Game of Thrones finaleNed Stark who? Mourning last week's beheading death of everyone's favorite hero from Game of Thrones ended with last night's cliffhanger-packed Season 1 Finale. It was named "Fire & Blood" but I preferred to think of it as "The Night of Butt-Kicking Ladies." Last night's developments largely centered on the strong women characters and some major transformations that seem to point to a female protagonist in the next season -- which won't be until spring of 2012 (behead me now).

There were so many great scenes, so much awesome dialogue, so many hints and teases about what might happen and which female character might reign supreme, it's hard to predict who it might be.

There is Catelyn Stark, the widow of executed Ned, who proves herself to be the strongest member of the Stark family, even up against her son who was named "King of the North." The guy has some serious leadership issues that mommy needs to help him overcome. I love her last line to her son when she speaks about her two daughters, Arya and Sansa, who is betrothed to that sadistic bastard King Joffrey.

"We have to get the girls back, and then we will kill them all."

If Sansa doesn't murder said sadistic bastard king first, that is. First he orders the execution of Sansa's father, right in front of her, and then last night he forces her to look at his head on a stick. At that moment, something happens. She changes. She not only looks at her father's head, but in a subtle act of defiance that even the king is too stupid to realize, she doesn't look away. Instead she asks, "How long would you like me to stare at it?" It's at that point that she makes her decision. She comes thisclose to pushing him off the bridge of a castle, but is thwarted at the last minute. I'm so glad she didn't -- I'm looking forward to her submitting him to a slower, more agonizing death in Season 2.

There's also so much to be said for the others: Queen Cersei, the dark and mysterious "whore" Shae who I'm convinced is much more than that and who is aligning herself with Tyrion. And Arya Stark, who was kidnapped, dressed as a boy, and sent to work as a slave at The Wall, no doubt saving her life and also promising to give her the battle skills she needs to come back and avenge her father's death.

But the most standout in my opinion was Daenerys Targaryen. Don't underestimate this seemingly submissive, pretty blonde. She's submissive no longer. At the start of the season she was married off to the brutal and powerful Khal Drogo for political reasons, and he raped her on her wedding night. 

Last night, we witnessed a woman who miscarries a child as part of a bargain to save her husband -- who she grew to love and respect -- only to find that the witch Mirri Maz Duur betrayed her. Instead of healing her wounded and sick husband, she casts a spell that renders him a vegetable instead.

But what does Daenerys do when she confronts Duur, hands still on her belly after the miscarriage? She doesn't go psycho on the bitch like you or I would. She calmly begs for an explanation of why, especially after Daenerys saved her life. And then she ties her to a stake and burns her alive, "screaming." But not before she suffocates Khal Drogo and puts him out of his mindless misery, and places him in the middle of the pillar with three dragon eggs.

With that mean witch screaming in agony, Daenerys, who is "of the dragon" herself, walks into the flaming circle to the terror of everyone around her. She emerges unharmed, perfect, and gorgeous though stark naked and covered in char dust and ... three baby dragons. Which were positively adorz, by the way.

Season 2 promises to be the Season of the Woman on Game of Thrones. Here's the trailer if you just can't wait:

Which female character do you think will emerge as the protagonist in Season 2?

 

Image via HBO