Has it been 10 episodes already? The second season of Game of Thrones flew by, concluding with the excellent season finale, "Valar Morghulis." Thank the Seven that this episode was super-sized, because for the first time this season, I believe no one was passed over and everyone had at least one scene. Given how big this story has gotten, that's no small feat.
"Valar Morghulis" was all about tying up loose ends and putting things in place for Season 3, and because so much is going on, every single scene was a big one. Game of Thrones is like 10 shows in one, but the cool thing about the finale was that even though the world we know is still growing, with new characters being introduced and other characters diverging into their own storylines, the plots are beginning to bleed into each other. We're seeing the series less as a bunch of characters occupying the same world and more as a story about that world as told through the eyes of the characters within it. What's important now is Westeros—not the Starks, not the Lannisters, not Dany. All these storylines are pieces of a mosaic that makes more sense as the picture gets bigger.
And while we see the individual struggles of Dany trying to buy a boat or Arya having a face-changing buddy who kills whoever she asks him to or Jon getting verbally abused by Ygritte, they serve to add depth to a very layered and textured world. Because right now, the big thing to know is that there are bigger things going on than Theon's insecurity issues. We've got snow zombies and fire-happy dragons and an army of Wildlings, people! We've already seen so much, but Game of Thrones is just getting started.
"The king won't give you any honors, the histories won't mention you, but we will never forget."
Things started off with a close-up on an eye, because I think every TV series is required by law to start or end with a close-up of an eye at some point during its life. It was Tyrion's peeper; his mug is still in one piece after taking a sword to the face at the Battle of Blackwater. That's the good news. The bad news is that he's no longer Hand of the King and no longer gets to live in the pimp pad that comes with the job. Maester Pycelle took a little too much joy in telling Tyrion that, methinks.
As if the whole being-a-dwarf disadvantage wasn't enough in battle, Tyrion had members of his own team looking to cut him down to a Quarter Man. Yes, the armored man who gave Tyrion his new face zipper was Ser Mandon Moore, a goldcloak ordered by Cersei to kill Tyrion during all the confusion of the battle. That bitch! Bronn is no longer in charge of the City Watch, Tyrion is no longer Hand of the King, and gone are Tyrion's chances of being a male model. Bummer day for Tyrion, and he threw himself one heck of a pity party. But at least Shae is still on his side, and the two shared a pretty emotional scene in which Tyrion told Shae he couldn't run off to Pentos with her because he liked making fools out of everyone in King's Landing too much. Well, Tyrion, I'm sure drinking Pina Coladas on the beach with your hot-ass foreign girlfriend is pretty fun, too. Can't you just picture Tyrion as an ex-pat in a tropical land with dreadlocks and a "One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, Floor" t-shirt? It's a much better option than hanging around King's Landing where al your family wants you dead and doesn't appreciate how you saved the city. But dammit, Peter Dinklage acted his ass off in this scene and convinced me that he can't quit being a smartass and foil to Cersei.
Did you see the greatest transition and intro to a new scene ever? Horse apples! It would have been a nice touch to have included a really loud vaudevillian fart noise with the horse shit falling to the ground, but we'll still give you a thumbs up, director Alan Taylor, for your scatological scene-transition genius. That brought us to an even bigger pile of horse shit, Joffrey Baratheon. He was doing that obnoxious leaning thing on his throne, all proud of holding King's Landing even though the city would have been a pile of dust if he was in charge of battle strategy. He'd have trouble keeping a den of Girl Scouts from sacking King's Landing, powerless against their Thin Mints.
Joffrey gave his grandpa Tywin Lannister his old job of Hand back, and gave Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish the ghetto-est castle in the land, Harrenhal, as reward for orchestrating the Lannister-Tyrell merger which ultimately saved King's Landing from falling. All the Tyrells wanted in return was for Margaery Tyrell and her J-Lo dress to marry Joffrey to really, really, really unite their houses, if you know what I'm saying. Margaery expressed her interest in proper highborn slutty fashion, and I'm going to take her dialogue and replace every time she says, "Your grace" with "Tim" and just play that on loop and never leave my house. Joffrey was all like, "I'd like to hit that, but I'm supposed to marry whatsherface, the daughter of that guy whose head I cut off." Everyone made up lies to get Joffrey to accept Margaery's proposal, and that's when Joffrey dumped Sansa, right in front of everyone HOW EMBARRASSING!
