If last week’s Red Wedding episode was the crash of the season, last night’s season finale was as if the show was ending under a caution flag. There was some light jostling for position, but most of the episode was devoted to characters setting up their Season 4 arcs. With Season 3 now over we enter into a television winter. My advice on fighting boredom is to imagine “Game of Thrones” characters guest starring on your favorite shows. Wouldn’t it be great if Dany ordered the dragons to roast the cast of “Two and a Half Men?” It’s little magical things like this that keep “Game of Thrones” fans coming back. For the last time this season let’s carve up the fatty plots of Westeros.
I. The Fabulous Bolton Boys
The episode kicked off with Lord Roose Bolton surveying the Stark carnage outside of the Frey castle. Anything with a wolf emblazed on it was slaughtered. Definitely not the right type of party to rock that three wolf moon t-shirt. In a later meeting with Lord Frey, who really is raising the bar on stomach turning dialogue, we found out Bolton’s prize for his part in the Red Wedding is the title of Warden of the North. Of course Roose is too smart to run off to the still smoldering ruin that is Winterfell. We also learned that the show’s newly minted villain has a son named Ramsay, and boy does that Bolton family have a mean streak.
Ramsay Snow, the bastard son of Roose, is actually the mystery man who has tortured Theon all season long. We arrived just in time to watch Ramsey dramatically carve sausage in front of Theon. I was waiting for Ramsey to have two meatballs on the plate as well with how on the nose his actions were. During this castration memorial meal we finally hear Theon beg for the ultimate mercy of death. Ramsey quickly disregards that though because they “need him.” In a final step of Theon’s destruction, his name is stripped and is replaced by the term Reek.
The Theon long game is revealed when a letter reaches Balon Greyjoy, the King of the Iron Islands. In the letter Ramsey demands the return of all lands captured by the Greyjoy’s, and sends a box along to prove how serious he is. In the box is Theon’s much-discussed member, and more boxes are promised if the demands of the Warden of the North’s son are ignored. Balon, though, isn’t a mushy, Mel Gibson-in-”Ransom” type of dad. He writes off Theon for not listening to him in the first place and declares the case settled. Theon’s sister on the other hand, the one he felt up forever ago, isn’t going to let this stand. She gathers the 50 best killers on the island and swears she will sail to free him from capture. I only hope there are enough worthwhile pieces left of him when she gets there.
II. The Return of Evil Joffrey
Now I don’t want anyone to think I would ever propose that our runty King of Westeros would ever lose his gross Caligula-esque behavior, but he’s been mostly muted this season. Sure he tried to embarrass Tyrion at his wedding, but we haven’t seen anything resembling his “come stare at your severed Dad’s head” classic moments we’ve come to expect from him. The silent crossbow killing of Roz was as bad as he got this season. That is until the meeting of the small council.
Tyrion is having a lovely talk with Sansa when he is summoned for an emergency meeting that we know is about the Red Wedding. Tyrion is barely seated before Joffrey emerges behind Lord Tywin looking like he just found out his Red Rider BB gun hidden behind the dragon skull in the basement. Joffrey not only seems to think he alone destroyed Robb, but also that serving her brother’s head to Sansa during his wedding is a great way to break up the first and second course. Tyrion objects, and silences the king by remarking that “Just now kings are dying like flies.” This sends Joffrey into a tailspin, and he eventually turns on Lord Tywin. Tywin is the one person you can’t step to. He announces his grandson is tired and needs to retire for bed. It was another example of Tywin’s dominance, and how a crown doesn’t confer power on its own.
The other big Lannister news was the reunion of everyone’s favorite incestuous twins, Cersei and Jaime. It was a testament to Jaime’s arc this season that viewers couldn’t be blamed to be excited to find two of the biggest villains in the show brought back together. The Starks haven’t gotten a happy ending scene anywhere close to this one. It was like “Sleepless in Seattle” if Meg Ryan was Tom Hanks‘ sister.
III. King Stannis chooses to take back the night
The real battle brewing for next season is the people of Westeros vs. the White Walkers slowly limping toward the wall. So far only King Stannis seems to have realized that the real war isn’t for the crown, but for humanity itself. At the start of the episode he was thinking far differently. Melisandre had shown causation between throwing her Gendry-filled leeches into the fire and the death of King Robb. Now Stannis was completely with the idea of using Gendry’s entire body for a ritual sacrifice. I guess the thinking is that if a little penis blood killed Robb then the whole body might land him a winning Power Ball ticket.
The recently freed Davos, hand to the king, can’t stand by as his king becomes a leader who would kill the innocent for power. He frees Gendry and sends him on his way in a Central Park rowboat. It doesn’t take long for Melisandre and Stannis to find out, and Davos is sentenced to death. Before they take him away to the dungeon for the second time this season, Davos presents a letter from Maester Aemon and the Night’s Watch. It implores all of Westeros to send men to defend the wall from the White Walkers. This connects with both the king and the red priestess. She confirms that this is the mission King Stannis has been waiting for. Only he can hold back the forces of the north. The Lannisters in King’s Landing will have to wait.
IV. A Wildling breakup is hard to do
Breaking up with someone via text made even more sense to me after seeing what transpired between Ygritte and Jon Snow. Snow was off his horse grabbing a quick drink of water when his kissed-by-fire girlfriend found him. Snow admitted what they both knew from the very beginning. He’s still a crow, and was always going to eventually “go home.” He says he loves her, but that still doesn’t change that he must go. Lots of tears and sadness here, and then Ygritte starts shooting arrows. Lots of message board discussion about whether or not she was hitting him in non-lethal places, but in the end Snow rode away with three arrows puncturing him.
Snow survives the ordeal and reaches Castle Black just after Sam and Gilly return home. Sam had not only passed along dragonglass for killing whites to Bran’s traveling group, but also helped them reach the other side of the Wall. Sam tried to convince Bran to come with him, but Bran won’t be dissuaded from reaching his destiny beyond the Wall. What will Snow’s reaction be when he hears of Bran’s encounter with Sam?
V. Mother Teresa, but with a great rack
The season ended with a glimpse of Dany waiting for the conquered slaves of Yunkai to greet her outside the city gates. This scene must have been a legal minefield to cast. How do you tell an extra that their skin color isn’t dirty enough for the role?
“Sorry we’re looking for more of a dirty foreigner type of look for our slaves. Yeah, Puerto Rican isn’t dark enough. Whoops. Forget I said that. Now find me some Dominican extras.”The gates to the city open and the filthy unwashed masses pour out to greet her. After Dany’s spokesmodel doesn’t convey the proper message of freedom she interrupts her to speak directly to the slaves. She inspires them so much that they start calling to her as “Mother.” I can only imagine that Barristan and Jorah have never seen “In the Line of Fire” because they are way lax with letting the mother of dragons walk through the crowd. She even disappears for a moment surrounded by smelly extras before she is hoisted above their heads in celebration. She looked like a mix of Courtney Love and Jesus at that moment. Neither of those two had the luxury of dragons however. The dragons used to be her only base of power, but by the end of season three we can now see the faint outlines of her return to Westeros.
With “Game of Thrones” off our screens for at least a year now is the time to bundle up your psyche and wait it out. Even if CBS announces “NCIS: Flea Bottom” it won’t fill the void left by the show not being around week-to-week. I’m now off to find the three-eyed crow of Brooklyn. If I’m not back for Season 4 then send out a ranging party for me.