"Valar Morghulis" is the tenth and final episode of the second season of Game of Thrones. It is the twentieth episode of the series overall. It premiered on June 3, 2012. It was written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss and directed by Alan Taylor.
Tyrion awakens to a changed situation. King Joffrey doles out rewards to his subjects. As Theon stirs his men to action, Luwin offers some final advice. Brienne silences Jaime; Arya receives a gift from Jaqen; Dany goes to a strange place; Jon proves himself to Qhorin.
In King's Landing
In new, shabby quarters, Tyrion Lannister convalesces from the wound he suffered during the Battle of the Blackwater at the hands of Ser Mandon Moore. He is informed by a gloating Grand Maester Pycelle that he is no longer Acting Hand of the King, as his father Tywin Lannister has returned to the city and will take over his duties as Hand. Varys visits and tells him that Bronn has been relieved of his command of the gold cloaks and his hill tribesmen have gone home with their plunder; Tyrion has lost all of his power. Varys thanks Tyrion for his part in defending the city, noting that no one else will do so. Shae urges Tyrion to leave with her for Pentos, but he refuses.
King Joffrey rewards those who served him well in the battle. Lord Tywin Lannister is officially named Hand of the King and Savior of the City. Littlefinger is awarded Harrenhal for brokering the alliance between Houses Lannister and Tyrell. Loras Tyrell asks that Joffrey wed his sister Margaery to unite their houses. Queen Cersei Lannister and Pycelle make a show of convincing Joffrey to set aside his betrothal to Sansa Stark, given the treachery of House Stark. Joffrey plays along and agrees to wed Margaery. In private, Sansa is overjoyed to be free, until Littlefinger points out that it will not stop Joffrey from tormenting her; however, he does assure her that he will help her escape, for the sake of her mother.
Ros is visited by Varys, though she doesn't realize who he is until she discovers his eunuch status. Varys gets Ros to admit she's afraid of Littlefinger, and tells her that unlike her current employer, he protects those who work for him.
Following his defeat at the Blackwater, Stannis Baratheon has retreated back to Dragonstone. He rages at Melisandre for not foreseeing his defeat, despite her claims to see the future. Melisandre insists that the Lord of Light only allows her glimpses and that Stannis cannot abandon the war because of a single defeat. Stannis accuses her of lying to him, of knowing nothing about war and angrily begins to strangle her. When Melisandre insists her god is in him, Stannis releases her, realizing she is talking about the creature they created to murder his brother. Melisandre tells Stannis he will betray his men, his family and his beliefs but in the end, it will be worth it; she assures Stannis that he is the Lord's Chosen and he will be king. Stannis is skeptical, but Melisandre has him look into a brazier; Stannis appears to have visions, restoring his faith in the Red Priestess.
In the Westerlands
In the Westerlands, King Robb Stark speaks with his mother Lady Catelyn regarding his love affair with the woman Talisa. Catelyn urges Robb to remember his vow to wed a daughter of House Frey, or face severe consequences. She says that she and Robb's father didn't love each other when they first married, but that he grew to love her over time. She predicts that Robb and his betrothed might build a similar love over time. Robb disregards her advice and marries Talisa in private that night.
Traveling east to King's Landing, Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister come upon the bodies of three women, hanged by Stark soldiers for having slept with Lannister soldiers. When the men return, the pair try to lie their way out of the situation. Jaime is recognized and Brienne chose to kill the soldiers. In so doing she reveals her prowess as a fighter to Jaime. When Jaime reminds her that she killed Stark men, Brienne responds that she does not serve House Stark, but Catelyn Stark.
In Winterfell, Theon Greyjoy is besieged by a northern army under command of Roose Bolton's bastard son. Maester Luwin tells Theon his chances of holding the castle with only twenty men are negligible. Luwin suggests that Theon join the Night's Watch, gaining a chance to redeem himself. When Theon refuses (fearing that Jon Snow will kill him for his betrayal) and tries to rally his men for battle, they betray him; Dagmer knocks Theon out. When Luwin tries to intervene, Dagmer stabs him with a spear. The ironmen place a bag on Theon and depart Winterfell to deliver him to the Bolton army.
