Clashing Kings: Valar Morghulis

And that’s it! Game of Thrones is done with for the next ten months.

…Damn it.

But we got a pretty serviceable finale to close things out on. Like last season, the climax was obviously in the ninth episode, with the final hour (or hour and ten minutes in this case) serving to wrap up all the loose ends.

The most contentious scenes were Dany’s, with some fans of the book none too pleased with the way the House of the Undying was depicted. On the page it’s about ten times crazier, with a mess of baffling and horrifying visions of the past and future accompanied by a prophecy, all of which gives a lot of hints as to what the series is actually about. It was done well onscreen, just very different. And that’s okay…for now.

I’m starting to realize that “magic, prophecy, interconnected tapestry of fate” stuff is more what the book series is about. It’s called “A Song of Ice and Fire,” and the narrative underpinnings truly do have to do with whatever the hell that title is referring to, presumably two competing magical forces: The white walker-related ice and the dragon-centric fire.

But the showrunners clearly aren’t as interested in exploring all of that as they are the political maneuverings that dominate the proceedings. Hence the title of the tv series, “Game of Thrones.” Frankly it’s a little hard to blame them, considering the big magical prophecy stuff hasn’t paid off much yet in the books, while the intrigue and backstabbing is always riveting and relevant. The danger, then, is that everything will fall apart in about five years time when they start adapting the elements of the series that haven’t even been written yet, and they have to pay off a lot of things they neglected to set up. Time will tell how they do in that regard.

For now though, they’ve certainly more than got a handle on all of the developments in King’s Landing; Tyrion’s fall from power was heartbreaking and Sansa’s brief elation at freedom from her betrothal to Joffrey was perfect.

Theon was the other highlight of the episode. His utter loathing of the horn blower was hilarious, and he delivered an incredible speech. It truly convinced me that his men were willing to follow him to their certain deaths. I should have known better. Their betrayal was as fitting as their casual murder of Maester Luwin was brutal.

The Varys and Ros scene was well done, and I’m actually impressed they managed to introduce their own seemingly inconsequential character at the beginning of the series and keep her around so long. The show really plays up the Varys vs. Littlefinger angle whereas it’s far more subtle on the page. I approve.

Robb marrying Lady Telisa was fine, I suppose. He’s not that interesting to begin with, but at least I believe her as a character.

Brienne is very harsh in her onscreen characterization, where as written she’s easily among the most honorable characters in the series. She would never imagine causing someone unnecessary agony as a kind of poetic justice. The lead-up to that particular murder, though, was spot-on. It’s going to be nice seeing more of Jaime and Brienne together next season.

Arya and Jaqen disappointed me a bit. Her storyline is probably my favorite in all of A Clash of Kings, and though the actor playing Jaqen was a wonderful choice, and her interactions with Tywin were brilliantly written, the show still cut out a lot of what made her time in Harrenhal compelling. She didn’t even murder a guard during their escape, which irked. I was also really looking forward to a solid face-changing effect for Jaqen, but I guess they chose not to delegate the budget to that particular scene. Ah well. Still very solid stuff, so I can’t complain too much.

I’m fairly certain they’ve mishandled Jon more than any other character. By making him both older and significantly less competent, he’s just not very compelling to watch. His defeat of Qhorin (which, the show did a perhaps intentionally poor job of communicating, was exactly according to the elder Ranger’s plan) was fine. Hopefully they can salvage Snow for next year.

As for the closing scene of the army of white walkers? Yeah. Yeah that worked. And hey, a dead horse to end things on! Gotta love it.

Until next year, then.

If you enjoyed these weekly reflections, I’ll likely do the same for Breaking Bad when it returns later this summer. Thank you, golden age of television.

And thank you Game of Thrones, for existing, against all odds. May winter come ever closer.

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