‘Game of Thrones’ brought its first season to a close on Sunday. From my understanding, this brings us right in line with the ending of the first book in the series. Season 2 has already been promised for next spring. After the surprisingly controversial second-to-last episode, was there anything the finale could do to top that?
Honestly, ‘Fire and Blood’ doesn’t really try. The episode has no shocking plot twists or hugely momentous story developments that weren’t foreshadowed all along. In fact, the finale doesn’t even resolve or bring closure to much of anything. Yet it’s a strong closer to the season all the same, and certainly leaves me salivating for more.
Where to begin with this recap?
Ned’s dead, baby. Ned’s dead. There was no last-second miraculous save. His head is separated from his body, and Joffrey wastes no time in having it planted on a pike for all to see – especially Sansa, because he gets off on making little girls afraid of him.
Yoren, the Night’s Watch knight who shielded Arya from watching the deed, ushers her out of the crowd and sets about changing her identity to protect her. The many times she’s been mistaken for a boy pay off when he crops her hair short and starts calling her “Harry.” She’ll live as an orphan boy now. On their way out of town, she pals up with the armorer’s apprentice who we know to be King Robert’s bastard.
Robb and Catelyn are devastated by the news of Ned’s death. Robb vows to “kill them all” (the Lannisters, presumably). With an only slightly cooler head, Catelyn reminds him that the Lannisters have her daughters (she doesn’t know that Arya escaped), and pledges: “We have to get the girls back, and then we will kill them all.” She later nearly brains prisoner Jaime Lannister to death with a rock. He doesn’t fear death at all, and remains a smartass even under duress.
The Stark army debates which of Robert’s brothers to pledge themselves to: Elder brother Stannis (the rightful heir next in line for succession, but described as having “the personality of a lobster”) or younger brother Renly (conniving and ambitious, but perhaps more suitable as king material). They decide instead that they don’t give a damn about the rules of succession. They pledge to support Robb himself in a bid for the throne, declaring him the “King of the North.”
Over in the Lannister camp, patriarch Tywin (Charles Dance) recognizes that Robb’s army is winning the war. He proclaims Joffrey’s behavior in killing Ned to be “madness and stupidity.” Unexpectedly, he finally gives Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) a little credit for being much smarter than he realized. However, his reward to his son is to send him off to King’s Landing to serve as Joffrey’s “Hand” in his own place. This is a position that Tyrion has no interest in, and recent history would suggest is probably a death sentence. Thanks a lot, dad.
Not only that, Tywin explicitly forbids Tyrion from bringing his whore Shae with him, probably because it’s clear that Tyrion is falling in love with her. Tyrion decides to ignore this order.
At the Wall, Jon Snow disobeys his own orders and runs off to join his half-brother Robb’s war, even though deserting the Night’s Watch is punishable by death. Before he can get too far, Sam and his other friends intercept him and talk him into returning to duty. The next day, Lord Commander Mormont lets on that he knows full well what happened, but has no intention of punishing a man who ran off just for a night and came back. He tells Snow that they have a much more important war of their own coming, and he’s not just going to wait around for it to start. Mormont is forming an army to march north of the Wall and root out the White Walkers or whatever else may threaten the kingdoms, and Jon Snow will be at his side all the way.
Perhaps having the hardest time of all is Daenerys on the other side of the Narrow Sea. Her baby died in childbirth, and she’s told that it was monstrous and twisted, with scaled skin and shriveled wings. (Kind of sounds like a dragon, doesn’t it?) Her baby was the sacrifice she had to make to save Drogo’s life. To that end, she got a bum deal as well. Drogo may be alive, but he’s totally catatonic with no hope of recovery. Dany realizes that this was the Wilding witch’s plan all along. She no doubt poisoned Drogo when tending to his shoulder wound. With Drogo a vegetable and no heir, the Dothraki army is in shambles, and is too preoccupied with infighting to do any more pillaging or invading.
Dany smothers her husband with a pillow and arranges a funeral pyre, with the Wilding witch tied to a stake in the middle of it. She sets free all of the Dothraki slaves. Those who don’t run shall be her new army. She places the three dragon eggs next to Drogo’s body before lighting the fire. Jorah begs her to sell the eggs instead and escape to safety. Dany then walks straight into the middle of the fire. Jorah assumes that she’s killing herself to be with Drogo, but in fact she has different plans. As we will recall, she is the heir of the dragon, and fire cannot kill the dragon.
The next morning, after the fire has burned itself out, Dany remains alive and completely unharmed (though her clothes have all burned off), covered in ash and holding three newly-hatched baby dragons in her arms.
As I said earlier, the finale doesn’t resolve much. Almost every storyline ends on a cliffhanger. Even the revelation of the dragons was heavily foreshowed in previous episodes. Nonetheless, it’s a pretty great episode that leaves the door wide open for a lot of interesting things to happen in Season 2. I can’t wait!