Some time later, Bran, Rickon, Osha and Hodor emerge from their hiding place in Winterfell's crypts and find the castle burning. They discover the dying Luwin in the godswood. He insists that the boys must go north to the Wall, as there are too many enemies in the south and Jon will be able to keep them safe and tell their mother of their survival. Luwin affirms his pride at having served the Starks before asking Osha to give him a quick death.
In the Riverlands
Traveling away from Harrenhal, Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie cross paths with Jaqen H'ghar, who has been waiting for them. He offers to take Arya with him to Braavos, where she can learn his skills of killing and find a way to kill those on her list. She declines, wanting to be reunited with her family. Jaqen gives her an iron coin and the words "Valar Morghulis," telling her to speak them to any man from Braavos should she ever need to find him again. Jaqen bids Arya farewell, using her real name, and departs, changing his face to that of a different man as he leaves.
Daenerys Targaryen arrives at House of the Undying and is magically separated from Jorah and Kovarro. She finds herself in an empty circular room with many doors. She chooses one and opens it. She is presented with tempting visions. First the snowy, ruined throne room of King's Landing where she turns away from the Iron Throne. She then walks through the gates of the Wall surrounded by more snow, and into Drogo's tent. She finds Drogo and what would have been her infant son Rhaego. They talk about whose dream they are in, and Daenerys silently leaves after touching Rhaego's hair. She returns to the room with many doors and finds her dragons chained to a pedestal in front of her. Pyat Pree appears and explains that she and her brood are the source of his restored magic. Daenerys is also chained by Pyat's magic. The young queen is unconcerned however, and simply regards Pree with a cool, almost lazy gaze. She calmly utters a single word: "Dracarys"; after a couple of tries, all three dragons unleash their fiery breath, and Pyat Pree is incinerated.
Daenerys knows that Xaro has betrayed her. She returns to his palace to confront him and finds Doreah in bed with him. She takes his key and uses it to open his Valyrian stone vault. She is surprised when it is empty, but observes that this proves something can easily come from nothing. On her orders, Doreah and Xaro are locked into the empty vault to die, their pleas cut off by the closing door. Daenerys salvages enough from Xaro's household to buy a ship. On Jorah's orders, the Dothraki seize Xaro's gold and jewels while Daenerys triumphantly watches with her three dragons.
Beyond the Wall
Jon Snow and Qhorin Halfhand are marched towards the camp of the King-Beyond-the-Wall, Mance Rayder, as captives of the Lord of Bones. Qhorin realizes that he will have to sacrifice himself in order to facilitate the ruse of Jon deserting to the wildlings, so he stuns one of his captors and acquires a sword, attacking Jon with the seeming intention of killing him for treachery. The Lord of Bones lets them fight, and Ygritte gives Jon back his sword. Qhorin enrages Jon by insulting his parentage. After a fierce duel, Jon mortally wounds Qhorin per Qhorin's own instructions, who whispers to Jon "We are the watchers on the Wall" before he breathes his last, signalling to him that he has done the right thing and reminding Jon that he must find out all he can about the wildlings' plans and get back to the Wall. By his killing Qhorin, the wildlings believe Jon has betrayed his oath and release him. Impressed, the Lord of Bones cuts Jon free. Ygritte shows him their vast army, gathering in a valley below. She promises to take him to their King and, with no other choice, Jon follows her.
At the Fist of the First Men, Sam, Grenn and Edd are foraging for fuel when they hear three horn blasts; the warning call for White Walkers. The three run back to the Fist. Sam is left behind, caught in a sudden blizzard. Seeing shadowy figures moving through the blowing snow, Sam hides behind a rock and watches as dozens of Wights walk past him, led by a White Walker riding an undead horse-wight. Sam cowers in fear, but the White Walker seemingly ignores him. Raising a spear with a blade of ice, the creature gives a piercing shriek, and the army of wights and White Walkers, numbering several hundred, advances on the Fist.
