A review of Mhysa
SPOILER WARNING! It’s best not to read this review unless you have already seen Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 10
The final instalment of Game of Thrones season three is upon us, and now our watch is ended. Longer than its predecessors by a good ten minutes or so, Mhysa is a complex episode encompassing pretty much every single storyline. After all, there’s quite a bit more screen time up for grabs since Robb (Richard Madden), Cat (Michelle Fairley) and Talisa (Oona Chaplin) were brutally slaughtered last week, putting an abrupt end to that particular story arc.
The clean up from the Red Wedding gradually gets underway (it’s not a proper massacre unless we get to see a nameless underling swabbing blood off the flagstones), although not before we’re treated to the sight of what the imaginative Freys decided to do with Robb’s corpse – you’ll never look at Beatrix Potter the same way again. The gruesome spectacle is also witnessed by Arya (Maisie Williams), although the Hound (Rory McCann) manages to get her away unscathed. Later, having overheard a Frey bannerman boasting about his part in the desecration of Robb’s body, Arya takes it upon herself to cut his throat to ribbons in a scene that probably had everybody in the fandom punching air in their living rooms.
Back at the Twins, everyone’s two new least favourite characters Walder Frey (David Bradley) and Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) have themselves a very interesting little chat, in which the identity of Theon’s (Alfie Allen) beguiling torturer is finally confirmed. He is indeed Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon), Roose Bolton’s bastard son, and Theon himself (now renamed Reek) is being held at the Dreadfort, seat of House Bolton. The other two Greyjoys, Balon (Patrick Malahide) and Yara (Gemma Whelan), get their first and last scene of the season when Theon’s favourite appendage arrives, gift-wrapped, at the Iron Islands. Balon is all for leaving Theon to his fate (yet another candidate for Westerossi Father of the Year), but Yara gets a posse together to go get her brother back. That woman, like so many other women in Game of Thrones, is a real badass.
One of the best things about Mhysa is that we finally get a couple of satisfying ‘reunion’ scenes. Sam (John Bradley) and Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) have never met each other before, but we’ve been watching them both for so long that it almost feels like they have – plus, they have a mutual friend/brother in Jon Snow (Kit Harington). Watching them meet for the first time makes us go a bit warm and fuzzy inside, even though they’re swiftly parted again; Bran heads north of the Wall, while Sam and Gilly (Hannah Murray) make it to Castle Black.
Over in King’s Landing, there’s a different type of reunion taking place. Jaime (Nicolaj Coster Waldau), minus one hand, rocks up unannounced in Cersei’s (Lena Headey) room. This scene is very subtle – Cersei faces away from the door and plays with a shell, clearly remembering happier times, when Jaime appears and very quietly utters her name. We’ve started to like both Cersei and Jaime a lot more this season – Jaime is redeeming himself slightly with his unwavering loyalty and his friendship for Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), while Cersei is slowly doing the same through her professed love for her children. But, let’s not get too carried away here; Game of Thrones is famed and loved for its ambiguous and complex characters. Jaime is still the dude who shoved Bran out of that window, and Cersei is still the terrifying puppet mistress of the Red Keep – and if they could have just kept their hands off each other in the first place, this whole medieval mess might have been avoided altogether.
Jon Snow also has himself a couple of reunions, firstly with Ygritte (Rose Leslie), his jilted Wildling lover. This scene is extraordinarily well done considering the complicated feelings these two characters have for each other. They love each other, but they can’t be together; Jon was lying to her all along, but she probably knew that he was, and so on. Ygritte does what any sane person would do and sticks three arrows in him, but we get the impression it was meant affectionately. Jon’s second reunion comes when he makes his way, at last, back to Castle Black, where Sam is overjoyed at the sight of his unconscious form.
With Sam bringing news of the White Walkers, the Watch send out ravens to the leaders of the warring armies to point out the small fact that their war actually doesn’t matter one jot seeing as there’s a host of frozen zombies bearing down on the Wall. One of these letters reaches Stannis (Stephen Dillane), who is once more on the brink of having Davos (Liam Cunningham) killed – this time, his crime is setting free Gendry (Joe Dempsie). Luckily for Davos, Melisandre (Carice van Houten) has a sudden change of heart at the news from the Wall, advising Stannis that Davos will be needed in the fight against the darkness.
Our final scene of season three is given over to Dany (Emilia Clarke). Her storyline has always seemed a bit divorced from the rest of the plot, and that has been heightened even more lately, as she seems to be doing little to further her ultimate goal of reclaiming the Iron Throne. Conquering the slave city of Yunkai is all very well, but the development of her character seems to have stalled – all she apparently does now is sit around in tents and give the occasional order. In this final scene we see her waiting at the gates of Yunkai to inform the slave citizens that she has liberated them. There is some trepidation, as no-one knows how the slaves will react (as Dany says, “people learn to love their chains”), but all seems well as the slaves begin to chant “Mhysa!” at her, meaning Mother.
This final scene is intriguing, but has nothing of the hardcore impact of the ultimate endings of seasons one and two (the big reveal of the dragons in season one, and the frozen zombie in season two). On top of that, for viewers living in the real world with all our real (and brutal) history, watching a sea of dark-skinned ex-slaves lift an extremely blonde, extremely pale skinned person onto their shoulders in worship rankles somewhat. As part of the plot, the scene had to be included of course, but it didn’t have to be shot in quite such an unsubtle way, or receive the added emphasis of being chosen as the final scene (finishing on Arya’s first proper murder, or a longer and revelatory Jaime/Cersei scene would have perhaps been better).
Overall, Mhysa is a rather underwhelming finale to what definitely was not an underwhelming season – we had dragon fire, magic spells, zombie fights, inhuman torture and political intrigue, not to mention the sudden deaths of several key players, and buckets of brilliant character development. Game of Thrones remains one of the most cutting edge shows around. Season four will be coming at us in just under a year’s time – and now our watch begins…
Best Kill: Definitely Arya’s frenzied stabbing of the gloating Frey bannerman
Best Scene: Bran telling the story of the Rat Cook