Game of Thrones, Season 3, Ep 10 “Mhysa”

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Okay, since last time I’ve learnt that the slaughter of Robb, Cat, and the Stark army at Edmure’s wedding at The Twins is in fact the event called the “red wedding”. I was under the impression that “The Red Wedding” was an episode title, but it turns out that was a mistaken assumption from snippets of overheard conversation. All right then, without further ado… onto the Season 3 final episode.

The Twins: Sandor flees the carnage outside The Twins, where Walder Frey’s men are slaughtering Robb’s army. He holds Arya with him on his horse, but she glimpses much of what is happening. Some men ride out of the castle, carrying Robb’s body, with his wolf’s head stitched onto his neck in a grotesque parody.

Later, in the evening, Sandor and Arya come across a group of men camping in the forest. They overhear one man boasting that he was the one who sewed Robb’s wolf’s head onto his body. Before Sandor can stop her, Arya slips off the horse and races over. She approaches the man from behind and pretends to be seeking warmth from the fire. They tell her to get lost. She says she can pay for it, and offers a silver coin, which she drops with a feigned “oops”. As the man reaches for it, she jumps him and starts stabbing him repeatedly with a dagger. The others jump up to intervene, but Sandor appears and despatches them with his sword.

He asks Arya where she got the dagger; she says, “From you,” and hands it back. Sandor is surprised to find she has lifted his dagger without him noticing. He asks if this is the first man she’s killed, and she says yes. Sandor turns to leave. Arya picks up the coin, and whispers “Valar morghulis” over it – it’s the coin from Braavos that Jaqen gave her, last seen in the last episode of the previous season. Will this be a theme, that it comes up in the final episode of every season? And now that Arya has killed someone, will this begin her path of rampaging revenge that we’re so eager to see? Why is Sandor helping her? Is he really a big softy, and not the monster we were led to believe he was? He did save Sansa earlier, so maybe he’s not that bad after all.

Inside The Twins, Walder Frey presides over a gaggle of cleaning women scrubbing the blood off his floor. There’s no sign of Edmure or his fate – I still presume he’s also been murdered. Though who knows, maybe he was offered a deal of some sort and lives to surprise us in the future? If we don’t see the body, we can’t assume he’s dead! Anyway, Frey declares Roose Bolton – the guy Cat saw in mail right before the slaughter, and mastermind of the betrayal – as the new Warden of Winterfell. Little do they know Bran and Rickon are still alive, as they assume Theon Greyjoy murdered them.

Speaking of whom, we finally get an explanation of what’s happening to Theon, and who his captor is. Frey and Roose discuss the Greyjoys’ invasion of parts of the northern mainland, including Winterfell, and Roose vows to drive them out and back to the Iron Islands. He says he tasked his son, Ramsay, with capturing Theon, but laments that Ramsay has some “strange habits”.

Wherever Theon is: We cut to Theon, still tied to a wooden X, being tormented by his captor, now named as Ramsay Bolton. Ramsay eats a sausage while lecturing Theon on the fact that he’s cut off Theon’s manhood, in such a way as to make Theon wince when Ramsay bites into the sausage. Yes, he really does have strange habits. Ramsay then approaches Theon and tells him he stinks, and that he’ll now give him a new name: Reek. He asks Theon what his name is. Theon defiantly says “Theon Greyjoy”, and Ramsay punches him. Repeat once. On the third try, Theon answers that his name is “Reek”, which pleases Ramsay.

The Iron Islands: Lord Greyjoy and his daughter Yara are in their castle, taking delivery of a message and a small box. It’s from Ramsay, and demands that the Greyjoys withdraw their forces from the mainland. As a token that he means business, the box contains Theon’s removed manhood. The message says if the Greyjoy’s don’t withdraw, he’ll send more parts of Theon. Lord Greyjoy is disgusted that his son will now no longer be able to continue the Greyjoy line, and seems to abandon him for dead. But Yara defies him, saying she will take their fastest ship and 50 of their best men, to go and find Theon and bring him home. She leaves with grim determination to sail for the mainland.

I thought Yara didn’t like Theon, but it seems she likes their father even less. She seems capable, and if anyone can resist the efforts to remove the Greyjoys from the mainland it’s her. Ramsay reminds me very much of Quentin Tarantino’s character McKenas Cole in Alias. He’s totally unhinged and lives just for the fun of causing pain to other people. Which makes him weak, as he doesn’t care about the consequences of his actions. If Yara finds him, I’d lay odds on her despatching him pretty quickly and easily.