- Main: Valar Morghulis recap
A detailed recap of the episode scene by scene.
- Maester Luwin
- Pyat Pree
- Qhorin Halfhand
- Xaro Xhoan Daxos
- Dagmer Cleftjaw
- Black Lorren
- 13 other Ironborn warriors
- 3 unnamed women
- 2 unnamed Stark soldiers
- 21 of 25 cast members for the second season appear in this episode.
- Starring cast members James Cosmo (Jeor Mormont), Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth), Jerome Flynn (Bronn) and Rory McCann (Sandor Clegane) are not credited and do not appear in this episode.
- Natalie Dormer is credited ahead of Stephen Dillane when she was credited after him when they last appeared together in "The Ghost of Harrenhal."
- Natalie Dormer is credited ahead of Carice van Houten when she was credited after her when they last appeared together in "Garden of Bones."
- Richard Madden, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Maisie Williams, Alfie Allen and John Bradley are credited ahead of Jack Gleeson when they were credited after him when they last appeared together in "The Prince of Winterfell."
- Sophie Turner is credited ahead of Jack Gleeson when she was credited after him when they last appeared together in "Blackwater."
- Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo) is credited as 'also starring' during the closing credits of this episode.
- Toni Bobeta, Jonathan Cohen, Gary Connery, Jamie Edgell, Dave Fisher, Jozsef Fodor, Dave Forman, James Grogan, Paul Herbert, Michelle McKeown, Sian Milne, Camilla Naprous, Gerard Naprous, Jimmy O'Dee, Domonkos Pardanyi, Marcus Shakesheff, Greg Silverman, C.C. Smiff, Mark Southworth and Harrison Thane were stunt performers in this episode.
- Valar Morghulis is a common greeting in Braavos, meaning "all men must die" in High Valyrian. It is meant in the sense of "all men must (eventually) die," sooner or later, somewhat like the Latin saying "memento mori." The customary response is Valar Dohaeris — "all men must serve." The actual translation is not mentioned in the episode and was not provided until Season 3's episode "Walk of Punishment".
- This phrase is used as a game over screen for the Telltale version whenever the playable characters die non-canonically.
- Varys tells Tyrion that the tribesmen were paid by Tywin and went home. This is the last reference in the show to the hill tribes.
- In the novels, although the tribesmen do not appear on-screen after the battle of the Blackwater, it is mentioned that they have become a dangerous menace to the Vale, since they have been armed with steel weapons and armors, in compliance with the deal they made with Tyrion.
- The episode was 10 minutes longer than usual to allow for the resolution of the Battle of the Blackwater and setting up new story lines for the third season.
- The episode won a Creative Arts Emmy Award for Visual Effects in September 2012.
- Executive Producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss decided to play a practical joke on Alfie Allen (who plays Theon Greyjoy), by giving him a fake script for the season finale, in which Bran Stark kills Theon Greyjoy, in a massive departure from the novels. Their hope was to get a rise out of Allen, on seeing that his character was not only unexpectedly killed off, but by none other than Bran. However, instead of being frustrated, Allen actually thought that such a major departure was an intriguing idea, to the point that he didn't realize it was a joke for quite some time, just a bold change the writers were making. Thus he had no particularly strong reaction to the fake script. Some time later they called him on the phone to say that they were thinking of bringing Theon back as a wight with no dialogue, which was so obviously a joke that Allen realized they'd just been trying to play a prank on him.
