Well, that was interesting.

I didn’t  imagine the season finale could possibly live up to the episode containing the Red Wedding.  The real curiosity now is whether or not HBO lost or gained viewers.  The show was a topic of conversation at all water coolers last week and the reactions of the unsuspecting flooded YouTube. Game of Thrones forums exploded with viewers saying that they had now given up on the show.

I hope they haven’t.

While it didn’t have the dramatic climax of the Red Wedding, this was a worthy conclusion to the season. The episode opens with a brief, yet brutal battle as the Young Wolf’s army is decimated.  And, yes, readers of the novel, you will get to see the gruesome melding of Robb and his dire wolf, while the victors chant with mockery, “King of the North.” Then, it goes back to King’s Landing, where the news is delivered to the ruling Lannister’s, and it’s politicking and usual, even in the wake of what appears to be victory.

[Review of the Red Wedding Here]

The two Lannister brothers, Tyrion and Jamie, continue to show the greatest character arcs. Tyrion is quickly becoming less Lannister or more human. While Jamie, now a broken and beaten man, seems to be searching for his long-lost honor. There’s more Bran as he nears the wall, and a little bit of Theon and Ramsay sharing an intimate moment as Theon becomes known as Reek evermore.  Roose and Walder rise from victory eminently despised. Stannis continues to maneuver his way back into the conversation for the throne.  And, Danerys emerges once again as the “mother” paralleling the conclusion to season one.

What the episode is sorely lacking is tension and surprise.  Now that the death of Robb Stark has passed, and the north has turned into turmoil, the viewer is left with very little reward or characters to feel impassioned about for that matter. The episode (and season) conclude with a promise of what is to come, and there is a lot … but is it enough?  Enough to keep viewers coming back next season. We’ll just have to wait and see.

For now, it feels like a very long wait.

Grade: B

By Gordon Shelly, special to Influx Magazine

Check out my last review of Episode 8, you know … The Red Wedding!

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