The second season of Game of Thrones has finally come to its end and after delivering a solid episode with plenty of twists and turns, we can honestly say that we will be waiting for season three with bated breath.
One of the things that we loved about the previous episode was the show runners decision to focus on one small area of the series, the battle of the Blackwater. But here in this extended episode they have returned to an ensemble cast as we see all the various plot stands tie themselves up for another year. What’s more, there has been just enough adjustments to the story to create a rich and well written experience which will please lovers of the book and newcomers alike.
In the East, Daenerys has gone to the House of the Undying, the headquarters of the warlocks of Qarth, to claim back her dragon children.However while she seeks to reclaim them she finds herself contending with visions of the future, and even more portents of things that will come. The vanquished Stannis Baratheon tries to reject the counsel of the mysterious red priestess, but her faith and her own visions of the future convince him of his own eventual victory. Meanwhile Robb Stark is threatening to destroy his own war effort by giving in to his feelings for the exotic Lady Talisa over his intended wife, and threatening his pact with the powerful Frey family. In the now victorious capital city, Tyrion has recovered from his battle wounds in time for Joffrey to announce his engagement to Margaery Tyrell and Petyr and Sansa plan to preserve their future. It was the action in the North that caught our attention as we saw Theon try to raly his men, before he is himself betrayed and the city of Winterfell is put to the torch by the vengeful northmen. Then we saw Arya and her motely band of friends journey out of Harenhall thanks tot he assistance of Jaqen who reveals his nature and offers her a new path and destiny. Meanwhile the two Stark boys, Rickon and Bran, find themselves almost completely alone in the world and left to find their own way in a cold and lonely world at war. Finally in the lands beyond the Wall, Jon sacrifices his oath to defend the realm, completing his fall from honour and the rise of his new destiny to fight the wildling men from within.
With all of the action taking place you could be forgiven for thinking that the overall narrative suffers from being bloated. However, it is a testament to the show’s producers that they were able to give everyone plenty of time and story development which engendered a lot of well delivered and emotional performances. We also said goodbye to some of the characters we came to know and love this season, while also saying hello to some new ones which help to show the series continuing and evolving potential. It was however the sight of one familiar face which made our inner fan-boy come to the surface and the return of the enigmatic white walkers to prominence which really made us jump up and praise this shows brilliance. It was also gratifying to show that this is more than just a series, but part of a continuing and complex saga that goes from strength to strength.
The one problem with this episode, is that the larger scope means that after last weeks tremendous action sequences, this installment does not measure up quite as well in the action stakes. There was however a tremendous amount of story that was crammed into a short amount of time and for its part it worked well. However we could not help but feel that some of the storylines could have been handled better and be more evenly distributed across the season to make for a more potent and gratifying concluding episode.
The conclusion of this season was a solid and well written piece which gave us a lot to love, and a lot to look forward to next year. As the season ends we can forgive some of the pacing issues and some of the adjustments to the storyline for the sake of dramatic license. A fitting conclusion for a brilliant series.