- Theon refuses to take the black, believing that Jon would kill him. When someone joins the Watch, his criminal record is erased clean, no matter what vile deeds he performed; Jon should follow that rule and refrain from harming any new recruit, even if he is one of the Starks' enemies (a Lannister) or their henchmen. Theon, however, is far worse in a sense than the other ironborn who invaded the North, or anyone else who wronged the Starks in general, since he grew up with the Starks and seemed to be their ally. Therefore, Theon's fear is not baseless: had he joined the Watch, Jon might have not restrained himself from paying him back for the atrocities he committed against the North in general and against the Starks in particular.
- Theon repeats his father's incorrect statement from "The Night Lands" - that Ned Stark killed Rodrik and Maron Greyjoy. Actually, Rodrik Greyjoy was killed by Lord Jason Mallister at the battle of Seagard, and Maron Greyjoy was killed by a collapsing tower during the Siege of Pyke.
- The sword fight scene between Jon Snow and Qhorin Halfhand was filmed on a cliff with a 500 foot drop. It was a two day shoot, and they were sinking into the snow which left them both exhausted.
- The final sequence of the camera panning away to reveal the White Walkers and their army of hundreds of wights was meant to be filmed in Iceland in November 2011. However, the producers weren't happy with the White Walker costumes from Season 1, and they wanted to redesign them for their full reveal in the Season 2 finale (as up until this point they've just been glimpsed in the shadows). This meant the final scene had to be reshot on a sound stage in London. The design changes took so long that by the time they had finished, director Alan Taylor had to leave to work on Thor: The Dark World and was unavailable to film the reshoots. As it was primarily a special effects sequence being produced by the TV series' special effects studio Pixomondo, the sound stage reshoots were ultimately directed by Pixomondo’s visual effects supervisor Rainer Gombos.
- No less than 1,000 wights are depicted in the closing special effects shot. This was achieved by the series' special effects group Pixomondo using only fifty extras, digitally doubled up to make the entire army. Roughly 10-30 White Walkers are interspersed among them. However, only one full version of the redesigned White Walker costume had been created, so only one stunt man played all of the White Walkers, digitally doubled up (and sometimes wearing different equipment to try to distinguish them).
- At the end of the episode, when Daenerys' followers are ransacking Xaro Xhoan Daxos' palace, Jorah says in subtitled Dothraki, "take all the gold and jewels!" This was added with only a few hours before shooting had to wrap, but the crew was not able to contact language consultant David J. Peterson in time. Because Iain Glen (Jorah) has delivered a large amount of Dothraki dialogue before, the crew asked him to just ad-lib the line as best he could. The correct way to say this exact line in Dothraki is "Fichas ei hoshor ma dan," but the line that Glen ad-libbed was something close to "Mas ovray movekkhi moskay." Peterson retroactively came up with a translation so Jorah's line would make sense in Dothraki, with the literal translation, "The remaining valuables are for loading."
- Fans frequently asked the writers why Robb Stark and Talisa were married by a septon of the Faith of the Seven, when he apparently follows the Old Gods of the Forest like his father did (and Talisa, being from the Free Cities, wouldn't follow the Faith of the Seven either). Writer Bryan Cogman explained that they just wanted to get quickly married in secret and a septon happened to be readily at hand, so it was just a spur of the moment decision. Cogman pointed out that Robb was raised in an interfaith household, since his mother Catelyn follows the Faith and Eddard even married her in the sept at Riverrun; so Robb was at least exposed to the Faith of the Seven growing up, and apparently just liked the pageantry of their marriage ceremony.
In the books
- The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Clash of Kings:
- Chapter 18, Sansa II: Someone promises Sansa that he will help her escape. Someone tells Sansa that everyone in King's Landing is a better liar than her.
- Chapter 47, Arya IX: Arya says goodbye to Jaqen. He gives her an Iron Coin and tells her, if she comes to Braavos, give a man the coin and say "Valar Morghulis." He tells her that Jaqen is dead and changes his face. When Jaqen changes his face, it is described as if he removed a drape of cloth from his face. His new face also has a golden tooth.
