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Game of Thrones “The Children” Review (4×10)

16 Jun

GOT-FINALE_612x380The Children of the Forest serve as a bit of a metaphor for all the other children in the show thus far: the beings that Bran comes across in this episode are ancient, beings that have been in the same place for who knows how long. The aforementioned “other children” have been trapped by their parents’ doings, destined to live out the rest of their lives in their parents’ shadows. That’s the very essence of the Iron Throne, isn’t it? It’s desired by many and is the most powerful position in the land, but it passes down through generations.

Yet, “The Children” brings with it massive change. For one, Jon Snow looks to his father’s experiences to advise Stannis on how to deal with Mance, but we’ve seen Jon grow into a leader and make his way out of his father’s shadow. He’ll always be his father’s son, but that doesn’t mean he can’t carve out something for himself. After the early Jon-Mance interactions in the episode, we see children taking a stand, children moving on, and children continuing to mature beyond their years.

Now, the two best instances of this–Tyrion and Arya–I’ll get to later, but I’d first like to touch on a few storylines that don’t work for me at the moment. One is the Jaime-Cersei relationship, a problem I was anticipating ever since the show bungled the rape scene earlier in the season; I understand why Cersei would want to turn on her father, but the way we get there doesn’t feel right by what should’ve been the moral and emotional complexity arising from their earlier problems. In retrospect, it’s even more evident that in this area, intent and what actually plays out do not mesh.

Elsewhere, the Bran storyline (RIP, Jojen!), suddenly picks up quite a bit, but the introduction of the skeletons and the Gandalf-esque Three Eyed Raven feel half-formed, coming across as a bit empty when they should be major and thrilling revelations. Skeleton-fighting is certainly cool, but like with various other storylines this year–The Night’s Watch, Stannis, etc.–it’s the small amount of buildup that eventually lessens the impact of whatever big event befalls them. I’m not saying these storylines won’t improve next year, but with a show that’s straining at its edges, they’re a bit of a cause for concern.

Of course, I’m intrigued to see where Arya and Tyrion are heading. For Arya, The Hound has it exactly right: she’s not safe anywhere, and Brienne believing that there is a place for her is simply foolish. The brutal fight between The Hound and Brienne is a clash between polar opposites, the former an unrepentant, cussing murderer and the latter a good, honorable fighter. As The Hound lays there dying, Arya simply stares, then leaves him to die a slow and painful death. It’s a culmination of a brilliant season-long arc and the signal of a character shift for her, one which will result in her being colder and more cunning; there’s a very great chance that this will invite even more danger, but even if there might be a sense of foreboding as she’s sailing away on that ship, there’s also a sense of hope and freedom. She’s always be Ned Stark’s daughter, but she’s still able to break free and start a new path.

As for Tyrion, he finally dispatches Tywin–and Shae, beforehand–as the guy’s sitting atop his Toilet Throne. It’s an ironic, cruel, and fitting end for Tywin, someone whose son always craved control, who always wanted to be in the position he’s in at the end of this episode, with his crossbow aimed straight at his father. Yet, Tyrion will always be his father’s son. He will always be someone who’s been beaten down, insulted, and emotionally crushed under the weight of Tywin’s influence, and we can hear the pain in his voice as he states “I will always be your son”. He wants to shoot that crossbow, but he reflects on the fact that the pain his father caused him will always live with him.

For, even as we forge new paths, the influence of those who came before will continue to hurt us, to motivate us, to guide us. It is up to us to board that ship, to stare across the sea to Braavos as our future looms ahead. What will the future bring? Time will tell, and the people will endure.

GRADE: B+

SEASON GRADE: B+

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Hey, Dany! I feel like her scenes in this episode are a bit rushed and don’t have the emotional weight they’re intended to have, but the thematic connections are clear: here, she’s in the parents’ role, the mother of her people, but the problem is that she also has to play the military and political side of things. She has to choose, and she locks two of her dragons up (killing children is what they do in their free times, but hey, dragons will be dragons). Dany can’t fulfill every goal she sets out to accomplish, because no one can.

-Ramin Djawadi deserves an Emmy for this episode, as well as the season in general. He’s done fantastic work throughout.

-Charles Dance, hats off to you. You were just plain brilliant as Tywin, and I loved every second you were on screen. The Tywin-Arya scenes a few seasons back will always be some of my favorite moments of the show.

-What a performance by Rory McCann in that final scene for the Hound; truly heart-wrenching stuff. Also, Maisie William’s performance.

-Hey, pretty good Ygritte send off!

-Ha. Father’s Day. Tywin. Great timing.

-Ha x2, this time at the guy who rushes at Stannis and gets immediately dispatched by the horse.

-Melisandre is here.

-Gorgeous overhead shots of Stannis’s forces riding in to defeat the Wildlings.

– “Grenn came from a farm.” Best reply ever.

-Good luck, Varys.

-See you next season!

Book reader spoilers:

So, I haven’t read the books, but I’ve heard that the writers did not include a scene in which Jaime tells Tyrion the Tysha story. This scene would’ve shaded motivations in a bit more efficiently than what we got.

In addition, something about a Lady Stoneheart. Hmm, I’m curious.

Photo credit: HBO, Game of Thrones

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One Response to “Game of Thrones “The Children” Review (4×10)”

  1. louisoc June 16, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    Those two spoilers? The two reasons why this episode is the biggest misstep in the show’s history. The first one causes irreversible damage to both Jaime and Tyrion’s relationship, and to the character of Tyrion himself. They’re going to have to do a lot of backtracking or sidestepping to justify the things he does for the next two books. The second? They wasted the opportunity to end the season on quite possibly the best cliffhanger any show has ever done (give or take a Breaking Bad Season 3/5.1, LOST Season 3, or Hannibal Season 2). Stupid, stupid decisions. Great episode on its own merits, monumental, colossal fuck-up in the context of the series as a whole. Thoroughly disappointed. Try not to spoil yourself, by the way, it would be best to experience the Lady Stoneheart revelation from the show, and not some crappy reddit comment or the like.

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