How is it already Game of Thrones finale time?! If you need to catch up, don't miss Regina Thorne's Season 2 refresher or her recap of episode 3.01, episode 3.02, episode 3.03, episode 3.04, episode 3.05, episode 3.06, episode 3.07, and episode 3.08.
And now, onto last night's episode 3.10, “Mhysa.“
***SPOILERS FOR THE GAME OF THRONES SEASON 3 FINALE***
It’s hard to top the Red Wedding, so it’s probably wise that “Mhysa,” the Game of Thrones season 3 finale, didn’t even try. Instead, we got a kitchen sink episode that set the stage for next season while giving us closure on some of the plot arcs of this season.
We open at the Twins where the Red Wedding is still going on in full swing, with Frey soldiers slaughtering the remainder of Robb Stark’s army. From somewhere, Sandor Clegane has found a horse and is riding away slowly with Arya Stark in front of him. Arya is still blessedly unconscious from when Sandor knocked her out, but unfortunately she wakes up in time to see the Freys parading Robb’s decapitated body with the head of his direwolf sewn onto it, as they chant “the King in the North.” The look on Arya’s face is pure devastation; she will remember this forever.
In King’s Landing, Tyrion and Sansa are taking a walk through the lush palace gardens, with Shae following behind and glaring at them. They seem to be getting along rather well, with teasing and banter. A couple of supercilious noblemen laugh at Tyrion, who then tells Sansa that he keeps a list of his enemies, though he has no plans to kill them. When Tyrion gets a hint of self-pity about how people have been laughing at him his whole life, Sansa reminds him that she’s the disgraced daughter of the traitor Ned Stark so they have something in common.
Sansa tells him about a prank her sister used to play on her which involved sewing “sheep shift” into a mattress. Awww, how endearing! Sansa might actually feel a tiny bit happy. Of course this means that she’s going to have the rug pulled out from under her as soon as possible, because this little bonding session is interrupted by Pod, who brings a summons for Tyrion to attend a meeting of the Small Council.
Joffrey shares the news from the Twins with Tyrion, and says that he’s going to present Robb Stark’s head to Sansa at his wedding feast. Tyrion tells Joffrey that Sansa isn’t his to torment any longer, and that kings are dying like flies. This is the second time Tyrion has issued a not-so-veiled threat to Joffrey, who yells at Tyrion that he is the King. Tywin, who’s been silent through all of this tells Joffrey that a true king doesn’t need to keep saying he’s the king; everyone in that room, except Joffrey, knows who the man with the power is and it certainly isn’t the sadistic boy who wears the crown.
Joffrey lashes out at Grandpa, telling him that he hid at Casterly Rock while Joffrey’s “father” Robert Baratheon won the war against the Targaryens. Everyone else has these hilarious expressions of “Oh no he DIDN’T!” and waits for Tywin to rain (of Castamere) on Joffrey’s self-congratulation parade. Instead, Tywin sends Joffrey to bed without his supper and with orders to Pycelle to give him sleeping medicine.
Cersei takes Joffrey off to bed, despite his protests that he’s not tired, followed by Pycelle and Varys, leaving Tyrion alone with his father. Tyrion has realized that Lord Frey would never have betrayed Robb Stark without Lannister backing, and confronts his father. Tywin asks: “Explain to me why it is more noble to kill 10,000 men in battle than a dozen at dinner.”
Tyrion warns his father that the Northerners will never forget, and Tywin says he wants them to remember what happens when they threaten the South. (I’m chillingly reminded of Robb’s declaration back in season 1 that winter was coming for Tywin Lannister with 20,000 men. Oops!) Tywin tells Tyrion that Roose Bolton will take Ned Stark’s place as Warden of the North until Tyrion has a son by Sansa who can take over that position. ”The house that puts family first will always defeat the house that puts the whims of wishes of its sons and daughters first.“
Tyrion asks when Tywin ever put the needs of the Lannisters above his own desires, and Tywin tells him that when Tyrion was born (which was also when Tyrion’s mother died, as Cersei told us last season), Tywin’s dearest wish was to drown Tyrion like an unwanted puppy, but because he was a Lannister, Tywin let him live. Sometimes I wonder if Tywin is a White Walker, because that man is made of 100% pure unadulterated ICE.
After that emotional devastation, Tyrion returns to his room where he sees a tearful Sansa. She gives him a look that says he’s pretty much her enemy now; Tyrion backs away.
