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Leave it to the fine folks at Game of Thrones to schedule their final episode of the year on Father’s Day. And then to subvert everything that all of us have been celebrating all day with the worst Father’s Day surprise possible. This is part of what makes the show so good, the sly and knowing wink at our expectations. Ever since poor Nedd Stark gave up his head, no one has been a very good father on Game of Thrones.
I mean, they chose to place this final episode on Father’s Day for this exact reason. Bravo. Now let’s dive into Outkick’s final review of the year.
1. “You know that Jon Snow is north of the wall now, right?” My wife when episode four starts.
“And that Castle Black is actually at the wall, right?”
Yeah, yeah, last week’s episode review was pretty much a disaster. I blew it with my inability to comprehend the geography of the battle. So this week I promise to be extra dialed in. (I’ll also ask my wife any questions if I’m confused since she’s read all the books. Of course, this is terrifying because I’m always worried she’s going to give away future plot points. So I’m always afraid to ask too much. This is the danger of watching the show with someone who has read all the books.)
2. Jon Snow walks into Mance Rayder’s camp, and they commence drinking to Ygritte’s death.
“Of all the ways I’d kill you, poison would be the last,” Rayder says when Snow contemplates not drinking.
Snow’s seeking to broker a peace agreement of sorts — and also contemplating killing Rayder — when suddenly an army attacks the wildlings.
3. Stannis and Davos have arrived to rout the wildling army.
The wildlings are immediately slaughtered and Stannis and Mance come face to face. Stannis demands that Mance kneel and Mance refuses to kneel to anyone. So Stannis, meeting Jon Snow for the first time, asks Snow what he’d do to Mance and Snow saves his life. Later, Snow burns Ygritte’s body and on the other side of the flames we see the fire sorceress, suggesting that Snow may figure prominently in her plans.
This also reminds me that we’ve never seen Robert Baratheon’s bastard son that Stavos freed. He’s been rowing to Westeros for the entire season, evidently. That’s one hell of a long trip.
One of the main mysteries that has endured since season one — and there aren’t very many of these mysteries still enduring — is who is Jon Snow’s mother? Could there be a Stannis connection here?
4. Cersei confesses that Jaime is the father of her children and that Tywin’s legacy is a lie.
Tywin, unable to comprehend an idea that he’s never even considered, is momentarily left speechless. Cersei celebrates the fact that she’s told Tywin the truth in typical Game of Thrones fashion — by having public sex with her brother. By finally speaking the truth to her father and refusing to follow his wishes, Tywin Lannister’s power is directly challenged by his children for the first time.
This does not bode well for Tywin.
5. Daenerys’s dragon kills a three year old girl, whose distraught father arrives with her bones.
Uh oh, the mother of dragons can’t control her children. Daenerys has had to seal the two remaining dragons in the catacombs because she’s afraid of what they might do. This also explains why the dragons haven’t appeared very frequently this season and why they haven’t been used at all in any of the Daenerys’s attacks upon the cities.
I’m still holding out hope for the dragons to fight the white walkers — who, by the way, have nearly vanished from the story this year as well — but it looks like Daenerys is going to have to find a way to control the dragons once more.
6. Zombie skeletons attack Bran and Hodor’s crew, but a flame throwing little girl arrives to save everyone but the weird kid.
And, somehow, you aren’t even surprised at any of this. It makes perfect sense that zombies would break through the ice and attack the group just as they reach their destination and that in his moment of need, Bran would be saved by a flame-throwing little girl. None of this shocked anyone. Sure, okay, there are little girls who can throw fire bombs at ice zombies.
Inside the True Detective-esque bowels of the tree, an old man sits back in the roots, and tells Bran, “You’ll never walk again, but you will fly.”
7. The Hound and Lady Brionne fight over Arya.
Just when you think there can’t be a more grotesque battle than the Mountain vs. Oberyn, here comes the Hound vs. Lady Brionne, two people fighting to the death over a girl that neither one of them can actually protect. The fights gruesome conclusion is the Hound tumbling down the side of mountain after being bludgeoned with a rock. Here we get the payoff scene to an earlier episode when the Hound kills a dying man with a quick stab to the heart. The Hound, mortally wounded, unarmed, and on the side of the mountain first tries to anger Arya into killing him, but then begs when she won’t relent to his wishes.
Arya, who earlier this season added the Hound to the list of people she wanted to kill, says nothing, until finally approaching him and stealing the money that the Hound had taken away from a farmer earlier in the season. We’re left with an unclear result here — is Arya refusing to kill the Hound because she likes him too much and can’t bear to do it — my best guess — or is she refusing to put him out of his misery because she wants him to suffer? What’s more, is there any possibility of the Hound surviving his wounds — maybe thanks to Sansa? — or will we never see him again on the show? So ends one of the most touching relationships of the past two seasons, Arya and the Hound’s long road trip together ends, not surprisingly at all, poorly.
Arya’s journey continues — and is the final scene of season four — when she produces the coin that the face-shifter gave her and asks to be taken to the wall on a boat.
8. After leaving his fate in suspense for much of the last month, we finally return to Tyrion, languishing in a prison cell awaiting his execution.
“Oh, get on it with it, you son of a whore,” Tyrion says as the door to his prison cell opens. Only, instead of an executioner, it’s Jaime, come to free his younger brother from a death sentence.
In what passes as the most touching scene of season four, Jaime and Tyrion hug.
“Farewell, little brother,” says Jaime.
“Thank you, for my life,” Tyrion says.
9. Then, just as everyone sighs with contentment, Tyrion strangles Shae, who is now screwing his father.
The murder’s tough to watch, but what are we to make of Shae? Did she really never love Tyrion, was she that good of an actress? It’s one thing to testify against him at trial, but to start screwing his dad? There’s no doubt that Tyrion loves Shae, but was he played by a whore, as his father suggested all along? Or do we think that Shae loved Tyrion too, but was unable to combat Tywin’s power? And why didn’t Shae end up on that boat as Tyrion intended, was this all Lord Varys doing?
I’m not sure what the truth is here. Regardless, Tyrion strangles Shae and finds his father on the toilet.
10. Tywin, confronted by his son holding a cross-bow as he sits on the toilet, doesn’t seem surprised at all by the circumstances.
Of course one thing Tywin has always shown is his utter adaptability to new circumstances. Even now, faced with potential death at the hands of own son who has been set for execution, he doesn’t grovel. Tywin says he would have never allowed Tyrion to be executed — perhaps because he now knows that Tyrion is his last hope for a new Lannister? — and dismisses Tyrion’s murder of Shae, a woman he calls a whore.
Tyrion tells him not to use that word again. (Recall that Tyrion was previously in love with a whore whom his father had murdered). When Tywin does it anyway, Tyrion shoots him.
“You’re no son of mine,” Tywin says.
“I am your son, I have always been your son,” Tyrion says, and then shoots his father once more, killing Tywin.
Happy Father’s Day!
11. Tyrion’s placed in a box and that box is lowered on a ship.
Lord Varys, the eunuch, stares back at Westeros and it’s hard not to think of his famous line, “Chaos is a ladder.” Once more, chaos rules in Westeros. King Tommen has no one to advise him, Cersei is going to forbid his marriage to Margaery Tyrell, never has there been a larger vacuum of power before the Iron Throne.
Like most of you, I already can’t wait for season five.
Notwithstanding my errors in episode nine’s analysis, you guys have really enjoyed our TV experiment of writing about Game of Thrones every Monday after the episodes. So we’ll continue this going forward. In the meantime, if you’re catching up, here are this season’s Game of Thrones episode reviews.
Thanks for reading.