Game of Thrones Season 4 Wrap Up!


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Written By Elizabeth Eckhart

Yet another season of Game of Thrones has come to a close, marking the beginning of the year-long wait for season five. This season’s finale differed from earlier years drastically; previously, the final episode of each series was used to “set the board” for the upcoming season, but Sunday’s episode was filled with shocks and surprises of its own. (If you haven’t watched it, stop reading now, and catch “The Children” on demand through DirecTV or HBOGo).


For fans who were disappointed with the second to last episode, which focused solely on Jon Snow at the Wall, and frustratingly ignored the consequences of Tyrion’s death sentence, the story thankfully returned to the Lannisters – with Tyrion not only escaping, but shooting two arrows into his father Tywin’s chest after a heartbreaking scene in which he strangled Shea after discovering her in Tywin’s bed.

It makes sense that the finale would focus so strongly on the Lannister’s doings, since from the beginning, much of the season has been spent watching their family drama unfold. Not only does Tyrion make his escape and murder his father, but Jaime also defies Tywin by releasing Tyrion, while Cersei insists she will never marry Loras Tyrell, and reveals her relationship with brother Jaime in an attempt to ensure that Tywin complies. After a season of watching Tywin mercilessly control King’s Landing, cleverly outwitting each of his foes all in the name of preserving the family name, it’s satisfying and symbolically fitting that it’s Tywin’s own children, his self-described “pawns,” who muck up his plans, leaving him broken and defeated, sitting on a toilet.


Other surprises were less revelatory. Stannis arrives at the Wall in the nick of time, and Jon Snow takes further steps toward leading the Night’s Watch by advising Stannis on how to handle Mance, as well as the dead bodies of those fallen in the battle for the Wall. While Stannis’s appearance wasn’t exactly expected, for many viewers it was far less dramatic than Mance’s pivotal statement that the Wildlings aren’t seeking to conquer, necessarily, but to escape an icy fate at the hands of the White Walkers. It’s likely that the Red Woman, ever faithful at Stannis’s side, will have a major role in pitting the Lord of Light’s powers against the White Walkers, and based on her significant look at Jon Snow across the funeral pyre before we leave the Wall, he’ll have a large part to play as well.


The fight between Brienne of Tarth and the Hound was perhaps the most jaw-clenching moment of the finale – for a moment, it looked as if the two would tumble toward their deaths together. And, unlike the duel between the Mountain and the Viper, this fight was grittily done, with weapons quickly discarded for punches, biting, and similar low-blows that arrive after Brienne and the Hound come to the understanding that neither are typical knights. In addition, both characters are flawed but recognizable, as they are two of the most endearing characters that have been present for multiple seasons. The Hound, though crass and brutally violent, has still drawn quite a few laughs, while Brienne’s friendship with Jaime has resulted in a more relatable character than earlier in the show when her initial noble-till-death attitude was her only defining personality trait. To lose either would have been difficult, but it was the Hound who finally fell to a woman – a point not lost on him, especially as he is forced to beg for death from the very child, Arya, he has been holding captive.

As for Arya, she seems to finally have found herself on a path of her own choosing, cashing in her Braavosi coin for passage to Braavos, where she will likely continue to exercise her headstrong qualities and increasingly disturbing ability to be cruel. With no one left to hold her back, Arya seems determined to become the opposite of the little, morally-straight, naïve child that left King’s Landing – and she’s just one of the remaining Starks to do so.


While Jon fights his way toward leadership at Castle Black, and Arya sails away from Westeros, Sansa remains in the Eyrie and Bran finally discovers the “Three-Eyed Raven” on the other side of the Wall. Sansa was absent from the series finale, but her closing moments in past episodes, lying to Eyrie nobles regarding her Aunt’s death, clearly displayed her transformation into a clever, manipulating woman as opposed to the defenseless girl she once was, a development equally as notable as Bran’s increasing powers as a warg.

The episode is named “The Children,” seemingly for the elf-like creatures Bran encounters before being led to the Raven, but which also represents the significant shift of power from one generation to the next. Slowly but surely the parental figures, whose actions could be blamed for spurring the war in Westeros, are being wiped out or rendered useless, leaving the Stark children, the Lannister children (and their incestous offspring), the Greyjoy children, the Targaryen child and her dragon hatchlings, and more, as the key players finishing what their elders began.


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