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TV Review: Game of Thrones – Season Three Finale

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Well, it’s over. The third season of Game of Thrones ended this weekend, not with a bang, but, well, not quite with a whimper, either. But the season finale, filled with plenty of solid moments, didn’t quite live up to the dramatic excitements provided by last week’s episode, did it? Did this week’s relatively mild (by comparison—it did involve a father being sent his son’s dissed-member in a box) episode cleanse the palette after last week’s bloodbath?

Tonally, this episode was far less shocking, but no less tense in terms of the way it built suspense. The difference, of course, is that the suspense built this past weekend won’t pay off in any meaningful way until the show returns next year for season four. So what have we got to look forward to when that happens?

Well, Sansa Stark is married, and to a high born son of a powerful house in Westeros, but she’s plenty unhappy. Despite being one of the most intelligent, sympathetic, and flat-out decent men she’s encountered, Tyrion being a Lannister (and a dwarf) doesn’t do much to set the 14-year-old girl’s heart a-flutter. And when she learns that her mother and brother are dead, well, let’s just say she’s not in much of an amorous mood.

Speaking of the Lannisters, we get to see young King Joffrey at his most heinous yet. The boy-king decides that he wants to serve Robb Stark’s head to Sansa during his own wedding feast, prompting his grandfather Tywin to send him to bed. After that, Tywin and Tyrion have it out, and we learn that Tywin considers his letting Tyrion continue to live after being born an act of everlasting kindness. As far as fatherly moments are concerned, it seems as though this is as close as Tywin will get to showing his son any kind of affection.

Meanwhile, another father out on the Iron Islands, Balon Greyjoy, gets to show that he can’t even muster that much affection for his disgraced and captured son, Theon. As we alluded to earlier, Theon’s manhood is sent in a box to his father and sister from who we’ve finally learned to be Roose Bolton’s bastard son, Ramsay Snow. The box goes along with a threat to Balon that if he didn’t move his men out of the lands they’d captured in the north, he should expect many more such, ahem, packages. But Balon is unmoved — because Theon couldn’t obey his orders, he considers the unmanned boy to have given up his rights as his son. So Theon’s sister, Asha, gathers the strongest men she can find and decides to go rescue her brother. At least someone not named Stark gives a crap about a member of the family.

Get it? Member of the family?

Sorry.

As for other family members, there are plenty of other family reunions throughout this episode — one of which involving yet another amputee. Jamie Lannister has finally returned home to King’s Landing, though short a hand as well as his dignity. We don’t see much of his reunion with Cersei, his sister and baby-mama, though we can assume that it’s a pretty profound moment for both of them. It must be nice having Jamie back, especially considering what a horrible and unrepentant bastard (for real) Joffrey has turned out to be. Maybe Jamie can help set the boy right? Nah, probably not.

Then up at the Wall, we find that Samwell has returned to his brothers, followed shortly thereafter by a battered and bloody Jon Snow. It’ll be interesting to see how he manages to get back into his brothers’ good graces, especially considering how he left them last… you know, by killing Qhorin Halfhand, even if it was at the latter’s order. Surely, Jon’s troubles have only just begun. And he’s still got an arrow-shooting ex-girlfriend to contend with, too.

And then on Dragonstone, we have the opposite of a family reunion. There, Ser Davos frees Gendry, King Stannis’s low born, bastard nephew (so many bastards this week). This, of course, goes against Stannis and Melisandre’s wishes. They were going to burn him for the magical properties held in his blood. So, you know, either way, Gendry wasn’t going to be hanging out with his humorless uncle for much longer anyhow.

Fortunately, Davos is able to suspend his own execution by convincing Stannis and Melisandre that they need him alive to help him organize an expedition up north, where they’ll be helping to beat back the white walkers. It’s funny, though: in Westeros, being good and kind generally gets you killed or consigned to death. The phrase “nice guys finish last” is never more appropriate than it is in the seven kingdoms.

Finally, across the Narrow Sea, we get one more family reunion, but it’s not one you might expect. In Yunkai, the slaves have been freed due to Daenerys’s machinations. The slaves come out of the gate and she greets them, telling them that their freedom is theirs, and theirs alone. They then begin to chant “mhysa,” which means “mother.” Now Dany has a whole bunch of children she didn’t have before. And while having more people to follow her has been one of her primary goals, there are questions as to whether or not this particular family unit will be more trouble than it’s worth. After all, aren’t we seeing that each member of your family just represents another way for you to find yourself in trouble? No one in Game of Thrones seems to be having a better time in life because of someone in their family.

All in all, it was a satisfying, if somewhat less eventful, conclusion to a season of intrigue, twists, and turns. The bloodshed was conspicuous by its absence—oh, except for that scene where Arya totally kills a dude with a knife in his neck. She has some issues, huh?

But now that the season’s over, we’ve got a few months to sit and reflect on everything that went down. Has Game of Thrones sufficiently piqued your interest enough to come back for season four? Have you managed to get the bitter taste left by the Red Wedding out of your mouths? Because, don’t forget, Joffrey has a wedding of his own coming… and knowing him, it’s bound to be a little red as well.

Image: HBO

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