The Goddess & Her Dragons
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Fire and Blood was a quiet, reflective hour in comparison to its shocking predecessor. HBO shows have often had their penultimate episodes go out with a bang while keeping their finales to wrap up story lines and leave threads for the next season open. The death of Eddard Stark hangs over nearly ever scene of this finale as a shock of that magnitude aptly should. The cluster of warfare hangs above the entire landscape and the first blow between the wolves and the lions has been struck. The true stunner of this hour comes at the end as the figure of Daenerys Targaryen emerges from the ashes of Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre as a goddess, the screeches of the dragon piercing the sky amidst Ramin Djawadi’s sweeping, epic score.
Ned was never long for this world and that was something so clearly telegraphed in hindsight the audience almost curses itself for believing that some relief could come at any moment. But as appropriate, Fire and Blood is in many ways about the aftermath of what that horrible death and the consequences one man’s demise has brought for the entirety of Westeros. Osha carries Bran and Rickon down into the crypts after the two brothers had dreams about their father’s death. And then Maester Luwin arrives with the heavy reality of those dreams coming true.
Robb is torn apart by his father’s death, hacking his sword into a tree with constant repetition. He wants revenge, but Catelyn wisely reminds me of Arya and Sansa still being captives. “Then we will kill them all,” she mutters vehemently. BAMF. But raising an army for war and capturing a lead general raises questions, such as what banner would the Starks fight under? Would they support Stannis or Renly Baratheon and which case would be better for them? Ever the charismatic figure, Lord Greatjon Umber says “Fuck the Kingdom!” and raises the concept of the Northern Kingdoms breaking free from the South. Chants of “King in the North! King in the North! King in the North!” ring throughout the chamber.
Catelyn interrogating Jamie was a great scene. He admits that he pushed Bran out of a window and refuses to say why. He does make a good point about honor and vows, though. At a certain point, don’t they start contradicting one another? Michelle and Nikolaj are wonderful together, cementing the wonderfulness of that scene with Catelyn ordering him to be bound and gagged. In many ways Thrones echoes Jamie’s sentiment with honor and all the hoopla surrounding it. Ned had honor, and it got his head chopped off. What good is keeping true to all of your vows if you lose everything for it? In another dose of reality, some people may be severely bound to their vows and that is fine in and of itself. But you can surely expect that most people won’t be. Survival is more important than honor, as unfortunate as that is. Be honest, but be smart about it.
Things are going less swimmingly at the Lannister camp, as was to be expected. They lost a vital battle, Jamie, and his entire army to the Starks while Renly and Stannis have taken up separate arms. The execution of Ned Stark hasn’t done anyone any favors as Tyrion rightfully points out, angering the North even further and removing their key bargaining chip. Tywin surprisingly agrees with Tyrion’s assessment and assigns him to the position of Hand of the King, paving the way for the best part of Season 2.
Sansa’s life as it seems is not about to get any easier. Joffrey takes his bride-to-be and forces her to look at the Stark heads lining the wall. Sansa is absolutely horrified and Sophie Turner nails that difficult emotional mix between hatred and terror perfectly. She moves to push him off the walk but the Hound stops her. Joffrey, ever the nasty arse, voices her wish to add Robb’s head to the mix. Sansa lets herself slip and mentions that perhaps his head would be there instead. Ned’s specter hangs over heavily as Joffrey has the Hound slap Sansa instead. As terrible a person he is, Joffrey can’t even bring himself to carry out his punishment himself. As if to put a crown on the moment, he mentions getting Sansa pregnant. Sansa recoils but stops herself as the Hound advises her to stay quiet to survive.
Jon gets his best sequence of the series. Loyalties and oaths are consistently tested in this world and perhaps none more so than the men who are stuck at the end of what is considered to be the civilized world. The Night’s Watch has never been what Jon assumed it was going to be and that realization has been gnawing at him ever since he first arrived at the frigid fortress. Ned’s imprisonment was enough to want to make him desert and his execution just about does the trick. He rides off into the eerie night, chased by Sam, Pyp, and Grenn. They recite their oath, convincing Jon with immeasurable difficulty to stay with the Watch. There’s a sweet relationship between them all here and it’s made all the more precious considering what will happen when the wildlings finally attack.
While Ned Stark’s demise sent ripples of chaos of Westeros, Khal Drogo’s catatonic state did the same for Essos. The Dothraki slowly begin to abandon their fallen leader, whose life was bought at the expense of Rhaego’s unborn life. Mirri’s revenge of what the Dothraki did to her village was complete. Daenerys, unable to see the great Khal Drogo lying like a lifeless corpse, smothers him with a pillow as tears stream down her broken visage. It seems everything is over for her but then she finds one last resort, one last gamble to risk everything on. A funeral pyre was built for Khal Drogo. Daenerys places her dragon eggs on the pyre before Ser Jorah ties Mirri to it. “I will hear your screams,” Daenerys says darkly even though Mirri protests. She lights the funeral pyre on fire, watching the burning embers flying into the sky as Mirri’s screams echo throughout the night. Daenerys herself steps into the fire despite Jorah’s protests. As the rays of dawn rise, a naked Daenerys stands up from the ground, three baby dragons clutching her body. Ser Jorah and what remains of Daenerys’s khalasar bow down to the Mother of Dragons as Ramin Djawadi’s epic score swells throughout the scene. The dragons screech across the plateaus of Essos and the screen cuts to black.
The rest of the characters are on their own individual journeys as the first season comes to a close. Arya is on her own journey with Yoren to the Night’s Watch, disguised as a boy with Gendry in tow. Jon, despite Lord Commander Mormont’s awareness of his desertion, is setting off to what lies beyond the wall to combat the White Walkers and potentially find Benjen Stark. As the first season of Game of Thrones comes to an end, a war rages across Westeros, thousands have died, and the dragons have been reborn. The magic has returned and the world of A Song of Ice and Fire is now more fraught with danger than ever before.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+Tyrion bringing Shae with him to King’s Landing because why not.
+Joffrey having the bard Marillion’s tongue ripped out for his song about King Robert
Post. Script. The entirety of the Stark uprising against the Lannisters reminds me of the Jacobite Rebellion in the eighteenth-century. The harsher winter and landscape of the North reminds me of Scotland and that feeling is cemented with the inspiration from Hadrian’s Wall and the chants for Northern independence. And considering how that rebellion turned out, the end of Season 3 has been foreshadowed for centuries.
Title: Fire and Blood
Written By: David Benioff and D. B. Weiss
Director: Alan Taylor
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