Monday, June 16, 2014

Game of Thrones Recap: Season Finale!

Welcome to my Game of Thrones Recap. I love the Song of Ice and Fire series, and I'm loving (for the most part) how HBO is handling turning it into a live action series. In these posts, I recap the most recent and discuss what I thought of it, how it relates to the book, etc. Warning: This post is pretty much 100% spoilers, so read at your own risk!

Episode 4.10: The Children

Ahh season finales. This one had plenty of epic-ness, though because I've read the books, none of it was a surprise to me. I did have a couple of issues, I will admit. But overall, I thought it was pretty dang good.

We start out with Jon Snow, setting out to find Mance Rayder, which he does. They talk and drink to Ygritte and Grenn and all their other fallen colleagues. Mance says he doesn't actually want to destroy everyone. He just wants to hide behind the Wall. If Jon will just let them through, no one else will die. If he doesn't, they'll destroy every last one of the Night's Watch. Suddenly, the Wildlings are attacked by *sounds of trumpet* Stannis, Sir Davos, and his army. They come to the aid of the Night's Watch and basically defeat the Wildlings. Mance refuses to kneel when he surrenders to Stannis. Then Jon introduces himself and Stannis says Jon's father was honorable. Jon asks Stannis to spare Mance and listen to what he has to say. This was done differently in the book--Stannis's army showed up while Jon was actively fighting and defending the Wall--but that change didn't bother me much. It was still very effective.

Meanwhile, in King's Landing, Cersei stands up to her father, insisting that she will not marry Loras Tyrell or leave the capital for High Garden. If he tries to force her, she will tell everyone that Jaime is truly the father of her children. I don't think this ever happened in the book. I could be wrong, but I don't think Cersei would ever tell anyone that, not her father, and not to keep her way of life. She'd come up with something else, but not that. Then she goes and tells Jaime that she stood up to their father and they...we'll keep it PG-13 and call it a make out session.

Across the sea, Dany has to deal with elderly people who are too old to change. They want to go back to being slaves, rather than deal with the responsibility of freedom. She agrees to let them enter into contracts with their former masters, as long as the duration of the contract is for no more than one year. Barristan warns her that the former slavers will take advantage of this. Then, a man brings the charred bones of his 3-year old daughter to her. Drogo, her black dragon, has killed the child with fire. Teary-eyed, Dany shackles the other two dragons in the catacombs. This is a setup for one of my favorite aspects of book 5, obviously set to be filmed for next season.

Then we go to Bran. This was the most action-packed sequence of the episode! He, Hodor, Meera and Jojen find a beautiful Weirwood tree that is not entirely affected by winter. They believe it to be the home of the three-eyed crow, but just before they reach it, they're ambushed by wights. These are basically skeleton white-walkers that are scary fast and totally creepy. Bran jumps into Hodor's body to help fight then, but Jojen is stabbed. This is a deviation from the books. Jojen doesn't die at this part, though soon after he falls into a deep depression and Meera tells Bran Jojen has had a prophetic dream about his own fate, and it isn't good. I suppose maybe they just didn't want to continue Jojen's character, especially if he will die soon anyway. 

They make it into a cave beneath the tree and when the wights try to follow, they basically explode. (So cool!) Bran meets the children of the forest--a young girl and an old man. The man, part of the trees roots, was less than amazing in my opinion. This guy just looked like he was sitting among the roots, and it was very dark. Perhaps it's just a matter of not being how I pictured it, but I wasn't impressed. In the book, he had roots growing through him, out of his head and such. I pictured him a bit more like an Ent or Robert Jordan's Green Man. More human than either of those, but definitely more like them than this guy was. Still, I'm glad Bran has reached this lair and can begin to learn about his own powers and abilities now.

Meanwhile, close to the Eyrie, Brienne and Pod come across Arya and the Hound. Now, this is a huge departure from the books. Brienne wants to take Arya with her, but the Hound doesn't want to let her go. They sword fight, beat the snot out of one another, and Brienne ends up pushing the Hound over a cliff. 

Now, on the one hand, this was an epic showdown between two awesome characters, and it really was pretty cool. (Brienne even bit off his ear at one point, which I'm pretty sure was a nod to her fight in the book, which was with Biter and some others, rather than the Hound.) But on the other hand, I have to a be just a wee bit bitter and say that this is what comes of stream-lining characters. In the book, she never came across Arya and the Hound, and when Biter started eating her (no, that's not an exaggeration) Gendry helped her, and ended up taking her to...uh...someone else important that obviously won't be showing up until next season either. But, they've already gotten rid of Gendry due to meshing his story line with another, so this couldn't happen. (I'm hopeful that we'll see him again, but I was bitter with the way this went because some of my favorite scenes with him and Arya got cut.

Anyway, Arya goes down to see the Hound, and he begs her to kill him, but she refuses. Not a bad scene by any means, but still. It just wasn't as tragic, and therefore not as compelling, as the book. The whole point in the book was that, after all the violence and injustice the Hound perpetuated in his life, it was a little infected cut that did him in. He and Arya have an argument about honor and whether there's any left in the world. She doesn't kill him, not because she doesn't want him dead, but because she doesn't think he deserves her mercy. This scene, while well-acted and with a lot of lines straight from the book, just felt a bit short-changed for me. Soon after, Arya, flashing the coin Jaqen gave her, boards a ship headed for Bravos.

Finally, the other other epic-ness from the end of book 3. Jaime frees Tyrion, and they have a tender moment, but rather than go straight up to Varys who will help him escape, Tyrion goes to confront his father. In his father's chamber, he finds Shay in the bed. When she lunges at him, he strangles her. Then he goes and finds his father on the privy. They argue and Tyrion kills Tywin with two crossbow bolts. Then he goes to Varys, who sneaks him out of the city as cargo. I don't have much to say about this scene. There was almost no deviation from the book, and it was sufficiently shocking (for those who hadn't read it before). Perhaps Shay's death could have been a bit more drawn out, just to make it darker and more dramatic, but he still kills her, so maybe they didn't want to overdo it. I thought this particular part was well done.

So, a sufficiently epic season finale. The issues I had stemmed almost entirely from earlier changes that are messing with the plot, but that's to be expected when converting books to TV, I suppose. Overall, I liked this finale. I thought it was much more epic and satisfying than the finale for season 3.

What did everyone else think of the season 4 finale of Game of Thrones?

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