Another Sunday, and it’s the last episode of Game of Thrones for the season–wherein we see the aftermath of the Red Wedding, plots-a-plenty take place in Westeros, and in some far-off swarthy land, Daenerys does her “great white emancipator” thing.
We begin with Roose Bolton, fresh from his betrayal, standing from the battlements at The Twins and watching the destruction of Robb Stark’s armies. It is a complete slaughter, as the Stark men are hacked to death, burned alive or hanged by the Freys. Sandor Cleagane, with a wide-eyed Arya mounted on his horse, picks up a banner bearing The Twins, and attempts to flee. Both stop in time to see several Frey men chanting mockingly, “Here comes the King of the North,” marching with a horse bearing a propped up Robb Stark. His head has been severed, and in its place is his snarling direwolf–Greywind. That’s enough for both, who leave galloping through the fire and carnage.
Back at King’s Landing, Tyrion and his young bride Sansa walk the gardens of the palace. As men pass by snickering, the half-man mentally takes note of their names–telling Sansa he keeps such a list to remember his enemies. When she asks in horror if he plans on killing them, Tyrion replies, “Do I look like Joffrey to you?” She tells him he should learn to ignore them; he tells her as an “imp,” he has had to deal with their laughter his whole life. The two then have an amiable talk of how “the disgraced daughter of Ned Stark” and the “demon monkey,” must be perfect for each other–and discuss more nonlethal pranks for their enemies. Behind them, a slightly amused Shae looks on.
The banter ends when the ever dutiful Podrick Payne, he-who-has-become-nice-with-the-ladies, brings news that Tyrion is wanted at his father’s small council. Tyrion arrives to find a room full of pleased faces and Joffrey bouncing around like he ate too much sugar. Joffrey says “show him” and Grand Maester Pycelle hands over a slip of paper–certain to drop it so that Tyrion has to bend to pick it up. Way to keep it classy old man. The paper contains a cryptic message from the Freys, of having “caught a fine fat trout” and having received “a pair of wolf pelts.” When Tyrion, quite rightly asks, WTF does that mean, an ecstatic Joffrey reveals that Robb Stark and his “bitch” mother are dead. With glee, he asks that a message be sent back to Lord Frey thanking him for his service, and to have Robb’s head delivered to King’s Landing. He intends to serve it to Sansa at his wedding feast. Kid is ever the charmer
Lord Varys politely points out that Sansa is now basically Joffrey’s aunt, and it’s really a dick move. Cersei interjects, saying he only meant it as a joke. But Joffrey tells her immediately, he plans on having that head and he plans on serving it to Sansa. Tyrion mouths a firm “No,” and says Sansa is no longer Joffrey’s to torment. At this, Joffrey becomes incensed and says “Everyone is his to torment,” calling Tyrion a monster. Tyrion quips that Joffrey should take care stating, “Monsters are dangerous, and just now kings are dying like flies.” The tension escalates with Joffrey declaring, “I am the King!” He-Who-Shits-Gold, seeming to grow bored with the spectacle, says dryly “Any man who must say ‘I am the King,’ is no true king. I’ll make sure you understand that when I’ve won your war for you.” BOOM! An angry Joffrey rounds on the Lannister patriarch, telling him his father (Robert Baratheon, who really isn’t) won the real war, in his killing of Rhaegar Targaryen, while Tywin was hiding under Casterly Rock. Ruh roh!
He-Who-Shits-Gold with a weary air of “ain’t nobody got time for that,” puts an end to it, sending Joffrey off to bed without supper. Seriously, he sent dude to bed with his Mommy and some tea even. Everyone else is dismissed as well, except Tyrion. Father and son then have a heart to heart about the throne, and the power behind it. When Tyrion confronts his father about whose hands were behind the Red Wedding,Tywin freely admits his role in orchestrating it. When Tyrion questions the ethics of regicide at a wedding, Tywin asks him to explain how “it is more noble to kill 10,000 men in battle than a dozen at dinner.” Tyrion isn’t buying the “humanitarian act” however, and warns his father “the Northerners will never forget.” To this Tywin simply says, “Good. Let them remember what happens when they march on the South.”
He then tells Tyrion he needs to get down with the get down, and put a child into Sansa, “one way or another.” When Tyrion balks at the intimation of rape, Tywin gives him a lesson on putting the family first and his own whims a far distant tenth. When Tyrion mockingly asks when he’s ever done the same, Tywin retorts angrily it was “the day he (Tyrion) was born.” Instead of committing infanticide at the birth of a dwarf, he decided to let him live. Gee. Thanks Dad. When Tyrion returns to his bedchamber, he finds a silent and tearful Sansa staring out the window–obviously having already heard the news.
