Film and TV

Game of Thrones: "Valar Morghulis"

As refreshingly awesome as it was to have the action centered on one location in last week's "Blackwater," last night's season finale felt necessarily rushed. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have split up four major narratives into twice that, and with most of those demanding some sort of end point, even the extra ten minutes of "Valar Morghulis" flew by.

Some of the series' principals are coming to grips with the aftermath of the Battle of the Blackwater, while others deal with other crises, all within the larger framework of the war. To say nothing is resolved would be a lie, but it's clear that actions taken in the most recent installment are going to have far-reaching implications.

Also, did you hear Khal Drogo was back? Well, sort of.

First of all, I'm happy to report that Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) survived the battle, not that anyone was surprised. Let's be honest, if people were incensed when Ned Stark lost his head last season, they'd put HBO headquarters to the torch if they dared to kill Tyrion. That said, it may have been a close thing. He wakes to find an unfriendly Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) hovering over him and only too happy to inform him he's no longer Hand of the King.

That honor belongs to the "savior of the city," Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance). I'm not sure of the point of showing Tywin's horse taking a dump before he entered the throne room...or why he had to ride a horse in there to begin with. Whatever the case, Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) proclaims Tywin savior and the new Hand for arranging the Lannister/Highgarden alliance, Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) gets Harrenhal, and Ser Loras asks Joffrey to marry his sister Margaery (Natalie Dormer). She wants to be "The" Queen, after all. A little farce takes place that's not at all a premeditated effort to set aside Joffey's betrothal to Sansa (Sophie Turner).

The good news: Sansa is free of the rotten twerp. The bad? Littlefinger is quick to point out that Joffrey is still free to "utilize" her in whatever way he wishes. She can't win for losing,

A brief, irrelevant aside: I erroneously wrote Kings Landing as "Knots Landing" while I was typing this up, leading me to come up with an entire plot about how Gary and Val Ewing were actually brother and sister, à la Jaime and Cersei. Clearly I need to drink less.

Hey, does anyone think it's weird that Ros (Esme Bianco) and Varys (Conleth Hill) haven't met yet? Well, we clear that up this episode, as the eunuch has a proposition for our Sexpositioner which involves her leaving Littlefinger's employ. A shrewd maneuver, considering her access to high-profile clientele.

Varys also confirms to Tyrion that Cersei had Ser Mandon Moore of the Kingsguard try to kill him, and that Bronn has been relieved of his duties as Commander of the City Watch. Oh, and the hill tribesmen have gone home. Nonetheless, the city "will not forget him." Shae (Sibel Kekilli) also pays him a visit and notes Ser Mandon left quite a scar. She's amusingly dismissive of his attempts to get rid of her, and suggests that they leave the city. It's a tender moment, and it's obvious Cersei is arraying her forces against him. He'd be wise to take Shae's advice.

Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) still has her hands full with Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who gains new respect for his escort when she disposes of three Northmen who recognize the Kingslayer. It remains to be seen how wise Catelyn was to place a person with obviously unresolved childhood issues in charge of escorting one of the most dangerous men in Westeros back to Kings Landing. Still, we finally get a chance to see how good she is in combat, and...she's pretty damn good.

In the Riverlands, Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) wants Robb (Richard Madden) to honor his promise to the Freys, rather than marry Talisa (Oona Chaplin). He responds by throwing Jaime in her face. The young lovers wed in the woods in the names of...the Seven? Robb's a Stark of Winterfell, dammit; he worships the Old Gods. Between this and his breaking his deal with Walder Frey, he's hardly behaving in a kingly fashion.

Actually, adultery and oathbreaking is pretty regal, when you think about it. Hail King Robb.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar