After the chaotic and absolutely superb penultimate episode last week, it's not surprising that the season finale of "Game of Thrones" seemed to lack the staying power that the last few episodes had. Even if the episode was a step down, I'd still be happy overall. However, the complete lack of actual momentum here at times was palpable, and while we're left with the perfect segue way into Season 2, a season finale shouldn't be simply a segue way; it should act as its own piece of work, something that closes the story of the current season while setting the pieces for the next season. This episode felt more open-ended, as if the show is one long season and every episode is just a small piece of that season. Some people may not agree with me (and I'll probably end up liking this episode more on a rewatch), but for now, I think "Baelor" made a more suitable finale.
But despite all of these tiny little nitpickings that I'm doing, I must admit that the episode overall was good, in terms of writing and the way everything was constructed. The writers have done a great job of setting up what should be an epic Season 2. "Game of Thrones" is one of those shows with at least two-dozen main characters, so it's surprising at how well the writers do at balancing out all of the stories. Following Ned Stark's death, King Joffrey (who I still see as a weird Malfoy type character, evil tendencies and all)asserts his dominance over King's Landing and becomes as horrible as one could imagine him as King. Sansa is still to marry him while Arya, with the help of Ned's man, cuts her hair, dons a sword and, along with Robert Baratheon's bastard son, sets off for The Wall.
Things are intensifying for the Stark family elsewhere as well. Robb Stark finds himself with men willing to pledge their loyalty to him as King, while Cat suffers from the loss of Ned and finds that Jaime Lannister is actually willing to admit his role in Bran's fall. As for Jon Snow, the other member of the family, we witness him nearly breaking his vows in order to murder Joffrey but is brought back to reality by Sam and his friends. By episode's end, he's accepted the fact that he'll be a member of the Nightswatch for life, and with the rest of the crew, sets off across the Wall to hunt and also find Benjin, his uncle who's been missing since at least Episode 4. While the most focus in the Stark family has been on Ned, Jon Snow and Cat, the back five episodes have really helped build Sansa, Arya and Robb into their own unique characters, particularly Robb, who I initially thought was a bland character but was forced to eat my words after the actor who plays him brought a youthful but energetic personality. I'm looking forward to seeing how his war against Tywin Lannister turns out. And as for Jon Snow, I started off looking forward to seeing what would happen and ended up not caring as much, mostly because compared to everything else, Jon's plot was pushed aside and not built on. However, with him accepting his role within the Nightswatch, next season's plots should be really great.
Then there's the plot involving Daenerys. Daenerys learns that not only is her son dead but that the witch's magic turned Khal Drogo into a vegetable. Daenerys is furious and ends up mercy-killing Drogo, building a funeral pyre, burning Drogo's body, the witch and the eggs at the same time and then throwing herself into the center of the pyre, while her aid Jora simply watches in horror. However, while the Dothroki/Daenerys plot may have seemed the most isolated from everything, the final moments of the finale seem ready to bring Daenerys into the heart of everything going on. When it's revealed that Daenerys did not actually die but was stripped naked by the fire that actually hatched the three dragon eggs, we're left with chills, knowing that the birth of three new dragons can only mean dark and horrific things in the future for the characters in the show.
I look back at what I just wrote at the start of the review, and yes, I think the episode was disappointing in some aspects. But I also think that the writers set themselves up to make a finale that couldn't stand up to "Baelor." "Baelor" was ballsy in the way it killed off a main character so early, and the finale didn't have that same epic feel to it. But it definitely was well-written and set things up, so I can't complain too much. I'm still incredibly into the show and cannot wait to see what in the world George R.R Martin has set up next.