After what (for my non-book reading experience) has been the best season of Game of Thrones since the first season, it’s time for the final episode of a riveting season 4 with Sunday’s episode ominously entitled The Children.
Jon Snow and the War of the Wall
Our episode picks right up from last week’s conclusion with Jon setting off to kill Mance Rayder, the leader of the Wildling Army. Jon smartly recognizes the Night’s Watch can’t hold out against prolonged assaults from the Wildlings and is more than happy to die if he can take Mance out and leave his army in disarray. He’s taken to Mance’s tent and begins terms for a truce. Mance is still stinging over Jon’s betrayal, but he assures Jon if he wanted him killed, he’d be dead already. Jon shares that Ygritte is dead and they drink to her as well as the giant the Night’s Watch killed and Jon’s friend Grenn.
Mance doesn’t want a war. His people have suffered enough, he says. All he wants is for his people to get South of The Wall as he says ‘Winter is Coming’ trusting that Jon fully knows now what that means. Jon starts sizing up a knife that he envisions wiping through Mance’s neck, but Mance catches on to his scheme chastising Jon for plotting his assassination when once again, he’s peacefully welcomed him into his camp. When he puts it that way Jon, that is a pretty cruddy way to kill someone. Clearly you’ve been learning from what happened with Ned and Robb…
A horn sounds and Mance thinks Jon set him up, but Jon swears he … well, knows nothing about this attack. As with last week, I got another The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers flashback. This time with an army sweeping through the Wildlings (Rohirrim style) and surrounding Mance and his crew.
Mance lowers his weapons and the leader of this army rides up. Ah, it’s Stannis and Ser Davos. Stannis commands Mance to bow before the rightful king of the Seven Kingdoms and predictably Mance is having none of it. Davos and Stannis question why Jon is here and what at least feels like a pivotal moment for the entire series, Jon says he is Ned Stark’s son, which quickly earns their respect. They ask what should be done with Mance and Jon gets to repay Mance’s mercy and suggests they take him prisoner.
Surprisingly, Stannis agrees. Joffrey or Ramsay would have put a sword through Mance’s mouth just to make an example out of him. But now it looks like Stannis now controls The Wildling Army in addition to his sell-swords and is making a strong case for a different resolution the next time he brings war to Kings Landing.
With the War of the Wall abruptly ended, Jon returns to Castle Black for the burning of the bodies. See ya Pyp and Grenn. I’ll miss you! Through the flames, Jon spots Melisandre and if he wants to make it through Season 5, I’m thinking Jon needs to stay far, far away from her.
Jon visits Tormund Wolfsbane. There’s no angry words this time. Tormund says that Ygritte loved him and that her body belongs in the real North. Jon takes her body to the woods and burns it, perhaps with the last bit of his innocence.
Trouble in King’s Landing
Cersei goes to dear old daddy Tywin to complain about this whole arranged marriage deal to Loras Tyrell. This second half of the season has been all the poorer for the lack of Tyell screen time. Tywin begins telling her of another time he was refused, but Cersei cuts him off saying she doesn’t want to her another story of him winning.
If he goes through with this marriage arrangement and allows her last son, Tommen, to marry Margaery, she will ruin the family — by revealing “the secret.” Tywin seems puzzled, but there’s no way this guy who has constantly outsmarted all of his foes by thinking three moves ahead of them doesn’t know his son and daughter are hooking up. Ignoring it is one thing, but for Tywin not to have known all along is silly and so, so far out of character. I’ll just interpret that scene as Tywin refusing to acknowledge it.
Cersei finds Jaime and tells him the news. She told Daddy that she’s not marrying Loras because she loves Jaime. (Ick. More incest love professions are almost as gross out creepy as watching Ramsay Snow Bolton smile.) Well, that’s not quite exactly how that went down, but Jaime doesn’t care and they start kissing and hooking up right on the table. It does beat doing it next to your dead son’s coffin I suppose…
Dany is again finding ruling a kingdom to be more trouble than it’s worth. This time, an old slave wants to rejoin his master as this new world Dany is establishing is too uncertain for him. Dany can’t understand why he would willingly put himself back in bondage, but allows it. Next up, a man is clutching something in a blanket. I’m betting this time it’s not a sheep. Nope. It’s the charred bones of the man’s three-year-old daughter. Dany, you’ve got some issues. The dragon culprit was last seen three days ago so she leads the other two into a catacomb and chains them to prevent further mishaps. I’m not thinking this extended time out is gonna work out well for anybody, Dany.
