“Game of Thrones” Season 2 Finale Recap: You Come On Like a Flame, Then You Turn the Cold Shoulder

While the ongoing leitmotif of Fire and Ice featured heavily in the Season Two finale of Game of Thrones, the real theme of the episode may well have been “lowered expectations”. Whether it was Tyrion’s coming to after saving King’s Landing to find that he’d been stripped of his title, Daenerys’s securing the fortune of Qarth only to find that there IS no fortune of Qarth and realize that after all that she’s really more of a stay-at-home dragon mom, really, or Theon’s being c*ck-blocked by his own army, the denoument to last week’s excellent big battle scene seemed determined to readjust expectations across the board.

Including mine.

We start with a close-up of a reflection of fire in an eye that I immediately recognize as being one of Tyrion Lannister’s (Peter Dinklage). He wakes up to learn from Maester Pycell (Julian Glover) that Stannis has been beaten down, the city has been defended, and oh by the way Tyrion will no longer need his job and his fancy-wallpapered quarters. Pycell tosses him a coin, which I guess is the Westeros version of the forced-retirement wristwatch.

Tyrion’s response? Horse sh*t! Actually, that’s Tywin’s (Charles Dance) response, as he rides his white horse into the Throne Room on the occasion of being named the new Hand of the King by his snot-nosed grandkid, Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). Tywin basically laughs it off, which is awesome. Joffrey then gives Harrenhal to Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen), which is the equivalent of giving someone Staten Island as a thank-you present. Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) – the MAGNIFICENT BITCH that she is – actually rolls his eyes at this one. Seriously, Varys was a bit of a one-note Nancy for a while there, but I really love what’s going on with him these days.

Loras, the Big Gay Knight of Flowers (Finn Jones), is also honored, and Joffrey asks him if his family needs anything in return for his troubles. Loras says that as a matter of fact, his sister Margaery (Natalie Dormer) is still a virgin because his boyfriend never sealed that deal with her and he’d like to marry her to Joffrey. Seriously? You want ROYAL MATRIMONY as a thank-you present? Let’s start with an Edible Arrangement and work our way up, shall we?

Joffrey is totally feeling Margaery’s vibe and they have cheer-sex in front of the entire court for a few minutes. But eventually he says that he has made a vow to marry Sansa, so he can’t. Sansa (Sophie Turner), meanwhile, is in the opera box, throwing thirty-one flavors of “No, seriously – no bigs!” faces. Cersei (Lena Headey) seconds that emotion, saying that while they respect his dedication, his counsel (i.e., his overbearing mother) thinks that it’s totally okay to marry Marge instead, because he made the promise to marry Sansa before they all found out what losers the Starks were. Joffrey tells her that he appreciates that, but that he really stands by his vows, which he made before the gods. Maester Pycell chimes in, saying that he has actually JUST GOTTEN OFF THE PHONE with the gods, and wouldn’t you know they’re tooootally cool with it.

Joffrey decides that this is enough, and he kicks Sansa to the curb and tells Margie that yes, he’d love to deflower her and join their houses, or whatever the hell it is that straight people do. I have no idea. I’m with Sansa, who is seriously doing the Rupaul’s Drag U Draguation Strut out of that joint, until Petyr Baelish grabs her to express his sympathies for this unfortunate turn. Sansa adjusts her smile down about 200 degrees and agrees that yes, it totally sucks that she’s not going to get to marry the sadistic, murderous, lazy, lady-faced alien boy-king after all.

Littlefinger points out that Joffrey will probably beat and rape her anyway, which is a good point. But does that smug little whoremonger always have to seem so happy to be imparting really bad news? He really should open his own line of greeting cards for situations like this one and when that baby got murdered in front of his hookers because he is SUCH the comfort. He is truly Westeros’s answer to Maxine:


Speaking of, Ginger Whore (Esme Bianco) – whose name is Ros, I finally learned thanks to a considerate reader – greets a hooded stranger into her office and immediately drops her Snuggie. Turns out it’s Varys, and he’s not there for the jibblies. She keeps trying, though – even going so far as to stick her hand into the pickle jar – only to find out that the jar is empty. She doesn’t quite know what to do with this, but he tells her that he thinks she has talents that aren’t being utilized by her current employer, who sees her as nothing more than “a collection of profitable holes.” Can I just tell you, I wish I had a nickel for every time I had a performance review where the same exact words were spoken.

We then cut to the GORGEOUS Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) and her greasy ward, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). He’s still giving her crap about being ugly and huge, which means he’s been telling the same joke for a few weeks now – so clearly he’s been watching too much Mike & Molly. They come across three dead women strung up like Halloween decorations and Brienne ties Jaime to a tree so she can bury them. They are set upon by three Stark soldiers, and they try to play off that Jaime is just a pig farmer that she’s escorting to River Run, and blah blah blah and then she kills them and it’s awesome because she makes the last guy suffer by stabbing him in the gut because they made one of the girls suffer. Well done, Brienne! You put the “suffer” in “Sister Suffrigate”.

