After last week’s shocking Red Wedding episode, the season finale focused on its aftermath. The episode was fast paced with many character motivated reveals and turn of events. It also set up the for next season (which has not been filmed yet). With the loss of some major players such as Robb and Catelyn; smaller story lines like Bran, Davos and Sam will come to forefront now with intriguing character and plot depth. This episode reminds us of important values in Westeros: family duty, honor, loyalty and faith.
The chaos of the RW continued outside the Twins as Stark banner men were slaughtered as Roose Bolton watched atop of the castle. As the Hound tries to protect a semi-conscious Arya and get her out of harm’s way, he grabs a Twins banner and heads for the exit. As they approach it, both witness the chanting of “King of the North” where Grey Wind’s head attached to Robb’s body is tied to a horse led through the grounds. Arya has now experienced tragedy and death twice. Later on while traveling through the woods, they spot some Frey men discussing the decapitation. Arya jumps off the horse and engages the men. In a quick instant, she drops the coin and kills one of the soldiers; her first kill, “Valur Morgulis”. The Hound comes to her aid and finishes off the rest. He asks her where she got the “dagger” and her reply: him. Sandor instructs her that the next time,” you kill someone, tell me first”. These two characters are dynamic together. The Hound is a protective almost father like figure to Arya. And we are seeing her turn to the dark side of ugly.
Bran, Meera, Jojen and Hodor arrive at the Nightfort. Hodor enjoys hodoring. Bran tells Jojen and Meera the tale of the “Rat Cook”; about how a cook from the Night’s Watch killed a guest and served him as pie, a sin that the Gods can’t forgive. An explanation to guest rights which was not apparent at the RW. As they sleep, they are awakened by a strange noise and Summer’s growling. A large man springs out of the well. He introduces himself as Night’s Watch, who just happens to be Sam Tarly. Gilly is right behind him. Bran almost spills the beans about his identity but Jojen hushes him up. Sam looks at Summer and realizes that Bran is Jon’s brother. “If Jon is your brother; I’m your brother too” to persuade Bran to stay but the young Stark’s mind is already set for the north. Sam shows them the passage and arms them with dragonglass. The only Bran and company head towards their destination into the clear night. It was bittersweet moment for two character storylines be intertwined. Will Sam inform Jon whether he saw Bran or not? Bran’s journey begins to north of the Wall.
Sam arrives at Castle Black and informs Maester Aemon of the events beyond the Wall. He (Maester) meets Gilly who names her son, “Sam” and invites her to be a guest of the Night’s Watch. Aemon orders Sam to fly ravens with messages to the remaining Kings of Westeros requesting assistance.
Jon stops for a drink and cleans his wounds before heading to Castle Black. He encounters an angry and bitter Ygritte, bow in hand. He pleads with her not to shoot him by saying he loves her but he had to do what he had to do. Her only reply is, “you know nothing Jon Snow” and shoots, wounding him in the shoulder. Snow climbs upon his horse as Ygritte fires another arrow into his leg. Jon escapes, leaving a crying Ygritte once again. As he makes it back to the Wall, he almost succumbs to his wounds. Jon reunites with his NW brothers Sam and Pip. This reunion is reminiscent of the first season where Jon and Sam meet at the Wall, thus illustrating that family doesn’t have to always be blood but it can be a brotherhood based on loyalty, honor and faith.
The next morning at the Twins, Roose Bolton and Walder Frey celebrate their glorious victory over the Starks. Edmure is in the dungeons and the Blackfish escaped. Frey had been named Lord of Riverrun and Bolton, Warden of the North, all with a little help of Lannisters. Bolton even suggests a new wife for Frey. He questions his future son in law about what happened at Winterfell. It is revealed that his son “Ramsay” acquired the Ironborn to turn over Theon. Bolton and Frey are now the most hated characters of the season, rivaling that of Joffrey.
Theon, still being taunted by Ramsay (and a sausage), begs his captor to “kill him”; however, the Boltons have other plans for him. Ramsay begins to tease Theon, by saying he stinks and then comes up with the name, “Reek”. He starts tormenting Theon with, “what’s your name” to which he answers, “Theon Greyjoy” until he submits by force, “Reek”. Again, another adaptation of the books to screen where our last character (due to casting) of the season is finally disclosed rounding out this storyarc. It has been hard to watch at times,but it reminds us that “karma” can sting.
In the Iron Islands, we are reintroduced to Yara and Balon Greyjoy who receive a letter from Ramsay Snow requiring him to give up the North as well as a “gift”. Balon decides to disown his own son simply because he disobeyed his orders. Yara stands up to her father by saying that Theon is her brother, he is family. She sails on the fastest ship of the Ironborn fleet with fifty of the best marksmen to march on the Dreadfort. Yara embodies the power of women in Westeros; it’s a welcome addition to this episode. And let’s not forget that Stannis called Balon’s name in the leech sacrifice; foreshadowing next season.