Except that was like the best news ever for Sansa because now she can go after Justin Bieber like she wants to. Littlefinger reminded her that she's not out of the weeds yet, and also reminded her that she looks a lot like her mother and that got a little creepy, didn't it? He offered to take her away in his scary van with blacked out windows, but she declined. This was one of those times when the kid should have accepted the candy and ran off with the strange man, but instead she's keeping her head in the Lion's mouth. The Lannisters have no reason to keep her around, and when they have someone around who doesn't need to be around, that person's head usually ends up on the sharp side of a stick.
Varys also made a stop to Ros' pad, and we saw her boobs. Will someone figure out how much time Ros spends topless compared to how much time she's clothed? It's got to be 50/50. Varys had a great line here while trying to convince Ros to work for him: "Littlefinger looks at you and sees a collection of profitable holes. I see a potential partner." And I see your incredible boobs. It wouldn't be a finale without Ros' boobs, and I think that was the only point of this scene and we should all be okay with that.
King's Landing and the Lannisters (except Tyrion) end Season 2 looking pretty strong. The walls are still up, Tywin is back as Hand of the King, and everything Tyrion did to make the city his was undone. Stannis is squashed for now, Robb still isn't ready to siege the city, and the Tyrells will be moving in soon and bringing their huge army with them. It's good to be a Lannister!
You're a virgin I take it?
Brienne and Jaime continued their secret roadtrip ("Riverrun or bust!"), and I love that everyone looks at Brienne is like "GAH! Get a load of this freakshow!" It reminds me of that part in Deuce Bigalow with that really tall chick. Really waiting for someone to say, "That's a huge bitch!" in the background. Anyway, some Northerners crossed their path, and I'm pretty sure Brienne stabbed one of them in the taint.
Not a lot of resolution with these two in Season 2, but we did get to see them become a pretty good team when a third party threatened them. The road trip will continue in Season 3 for this odd couple, and who knows, maybe weird, awkward romance will be in the air.
You will betray everything you once held dear and it will all be worth it."
Fresh off getting his ass handed to him, Stannis was chatting with Melisandre wondering how he lost when he fought in the name of the Lord of Light. Not one to correctly identify a butt-kicking when she sees one, Melisandre tried to convince Stannis that this was just a bump and that she looked in some flames and saw him win and it's coming. But Stannis had heard enough crazy religious talk and figured he'd shut her up the old-fashioned way: by choking her! "Where is your god now?" is typically dialogue that's way overused, but in this case it was spot on and it turned their relationship from p-whipped man takes orders from his hot redhead wife to p.o.'d husband beats his hot redhead wife, which to my understanding are the only two options when you have a hot-ass redhead wife.
Can someone tell me where they were? Because they looked like they were back at Dragonstone and Stannis' awesome table that makes all other tables super jealous. Did Joffrey just beat Stannis and then call a cab for him to go home? Why wasn't Stannis kneeling over a chopping block?
Anyway, this relationship is bonkers wacko. Melisandre, moments after getting her neck shrunk, crawled back to Stannis and cooed about how amazing he is. This is classic behavior in an abusive relationship. Or she's into erotic asphyxiation (probably that). She told him to look into the flames and see his victory, and he said he did see it, but I didn't see squat.
We'll see how much juice Stannis has left in the tank, but for now he looks like he isn't much of a threat unless you believe fire-fortune tellers. You had your chance in Season 2, Stannis. But don't worry, everything is about to go insane with dragons and zombie armies and wildlings, and who wants to be king when that happens?
"You may be right, but I've gone too far to pretend to be anything else."
Theon Greyjoy was one horn toot from blowing his own brains out as Robb's men used annoying siege tactics to drive the Greyjoys crazy. Next time try blasting "It's a Small World" on repeat. It's always funny to watch Theon's plan crumble before our eyes, and his rants about the hornblower were hilarious. But then I actually felt sorry for the kid when he admitted that he had gone too far with his plan to make his daddy happy, and it was too far to go back to being your average arrogant, horny jerk.
Maester Luwin told him to join the Night's Watch but that's the exact polar opposite of what Theon wants, so instead Theon finally manned up and gave a great speech about fighting the Northerners and dying like heroes. I loved his crazy person scream at the end there almost as much as I loved Dagmer Cleftjaw bonking him on the head and knocking him out. Oh the iron(born)y! Theon was finally ready to lead, and his men decided they'd rather go home. Oh Theon Greyjoy, will you ever get it right? I should also mention that Cleftjaw put a spear in Luwin's gut, which I did not approve of.
