S02 E10 VALAR MORGHULIS. The season two finale, Valar Morghulis, picks up after last week’s exciting battle for Kings Landing, which saw the rout of Stannis Baratheon’s army after Tywin Lannister took them from behind (so to speak) following Tyrion’s valiant efforts to defend the city walls.
This is very much a wrap up episode and features just about every important cast member as well as a few not so important ones. As such it attempts to wrap up quite a few loose strands of plot, starting with the awakening of Tyrion after being badly wounded by Ser Mandon Moore (on the orders of Queen Cersei) in the battle of Blackwater Bay. Unconscious for some time and tended to by Grand Maester Pycelle (who has reason to want Tyrion dead after his treatment at the hands of the Imp), Tyrion finally awakes, badly scarred and in unfamiliar chambers. He learns that his father Tywin Lannister has taken his place as hand of the King; his man Bronn is no longer the leader of the Gold Cloaks and that Varys, regretfully will not been speaking with Tyrion as often as he used to. The only constant in Tyrion’s life is Shae who pledges herself to him even if he is only a halfman with a scarred face.
King Joffrey is holding court and formally announces his grandfather’s appointment as King’s hand, a position which Tywin Lannister accepts coolly. In addition we learn that Littlefinger (Lord Baelish) is to be made Lord of Harrenhal for securing the allegiance of House Tyrell, and Sansa is finally freed from her obligation to marry Joffrey when Margaery Tyrell (once wed to Renly, but still a maiden) seeks to unite the houses of Tyrell and Baratheon through marriage. Joffrey makes a show of appreciating the offer, but how can he accept when he is promised to Sansa? Queen Cersei and Maester Pycelle then step in to assure Joffrey that the gods will not seek to enforce his wedding to the daughter and sister of traitors. The whole thing appeared to have been carefully stage managed. Sansa is at first overjoyed, but careful not to show her true face in court. Lord Baelish however recognises what is happening and expresses his sympathies to Sansa; warning her that although she may not be committed to wed the King it is likely he will still continue to mistreat her. He makes her a promise that he will get her back to her mother, Catelyn who Littlefinger still carries a torch for. Varys, the bald Eunuch, is not impressed by Littlefinger’s elevation and seeks to extend his network of spies by soliciting one of the working girls in Littlefinger’s brothel to work for him instead.
Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth are making good their escape and heading south to Kings Landing to exchange Jaime for the Sansa and Arya. Brienne is sworn to serve Lady Catelyn in this and has vowed to deliver the Kingslayer safely, even though she hates everything he stands for. They are stopped by a group of Northmen (who are responsible for stringing up three women whom they accused of lying with Lannister men), loyal to Robb Stark who recognise Jaime Lannister. This forces Brienne to kill them before they take Lannister for themselves. Jaime is grudgingly respectful of her prowess in battle as well as her ruthlessness.
Robb Stark is about to make a tactical mistake for the sake of love. He has fallen in love with Talisa Magyr, despite being promised to a daughter of Walder Frey. If he doesn’t go ahead with that union then he will most likely lose the allegiance of the Frey’s and all of the men they have committed to his army, which not an inconsiderable number. Catelyn Stark seeks to make him see the folly of his ways, but he cannot listen to his mother – not after she has made the mistake of releasing Jaime Lannister, and important bargaining chip should it come to negotiating with Kings Landing. Heedless of his mother’s words the pair are wed in the eyes of the seven gods of Westeros.
Stannis Baratheon has retreated to Dragonstone to lick his wounds. He blames Melisandre, saying she had promised him victory, but not warned him of defeat. Melisandre stands by her prediction; the war is long and will not be won or lost on the outcome of a single battle. Stannis is not so sure, he is now too weak to mount another attack and makes as if to punish Melisandre by choking the life out of her. He releases her before killing her though and she uses her magic, asking him to see the future in the flames for himself. Which he does.
Theon Greyjoy is feeling sorry for himself in Winterfell. The Northmen have come to take back what is theirs and are laying seige to the castle walls. Maester Luwin is counselling him to run while he still can. Theon can’t run though, if he returns home now he would be branded a coward in the eyes of his people and his father. Luwin suggests he take the black and join the Nights Watch instead, but even that is not an option, not with Jon Snow already there, waiting to cut his throat while he sleeps. Instead Theon resolves to go out fighting and attempts to rally his few mean to a final heroic defence of Winterfell. He delivers a good speech; one that seems to get the men on his side – until Dagmer hits him over the head and decides that he and his men would rather live thank you very much. When Maester Luwin comes to protest he gets a spear in the belly for his trouble. He is found later by Bran, Rickon, Osha and Hodor when they emerge from their hiding place to find Winterfell burned and Maester Luwin dying in the Godswood. He tells them to head North to the wall and their brother Jon. It is too late to save his life and the Maester implores Osha to finish him off when the boys are not looking.
Danaerys heads to the house of the undying to retrieve her stolen dragons. Inside she is subjected to visions of her lost husband and child before being confronted by the sorcerer Pyatt Pree who tells her that magic is stronger in the land now that the dragons have been reborn. The stronger the dragons get the stronger his magic will become, and the dragons are at their strongest when they are with their Mother. With magical chains he binds Danaerys to her dragons and threatens to keep her imprisoned with them for the rest of her days. Danaerys has other ideas. She has been training the dragons to attack on her command and when she utters the word Dracarys, the three young dragons burn Pyat Pree where he stands and magic chains are undone.
With her dragons safe she heads to the home of Xharo Daxos Xhoan – self-proclaimed King of Qarth. He is lying in bed with one of her handmaidens, a traitor as far as Dani is concerned. She locks both of them inside Xaro’s impenetrable (yet empty) safe and leaves them to rot before stealing such possessions as the King has to buy herself a ship.
Having escaped from Harrenhal with the assistance of Jaqen H’ghar, Arya meets him on the road for one last time. He has killed more times than he intended to do for her and as such he is no longer bound to her. Their paths must part ways. The face of Jaqen H’ghar changes magically, and he offers Arya a coin. When the day comes that she has need of him again she must give the coin to any man from Braavos and say these words: Valar Morghulis
Jon Snow and Qhorin Halfhand are prisoners of the wildlings, being taken to see Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the wall. Halfhand knows that he all is lost for him, and deliberately provokes a fight with Jon. If Jon kills Qhorin this will give credence to the plan to make the wildlings believe that Jon has turned his back on the Night’s watch to become one of them – just as their leader Mance Rayder did. The fight is short and brutal, finishing with Jon Snow burying his blade deep in Halfhand’s belly.
In the closing scene Samwell and his friends are confronted by an army of White walkers, their arrival forewarned by three blasts of a Nights Watch horn. The weather quickly turns cold and visibility drops. Samwell is too fat to escape and winds up hidden behind a rock as the White Walkers prepare to advance on the rangers position……
End of Season Two!