Season 4 went out with bang. There were so many plot twists/ turns that even death, had its moments throughout the finale. “The Children” wasn’t just about the children of Meereen or the Forest; it was about the remaining Stark children, the Lannisters; even Dany and her dragons. Each story had a purpose and changed the course for many characters. The 66 minutes finale was directed by Alex Graves. This episode has been submitted by GOT for Emmy submissions.
The aftermath of the Wall begins tonight’s chapter, as Jon walks into Mance’s camp to negotiate terms. Jon confesses he was under orders from Halfhand to infiltrate the Wildings to gather information about their attack. Mance questions him about Ygritte asking if she survived however, Jon tells him that she died but not by him. They drink to her death. Mance asks about the Mag the Mighty. Jon reports he was killed by a farmer’s son, Grenn. Both men drink to their deaths as well. The King beyond the Wall knows that the Wall is low on arrows and men. His real purpose is to get his people behind the Wall because “winter is coming”. Mance discovers Jon’s real purpose, to kill him. All of a sudden, a horn blows.
Out of nowhere, a huge army enters the forest. They raid the Wilding camp and kill many in their way. Mance instructs his men to stand down as Davos and Stannis come forward towards him. Davos announces King Stannis as the one true King of Westeros. He tries to get Mance to kneel before them but he refuses. Jon observes the interaction. Jon introduces himself to Stannis as Ned Stark’s son. Baratheon acknowledges Ned. He asks Jon what to do with Mance. Snow answers him by saying he was taken prisoner by him but not harmed; and that the King ought to listen to what he has to say. Stannis agrees with Jon. He tells Stannis to have his men burn the dead bodies.
Later on at Castle Black, the Night’s Watch burn their dead. They end with infamous “and now their watch has ended”. As Aemon passes the torch to Sam, Jon, Edd and Olly, Selyse and Shireen witness the funeral as does Stannis. Through the flames, Melisandre spots Jon.
Jon visits Tormund in the prisoner quarters. He asks if there is something to say for free folk dead. Tormund reveals that he knew Ygritte loved Jon because all she talked about was killing him. Giantsbane asks that she be burned beyond the Wall in north where she belongs. Alone, Jon takes Ygritte’s body outside the Wall near the Weirwood tree and sets fire to it. He says his emotional goodbye.
So finally, the big payoff of this storyline was Stannis’ army coming to the rescue. It was a great aerial shot. There was a mutual respect from Stannis when he finds out that Jon is Ned’s son. Mance was doubly surprised as Jon pleaded for his life. A great move on Jon’s part. It will be interesting to see what Stannis plans are at Castle Black. One particular scene stands out as Mel sees Jon through the flames leaving us wondering what she has in store for him.
It was a bittersweet send off for Pyp and Grenn as their time at the wall comes to an end as well as Ygritte. Kit Harrington brought it home tonight as did a very strong Stephane Dillane as Stannis.
Beyond the Wall
Bran and company arrive at the Weirwood tree. As they move closer to the tree, all of them are attacked by a “wight” army appearing out of the snow. Jojen is grabbed by a “wight”. More attack them. Summer fends one off. Bran waargs into Hodor. Jojen warns Bran to save himself. Jojen is attacked by another wight. Meera comes to his aide. Out of nowhere, a child welcomes “Brandon Stark”. A dying Jojen urges his sister to go on. The child throws fireball at Jojen’s body as more dead try to attack.
The group run into the cave. The wights follow them but don’t survive. Bran asks the child who she is. She tells them she is known as a “child of the forest” before the First men. The child announces that “he” is waiting for them. As they travel through the cave, the troupe comes upon a man bound by tree roots. He says he has been waiting for Brandon Stark. Bran crawls towards him and asks him if he is the “three eyed raven”. The man answers him with I’ve been called many names. Meera comes forth telling him that Jojen died delivering them here. The man acknowledges that Jojen knew his journey. He reveals that he has been watching them with 1001 eyes . Bran asks him if he’ll walk again, but the man says he will learn to fly.
After 4 years, Bran’s storyline has a greater meaning now. The CGI effects of red Weirwood tree among the snow and the “wight” army attack was spectular. The art direction of the cave gave us a chilling and eerie feeling surrounding Bran . Jojen’s death was completely unexpected. Another mystical element is revealed yet again. Season 5 looks promising for this story arc.
In the Throne room, Dany meets Fennesz, a former slave, who was a teacher to a master’s children. He tells her of the dangers since she freed the slaves. The young prey on the old with no remorse. She states the freedom allows choice. She decides to let the man work for his former master for 1 year under contract. Selmy warns her that the masters will take advantage of this. Next a crying man has carries in a blanket to show the Khalessi. He recalls that a dark dragon came from the sky and burned his little girl. Dany is mortified.
In her private chambers, Missandei informs her the little girl’s name was Nyla and she was three. Grey Worm says that Drogon is missing and he is gone across the sea. Day tells him to meet her at the catacombs. She leads the other two dragons into the dark, wet cave. As they chomp on some meat. Daenrys chains both of them up. She begins to walk away leaving the dragons as they call out to her, screeching. Dany takes one last look with tears in her eyes as the door closes.
This was a devasting moment for Dany. Her dragons have always been her children but she realizes that she can’t control them. Her decision to lock them up for the safety of the city was crucial to her rule. It may have consequences down the road.
The Mountain is in horrible shape according to Pycelle, whom exclaims that he was poisoned by “Death of Manticore”. Qyburn says he can save him as Cersei looks on.. Cersei excuses Pycelle while instructing Qyburn to “do everything you can” to save Gregor. Qyburn begins to pump out the Mountain’s blood.
