Game of Thrones: The Children & Season 4 wrap-up
By now, you have all seen the season 4 finale of Game of Thrones, The Children. If not, you honestly should evaluate the why you are living your life. In first airing, this episode garnered 7.09 million viewers. Game of Thrones has become HBO’s most successful series to date, and season 4 has been the most viewed to date, reaching a maximum of 7.2 million for episode 7. It is also, coincidentally, the most pirated show. That little correlation should lead us to conclude that it is possible that piracy does not always hurt the profitability of a show, not that a single anecdote is sufficient data to reach any conclusion, but there is sufficient data out there, but that is not what we’re talking about. Season 4 I believe was the best of the lot so far, overall I would give this season 4.5 out of 5 , the action was magnificent and the performances were amazing. While each individual episode was good, and highly entertaining, it is much stronger as a whole rather than in parts.
I should start with the standard disclaimer, if you haven’t watched the entirety of season 4 you will likely find spoilers here, because I plan to talk about plot points. Also, I have not read the books past the first two, just in case any of you are new to my party. If you are, and you have not read the books, don’t read past Storm of Swords now, that is book three. I do recommend reading the books, they are fantastic, but should be taken separately from the show, and if you are enjoying both, enjoy the television show first. The primary reason for that is; with how much more detail is in the books it is likely you will still be surprised be some of the major details cut from the show. That is just what I recommend, for this story.
In Season 4 we saw:
Episode 1: Two Swords Directed by: D. B. Weiss Written by: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Tywin Lannister has Ice, the Stark ancestral sword, reforged into two new swords. He gives one to Jaime, who he expects to retire and take up residence in Casterly Rock, when Jaime refuses to give up his post as captain of the King’s Guard Tywin disowns him. Prince Oberyn, on the behalf of his brother arrives in King’s Landing to attend the royal wedding, Oberyn reveals to Tyrion the true reason for his visit: revenge against Tywin Lannister and Gregor Clegane. In the North Jon Snow has returned to Castle Black and after recovering from his injuries is released by Maester Aemon after confessing what he did during his time with the wildlings to gain information. He warns the Night’s Watch about the massive army aiming to assault The Wall, and the band of Wildlings that plan to attack Castle Black at the same time. Alliser Thorne dismisses his warnings and recommendations, and sends him back to his duities as a steward. Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen leads her army on towards Meereen, she is disturbed by how her dragons have become less tame and disobedient. In the Riverlands, Arya, accompanied by Sandor Clegane, reclaims her sword Needle from Polliver, and uses it to kill him the same way he murdered her friend Lommy Greenhands.
Episode 2: The Lion and the Rose Directed by: Alex Graves Written by: George R. R. Martin
Roose Bolton returns to the home to meet up with Ramsay and sees firsthand how Theon Greyjoy has been tortured into a subservient ‘Reek’. He plans to find and kill the remaining Stark children, Bran and Rickon, who threaten the legitimacy of his new title, Warden of The Noret. He also aims to reclaim the territories under Greyjoy occupation. Beyond the Wall, Bran and his companions to travel further northwards chasing visions of the three-eyed crow, and a large heart-tree. At Dragonstone, Melisandre and Davos finally convince Stanis the real fight lies to the north. In King’s Landing, Tyrion tries to ship Shae off to Pentos, for her own protection. Jaime begins discreetly training his left-handed swordplay with the help of Bronn. Later at the Royal Wedding feast, Joffrey mercilessly torments Tyrion but the feast is abruptly cut short when Joffrey is poisoned and dies. Cersei imediately accuses Tyrion of murdering the king and orders his arrest, while Sansa escapes.
