Monday, 16 June 2014

Game of Thrones: The Children - Review

Last night saw season 4 of Game of Thrones reach it’s devastating conclusion. With a death count to match that of the Red Wedding, The Children featured more plot twists and tense moments than ever before in a single episode, closing out a number of stories in a spectacular manner, and ranking itself as one of the best episodes to date. I’m gonna recap what’s happened, share my thoughts and make a few predictions as to what this could mean. (Just so that you know, I haven’t read the books, so any predictions I make about the future are completely blind) Before we go any further, I will warn you of MASSIVE spoilers below, so if you haven’t seen the episode yet, leave now!

First off we have Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch. Jon marched into the Wildling camp under the pretence of negotiation, with the true intent to kill the King beyond the wall – Mance Rayder, as he revealed last week in The Watchers on the Wall. The two raise both their glasses and our emotions with a touching moment of remembrance for Ygritte (still gets me). Her body is later burned by Jon separate from all the others, North of the wall, where he claims she belongs. Whilst it wasn’t quite as emotional as her “you know nothing, Jon Snow” goodbye scene, it will undoubtedly have fans blubbering once again, as the fiery headed archer gets her final sendoff.

 All of this concludes with Stannis Baratheon raiding the camp and forcing Rayder to surrender. Also meeting Jon Snow and sharing a word or two about Ned Stark, this could signify a new alliance. In terms of how to leave a story arc, I feel that last week’s epic battle would have been a more climactic ending, but it will be certainly interesting to see where the characters go from here.

Next up we have Dany, who’s Dragons have begun attacking people (or the biggest one has anyway). We could have seen this coming way back in Episode one of this season, when Dany’s attempts to pet said Dragon were aggressively snapped at. For the safety of her people she locks her two smaller, more loyal Dragons away, tearing up as she does so. It was surprisingly emotional, considering the fact that they’re mythical beasts. However after seeing her with them for so long, it makes sense that both we and her see Dany as their mother. The Dragons’ agonized shrieks as she left them only added to the sense of emotion.

Similar to Jon, I feel that Dany’s last appearance two weeks ago, where she forced Jorah into exile for selling secrets to King’s Landing would have been a more suitable closing for her character this season, and that her locking up of her Dragons was merely filler, giving her something to do. Particularly as in the last three seasons, she has had a pretty fundamental, character defining moment. Maybe her scene in this would have been better suited at the start of S5, opening a new arc about her Dragons beginning to go wild, and left her for this season on her final scene last time, as they did with Sansa.

Moving swiftly on, we get to Brienne and Podrick, who bump into Arya and The Hound – a meeting that has been building up for quite some time. After a brief exchange about the roles of women when it comes to fighting, Brienne pieces together the identity of the young girl she’s talking to, and insists that Arya come with her – a proposition that the Hound is not entirely happy with. Throughout this entire scene I was begging them not to fight, as I love both of these characters, and knew that should a fight erupt, only one would survive.

Of course a fight would erupt, and whilst I was right about there being only one survivor, the clash between these two colossal fighters was incredible. Brutal and unpleasant to watch – in a good way – Brienne’s screams as the Hound mercilessly beat her still ring in my ears. She did turn it around however, and throw him off a cliff. Not before wailing on him a little with her fists first though. Still Arya hides, and goes to find the Hound later, where he is breathing his last. He begs her to kill him, to which she coldly refuses. Credit to Maisie Williams’ acting ability here that she manages to reduce the massive beast that is the Hound to a pathetic mess with nothing but a stare. I dub thee – the Arya Death Stare. I think we’ll be seeing more of that in the future.

This scene is interesting for a number of reasons. First, it’s interesting to see the obvious mirroring between Brienne and Arya, both being told from a young age that girls shouldn’t fight, yet growing up to become bad-ass killers anyway. It’s also interesting to see this further later on, when the Hound is first beaten by a woman, then again by a girl in her refusal to grant him his final wish.

Second, just before the fight, during the tense conversation between the Hound and Brienne, we see that the Hound finally admits to taking responsibility for Arya, as we see that he is no longer protecting her for the money he’ll get for handing her over. He cares about her safety, and it’s pretty clear to see it’s been that way for a while. It’s just a shame that he had to die straight after.

It seems to be a theme in this episode. Making a revelation in terms of your character, only to be killed shortly after. Tywin’s admission that he would never let Tyrion be executed comes shortly before he takes two arrows to the torso…from Tyrion himself! Not content with his jailbreak, Tyrion instead goes on a killing spree, first strangling Shea, whom he finds in Tywin’s bed, before continuing into the bathroom, to find Tywin doing his business in there. After a quick exchange of words, Tywin calls Shea a whore and bang. Tywin has left the building.

Last but not least we reach the conclusion of Brann and his quest to find the three-eyed raven. Coming across a large tree and an army of undead skeleton thingies, Brann takes control of Hodor and kicks some serious bony ass. Unfortunately, Jojen gets stabbed to death. Yeah. Moving on. Meera, Brann and Hodor are saved by a fireball flinging child, who brings them to an old man who promises Brann that he will never walk again, but he will fly. Apparently this will be returning to him what has been lost. Mysterious hmm! It seems that the supernatural is taking a far role in Brann’s story now.

So a lot is happening on Game of Thrones right now! And I think I’ve barely scratched the surface! Characters are dead, characters are leaving – Tyrion and Arya both finishing their segments on a ship leaving to somewhere unknown – and still the army of Whitewalkers that we saw at the end of S2 are…sleeping? Who knows? What we do know is that The Children is one of the best episodes of GoT yet, and fitting conclusion to arguably the best Season.

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