Game of Thrones: 310 “Mhysa” Finale Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
After the harrowing events of the Red Wedding last week, the sands of Game of Thrones are shifting. Whether they are shifting for good or for ill remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: after the slaughter of the Stark men, nothing will be the same in Westeros.
This week, allegiances shift and the true nature of power is finally revealed.
We start right back in the action, as Traitorous Bastard Roose Bolton looks over the burning Stark encampment outside the Twins, and the Hound attempts to get Arya to safety. The glimpses of the atrocities committed against the Stark bannermen are just as horrifying as what we witnessed last week, and the final insult comes when Robb Stark’s body is ridden out of the castle, his head removed and replaced with that of Grey Wind, his direwolf.
The Hound successfully manages to get Arya out of the area alive, but makes the unfortunate mistake of riding past a group of Frey men discussing the Red Wedding. Arya manages to slip off the horse and goes over to them, playing the part of the lost, innocent girl, looking for food and warmth. They tell her in no uncertain terms to leave, and as she offers them the Braavosi coin given to her by Jaqen H’Ghar at the end of last season, before attacking them and stabbing one of them repeatedly in the neck. The Hound appears and kills the rest of the men before they can kill Arya, who retrieves the coin.
Poor Arya has been through a lot in the past three seasons: she witnessed her dad getting decapitated, went through a gruelling search for her family only to be denied the chance for a reunion in the most horrific manner possible at the last moment, and now she has become a killer: I feel as though she is going to become a rather dangerous character in the future, capable of killing and fuelled entirely by revenge.
Back at the Twins, Traitorous Bastard Roose Bolton and Walder Frey discuss the events of the Wedding and their new titles: Roose as Warden of the North and Walder as Lord of Riverrun. Roose explains that he is not going to Winterfell while it is still a ruin, and when Walder asks what happened, he explains that he sent his bastard son Ramsay to take the castle back from the Iron Islanders.
After some amiable small talk with Sansa, Tyrion is called to a meeting of the Small Council. Joffrey gleefully informs Tyrion that Robb Stark is dead, and that he intends to serve his head to Sansa at the Royal Wedding to further torment her. When Tyrion informs Joffrey that she is no longer his to torment, Joffrey sulks and, in a standing ovation-worthy moment, Tywin sends the king to his room without dinner.
Once the rest of the council has left, Tywin and Tyrion discuss the fact that Traitorous Bastard Roose Bolton is now Warden of the North until Tyrion and Sansa have a son: Tyrion implies that they may be waiting some time, and Tywin explains to him that it is his duty, and he must do it for the good of the family. This is Tywin’s version of what real power is, stating ‘the House that puts family first will always defeat the House that puts the whims of its sons and daughters first’, and it does go some way to explaining why House Lannister is the most powerful in Westeros. When Tyrion asks Tywin when he’s ever done something for the good of the family and not just himself, Tywin responds by telling Tyrion that he wanted to drown him on the day of his birth, but he chose to let him live and to raise him.
Meanwhile, Varys and Shae have a brief conversation about their shared Eastern heritage, and Varys offers Shae a considerable amount of money to leave King’s Landing and find a home in the East, because Tyrion is one of the few people able to make the world a better place and Shae ‘complicates things’. Shae, however, refuses the offer, and goes back to being Sansa’s handmaiden.
Finally, Jaime and Brienne arrive back in King’s Landing, and Jaime immediately goes to see Cersei. However, it is clear from the look on Cersei’s face that this is not the Jaime she expected, the Jaime she believed would save her from her upcoming nuptials; he is, instead, a man broken both physically and emotionally by the big bad world, and isn’t likely to be of much help to anyone.
Meanwhile, two storylines finally converge: Team Bran meets up with Sam and Gilly in the Nightfort, and Sam immediately recognises Bran as Jon’s brother. Bran asks Sam to take the team North of the Wall, but Sam is understandably hesitant: however, he finally guides them through the passage to the Wall and gives them his dragonglass blades, telling them that it has the power to kill White Walkers, and as Team Bran heads off into the untamed wilderness beyond the Wall, Sam and Gilly head to Castle Black where they meet with Maester Aemon. After some discussion, Aemon orders ravens to be sent out warning people of the oncoming attack by the White Walkers.
Elsewhere, Ygritte finds Jon and damages their relationship possibly beyond repair by shooting him a bunch of times with arrows as he rides off. However, he makes it to Castle Black where he is reunited with Sam and Pyp (remember him? No, I don’t either) and taken away for medical care.
Finally in the North, Theon’s captor (revealed by Roose Bolton earlier to be his bastard son, Ramsay Snow) decides to take what little power Theon had left by changing his name: he takes not only his given name, but also his family name; and by now we know that family is the greatest source of power in the world. He gives Theon the new name ‘Reek’, and beats him until he accepts it, proving that Bastardism (a condition I just made up) is hereditary.
The Iron Islands
Balon and Yara Greyjoy receive an unwelcome package (pun very much intended), including a letter demanding that they withdraw their forces in the North or be captured and flayed by Ramsay and his men. Balon decides to do nothing, and asserts that Theon is no longer his son (adding insult to the considerable injury done to him at Ramsay’s hands), but Yara takes matters into her own hands, takes a ship and 50 men to find and rescue her little brother from the Dreadfort.
Davos visits Gendry in the dungeons, and he relates to him the story of how he became a lord even though he, like Gendry, was born in the slums of King’s Landing. They bond, and later Davos decides to free Gendry, giving him supplies, a boat and a set of directions to get back to King’s Landing. This could have been something to do with the fact that he read the message sent out by Maester Aemon using the skills taught to him by Princess Shireen, and realises that laying claim to the Iron Throne is the least of their worries.
He relays this information to Stannis and Melisandre, and when she burns the letter Melisandre sees something in the fire which prompts her to tell Stannis that Davos is right, and they need to prepare for the coming war in the North.
Across the Narrow Sea
In Yunkai, Team Dany wait patiently outside the gates of the city. Finally, a huge crowd of slaves emerges, and Daenerys informs them that their freedom is not hers to give, but theirs to take. After an uncomfortable pause, the crowd starts chanting the word ‘mhysa’, which Missandei informs Daenerys means ‘mother’, and Daenerys moves into the crowd to join her new family, the new source of her power.
While not as shocking or as inherently watchable as last week’s episode, the finale benefits from a strong overarching theme (that family is the source of power) and some great scenes shared by phenomenal actors, while also setting things in motion which will undoubtedly shape the future of the show.
Now it’s that time none of us look forward: the time to find something to fill the Game of Thrones-shaped void in all of our lives. Good luck, everyone!