The Wall: Bran’s party takes shelter in what looks like an abandoned fort near The Wall. It’s a bit spooky, and Bran is for some reason inspired to tell a ghost story. He tells the story of a cook who killed one of his guests and baked him into a pie, and fed it to the victim’s father, who enjoyed the taste so much he asked for more. The cook ended up cursed by the gods and turned into a giant ghostly white rat, doomed to eat nothing but his own offspring. He was cursed not for murder, not for feeding a man his own son, but for the worst crime possible: betraying safe shelter to a guest under his roof. As Bran recites this fate, the scene cuts meaningfully back to The Twins (the scene with Walder Frey), where – unknown to Bran – his brother and mother have just been murdered by Frey’s betrayal.

Inevitably, that night, something spooky happens. Bran hears a noise, wakes the others, and dark shadows creep into the room…

It’s Samwell and Gilly! There is a bit of a standoff as they each suspect each other of being hostile, but Sam recognises Bran and his wolf and says he was Jon’s companion in the Nights Watch. Sam gives them some of the dragonglass daggers, and arrowheads for Meera, that he found at The Fist north of The Wall. He explains that he killed a White Walker by stabbing it with a dragonglass dagger, and the others are amazed, because this is the first time any of them have heard of a White Walker being vulnerable to anything (other than fire, I guess). This explains my puzzlement over how Sam had managed to kill that White Walker a few episodes ago – I’d missed that it was the dragonglass dagger he used.

They discuss their various missions. Sam urges Bran to come with him and Gilly to Castle Black, because he reckons that’s where Jon will be. But Bran insists that he has to travel north of The Wall – honestly I’m not sure why any more. Does he want to take on the White Walkers by himself? Anyway, Sam can’t convince Bran, so they decide to part ways again, after Sam shows Bran the secret tunnel through The Wall leading to the northern side. We last see Bran and his party heading out of the tunnel into the snowy wild.

I thought that in this episode Bran would get some sort of psychic vision of the tragedy that’s befallen Robb and his mother. But no, he seems not to have caught on, and probably still believes they’re alive somewhere. But maybe the ghost story was partly inspired by a subconscious feeling of dread – there doesn’t seem to be much other motivation for it, except the plot one of setting up the situational echo cut to Walder Frey. One is led to presume that Walder Frey may now be cursed, due to his betrayal of hospitality to Robb. I hope this is true, and we see some sort of curse-ish events happening to Frey, as otherwise this would be a complete waste of some very nicely set up foreshadowing.

Castle Black: Sam and Gilly arrive at Castle Black, and talk with Maester Aemon, telling him that Commander Mormont and most of the patrol who went north are dead. Aemon looks at Gilly suspiciously and reminds Sam of his vows (including chastity), but they profess their innocence and that the baby is Craster’s. When Aemon learns the White Walkers are on the march, he orders Sam to write messages and despatch them using all 44 of the remaining ravens. It seems this news is so dire that they need to spam everyone with it, regardless of current allegiance.

Out in the wilderness, Jon is washing the wounds on his face in a stream, when Ygritte finds him. She aims an arrow and accuses him of betrayal. Jon says he was never loyal to the Wildlings, he was always going to return to the Nights Watch, and what’s more, she knew that. He says he loves her, and he knows she loves him. Ygritte is conflicted, she knows it’s all true, but she can’t bring herself to admit it. She looses the arrow, hitting Jon. He turns to flee on his horse, taking two more of Ygritte’s arrows as he rides away, leaving her in tears.

Later, his horse rides into Castle Black, and Jon falls off unconscious. Sam and other men rush out and carry him into safety to tend his wounds. I presume Jon will live – he seems too important a character to die. (Of course, I would have said that about Robb before the last episode too…)

Dragonstone: Ser Davos goes into the cells to talk to Gendry. They share stories of being born in Fleabottom – the slums of King’s Landing – and struggling with poverty. Davos doesn’t want Melisandre to sacrifice him, so decides to help Gendry escape. He puts him in a rowboat and points him at a star, which he says will take him to King’s Landing after a couple of days of rowing. He asks if Gendry has ever been in a boat before, and Gendry says no, as he fumbles with the oars, comically sitting the wrong way around at first. He asks if Gendry knows how to swim, and Gendry says no, and Davos says, “Don’t fall out, then”. This made me laugh out loud. It’s good when there’s some real humour in the story – I wish they’d do it a little bit more often. I’m not sure why Davos thinks sending Gendry to King’s Landing is such a good idea though, given Joffrey and the Lannisters want to kill him.

