“Kissed by Fire” – Season 3, Episode 5
I’m not usually one for endings – with books, and more so with films and television, a bad ending can really ruin something that was otherwise pretty good. Final scenes tend to fall into the extremes of complete resolutions of balance, moral messages, and all things roses (Desperate Housewives irrevocably had that lulling voiceover that tried to tie events together and leave you with something meaningful), or an in-media-res moment with dramatic build-up, cutting you off right before the climax, and leaving a sloppy cliff-hanger that’s unlikely to be immediately resolved in the next episode’s exposition (Lost was a terrible culprit for this). Rarely do you find yourself in the pleasant purgatory of a bittersweet closing sequence that leaves you in thought, but not hopeless desperation.
I have to admit, that now season 3 has got going, Game of Thrones has, two weeks in a row, mustered a well-crafted ending of defiant stands without the all-encompassing resolution, nor the outrageous cliff-hanger.
In episode 4, we saw Dany overthrow Kraznys and free the slaves so that they can fight for her as free men. It was a triumphant moment of frenzy, fire and female empowerment. Having overcome the crimes of the slave state, there was a shift towards resolution, but not a permanent one. The storyline was left open to us for episode 5 to begin chipping away at – would any of the Unsullied walk away? How would an army of men who have only ever known the world of orders and indoctrination adjust to the restoration of their freedom and human rights? Would they adjust?
Episode 5’s ending is not at all in the same vein as its predecessor, but it still strikes that magic combination of bittersweet impermanence. This time, the politics all stays at the Lannister table. After Cersei maliciously licks her lips at Tywin’s order for Tyrion to be wed to Sansa Stark, the egg is soon on her face as the second order is that she be wed to Loras Tyrell and get breeding. In Tywin’s kingdom, politics supersedes family, and all family values are based on are the heirs that are provided.
The contrast here is that for the Lannister clan, your identity is insignificant and it is only your name and title that count. Under Dany’s rule, this is opposite, your name and title is insignificant to her – this episode she tells the slaves they should choose themselves a new name that captures their true identities. She is told by the Unsullied’s elected leader, Grey Worm, that he will choose to keep his slave-name because that was the name he had when he was freed by her. The Unsullied seem to be struggling to form their own identities where it has room to flourish, whereas the Lannister children seem to be struggling against the repression of their already well-formed identities where there is no room to grow.
These two very different episode endings are both satisfying in different ways – one provides overt, outlandish action, whereas the other is a more covert and subtle fight. They are both exciting in their suspension of the problem spawned from the final event and the lack of immediate solution.