Monday, June 10, 2013

game of thrones finale: well, that was a little… anticlimactic

After last week's brutal red wedding, I guess the creators of Game of Thrones wanted to breathe a sigh of relief and let the audience do that as well. But sometimes you can go a little too far in the other direction. There were definitely some great scenes in Sunday night's third season finale episode, "Mhysa," but the overall feeling that viewers were left with at the end of the program was, "Is that it?" Ending the season with Daenerys and her dragons may have seemed smart from a special effects and "We're spending all this money" point of view, but it was a little dull and anticlimactic. No white walkers? No Mance Rader?

"Mhysa" means "mother," so Dany is now not just the mother of dragons, but a whole lot more
Without being a spoiler-sport, as a reader of the books I was hoping to maybe see a few of the more memorable events that I know are yet to come. I think it might have been wiser if the action in "Mhysa" had stayed in King's Landing. Instead we got to touch base with all the major (and minor) players of the season, as the roundelay script tried to tie up everyone's loose ends. The scene with the perpetually tortured Theon and the corresponding scene in the Iron Islands with his father and sister were very good ones, but were they crucial to this episode, to wrapping up this season? They could have been better placed at the beginning of next season. Alternating between the Lannisters in the south and what was happening with what was left of the Starks in the north would have been the way to go. And ending with the scene with Arya and The Hound would have been a much more slam-bang finish. The CGI dragons must be costing them a fortune to create, but ... yawn.

Tyrion and Sansa bond over their outcast status
What was good in the south:

Everything with Peter Dinklage. His portrayal of Tyrion Lannister just continues to deepen. And Charles Dance constantly amazes as paterfamilias Tywin Lannister. Tywin put the horrible king-in-name-only Joffrey yet again in his place. I was so hoping for a little bit more Joffrey ... Next season.  In another one of his gut-wrenching discussions with Tyrion, Tywin tried to reduce the red wedding massacre as just an efficient way to end the war, "Explain to me why it is more noble to kill 10,000 men in battle than a dozen at dinner." Tyrion keeps hoping for a different sort of response from his father. Did this last father-son talk cure him of that? The scene between Varys and Shae added dimension to both characters and their positions in the Lannister household, as that is what King's Landing is at the moment. Varys offered Shae diamonds and told her to skedaddle, "Tyrion Lannister is one of the few people who can make this country a better place... you are a complication ... your presence endangers him." But Shae wasn't biting. Jamie came home, but we didn't really get to see him reunite with Cersei or anyone else.

What was good in the north:

John telling Ygritte he loved her and getting shot full of arrows. A woman scorned ... Bran met Sam, and Sam and Gilly returned to the precarious safety of the Wall and the Nights Watch. Ser Davos helping Gendry escape Dragonstone and convinced Stannis to help the Nights Watch battle what's coming from beyond the Wall (and not execute him for his saving Gendry). The Red Woman Melisandre uncharacteristically agreed with Davos, "The true war lies to the North." But the most powerful scene of the episode featured Arya and The Hound on the road.

They are a team, for now (image from popjunk).
As much as this finale may have been a bit of a letdown, I of course can't wait until next season. There's still so much more to come. The acting on Game of Thrones is always stellar, and this season the show has looked better than ever. The lighting and the set design continues to blow me away — it's downright painterly, with many scenes seemingly lit with candlelight, creating chiaroscuro shadows. Game of Thrones just keeps getting better and better. I just wish they didn't feel they had to check in with everybody in town to tell a story to finish the season. To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, "Mhysa" ended not with a bang, but a whimper. Oh well, summer is coming.
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