Monday, June 16, 2014

(TV) Game of Thrones: Season 4 Episode 10 “The Children” TV Review

Game of Thrones has produced many WTF moments during its four season run but in this season’s finale “The Children” the WTF moments kept coming from the brutal showdown between Brienne and The Hound to Tywin Lannister having a Father’s Day from the pits of hell.

The Show’s creators David Benioff and DB Weiss have been crowing about the season finale being one of their best yet and it’s safe to say that their confidence was justified.

John, Mance, Stannis and The Wall

The show kicks off with John beyond the gate on his suicide mission to kill Mance, “The King beyond the Wall”. Having watched copious amounts of television and a plethora of main characters putting themselves in perilous positions, I was pretty sure nothing would really happen to John as he surrendered himself in order to talk to Mance but to say that things were tense would be an understatement.

However, for two men at war with each other and not a lot of love between them, John and Mance were pretty amicable as they both shared a cup of wildling moonshine and a chat about their lost comrades and Ygritte. Despite the abnormal civility between the two enemies, we know that John, with his mission in mind, is still angling for a chance to end the war by killing Mance eyeing all the sharp objects lying around. However, Mance, not too keen on trusting the bastard son of Ned Stark again, spots John eyeing a knife plunged into a table nearby then sternly questions whether he has stones to do it before a loud horn rings out interrupting Mance before he could slit John’s throat.

Strange riders cut through the unprepared wildlings subduing any opportunities for retaliation. We find out that riders are riders for House Baratheon as Stannis and Davos ride up to Mance’s quarters and arrest him. We’ve been waiting for years for the story to hot up on the wall with introduction Stannis, the red lady and Davos to the wall, things just might get interesting.

Dany and Meeren

Game of Thrones rarely gives its’ characters what they want and if they do they are confronted with cold and hard realities that pale in comparison to the grand visions they had in their heads of glory, conquest or absolute rule and nobody is experiencing this dichotomy as profoundly as the Mother of Dragons. The show is making the point constantly about difference between conquering and ruling as this week she learned that slavery may be an evil system but it provided an identity her “new world” can’t as a slave begs the Breaker of Chains to return to his old ones. 

Taken aback by the old man plea and his revelation that he’s not the only one who wishes to return to bondage, the Mother of Dragons allows the old man to sign a contract with his former owners which may provide a major loophole that might see the breaker of chains over a more agreeable (if that’s even possible) form of an injustice she made her name on. However the tough decision just kept on coming as a goat herder cradling what appears to be a child burnt to a crisp by one of Dany’s dragons.

In this season more than most the show has gone out of its way to show that while her dragons may be her ace in the hole they may also be her number weakness as their wild and terrifying nature can end up costing her dear. She has the equivalent of nuclear weapons in the GOT universe and when the goat herder reveals the bones of his dead daughter, it was like she found out that they were radioactive.

Fresh from the court meeting from hell, Dany leads the two dragons she can fins into the catacombs and chains the wild young dragons as Dany cries at the thought of the so called Mother of Dragons and Breaker of Chains forced into chaining her own children who are way too wild and dangerous to be free. It been a tough season for Dany and if she plans to experiment with the prospect of ruling, season 5 look like it turn out to be a nightmare for the last dragon.

Brienne, The Hound and Arya

GOT does violent duels like Michael Jordan did slam dunks but the battle between The Hound and Brienne was brilliant as it was brutal. After Brienne finds Arya practicing her water dancing, they share a short but warm chat about their fathers and their warrior ambitions before they’re rudely interrupted by The Hound, unfriendly and rude as ever so rude he forces Brienne to draw her sword.

What happened next was one of the best and most brutal fights in the show’s run as what starts out as a bread and butter sword fight turns into a primal fight to the death with both parties fighting dirty which Brienne ended with multiple blows with a rock to The Hounds’ head before throwing him over a hill.

As Brienne admonishes Pod for losing Arya, we see Arya catch with The Hound, badly injured and looking death in the eye. Season 4 has done a good job taking Arya down an even darker path and “The Children” continued the trend as she watches The Hound writhe in pain as he begs his road companion to kill him. Arya, dead eyed and emotionless, just watches The Hound as  he tries to goad her into killing him by going into graphic details what happened when he killed the butcher’s boy in the first season and openly rueing his opportunity to rape Sansa.

Arya, still unmoved by his desperate attempts to provoke her into killing him, walks over to The Hound, takes his bag of silver and walks off leaving him to die. It was quite a bum note to end one of the better odd couples on the show as while we thought Arya may have some feeling of camaraderie with her captor who has racked up a large body count protecting her from the worse Westeros has to offer but the way she ended her time with The Hound showed that wasn’t the case. 
The Lannisters and King’s Landing

I don’t know if it’s coincidence or great scheduling by HBO, but I suspected that with last night being father’s day it was going to be one to forget for one of Westeros shitty patriarchs and unfortunately for Tywin, one he wished had never happened. Let’s face it, if a parent ever deserved to fall at the hands of his children there is only one candidate that comes to mind, Tywin Lannister. He has made the lives of his children hell from using them like pieces in a chess board to sentencing one of them to death for a crime he knows full well they didn’t commit.