Episode 3: Breaker of Chains Directed by: Alex Graves Written by: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Tyrion is immediately arrested for Joffrey’s murder while Tywin begins to groom Tommen to be the next king and appoints Oberyn Martell and Mace Tyrell as judges for Tyrion’s trial. Meanwhile, Sansa is smuggled out of King’s Landing to Petyr Baelish’s ship. At Dragonstone, Davos figures out how to replenish Stannis’ depleted forces, with a loan from the Iron Bank of Braavos. In the North, Sam, fearing for Gilly’s safety, moves her out of Castle Black to Mole’s Town. As the wildlings continue to raid northern villages, Jon warns the Night’s Watch that the wildlings want to lure the them out of Castle Black, and they should instead focus on fortifying their defenses. They also have a band of Night’s Watch mutineers, who have set up camp at Craster’s Keep, to deal with. Jon recommends they attack the mutineers, as they cannot risk having any information about the weakness of Castle Black’s defenses leak to Mance Rayder’s approaching army. At Meereen, Daenerys lays siege to the city, and after Daario defeats Meereen’s champion, she tells the slaves to rise up against their masters essentially capturing the city without a fight.
Episode 4: Oathkeeper Directed by: Michelle MacLaren Written by: Bryan Cogman
Daenerys captures Meereen, and immediately seeks justice for the slain slave children by nailing 163 masters to posts. At sea, Petyr admits to Sansa that he was responsible for poisoning Joffrey, despite his alliance with the Lannisters. In King’s Landing, Olenna explans to Margaery that she poisoned Joffrey, and encourages Margaery to seduce Tommen before Cersei has a chance to turn him against her. Jaime meets with Tyrion, and is convinced of his innocence, however, Cersei is convinced of Tyrion’s guilt, and orders Jaime to hunt down and kill Sansa. Jaime instead tasks Brienne with finding and protecting Sansa, giving her his new sword, which she names Oathkeeper and sends Podrick along with her. In the North, in an effort to get rid of Jon amid his growing popularity, Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt conspire to allow Jon to lead an expedition against the Night’s Watch mutineers occupying Craster’s Keep, but their plan is interrupted when more men than they expected volunteer to go with Jon. Meanwhile, Bran and his party stumble upon Craster’s Keep, where the mutineers capture them. Further north, a White Walker takes Craster’s last newborn son where we see the king of the White Walkers turn the baby.
Episode 5: First of His Name Directed by: Michelle MacLaren Written by: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Tommen is crowned king, while, Cersei meets with Margaery, Tywin, and Oberyn, hoping to sway them against Tyrion. In the Vale, Petyr takes Sansa to the Eyrie, where she is to pose as his niece to keep her location secret from the Lannisters. Lysa Arryn pushes Petyr to marry her in secret that same day, reminding Petyr how much she has done for him, such as poisoning her late husband. Which she also revealed was Petyr idea, and the catalyst for the chain of events leading to the recent wars. While hospitable at first, Lysa quickly grows suspicious of Sansa, who she fears is attempting to seduce Petyr, it is planely apparent that Lysa is far from stable, and knows far too much about Petyr. In Meereen, Jorah Mormont breaks the unfortunate news to Danerys of Astapor and Yunkai falling back into the hands of slave masters after they departed. Daenerys decides to postpone her invasion of Westeros in bring peace to Slaver’s Bay and pronounces herself queen, and sends men back to Astapor and Yunkai to regain control. Beyond the Wall, Jon’s group attacks the mutineers in Craster’s Keep, Locke (Yes the same Locke that took Jaime’s hand) attempts to kidnap Bran for Roose Bolton, but is killed by Bran, in the barn, with a Hodor. Bran and his company then continue north while Jon kills all of the mutineers and burns down Craster’s Keep.
