Happy Father’s Day? Leave it to Game of Thrones to shit all over the nice holiday with its satisfying fourth season finale, aptly named "The Children." Not that the (living) dads on HBO's fantasy series deserve any better. Okay, perhaps 'satisfying' is an understatement for an impeccably written, acted and directed episode but it's hard to see the forest for the trees. Those who have read "A Song of Ice and Fire" were pretty sure that [Redacted: See Page 2] was going to happen so the actual events, while very well done, couldn't live up to those expectations. You know what they say, 'when you expect, you make an ex out of p and ect.' Sorry. And don't worry, that's the last I'll mention of the books (yuck) on this page. But if you have read them (gross) and want to vent, then head on over to the next one after the rest of the recap.
”If my father had seen the things I’d seen, he’d also tell you to burn the dead before nightfall.”
The Season 4 finale picked up right where "The Watchers on the Wall" left off with Jon venturing out to meet and, if he can, murder Mance before the next wildling attack. Not the greatest plan because Lord Snow would likely die even if successful. Lucky for him, just as the bastard and the King Beyond the Wall are about to come to violent terms, Stannis and his army arrive to save the day. Or kill a lot of wildlings, at least. But thankfully not Tormund, who’s safe and sound as a wise-ass prisoner. The Baratheon troops even marched into battle like their king, all rigid columns and absolute discipline.
The exchange between Stannis and Jon was quite promising, perhaps even more entertaining than the one previous with Mance, with the two showing off an interesting chemistry. That bodes well for Season 5 since it looks like they could be hanging out for a while. The look that Jon and Melisandre shared over the fire was also rather captivating. Nothing was said, just the fire flickering between them. I was wondering when the Red Priestess was going to show up. Not like her to miss burning a bunch of bodies. Although, she usually prefers hers alive. Ice and fire. Oh, and it was nice to get to say goodbye to Ygritte, Grenn and Pyp in quieter settings.
”You’ll never walk again but you will fly.”
After cleaning up most of last week’s mess in the opening sequence, the rest of the episode’s locations all reference the title more directly. Well, I guess Jon made a point to bring up and discuss Eddard with Stannis but still, the connection to “The Children” in that thread is not as strong as say, Bran’s, where we not only catch up with one of the Stark kids but also encounter one of the Children of the Forest for the first time. You know, the twiggy-girl throwing the light-grenades to save our heroes from the skeletons. Okay. That was a weird scene and I've read the [redacted]. Told you I wouldn't say that word again.
Still, that sequence was full on fantasy, so much so that I couldn't get the fight from Ray Harryhausen's Jason and the Argonauts out of my head. It had to be a nod, right? Bran, Jojen, Meera and Hodor had almost made it to the weirwood tree from the visions when they were attacked and its powers protected them once underneath. Not all of them made it to the Three-Eyed Raven/Old-Tree-Guy though with Jojen getting stuck several times with the pointy end of a skeleton's sword. He went out bravely and his pale-faced mysticism will be missed. So, how does Old-Tree plan to make Bran fly? Better not be a moon door.
”He came from the sky. The black one. The winged shadow. He came from the sky and...”
Game of Thrones's fourth season finale also made the trip to Meereen for a few scenes and the title could refer to both Dany's dragons as well as the unfortunate girl who fell victim to Drogon's fire. Khalessi's "Children" have only been getting wilder as they've grown and the heartbreaking exchange between her and the father had been foreshadowed many times this year. The first shot of the dragons this season had Drogon surprising a child on the side of a cliff and then Dany had almost the exact exchange with the boy's father, except the charred bones belonged to a goat. Not this time.
This time the remains belong to a three-year-old girl and the deed cannot be forgotten with a few pieces of silver. In the face of the tragedy, Dany makes another impulsive move and decides to chain up the two children who didn't do anything wrong in the catacombs. I thought her whole thing was no chains? Drogon remains on the loose but poor Viserion and Rhaegal, their movements and screams made me sad. That's quite an achievement on the show's part since I rarely care for CG creatures. Just dragons and direwolves. Oh, and Daenerys also decided to allow some slaves to return to their masters under contract. I think she should start listening to Ser Barristan.
”What have you done?”
Onto the main events! You would think that we'd be used to deaths on the fantasy series by now and yet, they still manage to get me (almost) every time. And this week had a few deaths so major it felt like a Game of Thrones ninth episode special. The last three finales served as recovery time for the events of the previous week but Season 4 has thrown all the formulas out the window. Especially when it comes to killing off characters, that now happens several times every episode. Many probably went into "The Children" thinking Tyrion's head was not long for his body but nothing is that simple in George R.R. Martin's universe.
The King's Landing scenes started with the Mountain being examined by Pycelle and Qyburn after his 'victory' against the the Viper. It looks like his recovery is not going well thanks to some poison and yet Qyburn is still optimistic although treatment might 'change' Gregor. That doesn't seem to bother Cersei, not like the prospect of marrying Loras. That bothers her so much that she tells Tywin the truth about his children. The following scene between Jaime and Tyrion was really special with the brothers embracing for (what could be) the last time. Peter Dinkage once again earns all the acting trophies, the only person who could keep my sympathy after killing his former lover and his shitting father in cold blood. The actions did seem to secure him a travel companion though, as Varys didn't sit down on the boat until the bells were tolled.
”Safety, where the fuck’s that?”
And that brings us to by far the best part of "The Children," the scenes with the Hound. Good thing the sequence was so fantastic cause Sandor Clegane is a character I'm going to miss. He's often the best part of any installment and it's sad to see him go, especially begging to be put out of his misery. Arya isn't the kind of kid to have mercy anymore, definitely not when it comes to someone on her list and so his cries go unanswered. I wonder how long it will take him to bleed out on the side of that cliff? Killed by a girl. If you want to call Brienne of Tarth 'a girl.' I don't think I'd call the Hound 'a boy.' They both might be giants.
The fight between Brienne and the Hound was probably my favorite one-on-one battle on Game of Thrones so far not counting the showdown between the Mountain and the Viper earlier this season. It stands in a class of its own but this was really satisfying as well. Pod's also nice to have around for a few moments of levity, although I was a bit worried that Arya might introduce him to Needle when the fighting began. Thankfully, he didn't find her and we didn't have to watch the two of them face off as well. I don't know who I'd want to win. After leaving the Hound to die, Arya spots a small port nearby and manages to use Jaqen H'ghar's coin to board a ship to Braavos. Everybody's on boats. More time in the Free Cities next season.
Game of Thrones will be back for Season 5 next spring on HBO. Based on the "Song of Ice and Fire" novels by George R.R. Martin, the series was adapted for TV by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and stars Peter Dinklage, Kit Harrington, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
Those who have read GRRM’s “A Song of Ice and Fire”can head to the next page for a spoiler section and open comment thread...