Game of Thrones: Season 2 - Valar Morghulis (Review)
Review by Rob Carnevale
GAME OF Thrones continued to underline its position as one of the most epic, ambitious and surprising shows on television right now with its second season finale Valar Morghulis.
Questions were answered, some loose ends were tied up but a whole lot of groundwork was laid for the forthcoming third season, which looks set to be an even more ambitious undertaking than this sophomore run.
That said, season 2 was complicated enough given the host of new characters and storylines introduced at its start… which meant that almost inevitably not everything was resolved satisfactorily.
It also meant that from the start you had to pay close attention, and even keep your patience, to see how everything came together.
But boy did it… beginning with the epic battle of the penultimate episode, Blackwater, and culminating with the events of Valar Morghulis.
So, what did we like and what do we look forward to seeing answered?
First off, the fallout from the events of Blackwater gave rise to some interesting developments. Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion may have survived the battle but his life will no longer be the same.
The unsung hero of Blackwater, not only was he left scarred and injured but virtually banished by evil King Joffrey and the target of his sister, Cersei Lannister’s assassins. And yet he couldn’t bring himself to flee, determining to stay and become involved in the games once more.
Dinklage remains the show’s greatest asset and most intriguing, complex character.
Joffrey, for his part, virtually discarded his betrothed, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), in favour of his ‘victory prize’, Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), thereby virtually condemning her to a life of sexual torment. Why, then, didn’t Sansa accept the Beast’s offer of sanctuary, or even Petyr Baelish’s (Aidan Gillen) hand of friendship? And is she long for this Earth?
Elsewhere, and similarly intriguing, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) continued to venture further beyond the wall, slaying his former ally Qhorin and earning the right to an audience with the head of Mance Rayder’s wildling camp.
It’s an exciting development for season three, particularly as elsewhere beyond the wall, Jon’s former friends, Sam, Edd, and Grenn, came face to face with an army of the dead led by the fierce White Walkers (riding zombie horses, no less!). It was a chilling, intriguing note to end the season on, even if it did seem as though Game of Thrones had temporarily morphed into The Walking Dead!
Of the surprises, we had the continued development of Dany (Emilia Clarke) as she reclaimed her dragons from The House of the Undying and showed why, once again, she is a much more dangerous foe than tender looks alone would suggest.
Not content with burning Pyat Pree alive for daring to challenge her and keep her captive, she also succeeded in overcoming the temptation posed by a dream-like reunion with her late husband, Drogo (a nice cameo from Jason Momoa) and locked Xaro away for all eternity for attempting to seduce her with the promise of riches. Will Dany’s bid for the Iron Throne gain more momentum in season three?
Similarly, what of Stannis (Stephen Dillane), presumably being held captive after his defeat at Blackwater, yet apparently free to speak to his witch, Melisandre (Carice van Houten), and foresee a victorious future in the flames she put before him? This was one plot-point that perhaps needed more explaining.
Thereafter, we had Theon Greyjoy getting his comeuppance for daring to betray Rob Stark and taking over Winterfell… yet not at the hands of the Starks, but rather his own men who betrayed him rather than face certain death by siege.
In doing so, they also dealt Maester Luwin a fatal blow and burned Winterfell to the ground, forcing Osha, Bran, Rickon, and Hodor out of hiding and in search of new sanctuary at the Night Watch. Will they make it? Or are they heading to a far more dangerous future given the last act emergence of the White Walkers?
And what will become of Robb Stark (Richard Madden) and his leadership credentials now that he has decided to renege on his own marriage betrothal to Walder Frey and follow his heart by wedding Talisa (Oona Chaplin)? Will this prove his eventual undoing as a leader?
Finally, but by no means least, was the resolution of Arya’s escape from the Lannister’a and her fascinating relationship with Jaqen H’ghar (the superbly enigmatic Tom Wlaschiha).
Not only did this brief but exciting exchange explain the episode’s title but it also added another tantalising set of possibilities for her future emergence as a potential contender for the Iron Throne, given her link to H’ghar’s apparently supernatural warrior/protector.
Indeed, watching H’ghar transform from that identity to his new one of Valar Morghulis was surreal and thrilling.
Indeed, it’s a measure of Game of Thrones continued intrigue that there are so many new questions arising from developments. Whereas some shows tend to go round in circles, this one finds fascinating new directions to take its principal players in.
And it’s often the least likely candidates who seem set to become future contenders, whether it’s Dany with her dragons and the powers they give her, Arya and her new link to Valar Morghulis, or Stannis by virtue of his union with Melisandre.
Women, it would seem, hold all the power (as Lena Headey’s scheming survivor Cersei continues to attest)… although don’t count against the re-emergence of Tyrion, the little man with big ideas and a fiercely wounded pride.
Season three is already an exciting prospect….
What did you think?