Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 10 Recap: The Children

Throughout this season, I’ve been relaying the message of the showrunners saying that Season 4 wasn’t going to climax at last week’s episode on The Wall and trend downwards in last night’s finale. Nope, this season was going to be different with “The Children” standing as the best finale and potentially the best episode ever, which is saying a lot since last week kicked ass and there have been some very memorable episode along this journey.

Having said that, there were a lot of loose ends to tie up or straighten away prior to the close of the fourth season — Tyrion’s impending death, Arya’s destination-less wanderings with The Hound, Jon Snow’s march on Mance Rayder, and Dany’s bureaucratic headaches and “Mother of Dragons” issues.

People that have read the books were getting pretty hard to stomach in the days leading up to this season’s finale, teasing about “that thing you know is going to happen,” which makes me feel bad for hinting at things to the frustration of the DVR set this year. it’s the worst and I’ll do my best not to do it again next year, provided I’m back being a recapologist again next year.

So here we go — once more unto the breach, my friends.

Once more until next March…

Jon Snow on the Prowl

After last week’s Night’s Watch episode closed with Jon marching out to find and kill Mance Rayder, this was the right place to pick up this week. Quickly surrounded and brought to “The King Beyond The Wall,” Mance and Jon drink to fallen fighters, toasting Ygritte and Krenn and the giant who died inside the tunnel.

When Jon flinches at a spare knife, Mance catches on to his intentions, suggesting Ned Stark’s bastard could probably kill him before his men stop him. So he offers a different resolution: he wants The Wildlings allowed beyond The Wall in return for no more bloodshed. He knows winter is coming and the Night’s Watch are weakend, which makes this a relatively good deal for all parties, but before Jon can give his take on the terms, The Wildling camp is under siege.

It’s Stannis, riding to protect his interests from the attacking Wildlings. After a couple snarky comments, Mance surrenders and Jon Snow identifies himself to “The One True King.” Stannis allows Jon to decided Mance’s fate, and the suggests he take him captive for interrogataion, just as he father would have done.

As the members of the Night’s Watch burn their dead, we see that Lady Melisandre has made the trip North with Stannis & Co. and she’s checking out Jon Boy through the flames. Following a quick talk with Tormund where the bearded Wildling tells Jon that Ygritte loved him, Lord Snow takes her body beyond The Wall and back into The North and sets her aflame.

Dr. Frankenstein and the Lannister Secret

The Mountain isn’t dead — he’s been poisoned and it doesn’t look good for the behemoth that snuffed out Prince Oberyn Martell and sealed Tyrion Lannister’s fate two weeks ago, but while Grand Maester Pycelle says there is nothing more he can do, the younger, less conventional Qyburn thinks he knows a way to save the powerful champion of Clan Lannister, prompting Cersei to direct him to save The Mountain, regardless of the fact that it might “change him” as Qyburn warns.

Next up, she’s ready to take on her father, Tywin, and his edict that she marry Loras Tyrell. Listen, I can understand not wanting to marry him or abandon Tommen, but Tywin doesn’t want to hear any of it. With Tywin balking at her threats, Cersei pulls out the big guns, telling her father for the first time, officially, that the Lannister family line intersects. The patriarch of the family looks legitimately rattled as Cersei storms off bolstered by another win.

Jazzed from her encounter with her pops, Cersei busts in on Jaime, tells him what she’s done and pledges herself to him. “Let them snicker — I love my brother!” is basically her logic as she nibbles on his ear, kisses his fake hand, and jumps up on the table for some naughty incestuest friskiness with Jaime.

Breaker of Chains?

Still stuck in bureaucratic hell in Meereen, Dany is approached by a former slave, an old man who wishes to go back to being a slave once again. Freedom doesn’t agree with him — he has nothing and the younger former slaves are preying on the elderly. Reluctantly, she allows him to sign a one-year contract with his former master, which Ser Baristan points out will probably come with a “Master Option” for future services.

Next up, she learns that her biggest dragon — they call him Drogon (lame!), but I call him Fire since he’s the one that scorches everything — has moved on from goats to little girls. She rattled, as she should be, as Jorah’s early season proclamation that “dragons gonna be dragons” is coming true. In a move that reeks of irony, “The Breaker of Chains” takes her two remaining dragons — that’d be Earth and Wind in my books — into the catacombes and chains them up.

A teary-eyed Dany walks out and seals them underground as her winged children shriek for her to come back and not leave them.

Brandon Stark and his Band of Travellers

Bran & Co. finally arrive at the Weirwood tree from his vision, only to be attacked by a host of undead skeletons. These aren’t White Walkers, but re-animated zombies, just so we’re clear. If you ever wondered why the Wildlings burn their dead, these dudes are the answer.

