A review of The Children
The title of season four’s final episode refers, in the main, to two things; the mysterious Children of the Forest, who are supposedly gone from the world, and the children of Tywin Lannister.
The Children of the Forest, along with the mysterious ‘three eyed raven’, are what Bran and company are hunting for north of the Wall. And, this week, they finally find them, in a spectacular display of old world magic. The coveted raven turns out to be an elderly man living underneath a giant (and beautiful) Weirwood tree dispensing mystical advice, which is presumably going to take Bran’s warging skills up to eleven at some point in the future.
Far more crucial at this juncture are the Lannister children. All of them are causing trouble; for each other, and for their dear old dad (Happy Father’s Day, by the way).
This season of Game of Thrones was very different from the last one, in that it was not building to a single crucial event (such as the Red Wedding). Tywin Lannister’s death – brilliant though it was – was not the defining moment of season four, not by a long shot. However, it was very much a defining moment for Tyrion Lannister, who is arguably GOT’s defining character. After all, once you’ve buried a couple of crossbow bolts into your own father’s chest while he’s seated on the commode, there’s pretty much no going back. Add to that the heart-breaking strangulation of Shae just minutes before (remember when those two used to just chillax nude in the four-poster drinking Dornish wine all day? Nope, us neither) and when compared with season one, the Tyrion of today is practically unrecognisable – yet, we’re still on his side. And that, kids, is called character development.
Like so many scenes in this episode (Jon’s conversation with Mance, Jon burning Ygritte’s body, Dany locking her dragons in the catacombs, Arya’s final moments with the Hound, Cersei confessing all to her father, and the list goes on), Peter Dinklage’s last conversation with Charles Dance is brilliantly staged. We can’t help but be disappointed we won’t get to see these two interact on GOT again. Dance exudes barely masked contempt as Tywin still can’t bring himself to truly attempt to appease his son (in spite of the fact that said son is wielding a crossbow), while the steadiness of Dinklage’s voice combined with the hard fury glinting in his eyes betrays one simple fact; there was nothing Tywin could have said that would have saved himself.
And what are the wider implications of Tywin Lannister’s death? In season three we saw that whole families could be lifted out of this story with few to no real repercussions (aggressively hums ‘The Rains of Castamere’), but something tells us there will be a few more visible consequences following Tywin’s demise. Just for starters, Cersei will rule the roost in King’s Landing now. For all we hated him, Tywin Lannister was the loudest voice of order (after Tyrion) amongst the whole of the Capital crowd. What’s going to happen with Cersei almost single-handedly pulling the strings? We don’t know, but we’re sure it’s not gonna be pretty.
In other news, the showrunners gifted us a few new and interesting character juxtapositions. It was great to see two characters we know well, but who have never met each other, get thrown together unexpectedly. Jon and Stannis wouldn’t have been high on our list of faves for a random meeting, but even so, it makes for an intriguing combination. They know each other by proxy, through the honourable words and deeds of the late Ned Stark, and therefore there is a sort of solidarity already existing between them. However, as Jon says to Tormund, he ‘has no king’, because the only job of the Night’s Watch is to defend the wall, not to fight in wars. So this could be only a brief random meeting, and not the start of a beautiful friendship.
Another coming together of characters gives us one of the more brilliant fight scenes in the entire series so far; Brienne of Tarth Vs Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane. In interview, writers D. B. Weiss and David Benioff cited the fight between Achilles and Hector (wake up, classics students) with regard to this scene. In other words, we are equally invested in both characters, for different reasons, and must watch the fight knowing one of them’s going to get clobbered.
We don’t actually see the Hound die – which, on a show where people come back from the dead at the drop of a hat, could mean absolutely anything – but his outlook is certainly bleak. His incapacitation, however, means that Arya finally gets her agency back, or perhaps, truly gains it for the first time. The image of her sailing to freedom supplies one of the most hopeful season finales we’ve ever seen on GOT – perhaps we can spend the year long wait for season five pretending it’ll last.
Best Scene – Lots of brilliant, brilliant scenes in this episode, but the stunning overhead shots of Stannis sending in the cavalry get our vote for sheer out of the blue exhilaration
Best Line – “You will never walk again. But you will fly.” – The three-eyed raven
- The CGI continues to be mostly wonderful, and some serious acting awards should be scattered out amongst the ensemble
- We weren’t big fans of the Harryhausen-esque skeletons popping out of the snow (like daisies!) or of the pretty perfunctory way Jojen’s death was handled