“Game of Thrones” ended its third season Sunday night on HBO with an episode that was more like a set-up for next season.
The episode contrasted sharply with the dramatic episode seen a week earlier, when a bloody wedding massacre resulted in the near-total annihilation of the Stark clan at the hands of the rival Lannisters. The season-ending episode was a lot quieter, but also ominous.
The episode dealt with the aftermath of the massacre, but without the kind of climactic, vengeful attacks “GOT” fans might have expected. Of course, that was due mainly to the fact that so few Starks were left alive from the previous week. At least one Stark did get away though, and it remains to be seen what she’ll do to avenge her family.
So now — with the usual warnings that if you haven’t watched the season finale yet, you should bail out now or risk having the episode spoiled for you — here are the highlights of the “Game of Thrones” season finale:
1) Who got away? It was young Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), who was spirited away from the massacre scene by her burly bodyguard, Sandor (Rory McCann). She later committed her first murder, stabbing a man in the neck when she overheard him laughing about the massacre. Now that the girl has a taste for blood, we expect her to play a key role in the Starks’ revenge next season (what’s left of them, that is).
2) The Lannisters: In the aftermath of the massacre, the sadistic boy king Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) of the Lannister-controlled southern kingdom clashed with his uncle Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and grandfather Tywin (Charles Dance), who happens to be the real power in the Lannister clan. As a result, Tywin and Tyrion appeared to bond — however uneasily — in a way not seen previously. Meanwhile, the young princess Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), just recently forced to marry the dwarf Tyrion, brooded over the death of most of her family at the hands of the family she is now married into. Might she also join Arya in a game of revenge next season?
3) A continuing game of torture: Pity poor Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) — he’s been undergoing vicious torture on a rack for almost the entire season administered by the sadistic Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon). In the finale, it was revealed that Ramsay — how to put this — separated Theon from his private parts, then messengered them to his father (Patrick Malahide). Theon’s sister (Gemma Whelan) then swore revenge — setting up another potential battle in Season Four.
4) The biggest battle to come: The season ended without the expected (and hoped for) results of Daenerys’ efforts to assemble the show’s largest and most-loyal armed force — a battle to end all battles. The charismatic, beautiful blonde queen and keeper of the dragons (Emilia Clarke) was seen in the episode’s final image in the middle of thousands of her adoring acolytes — an epic image filmed from far overhead that indicated she’s finally poised for war.
Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until next spring to see what happens next.