Here we are then. Ten weeks down the line and it’s all over for another year. Season three of Game of Thrones has been a tough one to get through, though not in a bad way. I’m not denying there hasn’t been bad bits here-and-there, there almost certainly was in the veritably stagnant episodes mid-season, but there were also some ruddy good bits as you might expect; superb character development was abound, and there were many scenes that will go on to become some of the most memorable of the entire show. The [literally] award-winning formula of political intrigue, bloody violence, dark humour and raunchy sex was waiting around every corner, more-or-less. The final episode, Mhysha, was no exception, but did have to compete with events from last week’s episode. Did it do the season justice?
Mhysha itself is a strange word, I know. At least we could understand the other episode titles. As it happens, it’s a word in the old Essosi language of Ghiscari that translates as “mother” in the Common Tongue. Daenerys has this word chanted at her by an approximate shitload of ex-slaves outside the gates of Yunkai; the city she has been attempting to capture for the last few episodes. Being that the word means mother, I could also go as far as to say that the title refers to the matriarch of Westeros’ main religion. “The Mother” represents motherhood and nurturing in the Faith of the Seven, and given that most of the main characters find their way to some sort of relative safety, or at least obtain closure of some sort by the end of the episode, I could also go as far as to say that it was The Mother who got them there. But I’m not a godly man.
Being that one of the episode’s few tasks was to conclude all of the stories dotted around the world, this week saw an end to most of the character’s story arcs for the last ten-or-so episodes. Some have come out of season three a lot better than they were doing at the start, and some have come out the complete opposite. Arya, Jon, Davos and Theon spring to mind as characters that are on a forever downward spiral, but then Dany, Tyrion, Bran and Sansa are considerably better off now than they were in episode one. I could say the same for the likes of Tywin, Roose Bolton, and Walder Frey, but somehow it just doesn’t feel right saying the three biggest antagonists of the season are “doing pretty well for themselves” now.
One thing that struck out as being particularly (but strangely) enjoyable about this episode was the lack of surprises. Last week’s episode was a big enough shock that I didn’t want to be treated to the same again this week. There were two exceptions however; the first when we were treated to seeing a headless Robb Stark at the start of the episode, being paraded through The Twins with Grey Wind’s head sown onto his shoulders; the second being when Jon unfortunately-but-deservedly got his comeuppance for running out on Ygritte last week. I swear, by the old gods and the new, if he dies in season four I’m going to be writing a strongly-worded letter to the likes of Benioff, Weiss and Martin.
As high a regard as I hold for that scene, I did have a slight quarrel with the end of it. After Cersei, Pycelle, and Joffrey leave the chamber, we’re once again left alone in a room with Tywin and his favourite son, Tyrion. They discuss Joffrey momentarily, and it becomes fairly obvious the mutual contempt they have for the boy. Just when you think Tyrion and Tywin are finally on the same side about something, the conversation suddenly changes to Tyrion himself. Once again Tywin expresses his disdain for his son, and how the only reason he’s alive is because… you guessed it, he’s a Lannister! We get it, Tywin, you hate your son about as much as is humanly possible. You’ve already been given a handful of scenes to make a point of that. We’re highly acquainted with the fact he’s a disgrace to your family, and a complication in protecting that precious legacy of yours; stop being such a git about it.
There was another scene which, whilst not leading me to shout at the television, did strike me as slightly odd. I’m sure there were some wholesome intentions with the traditionally Dany-themed closing scene (season one ended on the dragons and season two ended, more-or-less, in Qarth), aiming to show off the rightful queen’s ‘woman-of-the-people’ image, but it did feel incredibly over the top, if not verging on the genuinely weird. I don’t know if Daenerys Targaryen genuinely has a God complex, but the way she dealt with her new Yunkish followers was a tad bizarre; standing on a lone rock surrounded by dragons whilst thousands of people call her their mother over-and-over. Not only that, but then sauntering down from said rock, alone, and strolling into the midst of the quasi-religious crowd whilst parting the way before her, -completely untouched by her followers-, like some sort of Targaryen Moses. That’s not even the best bit. After achieving all of that, she’s then graciously set upon by a number of her newly acquired people, who elevate her above their heads and grant her the chance to partake in a bit of crowd-surfing whilst the camera slowly zooms out from the centre of the sea of people, in a colossal birds-eye shot, to the tune of a vocalised version of Dany’s Game of Thrones theme.
A bit much maybe? It certainly shone Dany in a new but slightly egotistical light…
Ranting aside, I thought the rest of the episode did a faithful job of rounding up this season; a nice mix of dramatic and uplifting conclusions that served as an ample antidote to the horrors of “The Rains of Castamere”. No cliff-hangers either. I was hoping the episode would be void of any. That’s what I like about Game of Thrones, and while it’s no doubt got something to do with the fact each season is a whole year apart, the fact that none have yet to end on a whopping cliff-hanger, as one might otherwise expect, is quite a merciful thought on the part of the writers. The penultimate episode always serves as the big shocker, and the finale merely serves to let you and the characters recover from that.
Obscure nerd trivia aside, that scene served as a pivotal moment in the development of Arya’s character, and by association the Hound’s. It couldn’t have come at a better time if you ask me. It’s set that particular duo up perfectly for season four. I can’t even begin to think what they might be getting up to next year, but I’m fairly certain that vengeance is going to be on the cards.
I did like how they concluded Bran’s story this season. He got a lot of stick from me at the start, mainly because he’d been such a boring character before. Now, however, it seems his particular quest has adopted an air of Lord of the Rings about it; the hapless band of people on an impossible mission into the unknown, to get somewhere they might not be able to get to and do something that might not be do-able. I have to say though, I think Bran Stark, Hodor, and the Reed siblings make for a far more interesting group of people than the Fellowship. But before you string me up in a tree somewhere, I mean “interesting” in the sense that their considerably more dysfunctional than Tolkien’s band of adventurers. In LOTR you know they’re going to get to Mount Doom from the moment they leave the Shire, whereas it could go either way for Bran at the moment, and knowing what George RR Martin is like, it’s probably going to go badly.
Arya and Bran are perfect examples of why I’m so fond of the season finales; whilst they may have experienced some rather dramatic or pivotal events in this week’s episode, in a strange way these events don’t serve as continuations of their stories. Essentially, their arcs (in particular) have been reset. What I mean to say is that we won’t have any baggage from season three lingering around in season four; it’s a fresh start for all characters, in their own ways. Everyone has found closure, and their arcs are all at an end, whether it resulted in a teary reunion with their sister/lover, crowd-surfing some former slaves, or being dragged into Castle Black covered in arrows.
So yes, it did the season justice.