Elsewhere in the palace grounds, The Spider approaches Shae. He points out that like himself, she is a foreigner, and any future hopes she has of being with Tyrion are fruitless. Varys says he believes Tyrion is one of the few good men who could help the kingdom, and her presence is a “complication” that endangers him. Offering her a sack of diamonds, he tells her to hire a ship and sail away–from King’s Landing, from Westeros–and set up a new life elsewhere. Shae throws the sack to the floor, and says that if Tyrion truly wants her to go, he should tell her himself. Good for you Shae! But uh, shoulda picked up them diamonds on the way out. Let’s be real….
Tyrion meanwhile has taken to drinking away his problems, as usual. Cersei ends up joining him, and the two have another of those sibling talks that seems as if it would be better if it included daggers. She urges Tyrion to give Sansa a child to bring her some happiness, and says that her children are the only reason she hasn’t killed herself already. She also talks about Joffrey, as a child, revealing that she too realizes he’s turned into something “terrible.” There’s a sense of foreboding, as both seem to come to terms with the fact that the Lannister enemy list is likely only to grow and that their recent victory is fleeting.
Oh yeah, and then Jamie comes back. One hand and scruffy bearded. But, Jaime.
Somewhere near the Wall, Bran and his small odd group have taken up refuge in an abandoned castle. While waiting on some roast meat, Bran tells the others the story of the Rat Cook–a disgruntled cook who in anger killed a king’s child and served him up (to said king) in a pie. Whew! I hope he has a good Union rep! In anger, the gods struck down the cook and transformed him into a great rat that roams the wilds devouring his own children to sate his never-ending hunger. Yeah, that’s not creepy at all to tell a kid. When Meera Reed laughingly points out the gods couldn’t possibly turn every killer into a giant rat, Bran tells her that the cook wasn’t transformed for mere murder–but for killing a guest beneath his roof. That is the greater offense. Me, I’m inclined to think the bigger deal is that you killed a kid, cooked him in a pie and then served him up to his Pops–who enjoyed it so much he asked for a second helping. But what do I know…?
Speaking of rats, naturally we are then taken back to Lord Walder Frey at The Twins. The elder Frey sits eating and drinking in the very hall the Red Wedding took place, even as servants are still mopping up the blood. He boasts with the soft-spoken Roose Bolton of their deed, bitterly recounting how both Starks and Tullys had often looked down on him. “I’m Walder Frey b*tches! How you like me now?!” We also learn that the Blackfish got away, while the recently married Edmure Tully remains locked in a dungeon. So there were survivors. The two men make a few japes at the expense of the
dead slaughtered, and Bolton is congratulated at being named Warden of the North by King’s Landing. A curious Walder Frey, then asks just what did happen with Theon Greyjoy and the burning of Winterfell. A sly Bolton reveals he had his bastard son, Ramsay, take Winterfell and capture Theon–intimating that Ramsay may have been the one to burn Winterfell to the ground. Ramsay was to hold Greyjoy as a hostage and deliver terms to the Iron Isles. But, as Bolton says, “Ramsay has his own way of doing things.”
We are then taken to Ramsay, Theon’s torturer revealed, who sits slicing through a long bit of phallic sausage. Theon remains his prisoner, tied, bound, broken and–we are to believe–castrated. Ramsay pokes fun, asking Theon if he can still remember the phantom limb he once had between his legs. When Theon begs to die, Ramsay refuses. In a Toby moment, Ramsay then announces he has to give Theon a new name. He says he stinks, he reeks–and decides upon Reek. When Theon refuses, Ramsay beats him until he submits and says his new name. So it begins. Reek, Reek it rhymes with meek!
Meanwhile, back with Bran and company, who should end up stumbling into their little hideaway but a pudgy member of the Night’s Watch and a woman with a baby. It takes a moment, but Samwell Tarley eventually figures out the boy with the giant wolf is Bran–his friend Jon’s brother. When Sam learns Bran is heading north of the Wall, he warns that there are terrible things out there–like an army of undead and White Walkers. But Jojen Reed says that Bran is the only hope to stop that threat. Sam isn’t convinced, but realizes he can’t stop them, and hands over a few bits of dragonglass knives (he didn’t drop em’ all!) to use against the White Walkers. The two eventually make it to Castle Black, where a nervous Sam tries to assure Grand Maester Aemon (one of the last living Targaryens) that Gilly’s baby ain’t his. When Aemon starts going on about oaths and Wildlings, Sam tells him what the greater threat is to them all. The Grand Maester doesn’t waste time, and has Sam begin composing letters to be sent by ravens to the leaders of Westeros–Winter is Coming!
Somewhere near, Jon Snow makes the mistake of stopping with his horse to get some water. Ygritte has tracked him. As she draws her bow, he tells her he’s sorry, that he loves her, but he couldn’t break his oath as a member of the Night’s Watch. Ygritte seems anguished, but still puts an arrow in his ass! She gets two more into him as he makes it onto a horse and flees. We last see Jon arriving at Castle Black, falling from his horse and being taken in by the Night’s Watch.