- Chapter 48, Daenerys IV: Daenerys enters the House of the Undying. She goes through a door and is in the Throne Room in King's Landing. One of her dragons helps her escape.
- Chapter 63, Daenerys V: Daenerys decides that she must flee Qarth and sets out with Jorah and her bloodriders to find ships.
- Chapter 65, Sansa VIII: King Joffrey doles out rewards to his subjects. The Tyrells asks King Joffrey if he will marry Margaery. He accepts, after convincing from his mother, and breaks the engagement with Sansa. Sansa is happy until a man tells her she is not free, she's their hostage, and he will help her escape.
- Chapter 66, Theon VI: Theon makes a speech to his men. Luwin offers some final advice to Theon, who knows he's about to die. Maester Luwin suggests Theon to take the black. Theon gets knocked down, Maester Luwin is speared. Winterfell is torched, though many buildings are still standing.
- Chapter 67, Tyrion XV: Tyrion wakes in a new bed, and a new room. A Maester has taken care of his wound and tells him of the defeat. He is then told that he is not Hand of the King anymore. He wonders why Ser Mandon Moore wanted to kill him. He calls on Podrick and asks after Bronn.
- Chapter 68, Jon VIII: Jon and Qhorin fight. Jon slays Qhorin Halfhand.
- Chapter 69, Bran VII: Bran, Osha, Hodor, and Rickon come out of hiding and they see the pieces of Winterfell. They found Maester Luwin and he says his final words to them.
- The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Storm of Swords:
- Prologue: The Horn sounds three times. The White Walkers attack.
- Chapter 1, Jaime I: Jaime and Brienne find dead tavern wenches.
- Chapter 7, Jon I: Jon arrives at Mance Rayder's camp.
- Chapter 14, Catelyn II: Robb talks with Catelyn about releasing Jaime Lannister. Rickard Karstark, whose sons Eddard and Torrhen were killed by Jaime, is angry at her and leaves the room in a fury. Robb's marriage is revealed, and Catelyn speaks with him about breaking the pact with the Freys.
- The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Dance with Dragons:
- Chapter 20, Reek II: Ironborn surrender to Ramsay, after one of them silences their commander.
- Chapter 46, A Ghost in Winterfell: Horn blasts sound outside of Winterfell, disquieting its occupants. Theon is certain that Jon will kill him.
- "Maybe I told the Great Stallion to go fuck himself, and came back here to wait for you."
- ―Khal Drogo to Daenerys in a vision.
- "I need to find my brother and mother. And my sister. I need to find her too."
- ―Arya to Jaqen
- "There are many who know that without you this city faced certain defeat. The king won't give you any honors, the histories won't mention you, but we will not forget."
- ―Lord Varys to Tyrion
- "After all the things you have seen, this is your question?"
- ―Jaqen to Arya
- "I'm a monster, as well as a dwarf. You should charge me double."
- ―Tyrion Lannister to Shae
- "I wish someone would have told me, I wouldn't have had to steal that pig."
- ―Jaime Lannister
- Theon Greyjoy: "I will kill that man! I don't care how many arrows they feather me with, how many spears they run through me, I will kill that horn-blowing cunt before I fall!"
- Maester Luwin: "They want you to know you're surrounded."
- Theon Greyjoy: "I know I'm surrounded. I know that because I stood on the battlements and saw I was surrounded."
- Maester Luwin: "They don't want you to sleep. They want to sap your spirit before..."
- Theon Greyjoy: "Thank you, wise bald man! Thank you for explaining siege tactics to me."
- — Theon to Maester Luwin[src]
- Theon Greyjoy: "The first time I saw Winterfell, it looked like something that had been here for thousands of years, and would be here for thousands of years after I was dead. I saw it and I thought, 'Of course Ned Stark crushed our rebellion and killed my brothers.' We never stood a chance against a man who lives here."
- Maester Luwin: "Lord Stark went out of his way to make it your home."
