“Game of Thrones” Season 2 Finale Recap: You Come On Like a Flame, Then You Turn the Cold Shoulder

While the ongoing leitmotif of Fire and Ice featured heavily in the Season Two finale of Game of Thrones, the real theme of the episode may well have been “lowered expectations”. Whether it was Tyrion‘s coming to after saving King’s Landing to find that he’d been stripped of his title, Daenerys’s securing the fortune of Qarth only to find that there IS no fortune of Qarth and realize that after all that she’s really more of a stay-at-home dragon mom, really, or Theon’s being c*ck-blocked by his own army, the denoument to last week’s excellent big battle scene seemed determined to readjust expectations across the board.

Including mine.

We start with a close-up of a reflection of fire in an eye that I immediately recognize as being one of Tyrion Lannister‘s (Peter Dinklage). He wakes up to learn from Maester Pycell (Julian Glover) that Stannis has been beaten down, the city has been defended, and oh by the way Tyrion will no longer need his job and his fancy-wallpapered quarters. Pycell tosses him a coin, which I guess is the Westeros version of the forced-retirement wristwatch.

Tyrion’s response? Horse sh*t! Actually, that’s Tywin’s (Charles Dance) response, as he rides his white horse into the Throne Room on the occasion of being named the new Hand of the King by his snot-nosed grandkid, Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). Tywin basically laughs it off, which is awesome. Joffrey then gives Harrenhal to Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen), which is the equivalent of giving someone Staten Island as a thank-you present. Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) – the MAGNIFICENT BITCH that she is – actually rolls his eyes at this one. Seriously, Varys was a bit of a one-note Nancy for a while there, but I really love what’s going on with him these days.

Loras, the Big Gay Knight of Flowers (Finn Jones), is also honored, and Joffrey asks him if his family needs anything in return for his troubles. Loras says that as a matter of fact, his sister Margaery (Natalie Dormer) is still a virgin because his boyfriend never sealed that deal with her and he’d like to marry her to Joffrey. Seriously? You want ROYAL MATRIMONY as a thank-you present? Let’s start with an Edible Arrangement and work our way up, shall we?

Joffrey is totally feeling Margaery’s vibe and they have cheer-sex in front of the entire court for a few minutes. But eventually he says that he has made a vow to marry Sansa, so he can’t. Sansa (Sophie Turner), meanwhile, is in the opera box, throwing thirty-one flavors of “No, seriously – no bigs!” faces. Cersei (Lena Headey) seconds that emotion, saying that while they respect his dedication, his counsel (i.e., his overbearing mother) thinks that it’s totally okay to marry Marge instead, because he made the promise to marry Sansa before they all found out what losers the Starks were. Joffrey tells her that he appreciates that, but that he really stands by his vows, which he made before the gods. Maester Pycell chimes in, saying that he has actually JUST GOTTEN OFF THE PHONE with the gods, and wouldn’t you know they’re tooootally cool with it.

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