'Game of Thrones' Recap: Season 4 Finale 'The Children'

By Chris Baggiano,
All men must die

Valar morghulis. Death continues to hit Game of Thrones in this week’s finale “The Children.” Sure, last week’s “The Watchers of The Wall” saw death on a grand scale as wildlings, Night’s Watchmen, friends, and foes all fall, but “The Children” countered with more meaningful deaths across all of Westeros. And amongst all of this death, some of our favorite characters found themselves embarking on new journeys after various captivities throughout the season.


Image courtesy of Helen Sloan/HBO
First, however, there’s some aftermath at The Wall to deal with. “The Children” picked up right where last week’s episode left off with Jon’s ominous departure north of The Wall to assassinate Mance Rayder. Mance accepts Jon, despite his traitorous ways, into his tent to talk peace, but, before a peace can be brokered, an attack on the wildling camp is launched. It turns out to be Stannis and his army who massacre a few wildlings before Mance surrenders. After taking Mance prisoner, Stannis seems to take up in Castle Black before Jon goes to burn Ygritte north of The Wall after talking to Tormund. Another war yet averted as Stannis rides in to save the day. There is absolutely no hint as to what Stannis will be doing up on The Wall but, at least, there is peace for the time being.


Image courtesy of HBO
Bran and his company finally reach the weirwood but not before being attacked by skeletons who pop up from beneath the snow. Despite Bran warging into Hodor to help fight off the skeletons, he cannot save Jojen, who ends up meeting his end at the hand of a skeleton dagger. Luckily, the rest of the group is saved by a little girl who can throw fireballs – she and her kind are called children, despite being older than the first men. Bran meets with the three-eyed raven who is actually an old man who seems to be part of the weirwood’s root structure. Bran’s journey was glossed over so it makes sense for him to finally get where he’s going, but it certainly leaves a big cliffhanger going into next season. Likewise, Jojen’s loss is not too tragic as the audience never really got to know him all that well over the seasons.


Image courtesy of Helen Sloan/HBO
Where Bran reaches his destination, Arya just sets out for hers. Arya and the Hound are stumbled upon by Brienne and Pod (this is a big change from the book). Despite Brienne telling Arya the truth of her mission, Arya doesn’t believe her and the Hound takes up arms against Brienne. What follows is a pretty good fight between the two that was more satisfying than the fight between Oberyn and the Mountain a couple weeks ago – despite it being marred by the unneeded quick cutting of action shots. The swordplay quickly devolves into fisticuffs and Brienne bashing the Hound’s head repeatedly with a rock before he stumbles off a rocky hill.


Image courtesy of HBO
Brienne and Pod go off in search of Arya, which allows Arya to see the Hound one last time. She does not mercy kill him, like he wants her to, and instead steals his money and leaves him there to die with a broken leg, which is pretty cold blooded. She then finds a small town on the water and tries to get a ship’s captain to take her to The Wall when the captain tells her he is setting sail for Braavos. She remembers the coin Jaqen H’ghar gave her in season 2 and gives it to the captain reciting the words “valar morghulis” (all men must die), which makes the captain get serious and tell her “valar doeharis” (all men must serve) and allow her to sail with them to Braavos. It is good to see Arya finally making decisions for herself, instead of being forced to follow her captors. Although, now that she’s off to Braavos, it is still unclear as to what exactly will become of her.


Image courtesy of HBO
But Arya is not the only one embarking on a voyage across the Narrow Sea. Back in King’s Landing, after Cersei has told Tywin that she will not marry Loras and goes to Jaime to tell him that she has chosen him, Tyrion’s fate is very much in doubt until late in the episode. Jaime frees Tyrion, with Varys’ help, and tells him to go up a staircase where Varys is waiting. However, Tyrion has other plans and decides to go meet with Tywin in his bedchambers. Unfortunately for Tyrion, the only person in Tywin’s bed at the time is Shae. Hurt and confused, he ends up choking her with her own necklace before finding a crossbow and seeking out Tywin – who ends up being on the toilet (whether he is defecating gold is not revealed). After Tywin kind of pleads/kind of orders Tyrion to put the crossbow down and talk to him in his chambers, Tywin messes up by calling Shae a whore. Even though Tyrion warns Tywin not to do it again, Tywin does later on, which forces Tyrion to shoot his father with a crossbow in the chest. Then he reloads and shoots him again, killing Tywin. Tyrion then finally goes up the staircase to meet Varys, who then packs Tyrion away in a crate on a ship.

Whereas it was clear that Jojen and the Hound had run their course as characters and usefulness, Tywin’s death was an entirely different matter. Tywin was the last true “villain” (aside from the white walkers, of course) on the show and his death now causes the show to reset, yet again, much like Robb’s death at the end of last season. Cersei now becomes the de facto villain, even though it is clear she has changed dramatically since Joffrey’s death. Also, losing a talent the level of Charles Dance will hurt the show but it is nice to see Tyrion get revenge on his father. Jaime helping Tyrion after Cersei accepting Jaime as her lover again will also have some consequences down the line. And now that Tywin is gone, it seems as though Cersei will have to vie for Tommen’s ear with Margaery or, perhaps, become queen regent yet again.


Image courtesy of Macall B. Polay/HBO
In Essos, Dany continues to find that her ideology is not as easy to implement as she had planned. After a former slave asks to sell himself back to his master, she meets with a man whose 3-year-old daughter was burnt by one of her dragons, thus causing Dany to make a tough decision. Even though she can’t find Drogon, the black dragon who is the culprit, she opens the catacombs to lock her other two dragons down there in hopes of keeping a better eye on them. Clearly, this will not end well.

Season 4 of Game of Thrones is the best season to date. Unlike in previous seasons, season 4 never seemed to drag as it found a nice balance between the exciting stories and the more dull ones. Every character received an update when it felt necessary and their plots kept moving along. It also saw surprises galore and some great moments during Joffrey’s wedding, Tyrion’s trial(s), and the battle at The Wall. The game of thrones continues to take lives, but, in the end, will it really matter when white walkers, the children, and dragons are still very much a part of the world?

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