We cut to Robb Stark (Richard Madden) and Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), who is furious that he wants to break his vow to marry a Fray woman in order to marry Talissa Love Hewitt. Cat tries to talk up the benefits of a loveless, arranged marriage but he isn’t feeling it.

Meanwhile, Stannis (Stephen Dillane) – who escaped the sneak-attack at the Mud Gate – is chillin’ in a cave with ToriAmosandre (Carice van Houten), and whining about how she told him he’d be king and it was in the flames and blah blah blah. He gets all worked up and chokes her, and she says her gods are now inside of him, which I don’t really understand. But she then pats him on his bald spot and reassures him that he will betray everyone and everything that he ever loved and he will lead thousands of men to their deaths and he will be king. Awww! He looks into the fire and apparently sees something he likes. It must be something on another channel, because at this point my attention is drifting…

We then catch up with Theon (Alfie Allen), who is also looking into a fire and complaining about the guy with the horn outside the city walls. He vows to kill him. Maester Luwin (Donald Sumpter) – who is now honor-bound to serve Theon as the new Lord of Winterfell – advises him to get the eff outta dodge via some secret tunnels and head up to the Wall, where he can hide out for the rest of his life. Theon isn’t having it and SERIOUSLY CAN NO ONE DO ANYTHING ABOUT THAT HORNBLOWER? He’s furious, and it’s amazing.

Theon prances outside to give his men a pep-talk that features great pull-quotes like “They want to f*ck us!” that I’m pretty sure was stolen from the season finale of Friday Night Lights where they were about to get slaughtered and Coach Turner said “Clear eyes, full hearts, kill that f*cking hornblower.” Just as he reaches the big climax, Tammy his first mate bonks him on the head and knocks him the eff OUT. Maester Luwin asks what the hell they’re doing, and Tim Riggins tells him that they are getting the hell OUT OF THERE, and by the way my spear is in your gut, sorry.

Yeah, they kill the poor old guy and his massive cowlneck cashmere. They also put a bag over Theon’s head and drag his unconscious ass out of town.

Back in Tyrion’s new undergraduate dorm room, Varys drops by to offer his support and remind him that Cersei, Tyrion’s sister, ordered the hit on him. Just puttin’ that out there! Varys – becoming more interesting BY THE SECOND – then tells Tyrion that no one will include his heroism in the history books or ever speak about it, but Varys thanks him on their behalf. That’s kinda cool. Varys then lets Shae (Sibel Kekilli) in, which is even cooler.

Shae takes one look at him and says, “You are a mess.”

I love this woman.

She looks at his wounds and Tyrion gets all self-pitying, saying, “I’m a monster as well as a dwarf – you should charge me double.” Or … half? Seriously, I will never understand straight relationships.

Shae complains about pretty much everything, and tells Tyrion that they should totally blow town and go to Cabo for a few days and “Eat, Drink, F*ck, Live”, which is the name of the porn parody of that Julia Roberts movie about pasta and hats. He says he can’t leave because he belongs with awful people who spend all their time trying to destroy one another and Washington, D.C. is too far of a commute. She says that of course she’ll stay with him. Awww! It’s really sweet, actually – love it.

On the other end of the “Awww!” meter, Robb marries Talisa Love Hewitt (Oona Chaplin). Remind me to log onto their Knot.com registry and send them a nice big box of “Meh…”

Back in Qarth, something is hopefully happening that will be interesting, because by this point I’m checking my Flipboard. Thankfully, Dany (Emilia Clarke), Ser Joreh (Iaian Glen) and Kovarro the hot Dothraki theif guy (Steven Cole) have decided to crash the kiki party at the Haus of the Undying. I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE THE INSIDE OF THIS PLACE!

On the outside it’s just a spiked tower that looks a bit like that sex toy from Seven, but I’m sure that those queens have tricked that place OUT on the inside, right? I’m thinking Early Homo Baroque with a dash of Shabby Chic. And by the way I’m pretty sure about half of Labyrinth was filmed at this location. Ser Joreh loses track of Dany going around a corner and suddenly she’s gone. Nice! I love it, but Ser Joreh isn’t as impressed – he screams, “Stellaaaa!” “Khaleeeesiiiiiii!”

Inside, Dany hears her dragons mewling and screams for them.

Meanwhile, Arya (Maisie Williams), Gendry (Joe Dempsie) and Hot Pie (seriously, that’s his name) are wandering through the countryside when they come across Jaqen (Tom Wlaschiha), aka that guy who broke them out of Harrenhall. She tells him that she wants to learn how to do the things that he does, like kill dozens of people with no one noticing and speak about oneself in the third person and Feria a single streak in your hair and all that crap. He tells her that to do that she’ll have to come with him to Bravo. What, you mean that Andy Cohen show? Is TyLor from Top Chef going to teach her how to make a rye-based cocktail that makes her an assassin and pairs beautifully with the pork belly?