Next, Cersei visits Tywin in his chambers. She refuses to marry Loras Tyrell. Tywin is not having it by telling she’ll marry him the day after Tommen’s wedding to Margery. Cersei insists on staying with Tommen in the capital as he is her last child she has claim on. She argues with her father, that between the Tyrells and him, Tommen will be pulled apart. Cersei admits to the truth of the rumors of her and Jaime while Tywin looks on in disbelief.
Later on, Cersei visits Jaime in his chambers and readily admits she can’t wait for Tyrion to die. She admits that she has told their father, the truth of their relationship. She seduces Jaime by telling that she loves him. And they get it on.
As Tyrion awaits his execution, a door opens, Jaime comes to free Tyrion with the help of Varys. He urges his brother to take the stairs to the right. Tyrion thanks him for his life as they share a heartfelt goodbye. As Tyrion reaches the stairs, he hesitates for a minute, goes towards the Tower of the Hand.
As he enters Tywin’s bedroom, he hears Shae exclaim , “Twyin Lannister, my lion”. A shocked Shae sees Tyrion coming towards her. She grabs a knife to thwart him off. They struggle as the knife is pried loose. Tyrion strangles Shae with her gold necklace. The only words he can say is “I’m sorry” as he sits there for a moment. He eyes the crossbow and takes it towards the privy. He finds his father, Tywin sitting there. Tyrion confronts his father about wanting him dead for his whole life. Tywin agrees that he wanted him dead but he would never die and respects him for that because he is a Lannister. The Imp doesn’t buy it since his own father sentenced him to death. Tywin pleads with Tyrion to come to his chambers to talk it out. Tyrion admits he loved Shae, but he killed in her in the other room. Tywin calls her a ‘whore”. Tyrion warns him not to call her “whore” but Tywin doesn’t care. Tyrion shoots him with the crossbow twice ending with “I’m your son”. Varys finds him in the tower and helps him escape by the way of crate boarding a ship to Essos. As the Spider looks on, he hears the bells tow signaling death.
Kings Landing has been at the forefront all year however, this sequence really stands out for me. We see the power play in Cersei as she confronts her father in order to stay in KL with Tommen. Her command of Qyburn’s experiments despite the protests of Pycelle. She shunned Jaime all season long but seduces him by announcing her love for him to their father. It is Cersei’s devotion to her children and their well being that keeps her motivated. She obviously wants everything but that may come at a price somewhere down the road. Tyrion had another great moment when he confronted both his father and Shae when he found them. It is the look in his eyes that really stood out for me as he turned from the man trying to impress his father to suppressed rage. This episode showcased it in that scene. I felt Jaime was lost this season because he caught in the middle of everything. Perhaps that will unfold next season.
The deaths of Tywin and Shae had its moments as well. For Shae, it was full circle as she ended up back as a prositute. For Tyrion, it was his turning point to see the woman, he thought he loved become someone else’s property, namely his father. Tywin’s death was satisfying as he tried to beg for his life, only to be killed by his own son. Sibel Kikelli was a great TV Shae although she is different in the books. Most of all, I will miss Charles Dance as he commanded so many scenes throughout the 4 seasons on GOT.
An honorable mention to Varys, the spider who hasn’t had much of a role this season, certainly pulled It off with carting Tyrion off in a box. There is certain mystery to him and one that will keep us guessing each season.
Outside the Vale
Brienne wakes up to find the horses are gone. As she makes her way through the rough terrain, she comes upon Arya practicing with Needle. Arya tells the Hound that people are coming.
Unbeknownst to Brienne, they chat about the swords and their fathers. As the Hound appears, Podrick announces his identity. Brienne determines the girl is Arya Stark. She tries to convince Arya to come with her. She informs the young Stark that she swore an oath to her mother Catelyn to find her daughters. The Hound interrupts her by stating that her family is dead and looks at the Valyrian steel with Lannister sigil. He thinks she is sent by the Lannisters for him.
The Hound challenges Brienne to a fight. They draw swords and begin to duel. The Hound begins to get the upper hand. Brienne comes back with force and bites off the Hound’s ear. Finally, she pushes him off a cliff. Pod and Brienne call out for Arya, hiding behind some rocks.
Arya comes upon a wounded Hound. He tries to convince her to go with Brienne but Arya isn’t interested. Next, he tries to make her mad by insulting her sister and Mycah. Arya just stares at him and says nothing. Finally he begs her to kill him. Arya grabs his bag of silver and walks away leaving the Hound to die.
The final scene has Arya riding by a beautiful waterfall as she spots a ship near a port. She quickly gallops towards the Saltpans. Arya finds captain of the ship and asks where they are going. He informs her that they aren’t going North but back to the free city of Braavos. She shows him the iron coin saying. “Valur Morghulis”. The captain replies, “Valur Doheris” allowing her passage on his ship. As the ship sails from the bay, Arya focuses forward to the open seas in front of her.
The intertwining of these two storylines worked. It gave Brienne a more ambitious mission to find Sansa. Brienne and the Hound’s fight was second to none; almost as good as the Mountain and Viper fight scene. One of the best of the season as both had strength and size so it could have gone either way. The Hound’s last scene with Arya was heart wrenching. Her stone faced look at him as he begged her to kill him was her turning point this season. Kudos to Rory McCann for his outstanding performance as the Hound.
Keep posted in the next few weeks for a complete Season 4 review.
Random Thoughts and Quotes
Several scenes were heavily adapted and a few were not in the books but some of it made sense to the characters and their plot lines.
The Jaime/Tyrion scene left some important information out but it was probably that it garnered more sympathy for Shae/Tyrion sequence.
Jojen’s death was unforeseen but it provided Bran’s motivation to meet the Three eyed Raven.
One particular scene (books readers will know) was not included but let’s hope it bridges a gap into season 5.