The Ninjabot

“The Children” Save the Day – Game of Thrones Season 4 Finale

Posted on June 16, 2014 at 5:00 am by Amanda Andonian

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Although it probably goes without saying, there are show spoilers (but not book spoilers) ahead in the following review. For those who have read A Song of Ice and Fire and know what’s coming next, please don’t jump the gun in the comments or pick apart this review based on knowledge of the books. It’s purposely written for those who have not read the books.

The Game of Thrones season 4 finale, “The Children,” was one of the more exciting finales of the series that we’ve seen. While it did follow the usual pattern of catching us up with all the characters thus far, it also held a few unexpected developments for the audience, as well as quite a number of surprising deaths instead of one big one. Things get off to a slow start, but we’re left speechless by the end of the episode. The stakes have never been higher, and the Game of Thrones season 4 finale showed us just that.

Major Spoilers Ahead!

Picking up where last week left off, we open on Jon Snow marching beyond the Wall to negotiate with Mance Rayder. He quickly finds out that Mance isn’t interested in a lengthy battle; he just wants to get his people safely on the southern side of the Wall. This is yet another clue to the audience that the White Walkers are more than just another threat north of the Wall—they’re so frightening that 100,000 wildlings decided to band together and assault the Wall in the hopes of making it through to find what little sanctuary could be carved out on the other side.

Before Jon could come to any sort of agreement, though, Stannis Baratheon decides to save the day, sweeping in from out of nowhere to defeat the wildlings and claim his right as King. There’s no telling which direction this development will go yet, but perhaps Stannis hasn’t been as useless as he seemed for the last few seasons. Judging by the lingering look that Melisandre gives Jon Snow, he’s also going to play a part in the Red Woman’s plans eventually.

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We then move on to Danaerys in Meereen. She’s having trouble teaching the slaves to be free people, especially faced with those who would rather live the simpler life of serving a Master rather than forge a new path on their own. It’s a difficult conundrum: how do you teach someone to live with freedom when they don’t have the slightest concept of how to use it? Obviously she’s not equipped to manage this problem, and her decisions could very well lead to former slaves returning to their old lives via indentured servitude.

Not only that, but Danaerys also discovers that Drogon has been feeding on human beings, not just live stock. The revelation leads her to lock up the other two dragons in the catacombs of Meereen, where we see some real emotion out of her for the first time in a long time. Although it should be a good sign that Emilia Clarke is capable of doing more than her cold delivery, it just annoys me even more that she’s been phoning it in so much all season. It’s not until she’s forced to chain up her own “children” that she shows us any true feeling; but even then, we don’t see it until the last second before she closes the catacombs on the other dragons. She could be doing so much more acting-wise, but for whatever reason, she just hasn’t been.

In other news, Bran finally gets to wherever it is that he’s going, but not before being attacked by undead skeletons, and losing Jojen Reed in the process. As exciting and well-done as the fight with the undead was, the introduction of the Children and the Three Eyed Raven left something to be desired. I’m going to break my own rule and discuss the book at this point—the portrayal of the “Three Eyed Crow,” i.e. that old guy sitting in the tree roots, was more than a little disappointing. Granted the show couldn’t really get into the lore and backstory of this character in the time allotted, but the way he’s presented is pretty lackluster. In the books, he’s the tree itself, not a guy sitting in the tree:

His body was so skeletal and his clothes so rotted that at first Bran took him for another corpse, a dead man propped up so long that the roots had grown over him, under him, and through him…A spray of dark red leaves sprouted from his skull, and grey mushrooms spotted his brow. A little skin remained, stretched across his face, tight and hard as white leather, but even that was fraying and here and there the brown and yellow bone beneath was poking through.

Much more evocative, right? He’s not just hanging out on a chair made of roots—he is the tree. There was an opportunity to present the audience with something truly strange and mysterious here, but Game of Thrones dropped the ball and cut corners. Whether it’s because of time or because they didn’t think the audience could handle something so weird, it was a misstep in my opinion. This is the culmination of Bran’s “grand” journey, and it just ended in a underground cave with an old guy who could be any random old guy as far as the viewer is concerned.

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In other news, Brienne and Podrick catch up with the Hound and Arya, resulting in an ultimate fight to the (almost) death between Brienne and the Hound. It’s exciting and gruesome up until the very last moment, and multiple viewings only improve upon its awesomeness. The Hound grabbed Valyrian steel WITH HIS BARE HANDS! His eventual death will no doubt be a point of contention for a lot of fans—the Hound and Arya became a very popular duo this season, and many will be sad to see him go (yours truly included). However, his death was necessary in order for Arya’s story to continue. What could they possibly do together now that there’s no chance of him getting a reward for her safe return?

