Game of Thrones Review: Dead Men Walking

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Game of Thrones is a challenging series to review.

It's based on a series of novels beloved by a number of viewers, many of whom judge episodes based on the source material and a result of which means even those of us unfamiliar with George R.R. Martin's work are aware that there's never really an end in sight.

So I didn't go into "Valar Morghulis" with any preconceived notion that any storylines would really be tied up, but I still came out of it disappointed in a Season 2 finale that felt a lot more like a Season 3 prologue.


Compare events here to those from last Sunday's epic, "Blackwater." That felt like a finale, with so many storylines of the season leading to an epic battle. It felt like a payoff, where as this installment came across a bit arbitrary, more focused on setting up next year's character arcs than tying anything remotely together.

As usual, I was most interested in the lives of those in King's Landing, all of which changed drastically after mere minutes this week. Sansa is no longer bound to Joffrey, but is she really out of danger?

Margaery Tyrell will have a chance to fulfill the goal she's made clear from the moment we met her, moving into the position of soon-to-be queen.

Tyrion continued to be the most fascinating, well-layered character on the series, this time abandoning any facade of bravery, admitting he loves the challenge of out-thinking stronger men and falling apart in the arms of Shae, who will remain by her wounded man's side, even if his position in the kingdom is tenuous at best; non-existent-to-the-point-where-his-sister-wants-him-dead at worst.

Robb is a man of one marriage oath and one broken oath, while he remains estranged from his mother and his sister is left wandering around for her family, as confounded as I am by the concept of "Valar Morghulis."

Stannis is still around (he wasn't captured?!?), reinvigorated by some fiery vision; and Theon has been dragged away somewhere, leaving one final death in his woebegone wake. RIP, Maester Luwin.

The former development is especially disappointing. Where did we really go with Stannis this season? When we met him, he was an angry, ambitious man on a quest for the Iron Throne and reliant on a mysterious redhead. Now? Well... he's an angry, ambitious man on a quest for the Iron Throne and reliant on a mysterious redhead.

The same can be said for Daenerys.

We closed season one with her dragons alive, her head held high and Westeros in her sights. We end season two after what felt like a somewhat contrived path that once again just finds her dragons alive, a bit more mature and her sights set on Westeros. I can't say I'm satisfied by the journey we went on with Dany this year. It all felt like a set-up for next year.

Finally, North of the Wall, Jon Snow is on his way to meet Mance Rayder, who we know will be a prominent character on Game of Thrones Season 3. And we were left with a visual even more stunning than Dany and her dragons from a year ago: that of White Walkers - seriously, A LOT of White Walkers - riding off to do... whatever it is White Walkers do.

Indeed, after 10 more sweeping, character-packed episodes, winter is most definitely here.

What did you think? Was this a rewarding a conclusion to this season? Or did it spend too much time setting up next season? Did Robb make the right choice in marriage? What is Varys planning? And, really, seriously, RIP, Maester Luwin.

UPDATE: Carissa Pavlica has posted her Novel Approach to the finale, in which she analyzes the show from the view of someone familiar with the source material.


Editor Rating: 3.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (284 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


Epilogue. My bad,


If you think that "Winter is most definitely here." Than I hate to tell you but even in the book series (5 so far) Winter is officially begun at the end of the prologue in the 5th book...


NicksKnockers, We get it. you didnt enjoy the show or book as much as other fans but please, stfu.


Listen, arguing is futile. I didn't read the books but I find the series engrossing. Stark losing his head in Season 1 was shocking to me because I expect all series to go something like this: Good guy wins, bad guy loses. Now I realise it isn't like this and the fact that the bad guys often gain the upper hand is actually more realistic. Anyway it's a fine drama, even though I do laugh sometimes at the occasional obvious contrivance. Gratuitous nudity is also to be welcomed, as are the brutal scenes of violence. Although due to the latter I'm pretty sure there won't be anyone left alive in the whole of the 7 kingdoms by the end of the show.


interesting,hope i can see season 3 soon


I can understand what the author is thinking but honestly he's picking on the finale for doing what it was supposed to do. No matter how the creators try, there can't be a huge climax in every single season, book 2 was really mean't to set all the characters up for book 3. Now just be patient, and you'll get your huge climax.


This finale was great! Indeed, Blackwater was a more epic episode but this one got me all excited for season 3. I do agree, though, with the Dany storyline. That one felt dragged this season but it definitely picked up in this episode. I think Robb made the right decision. Well, yes and no, but it makes for a great storyline. Can't wait to see what happens when his mother, or his betrothed, or his people find out that he broke an oath. Maester Luwin dying made me so sad :( Uggghhh I hate the wait between seasons!


@Bob: Bob, this "moron" has every right to express an opinion about GOT. Just as you do and everyone else who watches the show. Am I allowed to call you a "moron" now just because I don't agree with you that this show is entertaining? Or will you call for my head on a spike? Admit it, Bob, the season we're all discussing here was slow, boring and pointless. Out of the 10 hours we got this season, maybe 20 minutes actually furthered the storyline. How can I be entertained by that? If I did write my own show, I can guarantee, Bob, that it would be much better than GOT has been. My dog passed gas the other day and it was more interesting than GOT has been the past two years. Better delivery, better presentation, more substance and not nearly as sickening.


@bob It's a TV show and these comments are here because we as humans - or "morons" - are allowed to form opinions and state them publicity. I'm sick of GOT fans putting the gag order on those who dare not bow down. The show has many flaws, and S2 was horrific, yet you and many other 'fans' seem to think it's some form of holy sin to say so. It's difficult to "just be entertained" when what we're being fed is so hollow and underwritten. Then again, the writers can't work magic. Look at what they've got to work with. I suppose saying the books are of "questionable" quality is another sin? Anyway, I'm bored. Perhaps I'll take your advice and write my own show. If I complete the task, I hope to find fans like yourself. The type that'll love, worship and defend any old dreck I throw out.


all so bitter. Just be entertained and leave it at that, or write your own god dam show so morons can rip it apart. Jesus

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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.


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