The Three-Eyed Raven
Hodor, Bran, Meera and JoJen are braving a snowstorm, but the weather has taken its toll on JorJen, who collapses. As Meera goes to him, a pack of White Walkers emerge from the ground and try to kill them. This fight scene felt like a “Pirates of the Caribbean” battle what with the rickety skeletons flying around. Realizing they’re overmatched, Bran again takes control of Hodor to even the odds, but not before a White Walker repeatedly stabs JorJen. A young girl emerges from a cave and launches fireballs at the Walkers, telling Bran and company to hurry if they want to live. Fatally wounded, JorJen tells Meera to go and the girl firebombs his body so he won’t be reanimated. I thought that premonition he had of fire indicated more of a burning death, not a firebombing. The walkers can’t enter the cave and shatter upon trying and the girl, who refers to herself as one of “The Children,” leads them to an old man who says Bran will fly…
The Hound battles Brienne!
Brienne and Pod wake up to find their horses missing, but no biggie as just around the corner, Brienne finds Arya practicing her fighting technique. Arya is instantly enamored with Brienne, the adult version of what she’s always dreamed about being.
Of course, The Hound ruins the moment and quickly starts bickering with Brienne once she learns Arya’s identity and he recognizes her Lannister armor. Uh-oh. Brienne seemed a bit unreasonable here and the conversation quickly turns into a brutal brawl, although now that the bar has been raised to heads exploding, this one seems kinda tame. Brienne is able to knock The Hound off a cliff and with him disposed of, begins yelling for Arya, who hides until Brienne and Pod depart. Going to her season traveling companion, Arya stares as The Hound comes to terms with his pending mortality. No more wacky adventures of Arya & The Hound. He all but begs her to kill him to put him out of his misery, but instead, she simply takes his gold and heads off. The payoff of this subplot was a bit underwhelming as oddly, I felt The Hound deserved better — or at least a death that didn’t just come about from a disagreement.
Tyrion goes on a killing spree!
Tyrion awaits his execution, but Jaime has a plan to free him. Taking him through tunnels, Jaime tells Tyrion to go to a door where Varys awaits. We get a touching final scene between the brothers and I’m bummed that we don’t get anymore Jaime and Tyrion scenes to look forward to next season. Oh well, we’ll always have the beetle story.
Before he goes, Tyrion takes a secret passage to his father’s room. As the former Hand of the King, it makes sense that he knows the various secret entrances. He sees someone in the bed and to his horror, it’s Shae and she assumed Tyrion was Tywin, her lion. There’s a song by Chris Brown that instantly comes to mind here … Shae reaches for a knife and Tyrion takes it from her and strangles her. Distraught, Tyrion spies a crossbow (maybe the same one Joffrey used to kill Ros) and confronts Tywin, who’s in the bathroom. Well, this is awkward. A bit concerned, Tywin tells his son he never planned to actually have him executed. Silly boy. Tyrion considers what Tywin is saying until he casually refers to Shae as a whore. Tyrion warns him, but Tywin has no filter and offhandedly says it again, prompting Tyrion to launch two arrows, ending the reign of Tywin Lannister. Gotta think a couple of arrows in your chest rank right next to ties as far as worse Father’s Day presents ever.
Tyrion goes to Varys, who quickly realizes something is wrong. He hides Tyrion in a box to get put on a ship, but after hearing the bells signaling Tywin’s death, Varys wisely decides to get on the ship too. There’s nothing left for him now at King’s Landing.
Arya has found a boat preparing to take off. She tells the captain she wants to go to The Wall and will pay for passage. The captain says he’s heading to Braavos, prompting her to pull out her pendant and uttering the words “Valar Morghulis.” She’s got a ride now and as Arya looks out in the distance, we wind down one heckua crazy, spectacular season of GOT. I’ve gone on enough. Now let’s hear from you!