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Game of Thrones Finale: The Children are Alive and Well

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here is something special about the fulfillment of a long journey. One journey ends, but another glorious one begins out of the metaphorical ashes of the last. The fourth season of “Game of Thrones” was full of the long, seemingly stagnant, storylines that leave some viewers cursing at the pace of the omnipotent figure of this universe: George R.R. Martin. Frustration becomes a regular feeling, but the wait is well worth it, as made evident by the finale of the fourth season from last night.

The youngest Stark of the illustrious line of that name, Brandon, had been on a rather uneventful journey north throughout the season, as well as all of last, in search of the three-eyed raven that haunted his dreams. He knew he needed to find it to further his life as a warg and receive more answers about who he is and the life he must live. The action picks up in this storyline when the tree Bran has been after all this time is finally discovered. This brings us to one of several deaths of the episode, with the end of Jojen Reed. His death is one that is not too upsetting to viewers, (unless I am just heartless), because he was, as he explained, only serving as a guide for Bran to reach his destination.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1625V5uvcp8[/youtube]

The destination was reached and it provided one of the countless shocks of the episode: the Children of the Forest are still around and are seemingly led by the Winter Warlock-esque man who has, perhaps creepily, been watching Bran his entire life. The revelation about the Children is enough shock for one episode itself, but that was only one of many in this finale.

Jon Snow has had a rough few days. The only woman he ever loved died in his arms and many of his friends died fighting a battle that was only a prelude to a much larger battle. Or so it seemed until Stannis Baratheon showed up with thousands of troops to capture Mance Rayder. This came after an already tense scene with Jon and Mance having a meeting that was not at all productive. The meeting of characters in “Game of Thrones” is always a weird situation to watch as a viewer. Stannis and Jon speaking to each other just seemed odd, but so it goes in this show that seems full of endless twists and surprises. One thing of note is the way Melisandre looked at Jon through the flames of the pyre on which the dead men of the Night’s Watch were laid to rest, which is something to note and obsess over until Season 5.

These next ten months will also allow viewers to endlessly wonder about where Arya Stark and Tyrion Lannister will begin next season respectively. Both end up on ships headed for the Free Cities under much different circumstances. To start with Arya, as her circumstances are far less realm changing, she watched as the Hound fought Brienne over who would watch over Arya. Brienne wanted to do so in order to keep an oath to a dead woman, Arya’s mother Catelyn, while the Hound, Sandor Clegane, has grown to like Arya. It was not shocking that the battle was brutal, or even that Brienne got the better of the Hound and left him for dead. The shock was in the way Arya simply took the Hound’s money and walked off, as he lay begging to be killed. This opens up the question of whether Arya made a heel turn by not killing the Hound, as opposed to putting him out of his misery. He had protected her for so long, but she just took his money and left as if nothing much had happened.

As Arya makes her journey to Bravoos, Tyrion has fled Westeros, but for far different reasons. The episode was nearing its end by the time Tyrion showed up. It came when Jaime Lannister, who recently found out his father knew about his incestuous relationship with Cersei, came to save the day. As a tangent, is there a tougher character to think twice about rooting for than Jaime Lannister. He does noble acts such as wanting to protect Sansa and Arya, but he also did push Bran out a window, although in a twisted sense, in the name of love. Protecting secret love is very passionate, except when it is with your own sister. All of this may not matter now that his father, Tywin, is dead, thanks to Tyrion and a crossbow that would have made the late, evil Joffrey very proud of his uncle.

The death of Tywin Lannister is easily the most significant death since that of Ned Stark. While Ned Stark’s death launched a war that ultimately cemented the Lannister’s power in Westeros, the death of Tywin will likely lead to all that power fading away, especially when Stannis has a large army at his disposal. Tywin’s death leaves no one in King’s Landing capable to lead Westeros. Poor Tommen by the way – all he ever wanted to do was play with Sir Pounce and smile at Margaery Tyrell. Now he is the bastard king who is seemingly going to be dethroned and likely slaughtered in only a matter of time. His brother got out the easy way.

Peter Dinklage put forth another amazing performance as Tyrion in the finale. It was amazing to see him act out Tyrion’s revenge against not only his father, but his former love, Shae. When he found her in his father’s bed, a conversation about betrayal seemed to be in place. Not in this show. A quick struggle ended with Tyrion strangling Shae to death moments before he ended the life of the most powerful man in Westeros. Tyrion’s future is by far the most interesting to predict, as he and Varys are traveling into a new world with no purpose other than to escape Westeros. They cannot return until the inevitable downfall of the poor King Tommen. I say inevitable because it would not be “Game of Thrones” if no one usurps the throne in the next season or two. George R.R. Martin would never allow such a peaceful existence for his tortured characters.

A peaceful existence seemed to be in place for Daenerys until she realized that one cannot simply free slaves and expect all to be well. Oh, she also has a dragon she can’t locate who is killing animals and humans alike. This revelation leads to her chaining up her two obedient dragons in the catacombs. She is still learning how to act as a Queen, but banishing her top advisor will certainly not help her at all. Dany’s journey is one that seems to be dragging along the slowest, as many fans want her to invade Westeros and seize power. But does she even need to do so? It would be great to watch from a fan’s point of view, but if she can figure things out in Essos, she could happily rule there.

That is just one of the many issues that fans must wait an excruciating ten months to learn more about. There is also the impending threat of White Walkers that can result in the death of all those in Westeros. That seems a stretch, but remember who is writing the story. The beautiful, twisted story that we all love.

PARTING NOTES
• No Sansa Stark, aka little Cersei, and Littlefinger this week. Also no appearance by Ramsay Bolton or his beloved Reek. Basically everyone else made an appearance in this fantastic episode.
• Watching Jon burn Ygritte’s body was heartbreaking. Watching her die was exponentially worse, but it was still a sad moment. It came to be after a very touching talk by Tormund Giantsbane about how Ygritte loved Jon. Not that we did not already know this, but it just made it that much worse.
• Varys provided a very comedic moment, although laughter was the last thing on anyone’s mind. He was about to head back to the Red Keep when he heard the bells tolling and immediately turned around to join Tyrion on the ship.
• Rickon Stark must have at least one thing that makes him unique. There has to be something, right?
• The “Rains of Castamere” playing when Tyrion killed Tywin was great, but not as great as the choral rendition of the theme that played as the episode ended.

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