40 Days. 40 Episodes. Game of Thrones, S2E10, “Valar Morghulis”

Oh man, I’m a day late with the last episode from Season 2 in my continuing quest to rewatch every episode before Season 5. I remember this one being a real come-down after the Blackwater battle but I think I’m wrong on that. It has tons of exposition that builds up to Season 3.

It opens with Tyrion calling for Podrick. Tyrion is in bed, wounded and does not know what happened in the battle. He is informed that he is in his new quarters. Tyrion is no longer Hand of the King.

Tywin rides his horse through court, like a boss, as Joffrey proclaims him Hand and savior of the city. Then Tywin just turns his horse around and clops out. Immediately after than, Joffrey announces that for his effort to unite Lannister and Tyrell, he will be granted Harrenhal. Then Loras Tyrell kneels before Joffrey and requests Joffrey ask Margaery to marry. This sort of leaves Sansa in the lurch, right? So naturally, Cersei and Pycelle step in to convince him that it’s “legal” to renounce his engagement to Sansa. Joffrey, his arm twisted, relents and agrees to marry Margaery.

In the hall behind court, Littlefinger explains to Sansa that just because Joffrey will marry Margaery, it doesn’t mean Joffrey won’t attack her. Littlefinger offers to take her home. But Sansa proclaims King’s Landing is her home.

Varys goes to visit Roz in Littlefinger’s whorehouse to poach Roz from Littlefinger. He has a pretty good sell: Littlefinger doesn’t protect you.

Brienne and Jaime finally get off their boat. Which they’ve been on since two episodes ago. Jaime continues to antagonize Brienne. They come across three hanged women and then the three ruffians who’ve raped and killed the women. They’re about to make it out without incident when one of the men recognizes Jaime. Brienne tries to pull a “these are not the droids you’re looking for” but the men are too stupid to fall for that one. Instead, they play that “tell me his name on the count of 3” game and Brienne cuts them to pieces. It’s great to see Jaime expressing some real awe at her skills in this scene. And possibly some fear.

Catelyn reminds Robb that Walder Frey is a dangerous man to cross. But of course, Cat made the terrible deal with Frey that promised Robb would wed a Frey daughter. She says, “You agreed to it.” but I don’t think she’s right about that. As I recall, she just walked out and told Robb what she did. In this scene though, Robb totally has the upper hand when he reminds Cat that she has no business calling him reckless (when she just released Jaime, ya know?).

Stannis is grumpy with Melisandre for losing (in a HUGE way) the battle of Blackwater Bay. He also doesn’t seem to have much faith in this god for which he’s supposedly the vessel. It’s a real crisis of conscience that Stannis should have had like months ago. Melisandre needs to pull out all the stops and really convince him that he is Azor Ahai reborn. She talks sweetly in his ear, mostly promising him power. Then she takes him to the fire and “shows him.” He has a moment of conversion there, whatever he sees.

Theon in Winterfell is annoyed with the Bolton who keeps blowing a horn to let him know that he’s surrounded. He bitches at Luwin. This defeat (which is just going to get so much worse) has perhaps totally crushed whatever remained of Theon’s spirit. This is one area where the show perhaps exceeds the books: it has shown all along how people have wound Theon up and then torn down his ego. Alfie Allen has excelled in showing this visible ego-death of Theon’s.

Nonetheless, Luwin’s counsel is to run, join the Night’s Watch. They will give him the opportunity to make amends. Unfortunately, his counsel only sways Theon in the other direction. He’s gone too far to be anyone else. So Theon gives a rousing and violent speech to the ironborn men with him. It’s emotional but logically terrible. So it’s amazing when his First Mate simply knocks him out. Then he horribly kills Luwin. Which is a real downer.

Tyrion speaks with Varys who tells him Ser Mandon Moore was paid by Cersei to kill him. Tyrion also learns Bronn is no longer captain of the King’s Guard and the hill tribes have gone home. Varys lets Shae in to see Tyrion. He’s the only one who realizes what Tyrion did for the city and he shows him real compassion. Tyrion rebuffs Shae’s kindness at first. She removes his bandages to look at his face. This is a part where the show (understandably) has to differ from the books in which Tyrion’s nose has been hacked off. Shae suggests they leave and go to Pentos. It’s AN AWESOME IDEA! Why doesn’t he do this? Why doesn’t anyone do what they should in this show? Jesus. Tyrion tells her he can’t leave. Because he’s good at being there and out-talking and out-thinking those bad people.