Bran, Meera, Jojen, Hodor and Bran’s direwolf Summer approach a Night’s Watch castle along the Wall. This is the Nightfort, which happens to contain a big abandoned well in the center of the floor; Hodor has never seen The Lord of the Rings or he’d know that you don’t make echoes in creepy wells (there could be orcs down there!) Bran decides to make their visit extra-creepy by regaling the gang with a story about the Rat Cook, once a human cook who served a king his own child in a pie. The Rat Cook was cursed to turn into big white rat that eats its own children but is always hungry. Bran explains that the Rat Cook was cursed not for murdering the king’s child, or for feeding it to the king, but for violating the principle that once someone is a guest under your roof, you cannot harm them. Hey, speaking of harming your guests...
At the Twins, Walder Frey is eating breakfast while various serving maids (or daughters of the house, it’s hard to tell which!) are scrubbing away at the puddles of blood everywhere. I keep expecting Al Swearengen to turn up and show them how to scrub a f****g bloodstain.
Roose and Walder exposit that the Blackfish escaped the wedding massacre thanks to his weak bladder and that Edmure Tully is a guest of Walder Frey’s dungeons. Aww, poor Edmure was so excited by his pretty bride. I wonder if she really was Walder’s daughter or just hired for the occasion to lull him into a false sense of security. Walder is creepily excited by the idea that he can replace the young bride whose throat Catelyn Stark slit last week. Do you think anyone but immediate family will attend the wedding?
Walder asks if Roose is glad he doesn’t have to follow Robb Stark around any more, and Bolton says Robb constantly ignored his advice (plus, Talisa was always interrupting their conferences last season anyway.) Don’t feel bad, Roose, Robb ignored his mother’s advice too, and she wasn’t even suggesting flaying people! After Walder mocks Robb for calling himself the “Young Wolf” and Roose makes a joke about how Robb is forever young now, Roose fills Walder Frey in on the fact that his bastard son Ramsay has Theon Greyjoy in custody. We should have guessed, because the Bolton seed of loving torture, mental and physical, sure runs strong.
Ramsay’s cruelty is not nearly as subtle as Roose’s; he’s chewing on a giant sausage in front of the now sausage-less Theon. Like all the Theon scenes this season, this one goes on for far too long. As a stand-in for the audience, Theon asks Ramsay to kill him, but Ramsay has other plans, including getting Theon to forget his own name and become “Reek” instead. At last the one storyline this season that I found utterly repetitive and unnecessary is finally over.
At the Nightfort, Bran hears a noise, but luckily it isn’t orcs, just Sam and Gilly, who’ve managed to complete their leisurely flight from Craster’s by climbing up a bunch of stairs from the bottom of the well and not even being out of breath. Sam recognizes Bran as Jon’s brother and promises to help Bran in any way that he can. Of course Bran asks to go North of the Wall, and Sam immediately has to renege on his promise.
At Pyke in the Iron Islands, Balon Greyjoy receives a letter and a present from Ramsay Snow. The letter states that every Ironborn still in the North after Ramsay’s deadline for their departure is going to get the special Bolton facial and full-body peel; the box contains poor Theon’s dismembered member. As soon as Balon realizes there will be no more Greyjoys issuing from Theon’s loins, he’s ready to give him up for dead. Hey, Balon, did you forget that “what is dead may never die, but rises again harder and stronger”? There may be hope for Theon’s penis yet!
Yara defies her father, telling him that she’s taking the fastest ship and the fifty deadliest killers among the Ironborn; she plans to sail to the Dreadfort to find her baby brother and rescue him. She’s awesome, and I hope we see more of her next season.
At the Nightfort, Bran et al. say goodbye to Sam and Gilly; Sam outfits them with a bunch of dragonglass that he apparently has carried all the way from the Fist of the First Men without cutting himself. Go Sam! He and Gilly watch as Bran, Hodor, Meera, Jojen and Summer walk into the light beyond the wall.
On Dragonstone, Davos visits Gendry in the dungeon and they bond over their mutual low birth in Flea Bottom. Gendry tells Davos he was a virgin until he met Melisandre: “Big words, no clothes, what would you have done?” I feel like Gendry is a great candidate for the Night’s Watch now; if leeches on your penis your first time weren’t an argument for celibacy, I don’t know what is.
Back in King’s Landing, Varys offers Shae a whole bunch of diamonds to leave Tyrion behind and go make a new life for herself in Lys or Myr. He tells Shae that her presence endangers Tyrion, who is one of the few people alive that can make Westeros a better place to live. Shae says that she loves Sansa and Tyrion, and if Tyrion wants her to leave King’s Landing, he’ll have to tell her himself. She throws Varys’s diamonds down into the dust before stalking off, no doubt for some more angry glaring at Tyrion.
Meanwhile, Tyrion is getting royally drunk. Cersei interrupts the drinking and self-pity. They talk about their respective marriages (though Cersei insists that she won’t be marrying Loras, without giving us a hint as to why. Is she planning to kill him or something less drastic?) Cersei tells Tyrion to give Sansa a child because that’s the only thing that will make her happy. Apparently, if it weren’t for her three children, Cersei would have killed herself long ago. Aww, Jaime’s going to be sad that twincest with him wasn’t enough to make Cersei want to live! Cersei reminisces about how cute Joffrey was as a baby, even though he’s a monster now. Well, thanks for making me suspicious of cute babies now, Cersei!
On the road, Arya and the Hound encounter a group of Frey soldiers who joke about the Red Wedding and the death of Arya’s mother. One of them says that he sewed the wolf’s head onto Robb’s body. Arya jumps off Sandor’s horse and approaches the group, pretending to beg for food, but throwing down her coin from Jaquen instead. When the wolf's-head tailor bends over to check it out, she stabs him repeatedly (mimicking how Black Walder Frey stabbed Talisa last week.) On the one hand, revenge for the Starks. On the other hand, I feel like Ned and Catelyn wouldn’t have wanted their little girl turning into a remorseless killer. The Hound takes care of the rest of the Frey men for Arya and warns her that next time she wants to kill people she should tell him first.
Speaking of killing people, Ygritte somehow tracks down bloodied Jon Snow when he’s having a drink. He pleads with her that they always knew he’d go back and says that he knows she won’t hurt him. You know nothing, Jon Snow! Ygritte fires an arrow into his shoulder as he professes to love her. Remember that time when Ygritte promised she’d cut off his penis and wear it as a necklace if he betrayed her? Yeah, Jon remembers that too, because he hightails it out of there, though not before Ygritte shoots a few more arrows into him as he rides away. She looks absolutely devastated, though.
In a happier installment of Wildling Girls and the Crows They Love, Sam and Gilly are back at Castle Black, meeting Maester Aemon who appears to be in charge now. For some reason, Maester Aemon thinks Sam fathered Gilly’s baby. How long have they been gone anyway? Aemon concedes that the Wall is meant to protect all humans, not just those south of it, and says that Gilly can stay on as a guest. He also tells Sam to ready messages and ravens to send out that night.
We cut to Davos and Shireen (aww!) practicing Davos’s reading skills. He’s trying to read all of Stannis’s ravengrams because that’s what he’s supposed to do as Hand of the King. (Team Dragonstone seems kind of short-staffed, to be honest; surely there’s a secretary or someone who can read.) Somehow, Maester Aemon’s message has already arrived, and Davos reads it with growing horror.
Meanwhile, Stannis and Melisandre learn that Robb has died, just as one of the leeches predicted, which Stannis takes as a measure of Melisandre’s power. I just want to point out that correlation is not causation, which Stannis would know if he’d ever taken my statistics class in college. Thanks to this demonstration of leech power, Stannis is willing to believe that Melisandre is going to help him take his kingdom. Davos warns Stannis that blood magic can’t conquer a kingdom. Stannis says that dragons were magic too, and Gendry’s life will—according to Melisandre—wake a dragon for Stannis to conquer his kingdom. “What is the life of one bastard boy against a kingdom?” Stannis asks. “Everything,” says Davos. It’s the counterpoint to Tywin’s cynicism about the Red Wedding and Davos is hereby the best person in Westeros (and he’s smart too.)
Davos rescues Gendry from the dungeon, smuggling him into a rowboat. He tells Gendry that if he rows for a couple of days he’ll get to King’s Landing where he can hide in plain sight. I might have to take back the “smart” comment though. Davos, you are mensch, but putting a guy who’s never been in a boat and can’t swim into a rowboat on the open sea? What could possibly go wrong? Still, I guess it’s better to drown than to burn alive. Farewell, lovely Gendry!