Episode 6: The Laws of Gods and Men Directed by: Alik Sakharov Written by: Bryan Cogman
Stannis and Davos travel to Braavos to call on the Iron Bank for a loan. Davos manages to convince them to back Stannis’ cause by pleading the case for Stannis being the best bet for the bank to be repaid the money owed by the Iron Throne. In Meereen, Daenerys listens to the requests of her subjects, including a man whose goats were killed by Daenerys’s dragons. As repayment for the loss of his flock, she pays him three times their worth. At the Dreadfort, Yara attempts to rescue Theon but fails when Theon refuses to come with her. Yara retreats proclaiming Theon Greyjoy is dead. Ramsay rewards Reek for being obedient and, in order to take Moat Cailin, commands him to pretend to be Theon Greyjoy. In King’s Landing, Tyrion is brought to trial for Joffrey’s murder. All of the witnesses brought in testify against him, misrepresent his words and actions, or simply lie. Even Shae is brought in to gives a false testimony. Heartbroken, betrayed, and furious Tyrion launches into an epic diatribe against the trail, jury, witnesses, and even the spectators, and then demands a trial by combat.
Episode 7: Mockingbird Directed by: Alik Sakharov Written by: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
After learning that Cersei has appointed Gregor Clegane as her champion Tyrion begs Jaime to stand as his champion. Jaime declines saying he can’t fight with only one hand, at Tyrion’s request Jaime finds Bron, who also declines to fight The Mountain. Tyrion then resigned to face Clegane on his own when Oberyn Martell offers to be Tyrion’s champion, seeing a chance to avenge his sister, and humiliate Tywin. Arya and the Hound come across Rorge and Biter, who she freed with Jaqen H’ghar, but they betrayed her. Rorge was never on her kill list because she didn’t know his name, when he told her, she killed him. Brienne and Podrick meet Hot Pie at the crossroads inn, when they tell him who they are and what they are doing he tells them she survived King’s Landing and her time with the Brotherhood. They then decide to travel to the Vale, reasoning she would go to her only living relatives. In the Vale, Sansa is kissed by Petyr Baelish where Lysa can see, when she flys into a jealous rage and tries to push Sansa out of the Moon Door, Baelish intervenes pushes Lysa to her death after coldly telling her he only ever loved her sister.
Episode 8: The Mountain and the Viper Directed by: Alex Graves Written by: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
The wildlings attack and massacre Mole’s Town, Ygritte spares Gilly, presumably because she was holding her baby. Sam believing her dead holds himself responsible, and calls for revenge. Jon again reminds them that the wildlings want to draw them out of the castle, which they should be fortifying. A short way south Ramsay forces Reek to masquerade Theon Greyjoy, and convince the Ironborn to surrender Moat Cailin, by telling them Ramsay was honorable and will treat them well, once they surrender, Ramsay flays them. To reward him, Roose Bolton legitimizes Ramsay, naming him heir before they claim Winterfell as rightful wardens of the north. Across the Narrow Sea, Ser Barristan receives a letter intended for Ser Jorah, which pardons Jorah as a reward for spying on Daenerys. Barristan gives the letter to Daenerys, who orders Jorah to leave Meereen and never return in spite of Jorah’s pleading. In the Vale, Sansa reveals the “truth” to a council investigating Lysa’s death her identity and Lysa’s instability, and her jealousy, which lead to her suicide. Outside the Vale, the Hound and Arya arrive and are informed of Lysa’s death, and Arya laughs and laughs. Meanwhile in King’s Landing, Jaime and Tyrion reminis about a simple boy they grew up with, and Tyrion’s fascination with figuring out how his mind worked as he was smashing beetles. When the trial by combat begins Oberyn is just as confident of his victory as The Mountain. The fight, which was extraordinarily well staged, ends quickly and explosively. Oberyn mortally wounds Clegane, but unsatisfied he torments The Mountain, demanding a confession. When Oberyn becomes blinded by his desire to hear the confession of his crimes, and who ordered them, Clegane trips Oberyn and proceeds to smash his skull, dooming Tyrion to a death sentence.