Robb and Talisa are married in a ceremony in the field. I guess at the time this was real romantic and stuff (before we realized). It was a moment that didn’t feel right for readers (at least, this one) because Robb’s wedding to Jeyne was never front-and-center in the book. Oh well, not like it really matters.

Dany prepares to enter the House of the Undying. This is another scene that just didn’t hit the notes for a reader. The book’s account was pretty fuzzy and hard to understand. The show made more “sense” but it seemed to lack the emotion and confusion of the book.

Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie walk in the country overseen by J’aqen. Arya runs up to meet him. J’aqen invites her to Braavos with him to become a Faceless Man. WHY DOESN’T ANYONE DO WHAT THEY SHOULD? She echoes Tyrion’s “I can’t” problem here. She needs to find her family. She thinks. J’aqen offers her a coin that will guarantee her passage to Braavos. When he changes his face, you think she’d be all, “Wait a damn minute. I’m going with you.”

Osha ventures out of the hiding space at Winterfell and finds the castle deserted and burning. Again, this is an incident that really confuses events for the reader (I know, I know). The show never reveals how Theon became a captive of Roose Bolton nor what happened at Winterfell. It’s just smoking rubble. And as far as we see here, Theon is dragged off by his own men.

Osha, Hodor, and the boys find Luwin in the Godswood, dying. Luwin tells them to go to the wall, to Jon. He says goodbye to the boys and then calls Osha over to ask her to protect them and end his suffering. There’s a really bad ass shot of Winterfell smoking in the background and the wolves running over a hill in the foreground. It’s a pretty dramatic reversal of the first episode of the series.

Back in the House of the Undying, Dany opens a door to a dark room because she hears her dragons crying. She follows the sound and…there’s another door and she’s in a castle (is this Harrenhal? King’s Landing? Dragonstone? It’s all burned out.) while snow falls. The crying of the dragons leads her to another room which is the North beyond the Wall. She walks on and is in a tent in the desert with Drogo and their child. She recognizes this as dark magic. But Drogo is all, “Hey, baby, what’s wrong?” She rejects the illusion and walks on towards the sound of her dragons. There they all, all chained up. Like three little velociraptors that B.D. Wong is playing with. The Warlocks appear and explain that their magic is strongest with the dragons and the dragons are strongest with Dany. They they shackle her to the walls to keep her through the winter and the summer and the winter again. Her defiance would be a lot cooler if she didn’t say that her people are awaiting her across the sea because, you know, they aren’t. She says the magic word, “Drakkar Noir,” and the dragons breathe fire to burn up all the Warlocks and her chains.

Ygritte is needling Jon as they along with other Wildlings walk (always, the walking). Qorin fakes like he’s mad and Jon and grabs a sword to attack him. The Wildlings let them fight. It’s a pretty badass sword fight out here in ice town. Qorin is real nasty to Jon. And Jon kills him. “We are the watchers on the wall,” Qorin says as he collapses. The Wildlings cut Jon free. And they keep walking.

There’s still ten minutes? Jeez, what else happens?

Ygritte takes Jon to the edge of the mountain where they look down at the massive encampment of Wildlings that Mance has assembled. I remember my friend Bryan being so convinced at this moment that Mance was Benjen.

So then, Dany, Jorah, the dragons, and her bloodriders walk into Xaro’s bedroom to find him in bed with her handmaiden. She makes him open his vault which is completely empty. Cue rising music. “Thank you for teaching me this lesson,” she tells Xaro as her soldiers lead Xaro and her handmaiden into the vault and lock it again. They then raid his house for all the gold they can find to buy a ship. Does the ship get a lot of play in the show? I don’t even remember.

Back to the ice, Sam and the other dudes and walking around. What is the point of this? Shouldn’t they be on the Fist. Sam is talking about Gilly. I mean, I’m even rooting for the White Walkers to get him. They hear three blasts of the horn. They run off. Sam trips. They keep running without him. Snow blows around and confuses Sam. He sees shadows approaching. He ducks behind a rock. And an army of the re-animated dead walk past him. The old white walker on the horse is the centerpiece. He shrieks and leads his army onward. None mess with Sam. We see this huge horde of the undead, presumably, really close to the Wall. And then it ends. Season 2.