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Game of Thrones: A Novel Approach to "Valar Morghulis"

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Spoiler Alert, for those who only wish to watch Game of Thrones as a TV show:

This column will explore the highlights and shortcomings of the Game of Thrones Season 2 finale as it compares to the books on which the series is based. Are they two separate entities? You better believe it!

GoT Novel Approach

After last weeks incredible portrayal of "Blackwater" I had a sinking feeling that the season finale would be left lacking. I was right. Before I break down how well the content held up, I'll tell you why I think this week fell flat: Too many jumps.

We could have easily done without Robb's wedding. It's already fabricated material, and saving it for next season would not have made the slightest difference to the episode. Nor would leaving out the scenes between Stannis and Melisandre or Varys and Ros. 

Where did they really fit in to the overall narrative of the evening? Nowhere. These were time wasters that should have been sacrificed in lieu of more valuable, weighty stories. Ros was a necessity, I suspect, for boobs. Letting an episode go by without a boob might confuse people. 

A great - if new to readers - scene was Shae telling Tyrion they were meant for each other. The way this typically sarcastic little man collapsed into her arms was extremely touching. The question is just how much of what we're seeing is acting on her part? If she's not pretending to love him, then what will come about to change that as the story progresses? Another possibility is their love will remain true and an obstacle of a different sort will provide their conflict, betrayal and rip them apart. 

While Dany's walk through the House of the Undying was nothing like I would have expected, offering no foreshadowing or mystical messages for her to decipher, she did see her husband again.

A fan favorite was brought back for his swan song, and perhaps she didn't need all of the mumbo jumbo and double talk, only her old life to be in front of her eyes and her new life to be singing in her ears to push her into the future with a new sense of fortitude. This version of the Undying didn't just have her beloved Drogon saving her life, but all three of her children in a lovely spectacle of flame.

Wasted life of the season? Keeping Doreah alive just to have her betray Dany. She might as well have succumbed in the Red Waste, still a loyal friend, than even make it to Qarth. It reminded me of the Gemma storyline on Ringer. Bring her back, then, hey... kill her! In this case, let's just let Daenerys know that she was betrayed by her very best friend. Why?

Personally, I loved the scenes between Brienne and Jaime. As far as I've read, I keep hoping for a full on romance between the two, and they are quickly making that a viable option on screen. It's as if Jaime has met his true twin. Shhh...don't tell Cersei. The look on his face when she slaughtered three men as if it were nothing was perfection. Bring on Game of Thrones Season 3 and more of them please!

There has been some controversy that I've read where people find it confusing what happened between John and the Halfhand. I thought they set up the play very well. It took time, but Qhorin made it very clear what he expected Jon to do and why. If it didn't play off on screen as well as expected, then viewers were just unable to follow the nuances. 

As for Theon? Great speech, better ending.

What happened at Winterfell before Bran came home? How do you feel about Joffrey's accepting Margery to join their families in marriage? Sound off on these topics below and weigh in on whether, with this Margery, Sansa will end up as well off as she does in in print. I seriously have my doubts.

I look forward to hearing your musings on the finale and your ideas on the season overall now. Also, remember to check out Matt Richenthal's newbie-based Game of Thrones finale review as a rundown of events by someone unfamiliar with the source material.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (270 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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Richard3

It makes me think that with book 3 split into two seasons that season 3 will end with that certain event, which means it's possible we won't see Theon or Ramsey until season 4... :(

Richard3

If I have any real wishes that went unfulfilled it is with Winterfell. I was hoping The Bastard of Bolton was going to make an appearance. Instead they left it really ambiguous as to who burnt the place down, and in fact I felt like the characters may know even though the audience doesn't (which generally isn't the case). For example, Bran says to the Maester, "they" burnt it all, and the Maester says later that "they" may come back...but no one qualifies who the "they" is. One would assume that the Maester witnessed whoever it was and you'd think he'd assume Bran thought it was the Iron Islanders...to which I think he'd have warned him it was the Boltons. Heck maybe it wasn't the Boltons in the show...but considering how ambiguous I think it was. I guess they felt they still needed to keep that secret so that we don't suspect the Boltons until after a certain even in book 3. It makes me think that with book 3 split into two seasons that season 3 will end with that certain event, which means neither Theon nor Ramsey will be seen again until season 4... :(

Richard3

As far as the Jon / Halfhand controversy, I actually thought they left it rather more ambiguous than in the book. The book pretty much makes it clear that Jon is doing it for the Watch, where in the show I just didn't get that strong of an impression. I felt like Jon WAS angry and even though he may have killed him as part of the scheme, it didn't look like Jon was as sure his motives were all pure. Maybe that look was supposed to convey the general horror of killing one of your brothers, but...I can understand what the fuss is about.

