The Women of Westeros
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Perhaps knowing the lasting effect of the shock of last week’s carnage, the show runners purposefully created the finale to be tied together with a thematic unity of motherhood. The women of Westeros dominate the final hour of this phenomenally stupendous season. Sansa receives the news of her family’s demise, her tear-strained face resolved with the promise of survival and revenge. Shae stays with Tyrion, a romantic move that is fraught with risk. Brienne brings Jamie back home. Cersei grapples with the reality of her tenuous hold on power as Joffrey’s incessant revolting nature increases with the decimation of the Starks. Gilly manages to survive despite all odds. Ygritte doesn’t take Jon’s betrayal in stride, locking him full of three arrows as he rides away. Yara, despite knowing her brother can no longer provide an heir for the family, disobeys her father and takes fifty hardcore killers with her to rescue her brother. And Daenerys liberates Yunkai, destroying the second-largest city on Slaver’s Bay as the freed slaves chant “Myhsa!” all around her. Mother.
As if to add insult to injury, the episode opens up with a fiery scene of the Stark forces being decimated in a fiery blaze. The revelation of the Boltons holding Theon is unsurprising as Roose announces that he has now been promoted to being the new Warden of the North. The reward for treachery. In King’s Landing, the news of the Starks’ decimation is being met with a relative amount of jubilation from the Lannisters, albeit with Tyrion’s exception. He finds the entire ordeal to be utterly repugnant. Joffrey jubilantly announces that he intended to serve Robb’s head on a platter to Sansa, a suggestion no one finds appealing. Tywin begins to shut Joffrey down before he reminds him quickly that Robert was the one fighting in a war while he hid at Casterly Rock. Everyone’s face whitens before Tywin at the finale thunders “Any man who must say, ‘I am the king’ is no true king.” Jamie arrives in the capital, treated like a commoner before he sees Cersei. Her face whitens as she sees him in his dilapidated state. As a representation of the episode’s strong women, Shae shows incredible strength of character as she rejects Varys’s offer of gold but it seems to be too idealistic for this world. But at least there’s someone who values love more than gold in the capital.
Dragonstone is a massive chunk of the episode and perhaps rightfully so. Davos goes with his conscience and against the orders of his king, sending Gendry off in a rowboat with a few supplies. He watches him row away to King’s Landing before he braces himself again for the punishment he would surely face for the act of compassion he commits. Before he’s sentenced, however, he reads the reports on the threats North of the Wall. Melisandre pauses, looking into the light and agreeing with Ser Davos. The remaining Baratheon sets his sight towards the North on Melisandre’s suggestion, an intriguing clash of storylines. “We need him” she says coldly in reference to Ser Davos, who is spared, for now. Stannis remarks how her religion was the one that spared him, the religion Ser Davos mocked. He ignores the point that she put him in that position in the first place, but whatever. At least Ser Davos and Shireen live. I could care less about everyone else in that particular narrative thread.
Daenerys’s scene is a bit problematic, if necessarily uplifting considering the horror of the previous episode. In a move that surprised no one, she conquered Yunkai last week and this week her scene primarily was being greeted as a liberator by the hundreds of thousands of slaves that were freed because of her. Her dragons fly into the air as the freed slaves chant “Mhysa!” at the top of their voices, an Old Ghiscari word that means “mother”. It feels like a white savior scene, which is unfortunate, considering Daenerys’s own background as a slave tortured and sold by her own brother. In the books, Yunkai’s population is rather diverse and I understand that the scene was filmed with Moroccan extras, but it does feel a little off-putting. Nevertheless, Daenerys’s ascension continues as her eyes look towards the sky, her ambitions being realized bit by bit.
Yara and Balon receive Theon’s “favorite toy” in a box and Balon sinks with the realization that his line cannot be biologically extended. Which frankly is his fault considering he started a war that killed off half of his children to begin with. He orders Yara not to go rescue her brother but she goes anyway. Family means something, after all, if not much in this world. Sam and Gilly arrive at Castle Black, naming her child Sam (cue shrieks of cuteness and all the “aw”s in the world). In the darkest moment of the finale, and that’s saying something, is Arya seeing what happened to Robb’s body. The Freys and Boltons decapitated Robb and Grey Wind, sewing the direwolf’s head onto Robb’s corpse. They parade the monstrosity around, chanting “King in the North! King in the North” as they do so. Arya, now more hardened than ever, finds a couple of Grey soldiers, dropping her coin as a trick. One of them reaches down to grab it and she stabs him to death in the neck. The Hound helps her murder the rest of them, with a warning that she ought to just warn him before she kills anyone else (I love these two). “Is that the first man you’ve killed?” he asks quietly. “The first man,” she utters chillingly, staring at her coin with a dead yet raging fire. There’s nothing left inside, is there? In what ought to have been the real ending to the episode, Arya puts herself on a dark path from which she may never truly recover.
Written By: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Director: David Nutter
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