TV REVIEW: Game of Thrones - Mhysa

This is it. The season finale of Game of Thrones; the last hour that we get to spend in Westeros this year. Well, unless you're planning on mainlining the previous two seasons at some point (hint: you totally should). So how did the finale stack up?

A longer episode than usual, the extended run-time allowed for the show to not only deal with the fallout from last week's episode, but also to set up the character arcs and narrative threads for next season. Having the show's big climactic moments in the ninth episode allows the tenth to breathe and so it does, slowing down the action once again in favour of development. It is largely successful in this respect, revisiting faces we've seen throughout and also returning to those we've not seen so much. It was a good refresher and has set up a nice level of anticipation for the next season which feels like an age away.

First of all, the aftermath of the Red Wedding was seen from the perspective of the two remaining Stark ladies, Arya (Maisie Williams) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) in their respective settings. For Arya, this included what was a shocking moment (and was in the books too) as Bolton and Frey's men replace Robb's head with Grey Wind's. I must admit, I didn't expect them to actually show this as it is a horrific defilement and to watch Arya seeing it sometime just made it that much worse. Arya had some big scenes in this, particularly her attack on the soldiers on the roadside. We've been told all season that she was capable of killing men and in this episode she proved it in a particularly frenzied stabbing. Not that we weren't all rooting for her. There was also a neat reminder of Jaqen H'Gar's promise to her and his coin; 'valar morghulis'. It's a big hint to where Arya is heading.

Sansa, though a character I used to detest, has had one of the most impressive character arcs across the three seasons as she is forced to watch her idealisations smashed, first by Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). Well actually, mostly just by Joffrey (who also got an excellent dressing down in this episode. Most satisfying). Turner's performance has been excellent throughout the series and the scene between her and Dinklage as they walked together had a nice unromantic chemistry. Of course this was all shattered moments later when we were treated to another fantastic scene between Dinklage and Charles Dance's Tywin Lannister which further informed us as to the reasons behind Tywin's unabashed hatred of his son. It was powerful stuff.

Family was very much the theme of this final episode, either the fracturing (as in the previously discussed moments) or the potential reuniting of them. We've had plenty of reminders that Theon (Alfie Allen) is being tortured by a mysterious boy, now revealed to be Roose Bolton's bastard son Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) who gives such a gleefully psychotic performance, it's impossible not to admire him. The breakdown of Theon's identity was well-handled as he becomes Reek, a fascinating character in the books. I hope they do it justice. The storyline also set up a new narrative for next season as we return to the Greyjoy's stronghold to see Theon's father Balon (Patrick Malahide) and his sister Yara (NAME) who receive a certain package (pun very much intended). 

Now let's all take a moment to mourn the romance of the series as Jon (Kit Harington) finally had to say goodbye to Ygritte (Rose Leslie) and return to his brothers at Castle Black. The pair had great scenes together and often provided some of the more light-hearted moments and it's a shame we probably won't get to see them together all that much. That being said, it was also great to have the best bromance on the Wall reunited as both Sam and Jon return to Castle Black. Jon's actual brother, Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), is now north of the Wall after a nicely creepy scene that foretells just how severe the ramifications of the Red Wedding could be for Walder Frey (David Bradley). Hospitality is a massive deal in Westeros and the story of the Rat Cook highlighted just how serious it is.

And so we come to the final scene which sadly was probably the weakest of the episode as Yunkai opens its doors to Dany (Emilia Clarke) and declares her to be their 'Mhysa' or their mother. Although impressively staged - the shot of Dany on the steps with her entourage was amazing - it lacked any of the emotional punch that the last scene of the season should have. Thinking back to last season, we had the first major glimpse of the army of white walkers heading south for the Wall. The threat had been talked about for so long, to finally see it was shocking and memorable. With the final overhead shot of the slaves circling Dany, it looked great, but it didn't leave my jaw dropping to the floor.

All in all, it has been a cracking season, slow-paced yet but measured and with some wonderfully shocking moments that made just about everyone shout at the TV or leave them completely struck dumb. If anything, it has proved just how committed David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are to creating this world, if there was any doubt at all. It's a fantastic adaptation and I'm already mourning the fact that it won't be here next Monday.

- Becky

You can read Becky's review for The Rains of Castamere here and check out her look at the Red Wedding here.

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