Jon Snow arrives at Castle Black, still alive, stuck full of arrows like a pincushion just like his brother Robb, but still alive. He opens his eyes and recognizes Pyp and Sam, so he knows he’s back with his brothers. Awww!
In a very different homecoming, Jaime slips in through a side door of King’s Landing followed by Brienne and Qyburn. Jaime is a far cry from the Kingsguard knight who left the city in season 1; he’s unrecognizable in his filthy rags and Brienne gives him a sad, fond smile when one of the men in the street cusses him out as a “country boy.” I must say I found the end of this wonderful arc a little bit disappointing; I was hoping for Jaime and Brienne to say something to one another before the end of the season, but I can only hope that we get more scenes with them next year.
We cut to Cersei in her room, playing with her treasure box. No, not THAT one! She’s smiling at a seashell, as Jaime enters the room behind her. He says one word, very softly: “Cersei.” She turns, a look of horror on her face as she takes in Jaime’s clothing, appearance and missing hand. He looks away, sad and ashamed. Well, this is interesting, which means we’re going to wait ten months to see how it plays out.
On Dragonstone, Davos confesses to Stannis that he released Gendry. Stannis condemns Davos to death, despite Davos’s advice as Hand of the King that he shouldn’t. Heh! Then Davos whips out his trump card, the letter from Maester Aemon (see, Davos, unlike certain other good people in Westeros is both good AND cunning!) Melisandre takes a good long look in the fires and realizes what should have been clear to her long before, if Rh’llor is really speaking to her: the real war is in the North, far beyond the Wall. The war for the Iron Throne is just a distraction. Surprisingly, she takes Davos’s side, urging Stannis to spare Davos’s life, and in a stunning shot, dawn breaks as Stannis decides to go north and I finally decide he doesn’t go on my list!
In Yunkai, Dany waits outside the city for the slaves to throw open the gates. They stream out of the city, and Missandei tells them that Dany is their liberator, but Dany recognizes instead that the only people who can liberate the slaves are the slaves themselves. She walks out into the crowd, which is chanting “Mhysa” (“mother”) and is lifted up by them in a sort of moshpit effect as the dragons wheel about overhead. I know this was meant to be uplifting and it is nice to know that there’s one aspirant to the Iron Throne who genuinely cares about the little people, but I must confess it was the tiniest bit jarring to see the great white savior Dany being acclaimed by all the anonymous brown people she just saved. I think I would have preferred that they ended with Stannis and the dawn breaking.
And so ends the best season of “Game of Thrones” which is why I’m doing a little run-down of my “best of the best here” (with one worst):
Worst misstep: the prolonged Theon arc. They did not need seven episodes of repetitive Theon torture scenes, sorry! Jaime had four episodes last season; that would have been plenty for Theon this season.
Best episode: A tie between “Kissed by Fire” and “The Rains of Castamere."
Most devastating scene: The Red Wedding, of course.
Best arc: The evolution of Jaime’s and Brienne’s relationship from his telling her he was going to kill her in episode 3.02 to his jumping in front of a bare, one-handed and with no weapon, to save her or die beside her in episode 3.07.
Best romance: The one that isn’t a romance yet—Jaime/Brienne. Their bond is bone-deep; she’s seen the best and the worst of him and he preferred to die beside her than let her die alone amidst a mocking crowd. What is that if not love? Second place: Jon/Ygritte and their doomed romance: a Crow and a Wildling were never going to settle down together but it was nice while it lasted.
Best scene (non Red-Wedding): a three-way tie between Dany’s freeing the slaves of Astapor which was for me the feel-good moment of the series so far; the amazing chair scene in the Small Council chamber which told us as much about who these characters were in a few minutes of furniture-moving as we would have learned from pages of dialogue; and the bath scene at Harrenhal, with Jaime’s devastating and spell-binding confession to Brienne about how he became the Kingslayer.
Best new character: the Queen of Thorns, who owned everyone.
Best death-glare: Tywin Lannister, winner and forever champion.
Best performance by an animal: a tie between Bart the Bear and Grey Wind’s death scene.
Best performance by a human: all the actors on this show are magnificent, but I do have to say Charles Dance, Gwendoline Christie, Maisie Williams and most of all, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau were just outstanding this season.
Best facial expressions: Varys in Small Council meetings
Regina Thorne is an avid reader of just about everything, an aspiring writer, a lover of old movies and current tv shows, and a hopeless romantic.