The Father’s day from hell got going with Cersei refusing to marry Loras Tyrell. Tywin, in his usual uncaring manner, dismisses his daughter’s defiance insisting on her acquiescence. Cersei, not exactly daddy’s little girl despite sharing a number of his nastier character traits, reveals that the worst kept secret in all of Westeros is true, she’s been sleeping with her brother and the Lannister bloodline is a little more purer than he’d like. Tywin, firm in the belief that the nasty rumours about his eldest son and only daughter were falsehoods, tells her she’s lying however we can see it on his face that he knows she’s telling the truth.  

Season 4 has been one disaster after another for the Lannisters as we predicted before GOT started as so far they have been largely shielded from the horrors that have visited just about everybody else the narrative. Another reason for this recent uptick in Lannister misery is that the show did threaten to make them the central focus of the show as the show is often at its best as the best and richly drawn characters in the show are Lannisters.

However, if there was ever a show where being the central focus of it was a downside, Game of Thrones fits it to the tee and all you need to do is look at the fate of the Starks for irrefutable proof. The show has also proved a perilous ground for fan favourites as we found out two weeks ago with the red viper and for the whole season with Tyrion who has spent season 4 losing loved ones, friends, and very nearly his life.

In this week’s finale Tyrion’s losing streak came to an end as one of his few allies and loved one left, Jamie, came through and broke his brother out of his cell. The Tyrion and Jamie relationship has been one of the high points in a strong season as Peter Dinklage and Nikolaj Coster Waldau have played a blinder playing brothers who care deeply for each other’s in a world where your brother is pretty much your best friend or, much more likely, your worst enemy.

Jamie instructs the little brother to knock on the escape door for Varys to open it before they embrace. There are a number of heartbreaking scenes in the GOT cannon but Jamie’s and Tyrion’s farewell embrace must be the first heart-warming scene in GOT  for some time as the show has excelled a gut punching its audience we gotten used to its cynical approach of trampling all over our conditioned expectation for poetic justice in our storytelling.

The show continued its usual trend as Tyrion ignores his brothers’ instruction to knock on the door to freedom and instead sneaks into his father bedroom to honour a family tradition of paying debts owed. However to his horror, he finds Shae, half naked, draped stomach first on Tywin’s bed. Heartbroken, Tyrion jumps on top of Shae after she reaches for a knife. Tyrion disarms Shae then strangles her to death.

Tyrion no doubt had a score to settle with Shae but we can tell from the look on his face when he strangled the life out the woman he had loved and loved him back that ending her life wasn’t in his plan for payback. Tyrion had become another victim of one of a long line of cruel ironies that litter the GOT narrative as he ends up killing the woman he went through great pains to protect.  

Broken from his murderous act, Tyrion spots Joffrey’s crossbow hung up on the wall. In the next scene, we follow a dishevelled Tyrion dragging the crossbow down a dark corridor which leads to a privy where he finds his father sites engineering bowel movements. In just about every scene we’ve seen the Lannister patriarch in he has radiated magisterial power and dominated every room he entered but in his privy, literally caught with his pants down by the son he hates with a crossbow and life’s worth of intent, we see Tywin in a position we doubt he’s ever been, one of vulnerability.

Tywin, the master politician and manipulator that he is tries to negotiate with his last born son who’s in no mood to hear his father who has countless times shown his contempt towards from birth. Sure enough, none of the old lion parlour tricks are working on a son he has done his utmost to slight and ridicule at every turn. The old lion then makes the fatal mistake of calling Shae a whore triggering Tyrion to shoot his father with a bow to the chest knocking him back. As Tyrion reloads the bow and aims it at his father, Tywin knows the jig is up and then reveals what he really thinks before Tyrion delivers a bow to the throat killing his father instantly.

All men die in Westeros but it but no one would suspect that feared and respected Tywin Lannister would be felled by his “demon monkey” son of “low cunning” in the shitter which is a fitting end for a man who put his family legacy over the family itself with dire consequences.

After killing his father, Tyrion follows Jamie’s orders and meets Varys who smuggles him onto a ship inside a wooden crate that resembled the crate opened last season revealed the sorcerer who made him a eunuch. GOT has many characters scheming in the background with their true intentions shrouded in mystery but Game of Thrones has from the beginning seemed  like a chess match being played by Varys and Littlefinger (the best schemers on both sides of the continent) and everybody else in the narrative is a piece to moved or removed on the chessboard.

We suppose we’ll have to wait until next season to see what happens to Tyrion as he sails with Varys across the narrow sea and thanks to a strong finale this week of strong season overall, the nine or ten month wait for more GOT will be painful.

Till next year.

Connect with The Carnage Report @TCRblogspot on Twitter or read our reviews of previous episodes this year  

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