Game of Thrones: Mhysa [Review]
This is not the episode we were expecting, but is the episode we deserve…or need… I’m not sure how that works. Mhysa was very good; a high note to end the season, but this note is a different key to last week. It ties up all those loose ends and sets up the next season. If we use the chess metaphor that I have used before, what we saw was the clearing and resetting the board, last week was checkmate. Lest we forget, this series is not about the action. It is about the game, and those who play, and those who do not.
There were many shining performances, really that should surprise no one, at this point it would be news if anyone phoned in a mediocre performance. This is remarkable considering the age and experience of most of this cast. I suppose we should congratulate the HBO’s casting department on a job very well done.
Let’s talk specifics now. This episode kicks off right where the last ended, at the red wedding. Arya has the pleasure of witnessing her brother’s body, with the head of his dire wolf in place of his own, paraded out the castle gates. It’s a pretty jarring way to start the show, but entirely appropriate seeing how we ended last time. Arya doesn’t particularly like seeing her brother like this, but being powerless, she and the Hound leave as quickly and quietly as they can. Later they encounter a small group of Frey solders reliving the massacre. Arya, being Arya, slips off the horse and, well for the benefit of those that haven’t seen it; I’ll just say it was awesome. Meanwhile in The Twins, Walder Frey and Roose Bolton discuss what they accomplished during the wedding, and their change in titles. Bolton reveals that he has is bastard, Ramsay Snow, kidnap Theon. While back at the Dreadfort Ramsay continues to torment and torture Theon. He even renames him Reek, and sends his favorite body part to Theon’s father, inspiring his sister Yara to take a ship and 50 men to rescue her brother.
Back in King’s Landing, we watch Sansa and Trion bond, in a manner of speaking. It’s almost enough to hope for their relationship to work out, but we all know good things don’t happen to good people in this story. That makes those moments feel almost cruel. Next, we have a gathering of the small council. These gatherings don’t seem very productive, but they are extremely entertaining. This time around, we witness the hand of the king sending the king to bed without his supper. It was positively enthralling to watch. While later on, Varys attempts to convince Shea to leave because her relationship with Tyrion is a significant complication.
Meanwhile Bran arrives at the Nightfort. He, Hodor, and the Reeds settle in and Bran tells them all a ghost story. Soon enough Sam shows up, he pretty immediately identifies Bran, tells them about the walkers, and after some negotiation shows them to the tunnel under the wall. Sam and Gilly, head back to Castle Black. Once there they tell Maester Aemon about the army of White Walkers. Maester Aemon has Sam prepare a message to send to all kings and lords of the realm asking for help. Elsewhere Jon Snow still knows nothing. Ygritte is still a little upset and she shoots him a few times with arrows while he runs away. In spite of being turned into a pincushion, he makes it back to castle black where he is reunited with Sam, and is taken to have his wounds treated.
Back on Dragonstone, Davos visits with Gendry, and they bond. Later Davos practices his reading and reads the letter from the Night’s Watch. Davos takes the message to Stannis only to find him and Melisandre planning to burn Gendry. Later Davos breaks Gendry out of the dungeons and sets him free on a boat. Having to answer for this Stannis sentences him to death, but Davos reminds Stannis that he will need him, and then shows him the letter from the Night’s Watch. Stannis is at first unmoved, but Melisandre convinces him otherwise and Davos is spared to raise a new army for Stannis to take north. This is likely the biggest plot point of the episode, and is the biggest set up for the upcoming season. The war of the kings is over, the war in the north is about to begin.
To underscore everything else happening Jaime and Brienne arrive in King’s Landing where Jaime is completely unrecognized, until he visits Cersei. The subtlety of this action is magnificent; it perfectly depicts how forgotten Jaime really has been.
Finally, across the sea at Yunkai Daenerys is accepted as mother and liberator of the slaves. She has successfully raised a massive army now, and appears to have gained another crown. It’s an excellent point to end the season, and is definitely a contradiction in tone to the events in Westros.
It was difficult to be a little disappointed with this episode as a standalone. However, none of these episodes is truly standalone. Somehow, I frequently forget this and I attempt to judge each episode individually. When taken outside the bigger picture this episode was adequate, with several very eventful and entertaining moments. When examined in its full context it is masterful.
On its own, I would give this episode 3 out of 5, within the framework of the previous episodes it is a solid 4 or 4.5. The biggest drawback is the fact that we now have to wait a year to see the rest of this story.