Thursday, July 03, 2014

Game of Thrones (S4E10): "The Children"

The tenth (and last) episode of Season 4 of Game of Thrones is titled "The Children." There are several important children to whom the title could be referring. First (and most dangerous) there are Daenerys Targaeryen's children: her three dragons. Second are the Children of Lord Eddard Stark: Sansa, Jon Snow, Arya, Bran and Rickon. Third are the children of Lord Tywin Lannister: Jaime, Cersei and Tyrion. Last (but not least) are The Children of the Forest

S4E10 is the last episode of Season 4, which we expect to basically be the televised adaptation of the events discussed in the 3rd book of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire,  A Storm of Swords.  It is also the last new episode of the show that we will have for nine months so we are right to expect momentous events to happen in this episode, and we are not disappointed.

It's sort of amusing that the episode was aired on Father's Day, because in the grand scheme of things, the most momentous thing that happened was the death of Tywin Lannister at the hands of his own son Tyrion. Tyrion had sentenced his son to death in S4E08 because Tyrion's champion Prince Oberyn Martell lost his trial by combat to determine whether he was innocent or guilty of the crime of murdering King Joffrey Barratheon. The death of Tywin Lannister, the Hand of the King and the head of the richest House in the Seven Kingdoms will reverberate throughout the rest of the entire story.

But Tywin's death is not the only huge event that happens in this episode. For a reader of the books like myself, that was expected (as was Stannis Barratheon's arrival at The Wall to save it from being overrun by Mance Ryder's Wildling army). Other events that happened in the books that occurred in S4E10 are Dany's decision to chain up her dragons, Jaime's decision to help his little brother escape from prison and Bran's discovery of who the Three-Eye Raven really is. However, what was also interesting about this episode was that there were multiple events that were NOT in the books at all.

Primary among those was the intersection of Arya and the Hound with Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne. In the books, Arya has always been one of my favorite characters (the other's being Dany and Tyrion--atleast until Book 5) along with her half-brother Jon. The meeting of the Hound and Brienne ended up causing an epic fight between these two celebrated warriors, which eneded with the apparent death of the Hound and Arya's escape to a boat taking her to Braavos, which shockingly ended the episode and Season 4. Book 3 most notably does NOT end with quite a different scene than Arya running off to Braavos so most book readers were horrified and disappointed with the change by the producers. I, too, would have preferred to see the appearance of Lady Stoneheart, but I hope that perhaps she will show up in Season 5 (or 6). Happily, we already know that Season 5 and 6 will occur, because HBO has renewed the show for those two seasons.

Grade: 9/10 (A-).
Overall,  S4E10 was one of the better season finales of the four seasons to date (much better than last year's racially tone-deaf S3E10 "Mhysa"). This finale did definitely leave us with questions, even for people who have read teh next book: Namely, what is Varys going to do on the ship to Essos with Tyrion, and what will he do when they arrive? What is going to happen up at the Vale? What did the Three-Eyed Raven mean when he said that Bran will never walk again but he will fly? What's going to happen to Arya in Braavos? Will Sam and Gilly's story advance differently in the show than in the books? And most important, where the **** is Drogon, Dany's firstborn dragon?

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