Episode 9: The Watchers on the Wall Directed by: Neil Marshall Written by: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
This episode takes place entirely on the wall and in Castle Black. As The Night’s Watch prepare for the impending battle, Gilly arrives at the Wall shortly before Mance Rayder’s army. Sam locks her in the food closet, gets a kiss, and then runs off to shoot some wildlings in the face. The wildlings attack from both sides, with one army climbing the Wall, and Ygritte’s army attacking Castle Black. After Ygritte and her army get through, a bloody battle ensues inside the castle. Several giants and their pet mammoth attempt to tear down the gate leading under the wall, but are stopped with a few exploding barrels. Alliser Thorne hears about the fight inside the castle and leaves the wall to Janos Slynt who couldn’t command a bunch of solders to drop rocks on attackers from a 200 foot wall of ice. So Jaons Slynt leaves to hide in Gilly’s food closet, he does not get a kiss. Jon, in charge on the wall, orders Grenn to guard the tunnel, one giant gets through, but Grenn kills him, but the giant fell on him and I am assuming he died a heroically horrible death. Jon hears, from Sam, the fight in the castle is not going well at all, so Jon decends the wall to save the day. Soon enough he is face to face with Ygritte, who seems unwilling to kill him. Fortunately, for Jon, young Olly, hero of the north, shoots Jon’s girlfriend in the back. That is pretty much the end of the fight, the army attacking the wall retreats, and the forces inside the castle are nearly eliminated. Believing Mance will send another attack, in greater numbers, which they will not be able to withstand Jon goes beyond the Wall to find and kill Mance.
Episode 10: The Children Directed by : Alex Graves Written by: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Just north of the wall Jon (Kit Harington) wanders unarmed into Mance Rayder’s camp. He is quickly taken to Mance (Ciarán Hinds) who explains to Jon they want protection, behind the wall, because winter is coming, and with winter come the White Walkers. Before Jon can make a move to kill Mance or to offer a truce the cavalry of Stannis Baratheon’s (Stephen Dillane) new army attack the wildling encampment. Mance surrenders to Stannis and Ser Davos (Liam Cunningham), Stannis wants to execute Mance but Jon convinces Stannis to take him captive, because that is what Jon father, Eddard Stark, would do. Jon also adds, quickly, his father would also recommend burning the bodies of the deceased. That last minute rescue by Stannis was beyond frustrating. The fight was over, and Jon was about to end it all, one way or another. I am really starting to dislike Stannis, he seems like a gigantic tool, unable to make the right decision on his own, and needs to be kicked in the ass by Davos to do the right thing. It was no wonder his younger brother wanted to be king, and more people wanted him to be king.
Further North Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and his companions reach their destination: the large Heart Tree seen in Jojen’s (Thomas Brodie Sangster) vision. When they try to approach the tree they are attacked by Wights, which almost overtake them before Bran wargs into Hodor (Kristian Nairn) and uses Hodor to fight them. They are saved, but not before Jojen is killed, by a mysterious magic missile-hurling child of the forest (Octavia Selena Alexandru). The child takes them to meet the three-eyed raven, who is really an ancient master-level warg who informs Bran he will be made whole, but never be able to walk again. This scene may be my favorite of the episode. The Wights were extremely cool, and the magic missile-hurling child amuses the hell out of me. The magic in this series is so minimal I keep forgetting magic exists in this universe at all.
In Meereen Daenerys (Emilia Clarke)continues to hear audiences from subjects. One, a former slave asks permission to sell himself back to his former master. Now homeless, without occupation, and without the children of his master for whom he cared and taught, he knows no other way to live. Daenerys reluctantly allows him to form a contract with his former master for no longer than one year. Her next audience brings her the charred bones of his daughter, killed by Drogon, her largest black dragon. She immediately locks her two other dragons in the catacombs, securing them with large chains and collars, while the whereabouts of Drogon are unknown. This was almost heartbreaking, while at the same time completely expected. We had seen the dragons becoming unmanageable which seems to suggest they are either untrainable/untamable or Daenerys inexperience and naivety are now catching up to her. At the very least what seemed like a too good to be true storyline seems to be heading for disaster.
