Winter is coming, but not soon enough. So to help pass the time until season seven of Game of Thrones, we’re doing a weekly re-watch of the series, episode-by-episode, with the knowledge of what’s to come and—therefore—more information about the unrevealed rich history of events that took place long before the story began. Be warned, though: that means this series is full of spoilers for every season, even beyond the episode itself. So if you haven’t watched all of the show yet immediately get on that and then come back and join us for Game of Thrones Re-Throned.
Because the next best thing to watching new episodes is re-watching old ones.
Season 2, Episode 10: “Valar Morghulis”
Like The Sopranos before it, Game of Thrones often uses its second to last episode of the season for its big, shocking spectacle, and lets the next deal with the fallout. Season two’s fantastic finale, “Valar Morghulis,” did address the ramifications of the Battle of Blackwater Bay, but it did so much more.
Many important plot points are put in motion here, like Jaqen giving Arya the Faceless Men coin, Tyrion learning his life is in danger from his own family, Jon being embraced by the wildlings, and Winterfell falling to Roose Bolton’s bastard. Of course, the best scene is the amazing final one, when Edd, Grenn, and Sam hear the third blast of the horn, which hasn’t been blown in thousands of year because it indicates White Walkers (they only knew that cause Sam read it in a book). It is still horrifying all these years later, as we get to see just how real the threat of the Others and their giant army of dead really is.
Ever since their introduction in the show’s first scene, the White Walkers have been mockingly discussed, and are only shown in a few brief glimpses, surrounding the sacrifice of Craster’s sons, but here they come roaring (screeching) back, and it is wonderful and terrible.
But since we’re looking back to look ahead, it’s Daenerys‘ trip to the House of the Undying to get back her dragons that we’re most interested in. Book readers know Dany has a number of visions to analyze (many of which have already been proven true), but there are only three in the show’s adaptation.
The first sees her enter an abandoned Iron Throne room in King’s Landing, where the roof has been torn apart and it is seemingly covered in snow. I say seemingly because I am not fully convinced it isn’t really ash. The color palate used in her visions is unnatural, so while it seems as though winter has come to King’s Landing, it could just as easily be the remnants of a massive fire. Could it happen from an even larger explosion of wildfire than we saw at the Sept of Baelor, or is this a clue as to what Daenerys and her dragons might bring to the capitol?
Of course, it might be snow filling the room, and the next vision she has would indicate that King’s Landing is not far from being swallowed up by the Long Night itself, since she leaves the Throne Room and walks through the gates of Castle Black, beyond The Wall, where a horrible storm is raging. Will the events at King’s Landing directly impact the war with the the dead that is coming, and must Daenerys realize she doesn’t belong in King’s Landing, but rather north, leading the way?
Finally, she enters a tent with Khal Drogo and her son, and while Drogo’s presence feels real, the calls of her dragons, and her vows to see her journey through until the end, draws her back. In an episode where Robb Stark breaks his vow and marries Talisa, seeing her sacrifice personal love and want in the name of duty portends well for all of the living that might need her to save them.
Yet, even though it’s natural to try to decipher as much as we can, it is possible we are reading too much into all of this. Earlier in the episode, a defeated and angry Stannis tells Melisandre that everything she saw in the flames was wrong, and that she can’t know what will happen. If Game of Thrones has taught us anything it’s that prophesy can lead us astray even easier than it can guide us down the right path.
The important lesson isn’t what we think we can learn from her visions, because we’re more likely to be wrong than right, but instead what she learned about sacrifice and facing an enemy you can’t always see.
Season two’s finale remains as fantastic as ever, leaving us craving what comes next. Daenerys refused to touch that Iron Throne in the House of the Undying, but she’s closer now to the real one than ever before. Hopefully she remembers what it took to get here, and what it took to defeat the wizards of Qarth, otherwise what she saw that day will not be a warning, it will be a reality.
But what did you think of this episode? What did you see in her visions? Tell us in the comments below.