Musing Review: Game Of Thrones – Valar Morghulis (S2, Ep10)
This is a review of Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 10 entitled Valar Morghulis.
Valar Morghulis. It’s not just the saying that Arya needs to remember to find Jaqen H’ghar but it is the title of this episode and pretty much ties to the central theme of this darn good season finale. According to multiple websites it translates to “all men must die.” Clearly not everybody dies in this episode (otherwise there’d be no more show – though I wouldn’t put it past George R.R. Martin) so here’s the tie in. Jaqen H’ghar is a faceless man meaning he can change his face at will. Basically every main character of every story this week changed their face in some sort of way. All of the stories and face changes combined to make an epic close to the second season of my current favorite show.
Just like last week in Blackwater everything was so well done. The visuals were mesmerizing, the music made every scene and we saw a very clean wrap up to many of the story lines. I love how everything was adapted and this season really did Clash of Kings justice. Let’s talk about some of the storylines and see what was good and what wasn’t.
Theon will be losing his face in its entirety. Finally betrayed by “his own people” we saw him get tied up to be left for the bastard of the Dreadfort. All season long I’ve felt bad for Theon. His daddy issues and his pride finally did him in. Hindsight is always 20/20 and I bet if he got to do it all over again he wouldn’t have betrayed Robb. He did give an amazing battle cry speech, even I wanted to defend Winterfell for him. Unfortunately it’s the end of the line for the character we feel so bad for but dislike so much. Poor Theon
Sansa’s face went from sad to relieved then back to sad again. In the aftermath of the Blackwater battle the Tyrells joined forces with the Lannister and in open court Ser Loras asks King Joffrey to marry his sister Margaery. When the small council tells Joffrey it’s OK that he break his betrothal to Sansa and marry Margaery she is relieved. Rightfully so, I wouldn’t want to marry that cruel child of incest even if it made me queen. Her relief was short lived though. Littlefinger broke it down for her and told her how she’ll actually be worse off. He tried to make it OK by saying that he’d help her. Creepy. Really creepy. He has this sick obsession with Catelyn and in turn Sansa. She should have left with the hound last episode.
Tyrion’s face was literally changed when he was cut by Ser Mandon. He’s permanently scarred from the battle of the Blackwater. (Side note: He’s less scarred than what the book calls for.) I don’t think the damage is just physical, it goes much deeper than that. He gets no respect. If it weren’t for his plan King’s Landing would have been lost. What does he get in return, attempted murder, stripped of his title and moved into a really crappy room. He’s even physically worse off than before. I feel so bad for him. He’s probably the smartest, most cunning one in King’s Landing. No wonder he doesn’t want to run away with Shae.
Jon had to put his game face on and become a turncloak. In order to survive he had to kill the Halfhand and prove to the wildlings that he was no longer a “crow.” It’s all a rouse of course, as Jon would never betray his black brothers but it was certainly hard. He knew he needed to do this to protect the realm from what was about to come. The fight scene with the Halfhand was spectacular. The emotion that Jon showed, especially when it climaxed at the stabbing was so strong that you could feel it through the screen. Jon still has a lot more of his story to come and we may even see some more changing faces.
Robb put on the face of a married man. His love for Lady Talisa was so strong that he had to break his betrothal to a Frey daughter. He didn’t enter the decision lightly but he’ll end up suffering some consequences. It was a pretty minor plot point of the episode but worth noting that he took the vows in front of the 7 gods.
Stannis had to change his face from eager King to defeated lord. He couldn’t understand why he was defeated and turned to Melisandre for answers. She put more delusions of grandeur in his head, telling him that he is the carnation of Lord of Light himself. He may be, or he may not be. It did serve to motivate him going forward. Looking into the fire to see his future what quite a touch.
Danaerys has been touted as the mother of dragons for quite some time now. I think she actually put on that face in this episode. She became quite the badass. Surviving her ordeal in the house of the undying, and killing Pyat Pree new life was breathed into her. No longer was she the dying Khaleesi outside the walls of Qarth. Now she’s killing wizards and exacting her revenge on Xaro. She’s ready to take on the world now. Her and her three dragons which are going to start to grow up real quickly. Her arc thus far may be the most distant from the rest of Westeros but it’s one of the most exciting. I love the dragon and magic aspects behind it. Way more to come from the mother of dragons now that she’s amassed the means to continue her journey.
One other note from the episode was on the ending scene. It was with Sam and two other nights watch brothers as they were running away from white walkers. Then we got to see a hoard of white walkers making their way across the snowy scene. It was really scary and I’m pretty sure I might have been watching an episode of the walking dead. A lot of the walkers looked like zombies. I guess they start as zombies and then turn into the fully white creatures? I don’t know. It was downright scary though.
So that’s the end of season 2. Thankfully we have a season 3 to look forward too. As I’ve said before they’ll continue to adapt the books into the TV show and we’re likely to see book 3 intertwined with book 4. I can’t wait for more. In the mean time I’ll finish book 4 and then start on book five. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Catch up on Game of Thrones HBO on Demand or HBO Go.Tags: finale, game of thrones, HBO, review, season 2