In the Vale, outside the Eyre Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and, Podrick (Daniel Portman), stumble across Arya (Maisie Williams) and Sandor “The Hound” Clegane (Rory McCann). Arya and Brienne seem to hit it off, until The Hound walks up and Podrick regognizes him. Brienne quickly deduces who Arya is and she explains how she was tasked and gave her oath to protect her. Clegane disagrees with this, he recognizes the Lannister work in the sword she carries and proclaims himself Arya’s protector. Brienne and The Hound fight, one of the most brutal fight scenes in the series. After brutalizing each other Brienne finally gains the upper hand and kicks Clegane down a steep embankment, mortally wounding him. Unfortunately, Podrick was watching the fight to aid Brienne if needed, and Arya slipped away. After Brienne and Podrick left to search for her, Arya came out of hiding and ran down toward The Hound. Fatally wounded, Clegane lies dying on the rocks, saying a few last words he asks Arya to kill him and scratch another name off his list. Instead of ending his suffering, Arya takes his money, and his and leaves him for dead. She makes her way to a nearby harbor she asks to by passage north, to The Wall. When the ship’s captain tells her he is not heading north, he is heading home to Braavos, she buys passage with her iron coin given to her by Jaqen H’gar. The fight between Brienne and The Hound was difficult to watch. These are two characters I have come to really enjoy, and on the onset of the fight we know one of them, possibly both with the track record of this show, will die. It surprised me how cold Arya was as Clegane lay dying. I’m not sure if she didn’t kill him out of her desire for him to suffer, or because she no longer wished to kill him herself.
Back in King’s Landing we find out that Gregor “the Mountain” Clegane (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) is not dead, but poisoned by Oberyn’s spear. As he lay dying , Grand Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) informs Cersei (Lena Headey) death is certain, and there is no maester’s cure for manticore poison. Qyburn (Anton Lesser), a dismissed and disgraced maester believes he can be “saved” through unnatural means. Cersei dismisses Pycelle and orders Qyburn to save The Mountain. So apparently they are going to have an undead zombie mountain running around, what could possibly go wrong. Cersei, now feeling mad with power, informs Tywin (Charles Dance) that she will not marry Loras Tyrell, and if she is forced to she will admit her children are really Jaime’s. Tywin seems to call her bluff, but we will have to wait and see how that plays out. I suspect Cersei’s plans will backfire on her spectacularly.
A little later Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) receives a visit from Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who breaks Tyrion out to save him from an unjust execution. Jaime tells Tyrion that Varys (Conleth Hill) helped orchestrate the escape, much to Tyrion’s supprise. After saying farewell, Tyrion sneaks back up to the tower of the hand where he finds Shae (Sibel Kekilli) in Tywin’s bed. Blind with rage Tryion strangles Shae, which seems to emotionally eviscerate him. Taking the crossbow off the wall Tryion goes to confront his father. Two crossbow bolts later Tywin is dead, and Tyrion is shipped across the sea with Varys. Tyrion’s revenge was satisfying thanks to the performance of Peter Dinklage, which is arguably the strongest of the entire cast. Tywin’s death was appropriately humiliating, but once again leaves Cersei with power she cannot be trusted to use, which is bad news for the kingdom.
The next season of Game of Thrones is sure to see Arya become an amazing assassin. Tyrion become a dangerous fugitive bent on vengeance against Cersei. Cersei is going to go power crazy and destroy King’s Landing, and probably ruin Tommen, who could be a very good king. Jon leading the Night’s Watch and butting heads with Stannis who is likely to attempt to use Jon to further his claim to the Iron Throne. The dragons across the sea are likely to become serious problem for Daenerys who may end up loosing power due to them. while Bran is due to become a grand master warg wizard type person. I am very much looking forward to this. Now I am off to read A Storm of Swords.