Davos continues learning to read with his disfigured daughter in the tower. He has the message from Castle Black, and his eyes open wide when he reads it. Stannis finds out that Davos has let Gendry go, accuses him of treason, and sentences him to die. Melisandre says that by saving one innocent life, Davos has condemned thousands of others to die in the coming war (which could have been avoided by sacrificing Gendry to power her magic). Davos accepts his fate, but there’s one little catch… he tells them about the coming of the White Walkers from the message, and they Stannis will need his help in the coming war against them. Stannis is surprised that Davos can read, but Melisandre backs him up, saying that Stannis will need Davos, given this news. Stannis agrees not to execute him.

So it looks like Stannis, Melisandre, and Davos at least understand the danger that the White Walkers pose not just to those in the North, but to all of Westeros. This feels like the first step in a “we must unite against our common enemy”, that could potentially see the feuding Houses of Westeros join forces – although I am somewhat cynical about the possibility of them all setting aside their differences. I can totally see Tywin, for example, saying, “Oh, they’re fighting White Walkers, are they, good! We’ll mop up the rabble afterwards.”

King’s Landing: Tyrion and Sansa seem to be getting along a bit better, sharing some conversation about how they are both in terrible circumstances. Shae is visibly peeved though, as she follows them through the gardens.

There is a meeting of the Small Council, at which Joffrey is excited to be involved. A message from Walder Frey brings the news about Robb and Cat’s deaths, and Joffrey gets even more excited. He demands to have Robb’s head delivered to King’s Landing so he can serve it to Sansa on a platter. Tyrion intervenes, saying Sansa is now under his care, and not Joffrey’s to toy with. Joffrey ripostes that he’s the king, everyone is his to toy with! Tywin says softly that anyone who has to keep saying “I’m the king” isn’t really a king. Joffrey fumes, and Tywin orders Cersei to take him away and put him to bed. Joffrey still isn’t bold enough to defy both Tywin and Cersei, but you can see him fuming as she leads him away.

Dismissing everyone else, Tywin lambastes Tyrion for not having gotten Sansa pregnant yet. Roose Bolton is looking after the north for them, but they need a son from Sansa to claim the title of Lord of Winterfell and be their vassal. Tyrion argues that Tywin always expects him to do his duty to the family, but that really just means doing whatever Tywin wants, and Tywin can do anything. Tywin counters that Tyrion is only alive because he decided not to murder him at birth – he wanted to when he saw the deformed baby, but couldn’t do it, because Tyrion was a Lannister and the family needed him. Tyrion is somewhat taken aback.

In the gardens, Lord Varys approaches Shae, who is staring sadly out to sea. He says they share much in common, being foreigners in this land, and neither from a noble house to give them a family name. He gives her a bag of diamonds and tels her to sail away and buy a home somewhere across the sea, because in King’s Landing she is a danger to Tyrion, who he knows she truly loves. If she loves him, she must take herself away. Shae throws the diamonds on the ground and tells Varys that if Tyrion wants her to leave, he can tell her himself. Now… I’m not sure that Varys was sent here by Tyrion at all. Varys is savvy enough to know danger when he sees it, and resourceful enough to do something to fend it off. So it may well have been entirely his idea and Tyrion knows nothing about this meeting. In which case this sets up a dangerous argument between Shae and Tyrion in the future.

Jaime stumbles into the lower slummy parts of King’s Landing, with Brienne following. A peasant tells him roughly to get out of the way, not recognising him. I thought Jaime would stretch to full height and declare himself to be the Queen’s brother, the King’s uncle, but no, he meekly plods up to the castle. Presumably he tells the guards though, because next we see him he is entering Cersei’s chamber, and she turns to stare at him in shock and wonder. What happens next we need to wait and see in the next episode.

Yunkai: Wow, there are a lot of locations in this episode! Daenerys stands on a small rocky outcrop above her army, outside the gates of Yunkai, waiting for the slaves of the city to emerge. There is some nervousness as to whether they will accept her as their liberator, or if they will be hostile. Thousands of slaves pour out. Daenerys’s translator tells them that Daenerys has freed them, but Daenerys interrupts and says that no, she’s merely given them the ability to free themselves. They start chanting “Mhysa!”, and Daenerys nervously asks what that means. Translator says it means “Mother”… They accept her lovingly and Daenerys walks among them as they worship her and lift her over their heads.

Yup, Daenerys is unstoppable. It’s basically a waiting game to see how many more cities she conquers/liberates with ease before crossing back over the Narrow Sea to take on Westeros.

One Response to “Game of Thrones, Season 3, Ep 10 “Mhysa””

  1. Glen Barnett says:

    I’d love to see you revisit some of these thoughts in a couple of seasons.

    I’d forgotten some of the foreshadowing in this one.

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