This has been the worst season finale of the show so far. Last year's finale was quite disappointing, mostly because of the weak House of Undying scene but the amount of time wasting, filler scenes in Mhysa is just astounding. Had I not read the books I'd be merely disappointed. Since I did read them I'm actually angry because they could have made this episode into the best finale yet and they screwed up pretty much every scene.
In the opening of the episode Roose Bolton appears as if he was dramatic chipmunk and looks at the slaughter in front of the Twins. There is a number of problems with the opening sequence. In the books the most gruesome aspect of Red Wedding was what happened to Robb and Catelyn's bodies. Robb's head was cut off and the Freys sewed Grey Wind's head on its place. They seated the corpse on the throne, nailed wooden crown to the wolf's head (in the books Robb wore the crown) and chanted "King in the North!" mockingly.
We did get to see what was done to Robb. Unfortunately, Arya saw it too. Robb's body was tied to a horse and Grey Wind's head was on a pole that was rooted in Robb's headless corpse. It looked horrific and terrible and we still got the Freys chanting "King in the North". That said, that scene felt incredibly rushed - the whole massacre, the whole mockery - it was so quick they didn't give it a chance to properly sink in. I usually defend show again exploitation claims but to do all of that and use it in such botched, terribly paced scene is inexcusable. The photo of the monstrosity is actually much more horrifying than the actual scene because while looking at it you have the time to properly understand what was done here. I cannot believe they went to the trouble of actually doing that only to feature it in such a brief scene. Having the opening show that on the throne with camera zooming in would have been far more effective and haunting and it would have made an unforgettable scene.
As for Catelyn? We didn't see anything. Nothing. They completely skipped what was done to her. I'm not going to explain why it's one of the dumbest decisions show runners made because I don't want to spoil anything but at that point of the episode I thought to myself, oh boy this is not off to a good start. Also let's not forget they have been ignoring Catelyn this whole season which is one of the other reasons I'm placing season 1 above this one.
To give you a point of reference of how rushed the scene was - people don't seem to be shocked or enraged, even though what was done to Robb's body is a nightmarish and gruesome thing, the worst thing done so far. Instead people are complaining about how anti climatic the finale was, and rightfully so.
The scene however was actually one of the highlights of the episode and this is only thanks to Maisie Williams and Rory McCann. The direction and writing were fucking terrible here but the looks on their faces...amazing. We saw Arya, our brave strong Arya, completely crushed. The Hound was horrified when he saw what was done to Arya's brother. You could really see the shock on his face and I loved how he protectively and sympathetically took Arya away from there as fast as he could.
Another thing that I cannot wrap my mind around is that Ramin Djawadi gave them a perfect opportunity to create incredible opening and ending - tracks "Dark Wings, Dark Words" and "Mhysa" have the same choir - the first one could have been used in opening and the latter in the ending and they should have focused on a certain event that happened after Red Wedding. Showing the full tragedy of what was done to the Starks and ending the episode with a ray of hope is such a great idea, supported by Djawadi's work, I cannot help but think that they actually wanted to do it this way but for some dumb reason they didn't.
Another popular complain about show is how it's all talking, no action. Well there you have it - the haters finally have a perfect evidence for their claim in this episode. Sam and Gilly, Davos and Gendry, Cersei and Tyrion and worst of all Shae and Varys. Out of all the fantastic scenes they could have used not one of them made it into the finale for the sake of those invented scenes that really didn't add anything to the show.
The showrunners are obviously saving all the great stuff for season 4. The problem is that after Red Wedding they really should have given people more to hold on to. 10 months of waiting and they gave the people completely anticlimatic finale without 2 scenes that could have injected hope and sense of justice into the fans' hearts. The truth is that the second part of Storm of Swords has more than enough of great events to provide a terrific season so what they've done here by giving us scraps and saving the meat for next year is just ridiculous.
Oh and Sansa and Tyrion. What the FUCK. We have silly scene with Tyrion and Sansa joking around. Then Tyrion walks into their room and sees Sansa crying, obviously having found out about Red Wedding. That's it. Did they really think that this is better than having book scene where Tyrion tell Sansa himself, Sansa courteously excusing herself and going to the room where she cried while Tyrion stood by the door, helpless, knowing he can't do anything for her? Wow. What a terrific idea that was.
That said, there was one good King's Landing scene which is (wink wink) the closest to the book scene in the episode - Joffrey being happy about Robb being dead and suggesting that he should serve his head on a plate to Sansa during his wedding. Everyone is outraged and Tywin provokes Joffrey who in response tells him that he "hid under the Rock when his father was fighting the war". The looks on every one's faces when Joff said that were priceless.
Another scene I liked was the added scene with Walder Frey and Roose Bolton gloating after they "won". The story was preceded by Bran's tale of a cook who made the king eat his own son in a pie and was cursed because he slaughtered a guest beneath his roof. The scene cut to Walder which suggests the gods will take vengeance, but then again, without a certain moment as a final shot of the season it rings hallow.
