All aboard the Hype Train! In preparation of Season 8 of Game of Thrones, Kelly is doing a rewatch for the greater good to refresh our memories, catch the things we might have forgotten, pick up the things we might have missed, and maybe make predictions! Hold onto your fur rugs from Ikea and AWAY WE GO.
Rules of this series: We’re deep diving into these episodes and I’m watching them on a per-episode base because I like digesting the episodes. Spoilers lie ahead. As much as I can, I am going to try and keep things episode/season specific. It’s out of respect to the narrative as well as the later seasons. Onwards!
4.10 The Children
The Children is a reference to exactly what that means- kiddies! We have Arya, Jon, Tyrion, Cersei, and so on shedding their family images or ideals in favor of becoming their own person. And of course- the reference to the Children of the Forest, mythological figures who were allied with the First Men against the White Walkers and later revealed to be the creators of the White Walkers.
The episode kicks off where the previous one left off, as Jon storms outside to find Mance. He’s greeted by a dead Giant, already being feasted on by crows- snicker- okay, I’ll stop. The Wilding camp immediately is on guard as Jon walks up to Mance with his hands raised. Mance is none too pleased to see that Jon is wearing his Nitch’s Watch cloak as last he saw, Jon was teamed up with Tormund. Mance remarks that Ygritte apparently wasn’t enough to turn Jon and Jon says almost with pride that Ygritte was loyal to Mance and shot him with three arrows. I’m not sure of what Mance’s relationship was with Ygritte, but he seems genuinely sad that she was killed. He offers to drink to her and scoffs when Jon hesitates, calling poison a weapon of the weak. They also toast Grenn from the farm who downed Mag, one of the oldest and last Giants. Jon tells Mance to turn around but Mance knows that Jon doesn’t have too many resources left at the Wall and used up most of what he had. Strategically, Mance sent 500 men over the Wall so they can plan the same attack the following night but will tell them to stand down if Jon lets them through the Wall. Mance again tries to reassure Jon that he doesn’t want to invade Westeros- he just wants to escape the Winter that is coming.
Mance realizes that Jon is there to kill him but then the Wildings start shouting that riders are coming. Jon levels with Mance and says that he doesn’t have the men to plan an attack- but it’s a whole freaking army that has appeared North of the Wall! Hints of Stannis’ theme roll through as his army begins to circle the woods that Mance is stashed in, eventually crashing on both sides and slaying a lot of the Free Folk. Seeing that his people are being slaughtered, Mance orders his remaining officers to stand down as Stannis and Davos ride up. Mel- is this the war to the North you were talking about and did you leave Stannis a memo because… White Walkers… some warning would have been nice before your dude killed off perfectly capable fighters…
Anyway, Mance refuses to kneel to Stannis because WE DO NOT KNEEL and Stannis takes him prisoner as Stannis does- I wonder if Stephen Dillane pointed out these inconsistencies to the showrunners. He seems like a smart fellow. Jon identifies himself as Ned Stark’s son, Ned who stood for Stannis. Jon convinces Stannis to take Mance prisoner and to burn the bodies- it looks like Stannis trusts him for now.
In King’s Landing, Qyburn inspects a mostly dead Gregor Clegane. Oberyn poisoned his spear before the battle so any slicing and dicing has left The Mountain severely infected. Cersei dismisses Pycelle and hands the keys over to Qyburn who she trusts to save The Mountain. She doesn’t care what tactics he uses as long as The Mountain is stronger and more willing to service her causes. She then heads over the Tower of the Hand to renegotiate her engagement to Loras Tyrell, which Tywin denies. Cersei doesn’t want to leave King’s Landing as she doesn’t want Tywin or Margaery to control Tommen- not realizing that she essentially is trying to do the same thing by “protecting” him from them- and screams that she would burn the Lannister house to the ground before that happened- what is this, the second or third time she’s said this? She threatens Tywin with telling the world about Tommen being Jaime’s bastard child until she realizes that Tywin has been in denial and in the dark about her relationship with Jaime. She drives the knife in further by telling Tywin that his legacy- the thing most important to him- is a lie.
It seems like Cersei is totally turned on by shutting down her father and she goes to visit Jaime, sits on his lap, and unashamedly has sex with him on top of his Lord Commander table. Less sexy and less corny than Mel with Stannis on top of the table at Dragonstone and therefore less points.
