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'Game of Thrones' finale finishes the season with powerful moments

The 'Game of Thrones' finale touches on events all over the country of Westeros.

By Kevin YeomanScreen Rant / June 4, 2012

'Game of Thrones' ended its second season with the episode 'Valar Morghulis.'

Courtesy of HBO

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Considering its lack of readily identifiable stars like Sean Bean and Jason Momoa (but really Sean Bean), Game of Thrones had its work cut out for it in season 2.

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Yet somehow, with the added challenge of lacking a central character whose ideals and experiences audiences could cling to throughout the season (like those of Bean’s Eddard Stark), Game of Thrones has arguably managed to pull of the kind of feat most programs wouldn’t dare; that is, the series has exponentially expanded its world – geographically and otherwise – added to its cast of characters, and then spread them apart so that few, if any, actually have chance to interact.

Here, the sheer size of Westeros and the number of characters contained therein could have proved a logistical nightmare for David Benioff and D.B. Weiss – taking into account they had but 10 (or so) hours to tell multiple intertwining (and sometimes disparate) stories and make them work as a cohesive whole. In doing this, the writers crafted a solid second season that united its characters and their various story lines through the omnipresent threat of conflict.

Often times, the trouble with world building on this scale is the struggle to make such varied characters relate to one another, but in Game of Thrones the shared experience that has gripped nearly every kingdom acts like a bridge between stories. There are other elements at play; such as, the general knowledge that Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) knows what everyone, everywhere, is up to at any given time – or that Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aidan Gillen) can be counted on as long as the end helps satiate his lust for wealth and power. The difference is these are attributes given to well-established characters that have a history long before the War of the Five Kings. To ensure Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) has as much reason to take up precious screen time as Jon Snow (Kit Harington) or Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), there must be a shared knowledge of current events to keep them all relevant. And if what Melisandre (Carice van Houten) says to Stannis (Stephen Dillane) is true, then the event that unifies the characters will be raging for years to come.

Here, the progression of the individual plays against the backdrop of something larger, and in having these smaller chunks of story be impacted by such a universal event – rather than directly influence it – the pressure to end in resolution is largely lifted. Where some programs attempting to utilize such styles of storytelling come off being clumsy or unsubtle, this series sees the tactic executed incredibly well.

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