The Game of Thrones Season 3 finale “Mhysa” was a bit dialed-down compared to last week’s “The Rains of Castamere,” but there was still plenty in the episode to count it among the best this season.
SPOILERS: Don’t read onward if you haven’t had a chance to watch “Mhysa” yet.
Though “Mhysa” felt a little anticlimactic (how the heck do you follow the “Red Wedding?”) it was a satisfying season finale that moved all of the pieces together for Season 4 and even offered a bit of sweet revenge, courtesy of Arya, for the massacre of the Stark family.
Critics have praised the episode for the most part, though most criticism has been aimed at its dullness compared to previous season finales. One point of contention for Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club was the Targaryen storyline, of which he says every time “something terrible happens in Westeros, Dany offers a glimmer of hope over in her story line,” calling it the show’s “Achilles’ heel.”
Personally, I can’t bring myself to care about Bran Stark’s story at all. Believe me, I’ve tried.
Though plot-wise, nothing much seems to happen in the Game of Thrones Season 3 finale, there were a number of morsels in the episode that went a long way in assuring fans that though the Stark/Lannister conflict has ended, the true conflict is just beginning.
The episode began with one final, cruel coda to the Red Wedding when Robb Stark’s desecrated corpse was paraded around The Twins, and continued with turncoat Roose Bolton and Walder Frey’s boasting over their betrayal (though even that, it’s implied, doesn’t make them safe from reprisal).
But then there were some great moments for characters left out of the Red Wedding’s events. Joffrey’s instability is becoming ever more apparent, and his mockery at the hands of Tyrion was a nice guilty-pleasure moment. Gendry, whose subplot this season was a bit of a curve ball compared to the books, was sent off with hope and promise (I thought for sure he was a goner). Jon Snow and Ygritte’s deadly proclamation of love had my heartstrings tugging at full speed.
Even Tywin ended up currying some sympathy before it was all over.
But the best moment, by far, came in the smallest package possible. Arya Stark, standing less than five-feet tall and weighing 60 pounds soaking wet, gave us a sliver of revenge on those who perpetrated the events of the Red Wedding. Stumbling upon a group of four Frey bannermen bragging about their slaughter of the Starks, Arya and The Hound enacted a sweet bit of vengeance so good I don’t want to spoil it any further (and if you saw the episode, you know exactly what I’m talking about).
The end of the episode saw Jaime Lannister finally reunited with his sister after two whole seasons apart, and his chilling “Cersei” said everything his character could say and more as he stood there filthy with a stump of a hand. Jaime, it seems, has changed the most this season, and his character arc had the highest number of unexpected twists and developments. Season 3 absolutely belonged to the Lannisters, for better or worse.
And then there was Dany’s plotline, in which nothing much of note really happened, even if it managed to pull a smile at the end of a harrowing season.
Game of Thrones Season 3 managed to, for me, end on a satisfying enough note that the wait for Season 4 won’t be as grueling as the wait for the current season. I have a slight edge in that I’ve read most of the books, so I can promise you that if you’re still broken-hearted over the events of the Red Wedding, Season 4 will be particularly redeeming for you.
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