In Meereen (yawn), Dany is being introduced and that has to take up at least her morning, right? The first man to plead with Dany asks to go back into slavery! He was a teacher and taught history and languages to children- that’s cool and all, but Dany has this plastic smile across her face and it comes off as incredibly patronizing. And bemused. I’d be annoyed. Anyway, the guy says he was basically a well-treated employee and now he’s homeless. Is slavery just a common term for employee in Meereen? Is it a translation error? It might be. Dany would know if she took the time to figure out all the nooks and crannies of Essos, but she hasn’t. Dany finally concedes and says that those who wish to go back into servitude may do so as contractors, but Barristan says that this would be taken advantage of and shut up, Barristan! You don’t know that! It seems like this dude’s master was ok, along with several others. I think everyone needs to have a sit-down and discuss what the word slave actually entails.
Since Dany needs to have a bad day, the next speaker brings her the bones of a child who was killed by Drogon. No one has seen Drogon in a few days and Dany chooses to lock up Viserion and uh, Rhaegal in some catacombs below the pyramid since she doesn’t have the time or effort to babysit- darling, haven’t you ever heard of a little thing called boarding school? This CG hasn’t actually aged that well. You know what has though? Dany’s closet. This blue and white dress with the keyhole is one of her best.
Up at Castle Black, Aemon holds a funeral for the fallen members of the Night’s Watch. It’s pretty clear that Stannis’ family and several of his men see this as a ritual for the Red God and now because they can turn into wights if it’s not done. Tormund asks Jon if he loved Ygritte and if he did, to bring her back to the real North where she belonged.
By himself, Jon builds Ygritte a pyre and burns her body. We finally see him crack as he silently grieves for her. I cry buckets, as I should.
Further north, Jojen and Meera are still trying to get Bran to the three-eyed raven and they see the glorious weirwood tree, full with red leaves. They start to make their way across a frozen lake when skeletons (wights? Maybe?) begin to sprout up and try to drag them under the ice. Bran wargs into Hodor to help, Bran is almost killed, and in the scuffle, Jojen is stabbed. Meera slices his throat to put him out of his misery and the rest of the party is saved by a child of the forest who is throwing grenades from a cave. What an unceremonious way for Jojen to die. And let’s commend Meera aka Not Gemma Whalen for some really good acting here. Evidently the cave is protected by some kind of magic and the wights explode as they cross the line.
Bran then meets the three-eyed raven, no played by Max Von Sydow yet and it’s just some Santa Claus in a tree. Lots of Dutch angles here because they’re UNDERGROUND and it’s DARK and MYSTERIOUS. Bran thinks he’s there so he can walk again and Santa says that instead, he’s going to show him how to fly.
Over in the Vale, Pod has lost Brienne’s horses. Brienne comes across Arya, still practicing her water dancing. Arya immediately asks Brienne if she’s a knight because she and Brienne are cut from the same tomboy cloth and have their swords named. It’s a cute scene and if the Hound had given them five more minutes, Arya might have chosen to go with Brienne and her story would have been completely different. Pod immediately recognizes the Hound and in turn, the Hound recognizes Brienne’s Lannister sword and armor, while Brienne identifies Arya.
Brienne tries to convince Arya that she was loyal to Cat, but to be fair, all the signs point against her- she’s wearing Lannister armor, the Lannisters have a bounty out for the Hound, and her sword has a lion on it. When the Hound asks Brienne where she got her sword from, she can’t say that it’s made from Ice- that would be even worse. The Hound cracks when Brienne promises Arya safety, saying that everyone she knows is dead and that there’s no possibility of safety for Arya and that if Brienne thinks Arya can be safe, she’s not fit to protect her. It’s the closest to affection the Hound will ever claim for Arya. They draw swords and holy crap- this is painful to watch. I mean, great, but also painful.
