Game of Thrones Finale Recap: Winter Is Here [UPDATED]

Game Of Thrones Season 2 Finale SpoilersIf you haven’t seen tonight’s Game of Thrones finale yet, get thee to thy DVR immediately! Everyone else, read on.

After last week’s Battle at Blackwater, it didn’t look too good for many of the Game of Thrones crew. So it was a relief to see so many of them survive and plan for the future in the second season finale, “Valar Morghulis.” Here’s what happened:The Lannisters: As a result of his grandfather riding to the rescue in last week’s fight, Joffrey’s insolent tush was back in its wrongful place on the throne. He reinstated Tywin as Hand of the King, and ditched Sansa as his betrothed when it became clear that Margaery Tyrell was unsullied and willing. (Sansa’s relieved joy, however brief, was such a beautiful thing to see.) Meanwhile, Tyrion recuperated from his battle wound in an undisclosed location because, as it turned out, Cersei was behind his near-death. Note: You’ve got to admire just how much treachery that woman fits into each day; she must be a multi-tasker. In pretty much the only instance of me ever not finding Lord Varys creepy, he thanked Tyrion for saving Kings Landing by bringing Shae to him. Tyrion refused to go to Pentos with her, and in an uncharacteristically open and raw moment, was brought to tears by her vow to stay by his side. Elsewhere, Brienne killed three Stark men as she continued to accompany Jaime to King’s Landing. It was pretty kickass. “I don’t serve the Starks,” she stated, making her affiliation quite clear. “I serve Lady Catelyn.” And Stannis (not a Lannister, I know, but this is the place he fits in best) choked Melisandre in his anger over losing at Blackwater, but didn’t kill her. She told him he’d eventually win, but it would be an ugly war. As he stared into some flames, whatever he saw left him dumbfounded. That can’t be good.

The Starks: Against Catelyn’s wishes, Robb was handfast to Talisa. I’m sure that promise he made to marry the bridge dude’s daughter will just be swept away as a wedding present, right? At Winterfell, Theon realized there was no good end to his situation: He and 20 men were surrounded by hundreds. Maester Luwin tried to talk some sense into the Stark’s delusional ward — “I’ve known you many years, Theon Greyjoy. You’re not the man you’re pretending to be. Not yet.” — but the youth instead tried to rouse his tiny army to what would certainly be their death. He wasn’t very successful: A few of the men brained him with a pole, mid-speech, and dragged him to their boats to go back to the Iron Islands. “Thought he’d never shut up,” one quipped. Ha! When Luwin demanded to know what was going on, he got a spear in the belly for his troubles. Bran, Rickon, Hodor, and Osha returned in time to say good-bye to the wise advisor just before he passed. With his last breaths, he told Osha to take everyone north to see Jon at The Wall, then asked the Wildling woman to kill him quickly, which she did. As the Stark boys and their friends sadly went on their way, the ashes of Winterfell smoldered behind them. There was a lot of crying, only a little of it from me. Arya fared a bit better: Jaqen gave her a coin that would summon him whenever she needed. “If the day comes when you must find me again, just give that coin to any man from Braavos and say these words: valar morghulis,” he told her before somehow changing his face (!) and walking away, saying, “Farewell, Arya Stark.” Jon killed one of his Night’s Watch brothers to gain the Wildlings’ trust, and it appeared to work when Ygritte announced that he was going to meet the King Beyond the Wall. In another part of the tundra, a blizzard blew in and left Sam stranded. As he tried to hide behind a rock, a freaking huge army of undead White Walkers in various states of decomposition slowly streamed around him. One noticed him but left him alone, instead raising its spear and issuing a zombierific battle cry. Too bad it’s eons before Rick Grimes’ time, eh?

The Targaryens: There’s technically only one Targaryen around, unless you count the three dragonlets that Daenerys went to the House of the Undying to recover. I do. Those suckers are cute. While Ser Jorah waited outside, she walked through the scary stone building, which appeared to hold both a wintery, abandoned royal court (the Targaryen one, I’m guessing) and a Dothraki tent in which a very much alive Khal held their infant son. But as pleasant as those visions were, the blonde realized that she was being tricked. When she finally found her dragons, a warlock chained her up and told her that because the dragons weren’t strong without her around, she’d never leave. Fortunately, her strength gave the dragons enough power to burp fire onto her captor, and the braided beauty was soon free. After realizing that her handmaid had conspired with the (broke) Xaro, Dany sealed them both in his empty vault and plotted with Ser Jorah to procure a small ship. Watch out, Joffrey — looks like the dragon lady is coming home.

What did you think of this season’s final episode? What are your predictions for next season? Vote in our poll and sound off in the comments!

GET MORE: Recaps