Osha, Bran, Rickon, and Hodor came out of hiding to see Winterfell abandoned and smoldering. The gang came upon Luwin, who was dying in the Godswood and told them to head North to The Wall, just as he had told Theon. What is he, some undercover Night's Watch recruiter? Hey Luwin, my back is sore. "Go join the Night's Watch." Hey Luwin, these guys just burned my house down. "Go join the Night's Watch." Hey Luwin, I hate the Night's Watch. "Go join the Night's Watch." Well he won't be telling anyone to join the Night's Watch anymore, because he had Osha put him out of his suffering. R.I.P. Luwin, I liked you.
Theon, hopefully they hit you over the head hard enough to give you amnesia because you are not going to want to remember your Season 2. I guess we'll assume that he's being taken back to Pyke, where his dad and sister can call him a Nancyboy until he cries his eyes out. But that's probably better than what Bran and his group is doing, which is walking North until they hit a wall.
"Walder Frey is a dangerous man to cross."
Despite Catelyn's protests and warnings about going back on the oath he made with Walder Frey, Robb put a ring on Talisa's finger. That was quick! Shouldn't they at least live together for a week first? They need to make sure they're a good fit for each other. What if Talisa leaves severed feet all over the house? What if Greywind doesn't like her sleeping in his master's bed? You gotta iron these things out before you break your oath and get hitched.
However, this was probably the most important scene for hardcore Game of Thrones fans, because we got the official words of a Westeros wedding, and superfans will be reciting them at their own Game of Thrones-themed real-life weddings. Here they are: "Father, Smith, Warrior, Mother, Maiden, Crone, Stranger, I am hers and she is mine from this day until the end of my days." Now go out and embarrass yourself on the most important day of your life!
This was a good season for Robb. He killed a bunch of Lannisters and got the hottest girl. Can't say the same for Catelyn, who still doesn't know where four of her kids are and let Jaime Lannister escape.
"Thank you Xaro Xhaon Daxos, thank you for teaching me this lesson."
Dany continued on her hunt for dragons and ships, which led her straight to The House of the Undying. There was a lot of baby dragon screaming and a lot of Dany opening doors. Like, a lot. One of the doors opened up into a snowy version of the King's Landing throne room, but it was the next room that provided one of the episode's better scenes. Khal Drogo! He's back, sort of! And he had a kid! Was that baby nursing off a baby bottle of Rogaine? Because he had an awesome head of hair. Dany and Drogo exchanged some really romantic stuff in Dothraki, but Dany knew it was just a dream and moved on. We'll always take more Drogo, even if it's just in dream form or a peyote trip.
Finally she came to her dragons, all captive in adorable little chains. Pyat Pree popped out of the shadows to tell her that the birth of her dragons brought their magic back, and that the magic was strongest when the dragons were around, and the dragons were strongest when she was around, so he was going to keep her chained up in the House of the Dying so he could have +5 damage added to his Destruction spells with the dragon power-up.
Dany had other ideas though, and told her dragons to light that sucker up like a Christmas Tree, and this great wizard went up in flames and that was easy, wasn't it? Not a very good plan there, Pyat Pree. If the dragons can do that at this age, I can't wait to see those lizards burn Joffrey to a crisp when they get older.
But Pyat Pree and rescuing her dragons weren't the last of her business in Qarth, so Dany went into Xaro's (not typing out his whole name, sorry) bedroom to rob him. And wouldn't you know it!? There was Doreah, the slutty handmaiden, shacking up with Xaro. Not cool. Dany grabbed the key to Xaro's master safe and opened it up to reveal... nothing. But it didn't stay empty for long, because Dany got all tough and locked both Xaro and Doreah in there, where Xaro will probably eat her in a few days. With all that out of the way, Dany looted the city for everything it had, just like the Dothraki were trying to do in the first place, and was planning to use the profits from pillaging to FINALLY buy a ship.
That's it, Qarth? Essentially Pyat and Xaro killed the other guys, then Dany killed them, and that was that? Hmmmph, okay. At least Dany has a ship. I hope she doesn't spend all of Season 3 in some random city trying to find a captain, then all of Season 4 trying to get her ship registered with the DMV, then all of Season 5 finding a good parking spot in Westeros, then all of Season 6...
"If the day comes when you must find me again, just give that coin to any man from Braavos and say these words to him: Valar Morghulis."
Not much to wrap up with Arya's storyline. She escaped from the castle and said goodbye to Jaqen H'ghar, who gave her a special coin and muttered the words above. Oh and he CHANGED HIS FACE! I think it would have been cool if he turned around and it was Nicolas Cage's or John Travolta's face, though, but that's why I don't write episodes of Game of Thrones. It was just be an hour of people wearing Nic Cage's face and Ros' boobs. Instead, Jaqen chose to try out life as a much less attractive man, much to the ladies' chagrin.
