Valar Morghulis

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"Valar Morghulis"
Game of Thrones episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 10
Directed by Alan Taylor
Written by David Benioff
D. B. Weiss
Production code 210
Original air date June 3, 2012 (2012-06-03)
Running time 64 minutes
Guest actors
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Blackwater"
Next →
"Valar Dohaeris"
Game of Thrones (season 2)
List of Game of Thrones episodes

"Valar Morghulis" is the tenth and final episode of the second season of the HBO medieval fantasy television series Game of Thrones. It is the sixth episode this season to be written by series co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and is directed by Alan Taylor, his fourth episode this season. It is 64 minutes long[1] and aired on June 3, 2012.

The episode's title is a code phrase spoken by Jaqen H'ghar to Arya Stark during the episode, but its meaning is not explained until the third season episode, "Walk of Punishment": "All men must die." This is consistent with the meaning given in the books upon which the series is based.[2]

Plot[edit]

In King's Landing[edit]

After the decisive victory over Stannis Baratheon in the Battle of Blackwater, King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) gives Lord Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), his grandfather, the title of "Savior of King's Landing" for his help in the Battle of Blackwater Bay, and formally names him Hand of the King. For uniting the Houses of Tyrell and Lannister, the alliance which caused the victory, Lord Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen) is given the Castle of Harrenhal. Ser Loras Tyrell asks for the king to wed Lady Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), his sister, and though Joffrey insists he is bound by oath to Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), Queen Regent Cersei (Lena Headey) and her subject Grand Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) argue that the gods will allow him to reject the oath on grounds of Eddard Stark's treason. Sansa is elated to be rid of Joffrey, but Baelish warns her that she is still in danger while she is in King's Landing. He offers to scheme to see her home safely. Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) works to undermine Baelish's successes and plots to turn his associate, the prostitute Ros (Esme Bianco), against him.

Meanwhile, a scarred Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) wakes from the injuries that he received from the attempt on his life during the battle. With the arrival of Lord Tywin, he has been removed from the position of Hand of the King and is left powerless and without allies, except for his squire, Podrick Payne (Daniel Portman). Lord Varys informs Tyrion that the Queen was behind the attempt on his life and says that he knows Tyrion to have been the true hero of the battle, even though he will receive no official credit. Tyrion is consoled by Shae (Sibel Kekilli), who remains loyal and tries to convince him to leave King's Landing for Pentos with her. Despite his fall from power, Tyrion refuses to leave King's Landing, saying that he has finally found a role at which he both excels and enjoys.

At Dragonstone[edit]

In a rage over his unexpected defeat at the Battle of Blackwater, Lord Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) blames his Red Priestess, Melisandre (Carice van Houten), for goading him into war with promises of victory and attempts to strangle her in a fit of rage. He relents only after Melisandre makes him truly comprehend his involvement in the death of his brother Renly. After informing Stannis that he will betray all that he has known in his quest to be king and assuring him it will be worth it in the end, Melisandre leads Stannis to a burning bowl of coal and has them together observe the dancing fire. As Stannis watches the flames, he seems to be struck by divine visions from the Lord of Light, restoring his faith in Melisandre.

In the Westerlands[edit]

Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) continues in her mission to escort the prisoner Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to King's Landing, in exchange for Sansa and Arya Stark. They happen upon the corpses of three women lynched by Stark soldiers, who soon arrive and discover that Brienne's prisoner is the wanted Kingslayer himself. Brienne slays them after they are discovered, avenging the three women, whom Brienne then buries. When Jaime expresses his surprise, Brienne reminds him that she does not serve House Stark, but Lady Catelyn. Meanwhile, King Robb (Richard Madden) confides to his mother, Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), that he is in love with Lady Talisa (Oona Chaplin) and will not proceed with the arranged marriage to one of Lord Walder Frey's daughters. Despite Catelyn's warning that breaking his oath with Lord Frey is reckless, Robb marries Talisa in private.

At Winterfell[edit]

With Winterfell under siege from Roose Bolton's bastard son Ramsay, and facing defeat, Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) rejects the advice of Maester Luwin (Donald Sumpter) to abandon the castle and join the Night's Watch, believing that Jon Snow will kill him for his betrayal, and decides to fight to the death with his men. However, during Theon's rallying speech, Dagmer (Ralph Ineson) and his men knock Theon out and drag him off to be handed to Ramsay in exchange for pardon. When Luwin attempts to intervene, Dagmer stabs him. Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and his party emerge from hiding to find Winterfell sacked and Luwin dying in the Godswood, where he declares his loyalty and love for the Starks before having Osha (Natalia Tena) perform a mercy killing, out of sight of Bran and Rickon (Art Parkinson). Bran and his group then escape the remains of Winterfell, bound for the Wall.