In Kings Landing, Sansa and Tyrion walk through the gardens enjoying some small talk. Pod interrupts them requiring Tyrion to attend a meeting of the small council. Joffrey proudly shows the note from Lord Frey informing them that Robb and Catelyn Stark are dead. He (Joffrey) requests that Robb Stark’s head be given to Sansa on his wedding day as a gift. Tyrion reminds his nephew that he can no longer torment her. Joffrey remarks “I am the King; I can torment anyone I’d like”. Tywin tries to diffuse the situation by reminding his grandson, “that no true King needs to declare himself King”. After which, Joffrey has a hissy fit and Tywin excuses the King to bed because he is tired and needs something to help him sleep.
After the small counsel leaves, Tywin informs his son of his part in Robb’s death. His plans also includes that Roose Bolton will be Warden of the North until his and Sansa’s child is born. Tyrion tells his father that the Northeners won’t forget. Lannister reminds his son that “the House that puts family first will always defeat the House that puts whim of wishes of its sons and daughters first”. Toward the end of their chat, Tywin berates Tyrion for not getting Sansa pregnant as well as his own birth story and even though Tywin didn’t want him; he raised him to be a Lannister. Tyrion hurries towards his quarters to tell Sansa of the grim news; yet, he’s too late as she is already crying.
Varys visits Shae. They discuss how she came to Westeros, her feelings for both Sansa and Tyrion. He advises her that, “ Tyrion Lannister is one the few people that can make this country a better place…you are complication…your presence endangers him”. With that being said, Varys gives Shae some diamonds to start a new life in Pentos. She refuses and throws them onto the ground. At night, as Pod and Tyrion decide to drink, Cersei comes to visit her brother. She also tells him to make Sansa happy, by giving her a child. Tyrion asks her the same, if her children make her happy to which she replies that if she didn’t have them, she’d have jumped off the Red Keep.
The next morning, Jaime, Brienne and Qyburn arrive at Kings Landing. Jaime goes to see Cersei who gasps at his presence and his arm. With Jamie back, the Lannister family dynamics certainly change. Definitely, more political intrigue with Varys and Shae added to the mix. Their roles might influence events further next season.
At Dragonstone, Davos visits Gendry in the dungeons and informs him that he wasn’t a highborn, rather he came from Flea Bottom as well. He reveals that he helped Stannis out of a sticky situation and ended up as a Lord. They have a good laugh about the Red Woman. With the help of Shireen, Davos keeps practicing his reading. He reads a letter from the Night’s Watch. As the bells toll, Seaworth learns from his King that Robb Stark is dead; betrayed by his banner men. Both Mel and the King believe it’s the Lord of Light’s answer from their leech sacrifice. Stannis orders that Gendry be sacrificed in order to keep the Red God happy. Davos pleads for Gendry’s life and advises his King that he an innocent among thousands of soldiers. He also warns against Red Magic. That night, Davos sneaks Gendry onto a boat away from Dragonstone.
Afterwards, Stannis discovers that Davos set the “sacrifice” free. The King sentences him to death. In one last effort as Hand, Davos tells Stannis, he’ll need his help as he shows him the letter from the Wall. Stannis gives the letter to Melisandre who burns it in the fire. She concurs with its contents and states, “the war of the 5 kings is over; the true war is in the north”. Mel actually agrees with Davos for once! Liam Cunningham as Davos reminds us of honor, loyalty and faith during a time when everything is surrounded by death. Stephane Dillane’s performance as Stannis is very pure and you can’t help but begin to like the guy.
Outside Yunkai, Daenery and company await to see how the slaves will receive. As they come to greet her, Missendi introduces them to their new leader. She tells them how the Khalessi freed them. Dany interrupts her and tells the crowd that “freedom is a choice”. They begin to call her, “Mysha” which means mother in Ghiscari. As Dany descends into the crowd, she let her dragons fly freely above them. The freed slaves then raise Dany on their shoulders to celebrate and the song “Mysha” plays during the end credits. Perhaps freedom is choice we should not take for granted.
The finale tied up many loose ends but gave us some new insightful intrigue to think about for Season 4. The ending with Dany was mediocre, it could have ended with Dragonstone or Jon; just make it a little more thrilling as previous seasons have done. It’s a long wait until next year. Hopefully, Skyler will be back to write his amazing synopsis but I thank him for this opportunity. I’ll be back with some final reviews of the Season 3, characters, plots and possible predictions.
“An unhappy wife is a wine merchant’s best friend” Cersei to Tyrion
“My enemies made my kingdom bleed” Stannis to Davos
“Two boys from Flea Bottom in the castle of the King” Davos to Gendry
“What is one bastard boy against the Kingdom” Stannis to Melisandre/Davos
“Killed a few puppies lately?” Tyrion to Joffrey
“See, Ser Davos? You’ve been saved by that fire god you like to mock. You’re his army now.” Stannis to Davos
“My mother taught me not to throw stones at cripples. But my father told me to aim for their heads.” Ramsay to Theon
“We break bread with them but you have one name, not a family name” Varys to Shae.