another victim of siege, Theon Greyjoy obviously didn’t listen to his sister’s advice and is trapped by Roose Bolton’s bastard (kind of miffed that we never got to meet Ramsay this season!) inside the walls of Winterfell. He’s deadset against running, believing that to escape with his tail between his legs would make him the shame of the family (sorry to break it to you, Theon, but you’re kind of already there…). Instead, he does his best to rally his men into fighting against the Flayed Man’s banners – and does give a stirring speech, except none of his men are having any of it. They hit him over the head to knock him out, and then sneak out the back like the true Iron Islanders they are, but not before stabbing Maester Luwin.

It really was a stirring speech!

Over in Qarth, Danaerys is busy regaining things that she’s lost as well. Having lost her dragons, the main source of her power, she enters the House of the Undying with full intentions of getting them back. But it’s not that simple – slowly, we’re shown Dany’s desires as the House attempts to dissuade her from seeking out her reptilian children. First is the Iron Throne itself, though the great hall it sits in is ripped apart and covered in what looks like snow; or it could be ashes, if one connects the idea of a dragon attack. Dany stops, drawn toward the chair, until the wails of her dragons pull her away. The next test is much harder than the first: stepping through another door, she’s shown a dothraki tent. Within is not only her sun and stars, but the baby she unknowingly sacrificed in order to secure Khal Drogo’s survival (which, of course, backfired). Here she’s being offered the chance to go back, to have what she was tricked out of. But Dany knows she’s not dead, and she knows this is a dream she can’t live in: she has so much more to do. She leaves the tent and finds her dragons (so much dragon this episode!) – Pyat Pree meets her there, and attempts to chain her up as he has her children, but quickly finds that you can’t chain a dragon.

And I fell in to a burning ring of fire...

Brienne and Jaime stop to stretch their legs for a spell, only to stumble upon some of the Stark’s men’s handiwork – three whores hanging from trees, sporting a sign that proclaims “they laid with lions.” A bit harsh, considering their line of work, but it is war. Brienne is dead set on cutting the women down and burying them, but she’s interrupted by the culprits themselves. The men recognize Jaime for who he is, and Brienne is forced to put them down, though it’s not a task that she absolutely loathes. Jaime is introduced firsthand to Brienne’s wrath, and for the first time shuts his mouth when she returns to the task of giving the murdered prostitutes a proper burial.

Jon is dealing with decisions of his own as Qhorin finally puts his plan into action – the plan that will win over the Wildings and get Lord Snow into their good graces. The Halfhand manipulates their captors into allowing them to fight; Jon is unwilling to raise a hand to someone he considers a mentor, but Qhorin pushes and pushes, slinging insults against Ned Stark and Jon’s unnamed mother. Finally we see firsthand what Jon is truly capable of – he runs his sword right through Qhorin, earning himself the right to say that he was the one to slay the Halfhand. As the dead man drops into the snow (though not before reminding Jon of his oath), Ygritte takes Jon by the hand and tells him that it’s time to meet the King Beyond the Wall. She brings him to the edge of a cliff to look down into the valley below, and we see just how many men Mance Raydar has to his name – and Lord Snow quickly comes to realize that the task Qhorin has given him is much greater than he could realize. Now that he’s aligned with the Wildings in appearance, he has to figure out a way to get to the Night’s Watch first and warn them of what’s coming.

His half-brother, Robb, is one who’s less willing to let others decide his fate for him. Though Catelyn does her best to dissuade Robb from marrying Talisa, the two are wed in a private, middle-of-the-night ceremony that binds them together permanently. It might be all rainbows and sunshine at the moment for the newlyweds, but it’s going to be interesting to see what Walder Frey has to say about it.

This can only end in tears.

In a huge show of completely unnecessary pomp and circumstance, Joffrey agrees to marry Margaery Tyrell. Joff honors his grandfather as the savior of King’s Landing (Tyrion? Who’s that?), and then allows Loras a boon for his assistance in rescuing and protecting the royal personage. The Knight of Flowers asks the king to wed his sister, for she’s grown to love the young king from afar (I’m sure there are some stories that really don’t bear repeating). Joffrey insists that he takes his oath to wed the Lady Sansa very seriously, even if her father was a filthy, lying traitor and her brother is a pretender king who is currently waging war against him. Oh wait, what was that? Exactly because of those two things, according to Maester Pycelle (back with a nearly full beard, despite the Imp’s best efforts), Joffrey cannot be held to the promise he made to Sansa. And so, with a heavy heart, Sansa weeps because she has lost her heart’s one true love – weeps with joy, that is, since that dissolving their engagement essentially freed her from the worries of having to bed him. But not so fast! Petyr is ever quick to spoil the party, reminding Sansa that just because she’s not marrying Joffrey doesn’t mean that he won’t try to have his way with her regardless. Stunned by this bit of news, she considers Petyr’s offer to get her out of King’s Landing once and for all.

Once Ramsay Bolton is done sacking Winterfell, Osha and the two younger Stark boys pull themselves free of the crypts to find their beloved home utterly destroyed. What’s worse is that they find Luwin by the Godswood, bleeding to death. Bran refuses to leave Luwin, who is like a second father to the boys, but the maester insists on sending them toward the Wall, where they can join up with Jon who can protect them and tell Catelyn that they’re all right. I wonder if word of their presumed deaths will reach Robb and Catelyn first?

The namesake of the episode comes from two things that Jaqen H’ghar offers Arya – the first is a coin, and it’s not to be used to buy horses. The second is the very phrase itself – Valar Morghulis. He doesn’t explain what it means, but does tell her to repeat it and remember it. The very first gift he offers her is a chance to come with him to Braavos and offer up as many names as she likes to the Red God. But Arya is more responsible than that (like all Starks, or at least most of them…), realizing that she needs to stay in Westeros to find her family – yes, even her sister. Arya asks if she’ll ever see him again, but Jaqen merely states that the man named Jaqen is dead and reveals another talent gifted to him by the Red God before saying goodbye.

And the final touch, which really leaves you wanting more, is the last scene involving Sam and the other two men from the Night’s Watch as they wait for Jon, Qhorin and the others to return. They hear a horn in the distance – the men have returned! Two horns – an attack?! But wait -  a third horn, the sound that has not been heard for thousands of years. But this time it’s due, for shadowed in mists of fog are shapes. Sam’s two companions go running, leaving the poor fat boy to his own devices. It’s all he can do to take shelter behind a rock as dozens upon dozens upon dozens  (perhaps even hundreds) of White Walkers stream past him.

Y'all come back now, yah hear?

See you next season!

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