The Atlantic

Game of Thrones' Hectic, Morally Complex, Crowdsurfing Season Finale

Our roundtable on “Mhysa,” the 10th episode in the HBO show's third season.
Source: HBO
Every week for the third season of HBO’s fantasy series Game of Thrones, our roundtable of Ross Douthat (columnist, The New York Times), Spencer Kornhaber (entertainment editor, TheAtlantic.com), and Christopher Orr (senior editor and film critic, The Atlantic) will discuss the latest happenings in Westeros.

Orr: It seems only fair. After Arya’s brutally aborted reunion with her family last week, tonight we were offered a few literal and metaphorical homecomings. In descending order of satisfaction: Sam and Jon find each other once again at Castle Black; Daenerys adopts a city's worth of new dependents; Davos is accepted back into Stannis’s embrace about five minutes after the latter sentenced him to death; Jaime (or most of him) reunites with a less-than-entirely-ecstatic Cersei; and Theon (or at least his self-described "best part") is delivered to his dad in a box. Oh, and Tywin Lannister is restored to his rightful place as the man in Westeros on whose bad side you least want to be, king or no king. (Paying attention, Joffrey?)

We've been here before, of course, in both Seasons 1 and 2: The penultimate episode overturns the Game of Thrones playing board—Ned loses his head, the Lannisters turn the tide on the Blackwater—and the season finale picks up the remaining pieces.

As I've mentioned throughout our roundtables, I continue to be baffled by the show's start-stop pacing. The latter half of this season consisted of that significantly pared down the number of storylines and developments (often to agreeable effect), followed by the final two, in which major twists—including of the Red Wedding—competed for attention with a variety of subsidiary narratives. It's as if showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss miscounted their seasonal allotment and belatedly realized that they had to

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