Season 4 takes the cake of fights- everyone always looks like they are really smacking the snot out of each other. The Hound punches Brienne and she rolls down a hill and we get some jumbled close-ups mixed in with some long shots- it’s one of the best one-on-one fights we get on the show. Aside from Gwendoline Christie being straight up badass and of comparable height to Rory McCann, she’s also pretty fast for wearing a full suit of armor. Just as it looks like she is about to win, the Hound grabs her blade and helps himself to his feet. He knocks Oathkeeper from her hands and a big old fistfight breaks out- she knocks him in the nuts! He kicks her back in the groin! Then in the face! Ground and pound! She bites off his ear! It’s. Fucking. Wild.
Brienne finally knocks him backward off a cliff, but Arya is nowhere to be found. And Pod can’t find her either. She finds the Hound at the bottom of a hill, bone poking through his leg, and she just watches him bleed. The Hound looks fondly at Arya when she says she doesn’t need saving and tells her that he’s done and to go to Brienne. He asks her to kill him, to cross another name off her list and Arya just looks back at him in pity. When he sees that Arya won’t do it, he begins spitting out the foulest things to try and provoke her- how he killed her friend Micah, how he should have raped Sansa…
Arya simply stands over him and takes his purse as he begs her to kill him- it’s a mixture of emotions in this scene. Arya can’t deny that the Hound took good care of her and that she didn’t trust him after a while. She’s seen the good in him now. Like Ygritte was with Jon, she can’t quite bring herself to kill the Hound as much as she says she hates him. It’s a bit of Stockholm Syndrome here but Arya’s time with the Hound was well spent.
In King’s Landing, Jaime helps Tyrion break out of his cell- he still loves his brother. Jaime leads Tyrion to a set of stairs that will lead to Varys- but Tyrion opts to take a different tunnel and ends up at the Tower of the Hand because he needs to ask his father some questions.
Tyrion finds Shae in Tywin’s bed as she sleepily asks for “my lion,” the nickname she used for Tyrion. Shae’s first reaction to seeing Tyrion is to grab a knife and try to kill him. Shae’s presence in Tywin’s bed confirms a lot of things- she went back to her old lifestyle, opting for money over moral and was willing to exchange the object of her affections for a cushy lifestyle. More than that, it shows that she was capable of manipulating Tyrion and very smartly put herself into a position where she would be owed something- it didn’t matter who it was from, she was going to use the relationship to get something she wanted.
After a scuffle, Tyrion strangles Shae with a thick gold chain she is wearing- a reference to the book and a chain (I think) that Tyrion wore as Hand of the King. A minstrel would go on to write a song about the affair. It shows up in Season 7 sung by Ed Sheeran- and it compares the coldness of politics and money (Hands of Gold, meaning the position of Hand and Lannister gold) to a woman’s touch. The protagonist of the song would do anything to be with his woman.
After Shae stops breathing, there’s a horrific shot of Peter Dinklage and Sibel Kekilli next to him, upside down, as his hands grasp the chain. He apologizes to her in a completely non-threatening and sorrowful manner. Tyrion grabs Joff’s crossbow and finds Tywin in his toilet attempting to poo.
Completely at Tyrion’s mercy, Tywin admits that he always wanted Tyrion dead and then tries to drop the “You’re a Lannister. You’re my son” line to try and disarm Tyrion but he’s not falling for it this time. Tyrion’s accepted that his father never wanted him and didn’t mind killing him if it meant Tywin could walk away unscathed- he’s just always needed the right excuse. It took years for Tyrion to realize the extent to which his family hated him. Tyrion fires two bolts into Tywin, who dies on the toilet- in the books, GRRM ends the chapter with Tyrion’s discovery that his father did not shit gold. Rumor disproved! Tyrion then meets up with Varys, who’s like, where the hell have you been? He gets Tyrion on a boat and hearing the bells that signify that Tywin is dead, decides to board himself. We talked a little bit in the previous episode, how the tides shift in these last two episodes of Season 4 and I think that’s only exemplified further by Tywin, who was one of the last remaining figures of how Westeros used to be run- his death signals the start of a new generation and new era of ruling in the Seven Kingdoms.
Back to Arya, she sees a ship and finds out that it’s leaving for Braavos. She drops her coin with a Valar Morghulis per Jaqan H’ghar- and she’s on her way. The episode ends on Arya with some Titanic quality choruses singing the main theme and it’s a little odd. I won’t lie. It’s an odd ending to the season.
We kick off Season 5 next with 5.1 The Wars to Come! Thanks for joining us!