Sundays 10:00 PM on HBO
Game-of-thrones

Game of Thrones Review: Dead Men Walking

by at . Comments

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.

Theon

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.

Review

Editor Rating: 3.9 / 5.0
  • 3.9 / 5.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (270 Votes)

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

Tags: ,
Avatar

what the hell is wrong with people here? What is up with this reviewer? Last time I enter this page when googling a review. I found the finale nothing short of brilliant. Any and all complaints are nothing short of buffoonery. Except for the often over-the-top nudity, it does get a bit dreary. It was a strong season for a show that will only get stronger. oh, and BigOldBallsOfDragonFire. reposting as if you are reviewing several times, makes you lame. Grow up. And if you don'y like the books maybe try Harry Potter or Twillight, I'm sure they are more within your intellectual capacity.

Richard3

After reading a ton of comments from various sites, I wonder if GoT the show is going to suffer by being tied to the book structure. Already people are saying "the white walkers have been too absent", "Danny should just get to Westeros already", etc... It's only been 2 seasons! Book readers have had to endure over a decade and some of the things people are already harping about (slowness) STILL hasn't been resolved (not saying which things). If you consider that book 3 will be seasons 3 & 4, and a re-combined books 4/5 will be at LEAST seasons 5 & 6. That's 4 years minimum from now to get to where the books are currently. Are people going to stick with the show when people are already complaining things are too slow?

Avatar

I also love seeing the devlopment of Theon Greyjoy. He's turned from somewhat of a nonechelant bravado into a scared snivveling child. During his speech I felt myself thinking "ah jeez... typical 'heroic speech'. I can't believe his men simply follow him all of a sudden" but then suddenly; "oh woah! did not see that comming! epic way to put him in his place!" I nearly feel sorry for him, as weak a character he has. He has no place playing with the big boys.

Avatar

The denaeris line was kind of cool, though a bit difficult to follow. The wizard tower was appearantly filled with illusions to keep her there voluntairilly and when that didn't work the wizard chained her... But the iron throne room didn't look all that appealing as it was completely ruined. I love how you see Tyrion losing everything he's worked for the moment daddy returned (even if I feel really sorry for him). From episode one his dad was supposed to be a stern man that neglected Tyrion on behalf of his dwarfish looks. It seems, now that Therion has served his purpose, good old dad is quick to set him aside again like the failure he is. Tyrion is gonna have some daddy issues. I wonder if he's going to realise his family sucks and joins Robbs army next season. I also love seeing the devlopment of Theon Greyjoy. He's turned from somewhat of a nonechelant bravado into a scared snivveling child. During his speech I felt myself thinking "ah jeez... typical 'heroic speech'. I can't believe his men simply follow him all of a sudden" but then suddenly; "oh woah! did not see that comming! epic way to put him in his place!" I nearly feel sorry for him, as weak a character he has. He has no place playing with the big boys.

Beverly-brooks

I was not impressed with finale. Too little details how Winterfell burned. I didnt' like the wedding. I felt like this was an episode wasted setting up next year. But the dragons were cool.

Avatar

(This cutting off of posts is really annoying.) I truly did feel sorry for Bran, Rickon, Hodor and Osha. The brothers lost someone they loved (Master Luwin) and they're heading off to the Wall to find someone who isn't even there anymore to help them IF they make it there. All in all, after two seasons I feel extremely let down by this show. It isn't a very good series to start with and this finale just made it worse. I know the series is only as good as Martin's novels so I don't blame HBO or the production. I never have. The show always looks good. It's the content that is severely lacking. I keep watching in hopes that Martin will stop writing what he thinks fantasy readers want to see and start writing what the story needs but that doesn't happen. The same held true with the books. I completely agree with DragonFire to NOT read the books as they are one of VERY few instances where the books truly were worse than the movie/series. At least with the series you can see lots and lots and lots of boobs. And, hey, boobs can make anything better, can't they? Apparently Game of Thrones thinks so.

Avatar

Continued... Good on you, Robb for disobeying your annoying mother and marrying for love instead of obligation. Only problem is now that there's all this sweet lovey dovey romance in the picture he appears to have fully been castrated as a character. His eye isn't totally on the prize anymore. Same with Jon Snow. Next season, once he reaches his final destination, I'm sure we'll see him and the red haired girl set up housekeeping together. Yawn. Daenerys finally has her dragon "babies" back and she's stopped whining for a few minutes. She's spent so much time whining this season that it felt completely out of character for her to finally step up. I expect the whining to resume next season as she and her people continue on their long journey. Things won't go to plan, she won't get what she wants and needs, obstacles will fall in her path and how will be the best way to deal with it? Whine! I truly did feel sorry for Bran, Rickon, Hodor and Osha. The brothers lost someone they loved (Master Luwin) and they're heading off to the Wall to find someone who isn't even there anymore to help them IF they make it there. All in all, after two seasons I feel extremely let down by this show. It isn't a very good series to start with and this finale just made it worse. I know the series is only as good as Martin's novels so I don't blame HBO or the production. I never have. The show always looks good. It's the content that is severely lacking. I keep watching in hopes that Martin will stop writing what he thinks fantasy readers want to see and start writing what the story needs but that doesn't happen. The same held true with the books. I completely agree with DragonFire to NOT read the books as they are one of VERY few instances where the books truly were worse than the movie/series. At least with the series you can see lots and lots and lots of boobs. And, hey, boobs can make anything better, can't they? Apparently Game of Thrones thinks so.

Avatar

What can be said about this finale? There was a lot going on, that's for sure. But was what happened in this finale worth the road to get here or not? It took two years to get the Whitewalkers into the mix. Is that some slow plot development or is that some slow plot development? When we were introduced to them in the pilot I liked the idea of them. However, Martin failed to do anything with them for so long that they were all but forgotten with the exception of a mention here and there. When they were mentioned, one is given the impression they are the worst things that can cross ones path. While what came on screen at the end was by no means handsome, it wasn't anything we haven't seen before. For a second, I had to check the channel and make sure I wasn't on AMC because I thought I was watching a snowy The Walking Dead. Someone in the makeup department has spent WAY too much time watching that show and is apparently enamoured by the zombies as the Whitewalkers are virtually a copy of TWD's zombies. The Whitewalkers turned out to be yet another dud in a long line of duds created by Martin. I'm sorry but I couldn't help but laugh like crazy at the absurdly insane moment when Margaery Tyrell professed her "love" for Joffery and his reaction to the news. Yeah, she's totally playing him but he's too stupid to see that. It's good that Sansa doesn't have to marry that annoying little demon spawn now. And what about her? How can any one human being be so stupid? I can't really feel sorry for her anymore because she just walks right out of one stupid thing into another. How many times has she had a chance to get away from Joffrey and King's Landing and she has refused?

Avatar

I have read the books and honestly I don't know what they are doing to the story. They have missed valuable pieces of story that make the events that did happen make sense. Like Jon killing Quron half hand. He told Jon to kill him so mance raydar would believe him a traitor and he could infiltrate the wildlings. That was not made clear. Dany ( her dragons really) burned down the house of the undying. Theon is not knocked out by his own men. So many inconsistencies, it is leaving me confused watching the show and having read the books. I am sometimes wondering if I am watching a completely different story. Hope season three is better.

Avatar

NO! Don't read the books. They are horrendous! If there's anything worse that the TV version of the show, it's the books it's based on.

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
×