Johnny Mansbach’s Game of Thrones Recap – Episode 20: “Valar Morghulis”

After last week’s explosive battle for the throne, we’ve finally come to the sensational culmination of this season’s Thrones adaptation of A Clash of Kings. The second season of the acclaimed HBO series ends tonight with commercials from; updating us on the progress of throne-hungry rivals Robb Stark, Joffrey Baratheon, Stannis Baratheon, Renly Baratheon, Theon Greyjoy, and Daenerys Targaryen. So without further delay, let’s find out what the hell “Valar Morghulis” means…

Written by Johnny Mansbach for

Fresh from his battlefield face slicing, the brave King’s uncle wakes in strange quarters with fresh bandages. The decrepit Grand Maester Pycelle looms over him, like a bird-shit stain on the driver’s side window. Pycelle gloats over the little lord’s defeat, announcing that Tyrion’s father Tywin was actually the hero in the Battle of Blackwater and the dwarf is no longer Hand of the King.

Tyrion learns that his sister Cersei tried to have him killed on the battlefield. Varys puts forth a gesture of trust by bringing Shae to the broken imp. Tyrion is ashamed to have her see him like this, tries to distance his loose love, pointedly reminding her she is a whore. But Shae loves him too much, wants to take care of him far across the Narrow Sea in Pentos. But the little Lord can’t leave. He likes “outtalking and outwitting” all the bad people he is surrounded with. Indeed Tyrion is our last hope for decency within House Lannister… Although he only has “half” a chance. Okay, that’s my last little person joke this season… I promise.

During the victory celebration, the Vanilla Pudding King Joffrey Baratheon/Lannister declares victory over his estranged uncle Stannis and promotes his granddaddy Tywin to Hand of the King. The Master of Coin Petyr Baelish is bequeathed the entire castle of Harrenhal as a reward for his services during the battle. Fitting, since it’s empty, just like his soul. Renly Baratheon’s clandestine lover Loras Tyrell begs Joffrey to unite their two families, offering the Boy Bitch his sister Margaery; Renly’s recent widow. It’s a good match. The two idiots flirt, and after Cersei and Pycelle release Joffrey from marrying Sansa, Joffrey puts on an all-new shit-eating grin for the dead-eyed Margaery.

Sansa slips out of the room hardly able to conceal the joy of her reprieve. But Lord “Littlefinger” Baelish catches up to her; says he can safely get Sansa home, being that the King will still consider her his property and torture her more than ever. Just as with The Hound, Sansa declines another enemy’s offer to help take her home to Winterfell.

The enigmatic eunuch Varys approaches the voluptuous prostitute Ros (my personal favorite of the “Petyr Baelish Whore Collection”.) Unaware he’s been castrated, she plays a little “sausage search party” and finds he’s a vegetarian below the waist. Varys conjectures that her boss Lord Baelish sees her only as a “collection of profitable holes” while Varys sees her more as a business partner. What’s that bald, little cherub up to now?

Under her Lady Catelyn Stark’s wishes, the femme brute Brienne continues her solo transport of prized prisoner Jaime Lannister. As they travel the brutal banks before King’s Landing, they come across a tree supporting three recently hanged girls. Brienne wants to stop and bury them, but three Stark soldiers interrupt her. One of them recognizes Jaime as the Kingslayer, but the prevailing paladin makes quick work of the rapists, offering one a twisting groin stab to eulogize the hanged women. Upon seeing her in murderous action, the cruel Kingslayer practically blows a load in his codpiece. He reminds Brienne that these were Stark men, to which she declares she only serves Lady Catelyn Stark, not the Stark family. Jaime leans back in his bonds as his formidable foe proceeds to bury the slain women.

Not much from the King in the North for this finale, but we did set up some extremely important plot points for next season:

1) Robb meets with his, whom he considers, traitorous mother. He can’t forgive her for releasing his levered captive Jaime under Brienne’s safeguard.

2) Later, against Lady Catelyn’s political wishes, Robb marries the Dead Soldier Whisperer Talisa in private. Mom’s not gonna like this. Neither will Castle Frey, house of the daughter to whom Robb is promised.

The King chastises his red sorceress Melisandre for failing him at the Battle of Blackwater. She stands by her surreptitious Lord of Light. Realizing he killed his own brother for her, Stannis violently strangles Melisandre while asking her “where is your God now?” She answers, “inside you.” Oh, it wasn’t a rhetorical question? Does that mean a shadowy smoke monster is due to come out of HIS vagina now? I really think they needed some serious birth control back then. The sorceress again captivates Stannis and he releases his chokehold. The wily enchantress claims the war will last for years and he’ll betray everyone he knows because he is the destined Lord of Fire. She tells him to look into the fire so she can prove it. He does. They stare at some fire. For a while. Ooookay… When did these two drop acid?