The scene with Bolton led to the reveal of who Theon's torturer was. Well it gives me great pleasure that I can finally stop calling him "boy". The boy is in fact Roose's bastard son - Ramsey. He has a scene with Theon in the finale where he gives Theon a new name - "Reek". The origins of the name are infinitely better in the book, but comparing to the amount of other screw ups in the finale I'm not even mad about that one.
We got pretty good scene with Balon Greyjoy and Theon's sister Yara. Ramsey sent them Theon's cut off penis in the box and a message that if Greyjoys won't retreat their forces he will send them more boxes with more of Theon. Balon isn't inclined to give a fuck to Yara's dismay who tells him she will assembly 50 greatest killers and sail to retake Dreadfort and bring her brother home. Her speech about it was great and I really like her character now though that plan is only a tad less moronic than Robb wanting to take Casterly Rock.
What else happened - Sam met with Bran and recognized him as Jon's brother. Unfortunately, Bran has a brilliant idea to go North while Sam heads to Castle Black. Come to think of it, have the Starks not been so stupid they probably would have crossed paths a bunch of times at that point in the story. Sam takes Gilly to Castle Black and he sends a letter describing how he saw White Walkers and asks for help.
That letter is read by Davos, good thing too, as Stannis is pissed off since Davos released Gendry before Stannis and Melisandre had a chance to sacrifice him. For the first time in the series, at least for me, the writers' ridiculous bias towards Dany and dislike towards Stannis was not only evident but ruined the episode even more. Stannis is acting like a little bitch - Davos you are going to jail! Davos I sentence you to die! Davos you can live since Melisandre says so! Jesus Christ. Anyways Stannis, Melisandre and Davos will now try to create the army and aid the Night's Watch.
And that scene wasn't even the worst part of the episode. I'm truly torn between the scene where Ygritte keeps shooting Jon after he leaves her - I was really expecting for her to shoot him in the ass and the horse to throw him in that puddle, since that would be the only thing more ridiculous than that sequence - and the scene with Jaime.
I'm usually fine with the writers altering what happens in the book, but to have Jaime come back to King's Landing now instead after Joff's wedding is just unbelievable. It poses huge problems in the future but I would have been fine with it if him coming back would pay off with a great scene. Oh my God, are you ready? Get this - Jaime comes back, goes to Cersei's room. She is seating on a bed. He is standing few feet behind her, says "Cersei" and she turns around and looks at him. END OF SCENE.
I'd comment but I just can't find the words.
Thank God for Arya. We got truly terrific scene where her and Hound are passing next to Frey soldiers talking about decapitating Robb and sewing the wolf's head on his body. Wordlessly Hound allows Arya to jump off the horse. Arya approaches the soldiers, she is acting all innocent and telling them that she is hungry and she has money. She shows them the Braavos coin she got from Jaqen and she drops it.
When the soldier who claimed was the one who sewed the head to Robb's body, tries to pick up the coin, Arya starts stabbing him repeatedly. The other soldiers move towards her, but Hound jumps in to protect her and kills them all. That was such a terrific scene and Hound is at his best when he is helping the Starks. I hope he will be their ally in the future.
The very ending is where things still could have been saved. Considering Mhysa tack, the very title of the episode- Mhysa (Mother) - and all the little tidbits thrown in this season I was sitting in utter disbelief when right after Dany's scene the end credits rolled. I just couldn't believe that happened. The show has this tradition, well not anymore it doesn't, where the last episode ends with something magical and shocking. They had the opportunity for the biggest, most shocking cliffhanger yet and they fucked up so bad I cannot even find the words to describe just how disappointed I am.
So instead of a great final scene that would get people to anticipate 4th season with passion and eagerness, Dany's Mhysa scene was the conclusion to the finale. It is a nice scene and I don't think it was as awful and cheesy as many people think but come on, this is the scene that ends the season? The season should end with a punch not this. The writers don't seem to grasp the idea that not everyone is rooting for Daenerys. Hyping her up, year after year, is just setting non-book readers up for major let down because her storyline in book 5 is as bad as this finale episode was.
Dany and her entourage are standing in front of he gates waiting for the slaves to emerge. When they do, Missandai tells them that Daenerys is the one who they owe their freedom to. Dany says some sappy stuff about their freedom being their own and the slaves start changing "Mhysa", calling her their mother who brought them freedom. Dany walks into the crowd and the people carry her on their shoulders.
Then we got a truly awful zoom out moment when we saw the crowd with Dany in the centre and dragons flying around. I cannot imagine worse thing as the ending shot of the season. With finale that was that lackluster and boring I can safely say that season four premiere will be incredible in comparison. On the other hand since they did not use the proper ending scene* here, who knows?
* I'm referring to the event that happened 3 days after Red Wedding we are told about in the epilogue of Storm of Swords . It didn't take book readers 10 months to get there and it shouldn't be required of TV audience to wait 10 months for the big reveal.