Game of Thrones 4×10, ‘The Children’: At long last, the behemoth lurches forward


Well, that’s what I call a finale!  This might have been my favorite episode of the entire series, I kid you not.  So much stuff happened!  And not in a typical Game of Thrones, “we see a lot of things and places and people speaking words but little actually goes on” way.  This was an hour chock-full of portent and turning points and huge changes for some of our favorite characters, and I found myself loving every minute of it!  Well, almost.  You’re not getting away that easy.

source: HBO

source: HBO

IN THIS EPISODE: Jon Snow treats with Mance Rayder for the fate of the remaining Night’s Watch, but he was really playin’ possum in hopes to go all stabby-stabby on King Mance, however all that is broken up by the startling appearance of several legions of cavalry led by none other than Stannis Baratheon and his faithful servant Davos (with Melisandre in tow, obviously); Cersei lays out in detail her masterplan behind all the madness she’s caused in Westeros, and it’s truly nothing more profound or purposeful than banal and small-minded vanity, much as I suspected all along; The Mountain somehow survived a spear through the torso and is being rehabilitated by Cersei’s pet mad scientist, under the warning that the treatments “may change him,” and if the Mountain gets a redemption arc next season I will personally find George Martin and throw flaming garbage at him; Danaerys Targaryen is the most boring person on two continents and her story is terrible, as this week we continue to see that she is pretty crap at governing past the “throw off your shackles, burn everything down, and call me your queen” phase, plus her stupid dragons keep accidentally setting people on fire; Bran and company finally reach the weird red tree and are promptly attacked by snow zombies, and Jojen bites it, but it’s totally okay because he foresaw that happening and was totally cool with it because he managed to get Bran to the cave that seems like it exists in a completely different show, where they meet Kid Fireballs and her friend, Beardy Jim, who is some kind of wizard, I guess(?); as long hoped, Varys finally puts some of those good intentions to use and, with Jaime’s help, gets Tyrion off the executioner’s schedule and onto a boat bound for gods knows where, but not before Tyrion kinda flips out and kills Shea (who he finds sleeping in Tywin’s bed) and then harpoons dear old dad while he’s dropping ye olde royale deuce for some much-needed closure; Varys finds out about all that and quickly decides, “You know what?  A boat ride does sound like a lot of fun right now,” and joins Tyrion on the Fiesta Deck of the HMS Anywhere-But-Here; Brienne and Podster come across Arya quite by chance (who apparently decided that the Eyrie would not be as fun as riding around in anonymous poverty), but after seeing Brienne’s fancy Lannister sword the Hound and Brienne get into a shouting match about who is the best parental surrogate, which turns into a swording match, and that ends when Brienne knocks the Hound off a cliff and shatters his femur; Arya runs off and decides it’s time to take her act solo, and shows a Braavosi ship captain her trinket from Jaqen H’ghar, who freaks out like he’s meeting Beyonce and gives her a private cabin, so apparently she is running away to join the Faceless.  Cool.

source: HBO

source: HBO

So . . yeah.  That’s a lot of stuff that happened (with the exception of Dany, who could bore the beige off a pair of Dockers).  Let’s start in order, with Stannis showing up north of the Wall.  I did not see that coming at all, and those battle scenes were great; also tactically it’s potentially a really smart move: if Stannis and Mance can come to terms, Stannis will have a ton of extra bodies to put against the Boltons in taking back the Throne, and Mance will have a lot of extra power to help against the coming snowpocalypse.  Will that work out?  Who knows.  But it does seem like the Night’s Watch is on hiatus for now, decimated as their ranks are, and Jon may have a place on the council of King Stannis thanks to being Ned Stark’s son.  This is a huge development, and combined with the situation developing in King’s Landing, it could change the face of Westeros for some time to come.  Also, Melisandre was making googly eyes for Jon, and that never bodes well.

