TV Review: “Game of Thrones” Episode 10 – “Valar Morghulis”

Written by Guest June 06, 2012

All men must die

The best season finales bring elements from the entire season together and leave the viewer simultaneously satisfied and hungry for more. Like the rest of the season, “Game of Thrones” has failed to disappoint. “Valar Morghulis” does a very satisfying job of concluding many plots as well as doing enough set up to make the wait for the third season of “Game of Thrones” a long one.

Despite last week’s “Blackwater” focus entirely on one conflict, “Valar Morghulis” remains just as action-packed as the plots outside of King’s Landing become resolved. Alfie Allen, whose performance as Theon has to be the greatest breakout performance of the year, provides a sense of doom and failure to the entire Winterfell situation. Despite not seeing the army outside of the gates, Allen’s portrayal makes the whole situation of his loss and the downfall of Winterfell dire and authentic. Despite not being the victim of a large battle, Winterfell and the Starks have suffered a huge loss. North of the Wall, the mass gathering of the Wildlings and the march of the White Walkers has changed the landscape of the north. Winter is truly coming, and there is less blocking it from reaching the squabbling King’s than ever before.

A low-point to the season has to be Daenerys’ plot in the East, but even it pays off. The first season ended with Daenerys awaking with her dragons but overall they have yet to do much. We finally get to see their strength, even as babies, and now with their mother finally having power “Game of Thrones” is showing that not all plots can move fast and be realistic, but they will all be satisfying at some point. The characters in the West are overall weaker than ever, while she is able to become powerful despite starting with nothing. “Game of Thrones” trusts it’s viewers to be able to follow and understand the complex storylines with minimal hand-holding, and the whole second season has proven that this trusting relationship makes for a stronger show.

Theon's payoff was the revelation that he is a horrible person.

But first we’ll live

Not everything comes to conclusion in “Valar Morghulis” as this is a story that is still ongoing and will likely be for years to come. Jaime and Brienne are still making their way towards King’s Landing and Arya is attempting to return home to a place she still believes exists. In a packed season finale, these scenes feel out of place as they do not go anywhere and they only accomplish minimal amounts of set up. In a time where most people watch their TV shows through binge viewing multiple seasons at once these scenes will likely fit in the grand scheme. For now, it will take a while for these smaller scenes to have a place in the series with the larger and more fulfilling scenes overshadowing them.

Season two of “Game of Thrones” has raised the bar of the series. It managed to be more thrilling and engaging than the already fantastic first season. It is going to be a long wait for the third season, but if it is anything like its source material, “A Storm of Swords”, it will be well worth the wait and the show will continue being one of the best and most engaging shows on television.

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