Out in the Iron Isles, Balon Greyjoy gets a message from Ramsay Snow telling him to take his “Ironborn scum” out of the North or suffer the consequences. To underline his threat, he sends a box that we are to believe holds Theon’s family jewels. That’s right. He sent them a dick-in-a-box. Balon Greyjoy, who makes Tywin Lannister look like Cliff Huxtable in the fathering department, basically discards his son for dead–noting wryly, he’s not going to be giving him any heirs. Lucky for Theon, his tough-as-nails sister Yara ain’t having Northerners just slicing off the penises of her family. Against her father’s wishes she takes a ship, fifty of the best killers on the Iron Isles and sets sail for the Dreadfort–to bring her baby bro’ home.
We get to see a bit more of The Hound and Arya, who having escaped the Red Wedding come across several Frey men–all sitting around and making jest of Robb and Catelyn Stark’s deaths. Arya, casually slides off the horse without warning, and approaches the men, pretending to ask for warmth and food. When they tell her to “fock off,” she tells them she has money, and pulls out the coin given to her by Jaqen H’gar. Uh oh! She drops the coin, and, when the Frey soldier reaches for it, puts a knife through his neck and proceeds to give him a damn good shanking (in the book, it’s a torturer named the Tickler that she stabs, but hey, after last week any Frey employee will do). The other men draw, but The Hound is already there. Several face and throat slashes later, he walks up to her and asks where she got the knife. She retorts, it was his and he realizes his belt knife is missing. When asked if the man she shanked was the first she had ever killed, she says “The first man,” as if to say there will be more. The Hound then, naturally, sits down by the fire and begins eating the slain mens’ food. Arya picks up her coin and whispers, “Valar Morghulis.” Indeed, all men must die.
At dreary Dragonstone, Davos Seaworth has a talk with Gendry who is now imprisoned in the dungeons. Turns out the two are both from the slums of Flea Bottom in King’s Landing. Endeared by the boy, who in some ways reminds him of his own son, the Onion Knight tries to persuade Stannis to not sacrifice him as the Red Lady Melisandre demands. When word comes however of the Red Wedding, Stannis is certain it is the magic of king’s blood that brought him this victory. He’s going to let Melisandre burn the boy. Davos, unwilling to accept this, smuggles Gendry to a boat and helps him escape. He then reports his deed to an infuriated Stannis, who orders his execution for treason. But Davos still has a card to play. He reveals the message gotten from the Night’s Watch, the one sent by Grand Maestor Aemon, of the army of White Walkers and undead marching towards Westeros. Here is the way for Stannis to prove himself a leader, and help unite the kingdom against this threat. To Davos’s surprise, Melisandre mulls this over, then agrees. This dark army is what Stannis is truly meant to fight against, as the champion of the Red God. What’s more, she says that even Davos yet has a part to play in these greater plans. Stannis looks to both and laughs, telling Davos that in irony he’s been saved by “the Fire God he loves to mock.” He walks off, but not before telling Davos chillingly that he is in the army of the Red God now. The Onion Knight shares a silent unnerving stare with Melisandre.
Finally, across the seas in Westeros, Daenerys Targaryen waits with her Unsullied army outside the walls of liberated Yunkai. Rather than storming the city, she waits for its occupants–mostly slaves–to come out and greet them. The gates finally open and a flood of former slaves come out. They stand in their multitudes, staring up at the conquerors warily. When Missandei begins to introduce Daenerys as the Mother of Dragons and their liberator, she stops her, and instead declares that she has not given freedom to anyone, for it belongs to them. If they want it, they must take it back. The stare at her silent before yelling out “Mhysa,” meaning mother. Daenerys steps down and tells her dragons to fly. Then, against everyone’s wishes, she walks into the midst of the throng of dark bodies who lift her into the air against the backdrop of dramatic music. In a scene that will likely compete in the annals of White Savior Orientalism imagery for some time to come (Edward Said, we have failed you), we are greeted to an expanding set of swarthy hands reaching toward a shining white beacon as the camera pans away and into the air.
So, that ends this third season, which recounted much of what happened in George R.R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords, book three in the series A Song of Ice and Fire. This last episode didn’t pack the punch of the second season’s finale. And after last week, wasn’t much to be done that could top the Red Wedding. Some have complained the episode was anti-climactic, and I suppose that’s right. It seems more of a set up for next season than anything else, which continues with the same book. But as it does have a prior source, I expect the script writers couldn’t just throw in another big event just to please the viewing audience. The best thing might have been to make the last episode the final one of the season–if only to leave us on a shocking cliffhanger. But given reactions, that might have just led to full scale rioting.
Till 2014 and season four then. “All men must wait.”