A Game of Thrones, “Valar Morghulis”, Moving the pieces in place for Season 3…

***SPOILERS***SPOILERS***SPOILERS***

I’ve literally just this minute finished watching the Game of Thrones Season 2 finale; Valur Marguris. I’m a bit behind this week because I’ve been away for Jubilee weekend visiting the Sister-in-Law and big Al.

It pains me to say it, but, while there were some nice moments and some narrative movement… there was also some disappointing negatives here too. Admittedly I’m judging it by a very high GoT standard, and it overall it was a good episode, but a few of the storylines were missing a little something for me.

The main issue was that, generally, the episode felt too sprawling and a little messy to me. At times it was dangerously close to incomprehensible, as some of the narrative depth felt rushed and skimmed over.

For example, in the aftermath of the siege of Kings Landing, Big Poppa Lannister takes the title of Hand of the King and Tyrion is demoted. But, it appears that he is more than demoted, he is outcast, which doesn’t add up. Didn’t Tywin send Tyrion to represent him and The Hand until his return anyway? Why is Tyrion outcast? I’ve obviously missed something or forgotten something along the way. There we’re some nice touches in Tyrion’s story (his emotional scene with Shae, his rapport with Podrick and his chat with Varys – Dinklage awesome in every second as usual) something just didn’t sit right with it; Tyrion’s fall felt underdeveloped and lacked depth of narrative.

Theon’s story was tainted for me a bit too. Again, there were some wonderful scenes as his story played out in the episode – the fireside chat with Maester Luwin was a wonderful scene, as was the inspirational speech, both of which moved Theon’s character away from the laddish shagger I was starting to see him as to more a foolish, tragic boy with a real struggle of identity.

So, these small scenes were great, but the overall narrative was rushed. How did the Ironborn warriors, only 20, manage to raze Winterfell and make their escape with 500 Stark loyal Northeners there to stop them? And Maester Luwin’s death just fizzled out and deserved more emotional impact.

I was happy to see Danearys finally get out of the rut she had been in stuck in for most of the season. I really enjoyed her growth through season one and was starting to feel a touch cheated with her slow story this season. I loved the little dreamy scene with Khal Drogo, serving as a nice reminder of who she was and her motivations, and the scene with the King of Quarth’s imprisonment and the Dothraki ransacking his mansion. Again though, my main criticism rears it’s head, as it felt as though a story had dragged out all season and then suddenly shot forward in a few short scenes, not afforded a suitable amount of time as the sprawling episode tries to fit so much in.

North of the wall everything moves at a reasonable pace, and we get to see the size of Mance’s forces and finally we see the mysterious White Walkers and their zombified forces. While the Night’s Watch and Jon Snow’s story moved forward and I was pleased at how their strand was laid up for Season Three (I’m anticipating an increased focus on the Jon Snow and Night’s Watch strands next season. I’ve not read the books but it feels significant to me and I like this storyline.) once again though, my enjoyment with this narrative strand was tarnished by small disappointments. Snow’s killing of Qhorin to seal his false defection and plans of subterfuge lacked sufficient weight and emotional impact on Jon. As mentioned, time was tight, so it got rushed, and perhaps this impact will be seen as Season three begins. I also thought that, after all this time, the WhiteWalkers were a bit of a let down and didn’t appear as menacing as my imagination had allowed them to become.

The real stand out section of the episode was Brienne and Jamie’s scene. I enjoyed the steps towards adding more dimensions to Brienne and the developing dynamic between her and Jaime, which I suspect is going to be a complicated relationship in Season Three. Brienne is undoubtedly a badass with a blade,  and I was pleased to see a layer added to her character through her disgust at violence towards women and her the growing rapport with Jaime.

Ultimately, the real climax of Season Two was last week’s “Blackwater”, and perhaps the sprawling, scattered rush in this final episode will feel more fleshed out as Season Three kicks in – the real purpose of the episode was less to give us a whiz/pop/bang finish to Season Two but more to move the pieces into place for Season Three. Looking at the things of significance from the episode; the stuff going on in the North, Rob’s secret marriage, Danearys’ rediscovered momentum, Arya’s decision to search for her family, the Lannister/Tyrell alliance, and Bran & Rickon’s journey to the wall, all are simply small narrative steps forward to serve as tasters for Season Three.

So, overall a good ep, a bit of a dip against it’s usual high standard due to Blackwater’s comedown, small, niggly let-downs from a sense of rushing and underdeveloped narrative that effected the comprehensive flow of the story.

Do you agree or disagree? Think I’m waaaaaay of mark or hammering good nails to heads? Let me know and comment below…

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6 responses to “A Game of Thrones, “Valar Morghulis”, Moving the pieces in place for Season 3…

  1. Totally agree! As awesome as the epi was, it felt a bit rushed, though I tend not to judge them as the plot is just so wast I’m just glad they’ve taken upon the job to work on it. I too felt like I’ve missed something in certain scenes, such as Winterfell fully burned down. But upon conversation with people who have read the books, it appears it is not the Ironborn warriors who did it, but a new group that we will probably meet in season 3. It makes me sad to think this is true because that would mean they really butchered down that scene – how was it possible for another group to slay a total number of 520 warriors in such a short time, and why haven’t we heard about them earlier? We’re left with a lot of questions from the last episode. Anyway, great review! 🙂

    • Wow, if the Winterfell thing is true and it’ is someone else entirely then that will be hugely disappointing.

      I’ve not read the books but have occasionally felt through the series that I’ve missed some small something and,as you’ve done, had to get a friend who’s read the book to fill in the gaps. This episode though felt like the gaps were larger than usual.

      I’ve even finished an episode and immediately re-watched it’s predecessor in case I missed something! I usually hadn’t, except maybe the odd, subtle implication.

      • I have decided that over this summer I must find the time to read the books. Otherwise this feeling that I’m missing something every once in while might just drive me crazy.
        I’m not giving up on the show, it’s still great, but I feel season 2 was way messier than season 1 – if it wasn’t for Blackwater they would have lost a huge number of fans.

      • I have considered reading the books but have decided against it personally. I can’t really explain why; other than maybe I’ve already got a stack of stuff on the shelf waiting to be read.

        I also fear the show losing something – I like my imagination doing the work and I might find less pleasure now that I’ve already engaged with someone else’s interpretation – Tyrion will always be Peter Dinklage to me now.

      • Fair enough. My initial idea was to at least read the first two books as we’ve already went through those. Or I might just try reading them and see how it affects my attitude toward the series.
        Although as you said, with so much stuff waiting to be read, it’s highly possible I might not even get to a Song of Ice and Fire.

  2. Pingback: Game of Thrones Season 2 Review « thevisionaryfilmfanatic·

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