At the Outskirts of Harrenhal[edit]

Arya (Maisie Williams), along with her companions Gendry (Joe Dempsie) and Hot Pie (Ben Hawkey), flee from Harrenhal. They are surprised by the sudden appearance of the mysterious assassin Jaqen H'ghar (Tom Wlaschiha), who helped them escape. Jaqen offers to take Arya with him to Braavos to train her in his abilities, and although tempted, Arya declines, intending to reunite with her family. Before departing, Jaqen hands Arya a special coin and the phrase "Valar Morghulis," which Arya may use to seek him if she meets anyone from Braavos. Before departing, Jaqen turns to reveal he has changed his face, an ability of the "Faceless Men" he mentions to Arya.

Across the Narrow Sea[edit]

Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) and the Dothraki Kovarro go with Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) to the House of the Undying, a stronghold where the warlock Pyat Pree (Ian Hanmore) has her dragons held captive. The warlock's magic quickly leaves Jorah stranded outside, while trapping Daenerys in the stronghold. Daenerys is struck with visions of wandering places such as the Red Keep, north of the Wall, Castle Black, and the Haunted Forest. She encounters her deceased husband, Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa), and their stillborn son Rhaego, both apparently alive and well. Although unsure whether she is dreaming, Daenerys leaves when she hears her dragons. She finds herself in an antechamber with her dragons chained to a pedestal. Pyat Pree appears and conjures chains to bind Daenerys. She orders her dragons to breathe fire, killing Pyat Pree and freeing her from his magic.

After escaping the House of the Undying, Daenerys—with her dragons, her remaining Dothraki contingent, and Ser Jorah—find Xaro Xhoan Daxos (Nonso Anozie) asleep in bed with Doreah (Roxanne McKee), who Daenerys now realizes had betrayed her, and takes them prisoner. Opening Xaro's vault, they find it empty, with Xaro's boasts of extreme wealth having been lies. Despite Xaro's and Doreah's pleas, Daenerys orders her followers to seal them both in Xaro's vault. Daenerys proceeds to have her companions loot as much as they can from Xaro's house in order to buy a ship.

Beyond the Wall[edit]

Night's Watch Ranger Qhorin Halfhand (Simon Armstrong), still prisoner of the wildlings, provokes a fight with fellow prisoner, Jon Snow (Kit Harington), with the apparent goal of convincing the wildlings that Jon has defected. Qhorin goads Jon into killing him by insulting the memories of his mother and of Ned Stark. After Qhorin is killed, the wildlings free a stunned Jon and introduce him to their massive wildling force, promising him a meeting with their King-Beyond-the-Wall, former Night's Watch Ranger, Mance Rayder.

Meanwhile, while on duty, Sam (John Bradley), Grenn (Mark Stanley), and Edd (Ben Crompton) overhear three horn blasts signaling White Walkers' approach. The others flee, leaving Sam behind. He is quickly surrounded by an army of wights and a White Walker riding an undead horse. The White Walker glances at him, and then orders the force to advance. Sam, now isolated from his allies, watches in horror as the army marches onward towards the Night's Watch encampment at the Fist of the First Men.

Writing[edit]

The episode was written by producers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss (their sixth and final script of the season) and directed by Alan Taylor. It was Taylor's final episode on the show. The episode covers chapters Tyrion XV, Sansa VIII, Theon VI, Arya IX, Bran VII, Daenerys IV, and Jon VIII from A Clash of Kings and the prologue and chapters Jaime I, Tyrion I, and Jon I of A Storm of Swords.[3] As a season finale, "Valar Morghulis" is a slightly extended episode[citation needed].

Reception[edit]

Ratings[edit]

In its original broadcast on June 3, 2012, the episode received 4.20 million viewers, to become the most-watched episode of the series until the third season aired.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

"Valar Morghulis" received highly positive reviews. Matt Fowler of IGN rated the episode 9 out of 10.[5] David Sims of The A.V. Club gave the episode an "A" grade.[6]

Accolades[edit]

This episode received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie, or a Special. It won for Outstanding Special Visual Effects.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "What to Watch This Week: May 28 – June 3". DirectTV. 28 May 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2012. In the special 70-minute second season finale... 
  2. ^ Martin, George (2005). A Feast for Crows. New York: Bantam Dell. p. 88. ISBN 0-553-80150-3. 
  3. ^ Garcia, Elio; Antonsson, Linda (March 24, 2014). "EP210: Valar Morghulis". Westeros.org. Retrieved November 9, 2014. 
  4. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (June 5, 2012). "Sunday Cable Ratings: NBA Playoffs + 'Game of Thrones' Finale, MTV Movie Awards, 'Sister Wives', 'The Glades', 'Longmire' + More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved June 5, 2012. 
  5. ^ Fowler, Matt (June 2, 2012). "Game of Thrones: "Valar Morghulis" Review". IGN. Retrieved March 5, 2013. 
  6. ^ Sims, David (June 3, 2012). ""Valar Morghulis" (for newbies)". The A.V. Club. Retrieved March 5, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Game Of Thrones". Emmys.com. Retrieved March 5, 2013. 

External links[edit]