Now Arya's with Gendry and Hot Pie walking who knows where, and we still didn't find out how Jaqen killed all those guys or changed his face and I'm not sure we ever will. It was not an easy year for Arya, but her talks with Tywin were some of the best scenes of the season.
"We are the watchers on the wall." *Fall down and die.*
The scenes up beyond The Wall were short, but man were they sweet! Jon was still a wildling captive and Ygritte was still yappin' away and giving him a hard time. She's lucky she's so cute. Qhorin Halfhand, however, isn't that cute so when he threw insults at Jon, the bastard didn't take too kindly to them. And he didn't take too kindly to him trying to kill him, either. Rattleshirt, the Lord of Bones, figured some entertainment was in order and said, "I'll allow this," while Jon and Qhorin scrapped. But you stupid wildlings didn't realize that this was Qhorin's plan all along! Suckers! Jon killed Qhorin, which became a really good way to get on the wildlings' good side. And it was just in time, too, because they came to Mance Rayder's wildling camp, which was HUGE. Now Jon gets to meet the boss.
But the scene everyone will be talking about until next spring came at the very end (duh). Sam, Edd, and Grenn were digging more holes to poop in, when the Night's Watch horn blew. Once. Which meant rangers were coming back. Not so fast! It blew again, which meant wildlings were coming! But that wasn’t all. It blew a third time, which we learned a few weeks ago meant that an army of zombie snowmen were coming, so the guys did the right thing and ran as fast as they could. Of course Sam fell down, and he came face-to-face with one of the White Walkers riding a zombie horse, and it was awesome. Maybe it wasn't perfect CGI, but finally getting a solid look at one of these guys was great. But why does he scream like a girl?
Dragons-in-training to the south, a zombie army to the north, a huge wildling presence also in the north, Lannisters in the center, and magic coming back in a big way. We thought we'd seen everything Game of Thrones had to offer, but the world continues to grow bigger and bigger. The question is, how much bigger can it get?
Season 2 went by FAST, but it ended strong just like Season 1 did. The ninth episode was a game changer and the finale did a fantastic job of wrapping things up in the season while also offering a peek into what's in store for Season 3. Now let's all put our heads together and work on a time machine so we don't have to wait all these months between seasons.
Game of Thrones Season 2 Power Rankings
I'll be ranking the ten episodes of Game of Thrones' second season from first to worst in terms of quality. But remember, these rankings are just, like, my opinion, man.
This Week: "Valar Morghulis" had the difficult task of following "Blackwater," and thanks to its extended time, gave every character important screen time as we said goodbye to them until next spring. Though some storylines just had some mopping up to do, several left in perfect spots for us to get excited about between seasons. And that final scene! Great episode all around.
1. "Blackwater" (Episode 9)
War! Giant green explosions! Multiple people getting sliced in half! The epic battle of Blackwater Bay unfolds.
2. "Valar Morghulis" (Episode 10)
The season finale! Dany entered the (Fun)House of the Undying, Winterfell was left abandoned, and there be zombies north of The Wall!
3. "Garden of Bones" (Episode 4)
Joffrey entertains a few ladies by having them beat each other; Melisandre gives birth to the Smoke Monster from Lost; Dany meets a bunch of salesmen from Qarth.
4. "The Ghost of Harrenhal" (Episode 5)
Shadow Baby gives Renly a big hug, wildfire wildfire wildfire!, Theon sets out for the North, and Arya's new friend does her bidding.
5. "The North Remembers" (Episode 1)
Annnnd we're back! Joffrey orders death for Robert's bastards; Melisandre, Davos, and Stannis make their grand entrance; Robb sends an
all tomato ultimatum to the Lannisters.
6. "The Old Gods and The New" (Episode 6)
Jon Snow meets a hot redhead in the snow, the people of King's Landing rebel, and Winterfell falls to Theon.
7. "A Man Without Honor" (Episode 7)
Theon takes drastic measures to hold Winterfell, revolution in Qarth means tough times for Dany, and Jaime Lannister returns to make fun of Brienne.
8. "The Night Lands" (Episode 2)
The Goldcloaks set out to find Gendry (and Arya); Theon gropes his sister and disappoints his dad; Jon sees something strange in the forest.
9. "What Is Dead May Never Die" (Episode 3)
Theon suits up for Team Greyjoy; Tyrion gives Pycelle the boot; Cat arrives to see Renly assembling a circus; Arya and Gendry get captured.
10. "The Prince of Winterfell" (Episode 8)
Talisa and Robb finally let their loins do the talking, Jon and Qhorin Halfhand are in the clutches of Wildlings, and Tyrion fears for Shae's safety.
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom