See what I did with the title there? Get it? Because they say it in the Night’s Watch, and also our watch of Season 4 is over because the finale aired. I’m so clever.
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a complex mix of emotions right now. On the one hand, the finale on Sunday was awesome. On the other hand, there will be no new books or episodes until 2015. This is supposed to be a review of “The Children,” so we’ll focus on the happy instead of the sad.
When I first saw that the finale was going to be called “The Children,” I immediately assumed it was going to refer to the Children of the Forest. It ends up reflecting the fact that there is a huge transition going on in Westeros right now, as the war and the immediate aftermath of the war have killed most of the people who were in power.
Up at Castle Black, Jon Snow now speaks with the voice of Ned Stark to Stannis and Davos. (How awesome was their entrance, by the way?) Would Ned actually have taken Mance prisoner? Maybe. It doesn’t really matter. Jon draws from his own personal experience to explain why Stannis should take Mance prisoner, and just puts Ned’s name on it. And then he does it again two seconds later, advising Stannis to burn the bodies. House Stark and the Night’s Watch share the same love of honor, and Jon is (assumedly) Ned’s last living son, both of which lead him to advise King Stannis.
Where Jon takes up the honor he’s destined for as a man of the Night’s Watch and Ned Stark’s son, Tyrion…does something else. Terrible segue aside, I think Tyrion and Jon’s storyline, as an antithetical pair, form the emotional skeleton of the episode. The others are important, obviously (and a ton happens in them), but these two bound the episode.
Tyrion’s story is traumatic and alarming. Earlier in the season, Bronn says to Jaime that killing isn’t Tyrion’s style, and that’s true even of ordering people killed for doing something wrong (like Janos Slynt, whom he sent to the Wall). In an episode called “The Children” which aired on Father’s Day (really, guys?), that all changed rather rapidly.
The Lannister children have always lived under the shadow (and thumb) of Tywin. At every turn, Tywin focuses on the permanence of the Lannister family, which makes him completely uninterested in his children’s actual, day-to-day happiness, as Cersei is happy to remind him. Her confession, which is really more of an attack, drives this neglect home for the audience: Tywin has never bothered to consider something that we’ve known from the very first episode. Tywin is not interested in the people around him, and while that has clearly elevated him in power, Cersei uses it to show that he has no trueborn heirs and therefore holds false power.
Why does Tyrion kill Tywin? Tyrion lists a few reasons, and I can add a few more. He says that Tywin has always wanted him dead, and Tywin agrees; he says that Tywin sentenced him to death, which Tywin bizarrely says he would have gotten out of; he brings up Shae. Add to that that Tyrion is fleeing execution for kingslaying, and will likely never return to Westeros, and you figure that he has nothing to lose.
Tyrion’s murderous act, for me at least, needs to go a little deeper than any of those reasons. Tyrion, Cersei, and Jaime are not allowed to be people with Tywin around. Jaime claimed his personhood in the beginning of the season, when he refused to leave the Kingsguard. Cersei claimed hers when she threatened to expose her secret rather than be married off to Ser Loras. And on his way to Essos, Tyrion claimed his, at long last, by shooting Tywin.
Man, it’s going to be a long wait for Season 5.
There are too many! I’ll just touch on the storylines I didn’t get to in this post.
- I really hope that Mance Rayder gets to play a bigger role in the next season. Especially if the Hound is going to be out – I need a big, beautiful man on GoT, and Mance seems like a good candidate.
- Jon and Melisandre is something to start getting excited for. You didn’t need a book reader to tell you that, though; the way they set up the shots between them over the flames with heat waves was clear enough, I thought.
- Daenerys’ story arc was really well done in this episode, since the two aspects had the same theme of the questionable nature of chains. More on that later – I have about ten months to say something.
- Arya on her way to Braavos! And the Hound left for dead. That scene was incredibly upsetting.
- Cersei’s threat to Tywin was a beautiful addition. In the books, Jaime sometimes says they should just come out and get married like the Targaryens did, but it was so interesting coming from Cersei, and especially as an attack.
- Brienne and Pod meeting the Hound and Arya? Genius. That fight was horrifying.
- I’m not really sure how I feel about the wights guarding (?) the wierwood tree. They kind of looked like something from a Pirates of the Caribbean ride. I’m fine with Jojen dying in this episode, though. That addition made sense.
- I’m really glad that Tyrion and Jaime were able to leave things on a nice note. Tyrion confessing to Joffrey’s murder in the books, even though he didn’t do it? Too sad.
- WHERE WAS SHE?? I mean, I think I get why they left her out, but I didn’t even consider that she wouldn’t be in this episode. I do NOT like surprises.