Game of Thrones Recap: "Valar Morghulis"
He speaks the truth, as Joffrey doles out rewards in the wake of the Lannister victory over Stannis. He returns the title of Hand to his grandfather Lord Tywin after the Warden of the West showed up in the knick of time to save King's Landing with the force of House Tyrell behind him. For his part in brokering the alliance, Littlefinger is named lord of Harrenhal.
As for the Tyrells themselves, Joffrey promises Ser Loras any reward he can name. Loras wishes for their two houses joined in a marriage between his sister Margaery and Joffrey himself. In a lot of obviously prearranged political posturing, Joffrey agrees after dissolving his marriage pact to Sansa.
Sansa turns to leave the throne room and allows herself a giant grin of relief, when Littlefinger stops her to remind the newly-single girl that she's still in danger, but that he'll do all he can to help her home. Lord Baelish sees a lot of Catelyn in her, creepily enough.
Varys informs Tyrion that it was Cersei who ordered Ser Mandon Moore to kill him. Further bad news: Tyrion has lost all the power he'd gained in one fell swoop. The gold cloaks are no longer loyal to him, and he's not received an ounce of credit for the victory on the Blackwater. Though Varys considers the two of them friends, the eunuch can no longer do much to support him. As consolation he's brought Shae, and promises as he leaves that though history won't remember, there are those who know what Tyrion accomplished, and appreciate his sacrifices.
Shae removes the bandages to reveal Tyrion's nasty scar. A dwarf and a monster, he's convinced. She still loves him, though, and wants to run away just the two of them. But he won't; he's addicted to the game. He's never been better at or taken more satisfaction from anything else.
Stannis rages at Melisandre over his defeat and all that he's done in the name of her god. She still has faith, both in Stannis and the Lord of Light. He strangles her in frustration, asking where her god is now. In him, she answers. He relents, and she shows him the visions she sees in her fires. Stannis can see them, finally a true believer. They both stare transfixed at the flames.
Robb willfully breaks his marriage vow to one of Lord Walder Frey's daughters and weds Lady Telisa. Catelyn tried to argue with him, citing her own marriage to Ned as one that began out of necessity and grew into love, but it does no good. Robb will put love ahead of duty, the same as Catelyn did when she freed the Kingslayer.
Jaime and Brienne, it so happens, are en route to King's Landing when they come across three hanged women. Their crime? Bedding Lannister soldiers. Jaime observes the Starks aren't really so noble as they claim. Brienne doesn't care though, she serves Lady Catelyn. A point she proves when the men responsible for the hangings arrive on the scene and realize who it is Brienne is transporting. She brutally murders them.
Varys pays Ros a visit, and she realizes he is, ahem, disinterested in her physical talents. In fact he wants her to inform on Littlefinger to him, promising that, unlike the good Lord Baelish, he cares for those in his service.
Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie make their way north when they see Jaqen watching them. He meets with Arya and tells her he can help her kill everyone she wants dead, if she comes with him to the free city Braavos (also the home of her dancing master Syrio) and learns the ways of the "Faceless Men." She reluctantly declines; she has to find the rest of her family. Jaqen understands, and gives her a coin. Whenever she wants to find him again, she need only give it to any Braavosi and speak the words "Valar Morghulis." She doesn't want him to leave, but he must, for Jaqen's time is done. He turns away momentarily and takes on an entirely different appearance. "Faceless Man" indeed.
In Winterfell, Theon is surrounded by northern forces, the most irksome a horn blower who won't allow him a moment's rest. Maester Luwin advises that Theon escape and join the Night's Watch, where his deeds will be forgiven and he'll have genuine opportunities. But no, it's too late even for that.
Theon delivers a rousing speech to his men, preparing them to die gloriously in battle. Just when it seems to have done the trick, his first mate knocks him out and the rest of the ironborn bound and bag him. No need for them all to die, when giving up Theon will mean they can walk free. Maester Luwin runs out to see what's happening and gets a spear in the gut for his troubles.
Further north, Qhorin attacks Jon in a bid for the young lord to gain the wildlings' trust. It works: Jon skewers the old ranger and is freed from his binds. They then arrive at a massive wildling camp, where Ygritte tells Jon it's time for him to meet Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall.
Bran, Osha, Rickon, and Hodor leave the Winterfell crypts to discover the castle's burnt ruins. They find Maester Luwin dying at the Godswood, where he advises them to go north and find Jon. Osha grants the wise old man a quick death, and they all set out on their journey.
In Qarth, Dany ventures to the House of the Undying to reclaim her dragons. Jorah and her bloodrider lose track of her as she follows the cries of her children through the mysterious tower's passageways. Visions abound as she walks through the snow-swept throne room in King's Landing (her destiny?) and out in front of the Wall to a Dothraki tent, in which she finds Khal Drogo holding the baby they never got to have. Neither of them understand what's going on, but it's obvious they both desperately wish this were real. Maybe it could be…
...But we won't get to find out. Dany does what she knows she has to, and leaves to find her dragons waiting for her, chained, in the central chamber. Pyat Pree is there, and before long she is chained as well. It turns out his magic only became real when her dragons were born. It's strongest when they're near, and when she is near them, so he'll keep her locked up here forever. She promptly has her children burn the warlock to a cinder.
Xaro Xhoan Daxos awakens next to Doreah to find Dany, her dragons, and what remains of her Khalasar in his bed chamber. This was not according to plan. They take his key and open his treasure room only to find his vast fortune was all a lie. Dany locks the King of Qarth and her treacherous handmaiden in the vault, thanking him for the lesson. The dothraki loot Xaro's house for what wealth they can find, and go on to make their own way.
Beyond the wall, Sam and friends hear the blast of a horn. Announcing Jon's return, perhaps? No, it blows a second time, meaning wildlings. They draw steel and go to join their brothers, when, for the first time in a thousand years, the horn of a Night's Watchman sounds a third blast.
The two other run off and Sam cowers as shadowy figures approach in the snow. They march closer: A blue-eyed army of the frozen undead, led by snow-white specters on the backs of reanimated horses.
And so season 2 comes to a close, confirming what's been hinted at since the very first scene of the series: The lords of Westeros play their game of thrones, but it might all be pointless, for the Starks have been right all along.
Winter is coming.