Game of Thrones Recap: Mhysa

If you were wondering how they could top the Red Wedding in the Game of Thrones finale, the answer is: they didn’t. The season-ender closed some holes in the aftermath of the Wedding, and set up some of the action for Season 4, which covers the rest of book three, A Storm of Swords.

The Crossing: The episode opens on Roose Bolton surveying the post-Wedding destruction as the slaughter of the Stark army by the Freys rages on. For the book readers wondering if HBO was going to “go there” on a certain item…how could you doubt it? Just prior to their escape, Arya & the Hound are treated to a view of Grey Wind’s severed head sewn on Robb’s headless body, which Frey soldiers are parading around.

Later, the pair is riding through the woods and comes across a small group of Frey soldiers in the woods, reminiscing about the totally awesome time they had slaughtering Starks and coming up with ingenious solutions to sew on the wolf’s head. Arya slips off the horse and approaches the men, asking to share their fire — and stabs one of the men to death. The Hound steps in to take care of the rest. Arya is small but fierce, and Maisie Williams does a good job of portraying those characteristics. I miss the crackling intensity that she had with Tywin (Charles Dance), but the Hound is a worthy foe for Arya, and I hope they continue to develop that interplay in Season 4.

King’s Landing: Speaking of Charles Dance, he continues to be a shining star in the cast. You can’t like Tywin Lannister, but you have to respect him, and Dance captures that cold, calculating demeanor perfectly. I’m 100% behind those folks calling for J.J. Abrams to cast Dance as a Star Wars villain — I think he can bring the gravitas that was sadly lacking in the prequels.

In the castle, Sansa & Tyrion are trying to make the best of their awkward marriage with lighthearted banter when Tyrion is called to a meeting of the small council. Joffrey is positively giddy, so we know this can’t be good. Sure enough, assholery ensues as he announces Robb Stark is dead. Joff wants to serve Robb’s head on platter to Sansa at his wedding feast. Tyrion is having none of that, reminding him that Sansa is no longer Joff’s to torment, and ominously noting that kings are dropping like flies. Smackdown!

Oh, and Brienne and Jamie have made it back to King’s Landing. This scrap was kind of tossed in there without much ado, and was a little awkward and choppy (like the episode in general).

Nightfort: Bran, Hodor, Jojen, and Meera have made it to the wall at last, taking refuge in the Nightfort, an abandoned Watch outpost, as they try to figure out how to cross the wall. The Nightfort is haunted, says Bran, relaying a grisly tale of the Rat Cook, who slaughtered a guest beneath his roof — an unforgivable crime in the eyes of the gods. (What do the gods have in store for the Freys, who just did this exact same thing?)

Later, Bran wakes to sounds coming from a well. Is it the Rat Cook, come to make them into pies? Nope, it’s Sam the Slayer, with Gilly and the baby! After a futile attempt to get Bran to come to Castle Black, Sam arms the ragged band with dragonglass and shows them the secret passage down the well and through the Black Gate. Our Heroes march away through the tunnel to heroic music. Will they survive the White Walkers and find the three-eyed raven? Dun dun dun!!

Dreadfort/Pike: At the Dreadfort, Ramsay Snow, the Bastard of Bolton, is taunting the newly-eunuched Theon by chowing down on a thick, juicy sausage right in front of him. That’s not Theon’s sausage, is it? Alas, no — even Ramsay’s not that sick. Theon begs for death, but Ramsay needs him alive. Book readers will be gratified to know that Theon has finally earned the name of Reek.

Back in Pike, Balon & Yara get letter from Ramsay demanding they abandon the strongholds they’ve captured in the north, along with a very special present — that’s right, the Westerosi version of a Dick in a Box. Balon writes off his son as dead, but Yara vows to set sail and save him. We haven’t seen much of the Greyjoys lately, so it’ll be interesting to see how that storyline picks up in the next season. Thus far Gemma Whelan has not made much of an impression as Yara (Asha in the books), but maybe this will be her chance to shine.

Dragonstone: Davos and Gendry are bonding, as they’re both lowborn sons of Flea Bottom. Later, while Davos practices his newfound reading skills with Shireen, he comes across Maester Aemon’s letter informing them what the Night’s Watch is up against and asking for help. He approaches Stannis, only to learn that Robb Stark is dead, for which Melisandre and her leeches gleefully take credit. One usuper-king-leech down, two to go! But Stannis is no closer to throne, which means Gendry has to be sacrificed to the Red God. Sure that murder of an innocent is wrong, Davos helps Gendry escape. Stannis sentences him to die, but Davos reminds him of his true duty as rightful king — to help guard the realms of men against the Walkers. Melisandre reads the flames, and agrees the true battle is in the north. Davos gets a temporary reprieve.

The Gift/Castle Black: Sam and Gilly have returned to the Castle with the baby and, after assuring Maester Aemon that “it’s not what it looks like” (heh), brought him up to speed on their impending doom from the Walkers. Aemon’s no fool, and instructs Sam to send every raven they have to beg the wannabe kings and lords for help in the hopes that one of them will put their money where their mouth is.

On his way to Castle black after revealing his true colors to the wildlings, Jon thinks he’s safe; but alas, Ygritte appears, bow and arrow in hand. Remember that bit about women scorned? Yeah, you don’t fuck with Ygritte’s heart, or you end up pumped full of arrows. Somehow, Jon makes it to his horse, and back to Castle Black to await the impeding attack from the wildlings.

Yunkai: The defeated city releases its slaves to Dany and her forces. With a swell of music and flutter of CGI dragons, Mother Dany accepts adoration from her “children” with an awkward bout of crowd surfing. Honestly, this was a pretty cheesy way to end the season. The finale has some good moments, but overall it was a little disappointing. If I wasn’t a book reader who knows there’s still some good stuff to come next season, I might not be looking forward to it quite so much.

Stay tuned, folks, and if you haven’t already done so, at least read books 1 & 2 before next season. I think you’ll be glad to have more of the backstory, and be interested to see some of the changes that HBO has made up to this point. Until next time, just remember: 1. Cut a hole in a box. 2. Valar morghulis!

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