Richard3

While I was disappointed that we didn't get any of the visions from the House of the Undying, if you think about it, that didn't lend anything to Danny's story in the book. It was more just a metaphysical dump for the reader and I'm not sure how well that would translate. What they put in its place was pretty cool, with the Khal coming back. Gave her arc up to this point some emotional punch. Still it is interesting that they didn't include the 3 betrayals. Maybe the show doesn't want to be tied to prophecies they may end up deviating on...?

Richard3

While I agree the extra-long episode jumped around a bit, I didn't find that a problem. It's the season finale and checking in with everyone was important. Although I was surprised they didn't leave Tyrion's fate cliffhangered (or is it cliffhung?). The description of how far he's fallen seemed like a good place to start season 3. Now they'll just probably reiterate it all in the next episode. I too am interested in how they're going to resolve the Tyrion/Shae relationship. If it ends up like the book that is going to be brutal. I suspect the show will develop the fallout a little more if they're still going down that route.

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Susan, you have won the internet. Congratulations.

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Varys was off-char here because we know he only uses children to be his spies. He get them off the streets and poverty, learn them to write, and they small enough to be between walls, plus they are exellent spies since noone gives them a second thought. He doesn't like to use adults as spies because they are just not as reliable as his little "birds".

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I agree that some scenes, Rob, Ros, etc... could have waited; seeing how Jaime and Brienne are past the half way point of book 3. But I find a 3rd effect in play where suspense for readers is getting better. How will Theon, Bran and more, go forward? The books are a faint guide. I reread book 3 along character lines while watching and basically Arya skips a little multi chapter voyage to end up in similar places, with similar characters and results, while having major changes; such as, Tywin and cup bearer roles or Weese vs. the Tickler. I think in all it is a Great production and the acting is way beyond tv. Things like the chain are missed, but characters and their plot lines only get about 5 minutes each. I even enjoy comments and the guesses from non-readers highly entertaining. It is what it is and that is great theater; especially considering it is television.

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I have to say I do disagree with some of the assesments of this article. While the episode jumped around between stories (as does every episode besides Blackwater)it was necessary to non readers of the books to close out each story. You can't close out Robb Starks story with a cliffhanger between him and this girl. Everyone would wonder why Robbs story was left hanging instead of giving it some sort of conclusion and set up for the next season. The scene between Stannis and Melisandre was also very important in my opinion. In the books you are left wondering if Stannis is alive, dead, missing, depressed in a corner somewhere, but are never given an answer till book three. Some of my friends who have not read the books have commented that they didn't know if Stannis might be captured by the lannisters even. Again, for non readers this material is important. The scene between Varys and Ros I am in total agreement is unecessary. In fact, most scenes with Ros are unecessary. Ros was not a character in the books and therefore requires newly written and often times pointless story lines for her. I could not agree more about Doreah. It was very confusing why she was killed in the wasteland during the books, but kept alive till this very stupid moment in the shows. I have no problem changing storylines to help the show move along, but to make a character who was loyal and trustworthy in the books a traitor in the show doesn't add up in my mind. The last thing I would like to request about articles like this one is to please be mindful of those who have not read the books. There is already 1 comment posted about someone who has not read the books, but now knows Tyrion and Shae are doomed after reading this article. These are great surprises and complicated twists which every viewer wants to see unfold on screen. Please in the future be more sensitive about the information you are giving away.

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I hope they're going to change Shae's ending I feel it would be just too horrible now. However given how it effects Tyrion's character they'll probably leave it in.

Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 10 Quotes

My father is dead. And the only parent I have left has no right to call anyone reckless.

Robb

Would it be excessive of me to ask you to save my life twice in a week?

Tyrion
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