With Team Bran losing the battle, little bursts of fire start wiping out the undead attackers. They’re being rescued by The Children of the Forest, but Jojen Reed doesn’t make it. One of the skeleton dudes shanks him, fulfilling his earlier vision where he saw his own death.

The Children have been in Westeros since before the First Men arrived and were believed to be extinct. The one that saved Bran & Co. (we’re not given a name) take “The Little Lord” to see an old man nestled in the trunk of the tree. He’s the three-eyed raven Bran has been chasing/following throughout the series and explains that while the young Stark will never walk again, he will fly. I’m guessing that means in a warging out way, not that Bran is going to grow wings or develop the ability to hover and sail through the air himself.

Between The Eyrie and Nowhere

Brienne and Pod continue their journey towards The Eyrie when they happen upon Arya… and The Hound, who comes in late because he was busy with his morning constitutional. Pod recognizes the massive Clegane Brother, Brienne deduces that Arya is Arya and tries to convince her that she’s there to save her.

The Hound rattles off a list of dead Starks, questioning who Brienne could possibly take Arya to, not that he’s willing to allow her to part his company. Both combatants ready their swords and after another round of “Come with me/She’s not going anywhere,” it’s on like Donkey Kong.

It’s a great fight, if a little rugged at times, since The Hound doesn’t hold back when it comes to beating the snot out of Brienne. We get dueling groin shots, some sword swinging and ultimately Brienne bashing Clegane in the face with a rock so many times that he falls over a cliff and down the side of the hill. But she can’t find Arya…

That’s because she’s down checking in on her captor/cohort, who lays there on death’s doorstep.He asks Arya to end it for him, pleading with her after recounting the things he would have done had he known it would end like this. He begs her to kill him, put him out of his misery, saying she can cross another name off her list like she’d always said, but instead, Arya takes his silver and walks away.

Tyrion’s Vengeance

As expected — you all saw this coming too, right? — Jaime arrives to bust his little brother out of the clink. Varys is in on the plan two, and it’s great to see that the discarded imp has two people that want to see him alive and are willing to risk their lives to help keep him living. The Brothers Lannister share a hug, and Jaime is on his way, believing Tyrion will follow directions and bust out of King’s Landing as planned.

But Tyrion opts to swing by the chamers of The Hand of the King, his dad, Tywin, and finds Shae waiting naked in his bed. Instead of a heartbroken speech, we get a fight, which ends with Tyrion strangling her to death, apologizing as he squeezes the life out of her. He notices Joffrey’s crossbow on the wall and the next thing we see is Tyrion busting in on Dear OI’ Dad as he’s relaxing on a different kind of throne.

Upset about killing Shae, Tywin dismisses it, calling her a whore. Tyrion warns him not to use that word again or else he’ll get an arrow for his troubles. Tywin says it again and Tyrion follows through. When Tywin tries to play the “you’re my son” card, Tyrion agress. “I am you son,” he says, reloading the weapon and shooting his father for a second time. “I have always been your son.”

RIP Tywin Lannister. (Note: called it back in the beginning of the season)

Tyrion returns back to the plan, but Varys can see something very bad has happened. He stows Tyrion away in a box that loads onto a ship, and sits with him in the hold as bells sound in King’s Landing, signalling the death of The Hand of The King.

Along the Shores

Flying solo for the first time all season, Arya comes across a seaport and a captain ready to set sail. She asks for transport, offering gold and labour, but the man is not interested. He tells her they are headed to Braavos, and Arya finds her out. She hands him the coin that Jacquin H’ghar, “The Faceless Man” from Season 2, gave her. She follows his instructions, telling the ship’s captain “Valar Morghulis,” which means “All men must die.”

This gains her passage onto the ship and as the season closes, she too is getting the hell outta Westeros.

Roll credits!

My Thoughts

This was great — a different kind of great than last week’s episode and far more powerful and important in my books.

Obviously, Dany is going to have some issues to deal with next season, both with her dragons and more “Breaker of Chains” bureaucratic issues. Oh, and there is still the matter of her claim to the Iron Throne too.

Jaime and Cersei is bound to get weird and complicated and intriguing, as you can’t trust the former Queen for a second. With their father dead and Tyrion on his way out of town, there is an opening at the head of the Lannister family for the time being as well.

Speaking of Tyrion, he still feels like the most important character in this story. At the very least, he’s the most compelling. Killing his father was a long time coming and there is a lot of pent up anger, frustration and sadness coursing through him at this point as he sits in a box, guarded by Varys, on a boat bound for who knows where.

As for the various Starks, they’re all still in play and sure to be integral to next season’s plot. Sansa took a turn towards the dark side a couple weeks back, Arya is growing into the little warrior she wanted to be, Bran is destined to fly apparently and Jon Snow is rolling with Stannis, at least for the moment.

All in all, this was a great season and I can’t wait for Season 5 to get here.

Until then…

 

 

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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