- Theon Greyjoy: "Yes I know my captors were so very kind to me, you love reminding me of that! Everybody in this frozen pile of shit has loved reminding me of that. You know what it's like to be told how lucky you are to be someone's prisoner? To be told how much you owe them? And then to go back home to your real father...[Theon begins to shed tears as the horn blows again.] I will kill that man! I swear to the Drowned God, the old gods, the new gods, TO EVERY FUCKING GOD IN EVERY FUCKING HEAVEN, I WILL KILL THAT MAN!"
- — Theon to Maester Luwin[src]
- Maester Luwin: "Theon, listen to me. I serve Winterfell. Now Winterfell is yours. I'm bound by oath to serve you."
- Theon Greyjoy: "And what's your counsel, trusted friend?"
- Maester Luwin: "Run. Five hundred Northmen wait outside the walls, you have twenty men. You can't win. Wait for nightfall and run."
- Theon Greyjoy: "There's nowhere to run. I'll never make it back to the Iron Islands. And even if I did, even if by some miracle I slipped through the lines and made it home, I'll be a coward. The Greyjoy who ran. The shame of the family."
- Maester Luwin: "Don't go home. Join the Night's Watch. Once a man has taken the black, he is beyond reach of the law. All his past crimes are forgiven."
- — Maester Luwin to Theon Greyjoy[src]
- Maester Luwin: "I've known you for many years, Theon Greyjoy. You're not the man you are pretending to be."
- Theon Greyjoy: "You may be right. I've gone too far to pretend to be anything else."
- — Valar Morghulis
- Theon Greyjoy: "You hear that? That's the mating call of the Northmen. They want to fuck us! Well, I haven't had a good fuck in weeks, I'm ready for one! They say every Ironborn man is worth a dozen from the mainland. You think they're right?!"
- Black Lorren: "Aye."
- Theon Greyjoy: "We die today, brothers. We die bleeding from a hundred wounds, with arrows in our necks and spears in our guts...but our war cries will echo through eternity! They will sing about the Battle of Winterfell until the Iron Islands have slipped beneath the waves! Every man, woman and child will know who we were and how long we stood! Aggar and Gelmar, Wex and Urzen, Stygg and Black Lorren! Ironborn warriors will cry out our names as they leap onto the shores of Seagard and Faircastle. Mothers will name their sons for us! Girls will think of us with their lovers inside them! AND WHOEVER KILLS THAT FUCKING HORNBLOWER WILL STAND ON BRONZE ABOVE THE SHORES OF PYKE! WHAT IS DEAD MAY NEVER DIE!"
- — Theon rallies his men for a fight to the death.[src]
- Black Lorren: "Thought he'd never shut up."
- Dagmer Cleftjaw: "It was a good speech. Didn't want to interrupt."
- — Theon is betrayed by his fellow Ironborn.[src]
- "We are the watchers on the wall."
- ―Qhorin's last words to Jon.
- "My father is dead. And the only parent I have left has no right to call anyone reckless."
- ―Robb to his mother
- Luwin: "Osha, you must protect them. You're the only one who can. You may have to protect them from your own kind."
- Osha: "I have no great love for my own kind."
- — A dying Luwin beseeches Osha to protect Bran and Rickon.[src]
- Grenn: "[hearing the horn blow three times] Three blasts?"
- Dolorous Edd: "RUN!"
- — Sam, Edd and Grenn are alerted to the arrival of the White Walkers.[src]
- Comic Book Movie News reporting on the extended finale
- Access Hollywood Interview : Kit Harrington on Filming "Difficult" and "Emotional" Game of Thrones Season 2 Finale
- Fastcocreate.com "Collaboration Isn’t Always Pretty—Behind The Emmy-Winning VFX For “Game Of Thrones”
- David J. Peterson's blog, Dothraki.com, June 16, 2012.
- Bryan Cogman Q&A, WinterIsComing.net, April 24, 2013.