And how about said situation in King’s Landing, eh?  I’ve never been a huge fan of Cersei, and it takes a great amount of mental gymnastics to consider her relatable, because she wants it both ways; she wants to play the Game but she wants to ignore the rules when she sees fit and then she wants to set the world on fire when things don’t go her way.  She announces to her father that she refuses to marry Loras Tyrell because, as she tells her father aloud, she’s in love with Jaime and will have no other, and if he forces her to marry she’ll out herself and bring down the family.  Which, yes, it would, but where would that leave her?  On the run and impoverished in a best-case scenario, but more likely with her head on a pike next to Jaime’s and Tywin’s and Tommen’s, so this is really just Cersei throwing the Hail Mary and being full-on crazypants.  Tyrion’s curtain call in King’s Landing is another massive shift in the narrative, as Tywin has been the key to Lannister power since the beginning, and now he’s dead.  If Peter Dinklage receives another Emmy nomination it will be for that final scene with Charles Dance, as that exchange was gut-wrenching to see Tyrion so . . . done . . . with the negative forces within his family.  I couldn’t be happier that Tyrion survived this season, but it’s been at such a dear cost to his spirit, and his final acts at home bring a sense of cathartic closure that were long needed but come at a terribly high price.  I don’t know where his character can go from here, but I can’t wait to find out.  Jaime, I think, may wish he was on that boat, too, when the dust settles.

source: HBO

source: HBO

As is the way with most of the Game of Throne season wrap-ups, sometimes a character’s story for the season finished prior to the finale, which is fine, but it’s kind of a crap-shoot as to which character doesn’t show up in the last hour.  I kinda needed to hear more about why Arya didn’t stick around the Eyrie and meet up with Sansa, but we don’t get any footage in House of Arryn this week, so we’ll have to wait until next year to find out what’s going on with Littlefinger’s schemes there.  Also, we managed to go this entire season without hearing from Edmure Tully or the Blackfish, two characters of potentially key import in the fight against the Lannisters and Boltons.  Speaking of the Boltons, we’re not much closer to having them take on the Iron Islands than we were at the end of Season 3.  Lots of wheel spinning.  And where’s Gendry?  Still rowing that boat somewhere?  Maybe they all met up with Rickon and Osha at the big Characters That The Show Has Apparently Forgotten About In Its Quest To Continue Featuring The Tedious Targaryen Girl meet-up.

A final tip of the hat to my girl, Arya Stark, and the coldblooded send-off she gives to the Hound as he lay dying.  The student has spectacularly become the master.

Atomika D.

is a writer and critic of TV and film since 2006, an alumnus of NYFA’s school of celluloid direction and production, and she once ate seven burritos on a dare. It was not pleasant. Read all about it on Tumblr.

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  • Sheryl Parrish

    Well… I’m happy to say I wholeheartedly agree that the season 4 finale was the best episode of the series thus far. It was truly mind blowing. I was on the edge of my seat for most of it. And during the Brienne fight I actually yelled out loud at the TV. So that’s what I call drama!! :)
    Arya has gotten a little too cold. I would have finished off the Hound. But that’s just me.
    Brienne proved herself yet again as a bad ass fighter. Epic :) And man o man does the Hound fight dirty.
    Jon Snow had a moment. He did love Ygrette.
    Dany is far from boring. She’s a young girl learning by trial and error to be a leader. Damn dragons are crazy and uncontrollable. How could you not be moved and see the irony of the Breaker of Chains having to chain up her very own babies?
    For the first time in the series I actually gave a care about what happened with the Bran storyline. That was pulse pounding excitement with the Skeleton Crew.
    Cersei made some moves. To me they were awesome. She’s taken all the B.S. she could stand and finally stood up to her evil father. Plus she took Jamie (pretty much literally) and set him straight. She put the maester in his place also.
    Tyrian’s escape and the murders were raw and full of the stuff emmys are made of.
    Jamie grew a pair and saved his brother. But at what cost? Holy crap I sure hope next season gets here fast.

    • Atomika

      Yes, this is the first time for me with this show that I’m anxiously anticipating what’s to come next season. It can’t get here soon enough!