x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

The 'imp' rules his roost in Game of Thrones finale

Tyrion Lannister awakens to a brave new world as the second season of Game of Thrones draws to a close.

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister.
Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister.

A sense of loss that's sure to sting like dragon's breath will soon engulf global legions as Game of Thrones caps its second season and fans realise that they'll somehow have to get on with their lives without the Lannisters and Starks – at least until next spring.

The title of Monday night's season finale, Valar Morghulis, hails from a common greeting in Braavos, meaning "all men must die" in High Valyrian.

In fact, to recap, almost all of the men just about did in last week's blood-spattered episode, Blackwater – written with grisly élan by none other than George RR Martin himself, the author of the book series A Song of Ice and Fire – which saw a valiant Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and the Lannisters fight for their lives as Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), claimant to the Iron Throne, sailed his armada to King's Landing.

War changes everyone, and this penultimate episode forced each character to confront their true nature – and to gain new knowledge about themselves – certain to affect the future tack of the series.

Jaws hit the floor – both on screen and off – as tension ratcheted up like a crossbow and HBO's "medieval Die Hard" gorefest exploded with production values and visual thrills usually reserved for big-budget Hollywood spectacles.

When a lone Lannister ship filled to the gunnels with alchemists' wildfire was set ablaze by an arrow, the ensuing eye-popping pyrotechnics turned Blackwater Bay into a blinding cauldron of emerald fireworks that sizzled to ashes half of Baratheon's soldiers and fleet. But the dogged Baratheon pressed ashore.

But what of the women, you may well ask. Well, in the Red Keep, queen mum Cersei (Lena Headey) drank herself numb with the crying ladies – but not before sharing her views on queenly sexual politics to Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and securing herself a vial of nightshade poison, her Plan B, should the barbarians breach the walls.

But truly, the standout moment was this: while Shakespeare's Henry V is celebrated for literature's call-to-arms St Crispin's Day speech – now Dinklage seems a shoo-in for a second Emmy after his Tyrion embraced his moment of destiny to deliver an earthy, awe-inspiring speech to his fellow citizens, left demoralised by the cowardly disappearance of their boy-King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) as Baratheon's battering ram pounded away at the door. In fact, it was Tyrion's speech and cunning that turned the tide and saved the day - thus setting the stage for the season finale.

As of late, the star of this diminutive leading man has gone supernova – Dinklage made the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in May, when it was also announced he's been scheduled to co-star in The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, a comedy with Robin Williams, Mila Kunis, Melissa Leo and James Earl Jones, from the Field of Dreams director Phil Alden Robinson.

So what do we know for sure about tonight's finale? Here are a few cryptic clues, but no spoilers: Tyrion awakens to a new world, a very celebrated "imp" indeed, as Joffrey rewards his subjects.

In Winterfell, Theon (Alfie Allen) stirs his men to action as Luwin (Donald Sumpter) offers words of advice.

Brienne (Gwendolyn Christie) silences "Kingslayer" Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).

The youngest Stark daughter Arya (Maisie Williams) receives a gift from the sly criminal Jaqen (Tom Wlaschiha).

Ned Stark's bastard Jon Snow (Kit Harington) proves himself to the Night Watch Ranger Qhorin (Simon Armstrong).

The Game of Thrones finale is broadcast at 11pm on Monday on OSN First and OSN First HD

Famous Almost-Last Words

"Don't fight for your king. And don't fight for his kingdoms. Don't fight for honour. Don't fight for glory. Don't fight for riches – because you won't get any. This is your city Stannis means to sack. This is your gate he's ramming. If he gets in, it will be your houses he burns. Your gold he steals. Your women he'll rape. Those are brave men knocking at our door …. Let's go kill them!"

After cowardly King Joffrey flees, the diminutive Tyrion Lannister bravely steps up to lead his disheartened men with these words to rally spirits and turn the tide in the Battle of Blackwater.