Although he shows a surprising amount of concern for her in the face of Brienne’s supposed Lannister leanings, the Hound is still Arya’s enemy when you get right down to it. We see just that in their final moments together, and it’s actually kind of fitting that she would leave him, broken and helpless to die a slow death. With the iron coin that Jaqen H’ghar gave her in the second season, and a little “Valar morghulis,” Arya is now well on her way to Braavos. This is the most exciting development for the show, as far as I’m concerned, because there’s no telling what she’ll do from here and we have no idea what she’ll find when she gets there.

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Finally, the Lannisters. First there’s Cersei, who’s elated by the fact that Tyrion will hang, riding that high in order to tell off her father in the way she’s been dying to for so long. Determined not to end up wedded to Loras Tyrell, she threatens to reveal her relationship with Jaime to the entire realm unless Tywin agrees to dissolve the marriage contract. Even as she tells her father, “I will burn our house to the ground,” Cersei turns right around and declares to Jaime, “I would do things for my family you couldn’t imagine.” Quite the hypocrite, that one! Unbeknownst to her, however, Cersei’s courage to stand up to their father is what prompts Jaime to spring Tyrion out of jail. She may want to see their little brother dead, but Jaime loves Tyrion and decides to risk everything to save him. It’s a touching moment for the two brothers, especially since it’s probably the last time they’ll ever see each other again.

Even with freedom in his sights, Tyrion can’t quite let sleeping lions lie. He uses his newfound freedom to sneak into the Tower of the Hand, who knows for what. Perhaps a last minute heart to heart with his father? Instead, he finds a nearly naked and sleepy Shae in his father’s bed, clearly lounging after servicing Tywin. This is the final straw for Tyrion, and also Shae’s final betrayal. Before, he could believe that she only testified against him during the trial under duress, but finding her in his father’s bed is another matter entirely. As far as Tyrion’s concerned, it’s ultimately Tywin’s fault that Shae turned on him. Although she did reach for the knife, forcing Tyrion to strangle her to death (maybe even with one of the necklaces that he himself gave her), he doesn’t really seem to blame her. Instead, he’s heartbroken, apologizing to her dead body.

While it’s clear from the crossbow in his hands that Tyrion had every intention of killing his father, I also sort of believe that he might have spared Tywin’s life if not for the older man’s arrogant refusal to take his son seriously. All his life, Tyrion was treated like a criminal and an inconvenience by his own family. Even with a crossbow aimed at his father’s chest, Tyrion still couldn’t force Tywin’s respect, no matter what that bastard said to the contrary. Until the very end, Tywin believed that he could control his youngest son through bullying and coercion, and it’s that arrogance that ultimately leads to his downfall. Go Tyrion!

What did you guys think of the Game of Thrones season 4 finale? Are you sad to see the Hound go, or happy that Arya is on her own path now?How about Tyrion’s escape? Where’s he going to go to next? Tell us in the comments!

“The Children” – B+

Game of Thrones: Season 4 Episode 10, “The Children” aired June 15th, 2014 on HBO.

You can follow Amanda on Twitter at @reiko516 for more geek news.

Please Note – Due the nature of this show being inconsistent with the books’ timeline in terms of plot, we want to remind everyone that there is a zero tolerance policy regarding spoilers in the comments. Keep discussions relevant to the show only!

    • JessErin

      The freed slave that came to Danaerys was totally suffering from Winky’s depression; some house elves just want to be house elves. Hopefully this guy won’t spiral deep into a butterbeer addiction!
      I’m still mourning the Hound. He loved Arya and he showed it, but her heart seems to have hardened more than I thought it had. I agree with you that he had to die to keep the story moving forward. Sad face. Brienne is totes on my kill list now.
      Tyrion escaped! I’m so relieved but I really hated that scene with Shae. I’m curious about how it’s written in the book – it just felt really ugly and I know he’s hurt and heartbroken but ugh take it out on your pops, Tyrion. Anyway I’m super glad he made it out of there.
      WHAT is the Red Woman going to do to Jon Snow (don’t answer that!) and more importantly, WHERE IS GENDRY?!??

      • That’s a good question, where the heck is Gendry?? I guess he’s just chilling in Stannis’s dungeon still.

        As far as Tyrion and Shae go, that scene was even more gruesome in the book, in my opinion. She tries to appeal to him and get him back on her side, but he just straight up kills her without a thought. The show gives a little more justification for him strangling her since she reached for the knife. I say good for him! she let her jealousy get the better of her, and instead of trusting him, she turned on him. He was going to die because of her, so good riddance, Shae!

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