No clue. But before I can figure it out, Jaqen does the most amazing thing: he gives her a coin, tells her that she can use the coin to find him whenever she needs to, and then – this is amazing – TURNS INTO ANOTHER, much less attractive, ACTOR:

Or as those in the business like to call it, The Mickey Rourke Trick.

Back in Winterfell, Osha (Natalia Tena) sneaks out of the barn with Sloth Hodor (Kristian Nairn) and the kids to find that the city is burned and Luwin is dying under that fabulous tree that no one seems to visit anymore. He tells them to go north to Jon, who will help them. He also tells Osha that she’s the only one who can protect the kids, and by the way, would she mind killing him before she leaves? He also turns down the chance to try heroin right before he dies, which confirms my suspicions that Maesters really need to get out more.

But wait, so the guys who were after Theon just left after burning the city? And they didn’t look closely enough to find Bran? And they didn’t find Luwin bleeding all over the damn place? I confuse.

Dany, meanwhile, follows the dragon mewlings to an empty chamber with a bunch of doors, and she apparently has to pick one. She picks a very fancy door, and finds herself in the Throne Room – only the ceiling has been destroyed, it’s snowing indoors, and it’s empty. She approaches the throne and is about to touch it, but then she hears her dragons crying and turns away. She then ends up North of the Wall, where she finds a tent … and Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) is inside! And he’s got their impossible baby! Okay, I get it – George C. Scott, eat your heart out. She fortunately picks up on the fact that this is a mirage and that Tiny Tim here isn’t the answer, and as Drogo goes to kiss her she hears her dragons again and she blurts out a few lines from “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and hauls ass outta there.

She finds herself back in the empty chamber … only now, her dragons are there, but they’re chained to the stone table in the middle. Our favorite Warlock Queen shows up to tell her that he knew she’d come, and that when she and her dragons arrived the long-lost magic returned, and they are not about to throw ANY more parties without her, so they magically chain her up. Apparently her dragons revitalize the Haus of the Undying’s chances of winning the regional drag balls, and Dany’s presence makes the dragons’ power even stronger, so nobody is going nowhere until there are TENS ACROSS THE BOARD.

Dany, undaunted, whispers, “DRAKKAR NOIR” and her adorable baby kitchen torches turn the evil Warlock Queen into baked Alaska. Yaaaaaay!

Speaking of Alaska, we go from fire to ice (yawn) and catch up with Jon Snow (Kit Harington), who is being beaten about the head and shoulders by Egret Ygritte (Rose Leslie). His old Scoutmaster (the handsome one who looks a little like Richard Gere) is also still trying to start a fake fight so they’ll get more screen time, and eventually he does manage to spark up a duel, forcing Jon to kill him in front of Sh*tty Skeletor. They cut Jon free, and he and Egret make googly-eyes at one another and walk to the crest of the mountain, where below there lays a giant city. Egret says, “Time to meet the King behind the Wall.”

Back in Qarth, Ducksauce (Nonso Anozie) is sleeping alongside Dany’s missing handmaiden … until Dany and her crew wake him up by stealing his giant-ass medallion. They use it to open his Valerian vault … WHICH IS EMPTY. Ha! Dany thanks him for teaching her this lesson, and then she locks Ducksauce and his lady in there together. Back at Ducksauce’s house, she orders her Dothraki army to steal anything of value and struts off with her dragons on her shoulders like a lizard-embossed Dixie Carter just after delivering a killer monolog about THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT IN GEORGIA.

Ladies and ladies, it’s official: Dragons are the new shoulderpads.

Up North, Spamwise Tarly (John Bradley) and his pals are still scavenging for things to burn when they hear three blasts of the horn – which means WHITE WALKERS. And I don’t mean this guy:

The others flee, but Spamwise gets caught in the snowstorm that apparently precedes any zombie attack north of The Walking Dead because he soon finds himself in a full-on zombie armageddon led by Edgar Winter on a zombie horse:


Notably Absent: Arya Greyjoy, The Hound, Ser Davos, Lancel Lannister

Notably Dead: Maester Luwin, Ducksauce (presumably, after he eats that lady?), a few nameless wenches

Quote of the Week: I think Shae takes it with her simple but effective: “You’re a mess.”

Overall, the episode was alright but I was honestly hoping for a little more closure or development in at least one of the storylines. I’d say it earned a solid seven bottles of shampoo:

The season overall, in my opinion, was pretty great. I loved the increase in supernatural activity and the scramble for everyone to become King, and I can’t wait for Dany to get to King’s Landing with her babies. I’m also very curious to see what the fellas north of the Wall are going to do when the cold-weather Walking Dead ring their doorbell. Sansa continues to become more interesting and less bratty, and I have a feeling there are big things in store for young, revenge-obsessed Arya.

But that’s just me. What’d you think of the finale? The season overall? Are you looking forward to next year?

Thanks for reading, commenting, and helping me identify all these frigging people. It’s been as fun as a ball at the Haus of the Undying, seriously!

Writer-filmmaker Brian Juergens launched CampBlood.org, the world's first website devoted to horror films from a gay perspective, in 2003.