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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

GAME OF THRONES "Mhysa" of All Fantasy Series

Article first published as GAME OF THRONES "Mhysa" of All Fantasy Series on TheTVKing.

HBO's Game of Thrones' season three finale, "Myhsa," which means Mother, is a very busy installment, with way too many characters to fully and comprehensively cover in one review. Unless that review is several thousand words long, and who has time to read or write that? It's also hard to pinpoint what sets one episode apart from another, since events happen in sweeping arcs that unfold over years, not weeks. So, instead, here are some of the highlights of the most recent fantastic episode, which realigns some loyalties and sets the show up for another stellar run next year.

The scene where the Small Council meets at King's Landing is my favorite scene in the hour, hands down. It starts with King Joffrey Lannister (Jack Gleeson) jumping for joy with the news that Robb and Catelyn Stark have been killed, a plot twist that inexplicably has fans of the series unjustifiably turning against Game of Thrones, but I digress. Joffrey plans on doing something unspeakably cruel to celebrate, and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), disgusted, puts Joffrey in his place.

It seems very dangerous for Tyrion to stand up to Joffrey, but because he only does it in this intimate setting, not publicly, Tyrion may be OK. Joffrey is a spoiled brat who is vengeful, and may seek to make Tyrion pay for his words. However, Joffrey doesn't dare challenge his grandfather, Tywin (Charles Dance) for authority, not yet anyway, and when Tywin seems to share Tyrion's views, Joffrey is figuratively spanked and sent to bed early.

Tywin remarks that those who must declare "I am king" are not really king, and that the crown does not necessarily equal power. He is completely correct, watching the way Joffrey is subdued. Joffrey whines and acts like a child, but he does obey Tywin in the end. Tywin is definitely the one with the real power in the realm, and until Joffrey decides not to put up with it any more and makes a real play for control, it will remain that way.

This interaction between these three would be fine enough, but "Mhysa" goes a step further and stays in the room with Tyrion and Tywin after the rest of the council has dispersed. Here, we see Tyrion talk back to his father, only to be stunned into silence when Tywin admits something that is sort of a secret about the personal "sacrifice" he made by allowing Tyrion to live and raising him. It's a painful, raw moment, and as bad as one feels for Tyrion, one also sees that Tywin is completely serious in his own right. Amazing performances by both deliver this as an exchange not soon forgotten.

Also worth mentioning is the sequence of Tyrion and Sansa (Sophie Turner) strolling through the garden, plotting pranks on those who deserve it. They still don't feel like a natural, loving couple, but this does show the girl softening towards Tyrion, who will treat her right and try to make her happy. One day, it might even make sense for the two to be together, and if it does, the seeds are planted here. If any two characters in Game of Thrones deserve happiness, it is this pair.

Unfortunately, that tranquility is threatened by Shae (Sibel Kekilli), who dismisses Varys' (Conleth Hill) attempt to send her away a wealthy woman, declaring that Tyrion himself must ask her to leave. It doesn't seem like Shae will physically harm Sansa, pledging her love for the girl, but Shae's continued presence is detrimental enough. Her dark wishes for revenge, while understandable, could cause some serious conflict within the royal family.

With the Starks dispatched, the Lannisters have an undisputed hold on the Seven Kingdoms. Or do they? Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) is taking her time assembling her forces, but watching the city of people worship and fall at her feet shows just how effective she is at gaining the loyalty of her followers. Joffrey's throne is safe for now, with his other competitors dead or severely weakened, but when Daenerys comes for him, it will be an epic battle, indeed.

Stannis (Stephen Dillane) still thinks he is a threat against Joffrey, but after Davos (Liam Cunningham) sets Gendry (Joe Dempsie) free, Stannis' plans for a conquering by magic are scrapped. Yet, Davos is spared when he brings to light the danger coming from the north, and Melisandre (Carice van Houten) actually agrees that Davos is needed.

This is a very interesting turn of events. Stannis has barely kept Melisandre and Davos at bay with each other for two seasons, both wishing the other would go away, even if it means killing. Yet, here it's Melisandre and Davos who unite, which takes Stannis aback as much as the audience surely is. Yes, we know the White Walkers from beyond the wall are deadly, but seeing how seriously this contingent takes the invasion, alliance made between deadly enemies, really strikes home how much the people fear them. Scary!

Stannis and company are in no position to really mount a defense, though, so it's a good thing Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) has a plan. We don't know what it is, but Bran and his group are now heading past the wall. Because of the mystique surrounding Bran's abilities and talents, there's a feeling that the crippled boy may actually be the only hope of the realm, and that he might succeed.

I really enjoy seeing Bran encounter Samwell (John Bradley). There are so many different threads running through Game of Thrones, with so many characters that major ones have to sit out for weeks at a time. For a chance encounter like this, especially between two friendlies that we like, and because there never seems to be a time the two might meet otherwise, is thrilling. Hopefully, as the show goes on, there will be more time for this type of meeting.

Of course, not every convergence is welcome. Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) is on her way to rescue her brother, Theon (Alfie Allen), from the hands of the perverted Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon). It seems odd to hope for Theon's safe delivery from anyone, given how detestable Theon's actions are in season two. However, no one deserves what Ramsay has put Theon through, and it is definitely time for Ramsay to go down.

The problem with this is that Ramsay is the bastard son of Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton), the new Warden of the North. That means Yara's slaying of Ramsay could start a civil war between the Iron Islands and the North. Were a more competent, focused king than Joffrey ruling the realm, perhaps serious conflict could be identified and prevented. As it stands, Yara's mission is a recipe for disaster at a time when, given the grave threats from outside the borders, the Seven Kingdoms need to stand united.

Other noteworthy bits from "Myhsa": Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) learns how much love hurts when a scorned Ygritte (Rose Leslie) ignores reason and shoots three arrows into his back. At least Jon lives to make it back to Castle Black, where he can heal. Arya (Maisie Williams) viciously stabs those who contributed to her brother's downfall, proving how deadly she can be. And Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) makes it to King's Landing, though it has not yet been revealed if Cersei (Lena Headey) can see past his new deformity, or how Jaime's relationship with Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) will be affected by having Jaime's sister / lover back in the picture.

As you can see, there is a lot going on. However, Game of Thrones has deftly balanced each of the various stories so far, creating characters that can be kept track of because of how developed they all are, and the threads come together enough to make it seem cohesive. Obviously, a lot more will happen before the end, and eventually the cast will slim. But for now, "Myhsa" is yet another excellent chapter in a very long, very complex tale.

Game of Thrones will return for a fourth season in 2014 on HBO.

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