Now surrounded in Winterfell, the failed Pyke Prince Theon crybabies his way through a conversation with Maester Luwin. Theon is obviously still bitter about something… Maybe it’s that cloying fact that he was a prisoner of the Starks for 14 years…

Maester Luwin advises Theon to flee as factions whom all want his head surround the castle. The wise old man urges Theon to take the Black and join the men at the Wall, as he will have amnesty there. But Theon doesn’t want to be seen as a coward. Luwin, who practically raised Theon from a boy, recognizes his pain and tells him it is not in his blood to be a killer or king. Theon agrees, just wants to escape the castle and maybe kill the horn blower.

Inside the gates of Winterfell, Theon rallies his troops to fight their way out. But his faithful men “mutinize” Theon by knocking him out and then stabbing old Maester Luwin with a spear. The insurgents drag their annoying Prince Theon out the front gates…

Escorted by Ser Jorah and one of her last remaining Dothraki guards, Dany arrives at the House of the Undying. It’s a huge Rapunzel Tower with no doors. Somehow she teleports in…

She searches for her baby dragons in a labyrinth of magical, changing dungeons. Dany hears screams all around. But are they human? She finds herself in a snowy, ethereal version of the Iron Throne room back in King’s Landing. It’s been bombed out, gutted. By dragons? She continues through the false catacombs, emerges north of the Wall and enters a Dothraki tent. She approaches her deceased Sun and Stars Khal Drago and her unborn baby. After some deep Dothraki poetry, Dany says goodbye to the mirage and continues her search for her dragons. She finds them chained to a table. The multiplicative conjurer Pyat Pree appears, as do chains around the Khaleesi’s arms. Finally revealing more of the bleached babe’s powers, Dany utters one word: “Dracarys.” With that, one of the dragons lights up like a Bic and leads the others in a full-scorched Pyat Pree fry. The malnourished warlock drops dead as the dragon’s chains disappear, followed by their mother’s. Bad. Ass.

The Mother of Dragons assembles her skeleton crew, and takes the vault key from her conspiring aficionado Xaro Xhoan Daxos. The vault is empty; the self-proclaimed “Richest Man in Qarth” is a fraud. The young Khaleesi locks Xaro and her traitorously horny handmaiden in the vault. Her small band of Dothrakis pilfer the palace gold to buy a ship. Soon, the Mother of Dragons will be on her way back across the Narrow Sea to claim the Iron Throne. And, seriously, maybe a bath soon?

The three-death indebted Jaqen H’ghar finds Arya as she meanders the trail from Harrenhal. Jaqen hands her a coin, says if she ever wants to learn his skills to hand the coin to any man from Braavos and simply chant our episode’s name, “Valar Morghulis,” which I’ve learned to mean “All men are mortal,” or “All men must die.” To confirm, Arya repeats the mantra and, with that, Jaqen’s face is changed to that of an entirely different man’s. Damn, I could use me some of that skill! I think I’d go to more strip clubs with it.

Having not heard from Maester Luwin, the devoted wildling Osha leads Hodor and the Stark Lords Bran and Rickon out of hiding. They sift passed the burnt castle of Winterfell and find the dying man in the Godswood under the heart tree. Luwin demands Bran Stark head north to the Wall, find his brother Jon Snow. He promises the boys he will stay under the tree, then asks Osha to give him the ol’ mercy kill. Yes, I just typed a saddy face.

Qhorin Halfhand and Jon Snow feign a sword fight to distract the Wildlings that have captured them. But as Qhorin’s insults reached an unsettling pitch, Jon reactively kills Qhorin. Although confused about what has just transpired, he has now earned the trust of the Wildlings. Ygritte reveals her city, a massive settlement of thousands of wildlings. She tells Jon it’s time to meet the King Beyond The Wall…

Samwell and his Castle Black brothers continue digging for artifacts in the snow when three horns blow… That can only mean two things… Either someone needs a Ricola, or WHITE WALKERS are coming…!

The others run and Samwell is quickly left behind. Poor guy needs to lose a few pounds, but in his defense, there were no elliptical machines in medieval times. He hides behind a rock as hundreds of dark silhouettes emerge from the vaporous snow flurries. It’s an army of White Walkers and they’re heading south toward the Wall. The unmanned Wall. Yes, Westeros, it’s ancient zombie time…!

Thank you for joining me this season; it’s been quite a ride. There’s a lot to think about, and quite some time to deliberate, as we won’t see the Seven Kingdoms for nearly another year. In the meantime, join me in picking up the thousand-page tome A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 3 – A Storm of Swords, the next in uber-geek George R. R. Martin’s ambitious seven-book series. Or go back and read the first two books to catch the numerous subplots and characters that didn’t make the transition to the screen. But be warned, these books can take some serious time and concentration, so you might want to keep a copy handy for when you’re sitting on the Porcelain Throne.

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