I did not like this episode. I just really did not. Because, setting aside the book for a second, "Valar Morghulis" was simply not a very good episode of television.
A few people gave me the argument yesterday that this is just what Game of Thrones does (if two seasons can be considered a pattern). The ninth episode is always a showstopper and the tenth episode is just there to tie up loose ends and catch up with characters we haven't seen for a while. This is consistent with how the Song of Ice and Fire books end.
BUT A TV SHOW IS NOT A BOOK.
Maybe this is small minded of me or stupid or old school or what, but I want my finales to be finales. I want the entire season to lead up to that last half-hour or hour of television. I want to be left breathless, almost in pain from having to wait an entire summer or year to find out what happens next or to spend more time with characters I have grown to love.
And "Valar Morghulis" fell short on that front.
But, since I don't want to be negative for this entire review, here are the things I liked:
- The show started with an eye opening, which made me feel like I was watching LOST, i.e. a show that knew how to do a season finale.
- The horse shit shot. How long did they have to wait around to get that one? Was there a horse trainer on hand who could tell the precise moment when the horse was about to drop two?
- Creepy Petyr Baelish coming to Sansa's aid. Is he filling the role of Ser Dontos? Because, good. More Littlefinger is always betterfinger. That makes no sense, but I'm keeping it.
- Quoth Mr. Fingers: "Look around you. We're all liars here."
- Varys to Ros, King's Landing's most used prostitute: "Littlefinger sees you as a collection of profitable holes." This could go down as my favorite quote of 2012, right after "She found chewing gum on his pubis."
- Lady Brienne of Tarth finally showed us all (and Jaime Lannister) what a BAMF looks like in Winterfell.
- Robb giving his mother the what-for. Catelyn Stark is a bad idea machine! (And, to be fair, Robb kind of takes after his mother in that regard.)
- Theon's men taking him down during his big speech, because this season spent so much time hammering home the fact that none of the Iron Islanders care all that much for Theon and we've barely heard mention of the Bastard of Bolton.
- Theon to his men: "I've had no good fuck in weeks; I'm ready for one."
- Hot Pie!
- Maester Luwin's death was appropriately sad.
- The House of the Undying LSD trip was cut mercifully short. And I liked it! I enjoyed Dany walking through the gates of the Wall, where dead things roam free, to find her dead son and husband. The whole scene felt very Harry-Potter-at-King's-Cross to me.
And here are the things I did not like:
- We never got to spend enough time with any one storyline.
- Stannis and Melisandre blah blah blah whatever. Their whole scene felt shoehorned in and it could've waited until next season.
- Jaqen's face change was lame. 1) He didn't morph in front of our eyes and 2) he didn't morph into a hotter version of his already hot self.
- Every single thing about Jon Snow. Really, every single thing about Jon Snow since he found Ygritte. I kind of hate the ambiguity around why he killed Qhorin Halfhand, whether he meant to do it or it was an accident or he understood that Qhorin wanted Jon to become a spy for the brotherhood within the wildlings. He's barely a character anymore. Jon Snow has morphed, much like Jaqen H'Ghar, into a less attractive version of his old self.
- While Coldhands and the white walkers looked pretty amazing, the whole zombie scene at the end looked a bit too much like The Walking Dead, and that's almost never a good thing. Unless...no. I can't think of any instance where that would be a good thing.
And here are my hopes for the future:
- Since next season is going to cover only half of Storm of Swords and since I think we all (those of us who have read the books, at least) know what the final big set piece of Season 3 will be, maybe things will be a little more focused.
- Dany has her dragons, back, y'all, so we no longer have to hear about that nonsense.
- Old Lady Tyrell, whom I'm hoping will be played by Maggie Smith or Miriam Margolyes or someone equally sassy and British. So, not Betty White.
My list of good things actually outweighed my list of bad things. Who knew? What did you think?