TV Review: Game of Thrones Season 4 (The Children)

The Children by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

Warning: MAJOR Spoilers!!

This finale featured some departures from the books (I’m not going into the Lady Stoneheart omission because i couldn’t care less about it – always hated that plot-line anyway) and some major character deaths – as well as setting the stage for the next season. The direction and the music is as good as ever, so I’ll just jump straight into the plot.

Leading on from last weeks cliffhanger, Jon Snow surrenders to the Wildlings and is brought to Mance to negotiate. After raising a few glasses to the fallen (Ygritte, Grenn and the giant he killed) Mance (Ciaran Hinds) realises Jon’s intention is to assassinate him. However before Jon can decide whether or not to do so (especially after Mance has made an offer to peacefully move through the wall without killing anyone) they are distracted by an army of knights who attack Mance’s army and scatter them. The army is revealed to be led by Stannis, who saves Jon and at his advice imprisons Mance (and the surrending Wildlings) rather than killing him. The Night’s Watch then burn their dead (including Pyp and Grenn) during which Melisandre locks eyes with him (suggesting their characters will interact next season?). Jon then (at Tormund’s request) takes Ygritte’s body beyond the wall to ‘the real North’ and burns it – one of the moments in this finale that tugs at your heartstrings quite a bit.

In King’s landing, the Mountain is dying after being stabbed repeatedly by Oberyn’s spear, but Cersei allows Qyburn to attempt to save him (over Pycelle’s objections) by any means, however unnatural. Cersei then threatens Tywin, refusing to marry Loras Tyrell – and saying if he tries to force her she will admit the incestuous relationship between her and Jaime (something Tywin did not actually believe) thus nullifying Tommen’s claim to the throne. Jaime meanwhile realises the imprisoned Tyrion, who instead of escaping goes to confront his father – and finds Shae in his bed. It’s a shock which needless to say goes down badly and after a brief struggle Tyrion violently strangles her. Feeling completely betrayed he takes Joffrey’s crossbow and confronts his father (who is sitting on the privy defenceless). After a tense conversation (and some brilliant acting from Charles Dance and Peter Dinklage) Tyrion shoots his father. After Tywin claims Tyrion is ‘no son of his!’ Tyrion says pointedly ‘i am your son, i have ALWAYS been your son’ he shoots him again in the chest, killing him. Funny how this episode was broadcast on father’s day – all three Lannister children betray Tywin in different ways in this finale! This is the first time Tyrion’s outright murdered anyone on the show (well outside a battle anyway) and killing his former lover and his father is bound to have a lasting impact on him in future seasons. He (along with Varys, who helped him) then flees king’s landing on a ship.

Bran and his party finally reach the tree where the ‘three eyed raven’ lives, only to be attacked by some reanimated skeletons, who in a surprising turn of events kill off Jojen – whose been a major part of Bran’s storyline for so long now. The CGI skeletons are very good – as are the magical bombs thrown by a ‘child of the forest’ who saves the group and takes them to the three eyed raven – who tells Bran he will never walk again, but he will fly (this will hopefully make sense in a later season). Meanwhile Daenerys is forced to betray her own children after he dragon Drogon kills a young peasant girl, forcing her to lock up and imprison the other dragons Viserion and Rhaegar – Emilia Clarke’s tears and the dragons haunting screams as they are locked in make this a very unsettling scene.

And now a moment that never happened in the books: Brienne and Pod come face to face with Arya and the Hound. Unfortunately, Arya doesn’t believe Brienne’s story (it is a very extravagant tale of how she came to serve Catelyn Stark and Jaime Lannister) and the Hound recognises her sword and armour as being brought and paid for by Lannister gold. After one last great Hound/Arya moment “that’s what I’m doing – protecting her” a brutal fight breaks out – first with swords and then with fists. Gwendoline Christie and Rory McCann give great physical performances here, and the fight staging is excellent, leading up to the final shot of Brienne punching the Hound off a large hill. Brienne and Pod then lose Arya, who goes to the (fatally injured?) Hound, who begs her to kill him quickly and wipe another name off her list. Arya however, says nothing despite the Hound’s pleas/threats/provocations, steals his silver and walks away – leaving his fate somewhat ambiguous. Why Arya does this is also open to debate – whether she doesn’t want to kill him after their long time together or she thinks leaving him to die slowly is a far worse fate (I’ll incline to the latter given Arya’s ruthlessness this season and the Hound provoking her on several occasions. Arya then buys passage to Braavos (with the coin Jaqen H’ghar gave her in season 2) setting up her story for next season nicely.

Overall a great finale to a great season, i hope season 5 can keep up the good work!

Rating: 5 out of 5

News on next season? The series first flashback sequence, a look at Oberyn Martell’s family in Dorne and no Bran or Hodor (they’ve run out of storylines for the moment).

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