Warning! Major Spoilers!
Each Game of Thrones season goes by incredibly quickly and we’ve come to the end of what has arguably been one of the strongest finales to date, if not the strongest. Most finales that have come before have suffered from dealing largely with the fallout of what happened in the ninth episode – be it Eddard Stark’s death, the battle of Blackwater or the infamous Red Wedding, but now The Children has come along and gave us several shock moments in its own right – most notably the death of Charles Dance’s Tywin Lannister, which I’ll get to later.
The episode opens North of the Wall. Jon Snow’s brought before Mance Rayder but before he can kill him, Stannis Baratheon sweeps in on horseback. We got the interactions between Jon and Stannis to witness and that was a great way to kick off what would be another totally game changing episode.
This was a big episode for Tywin Lannister, and it’ll be a shame to miss Charles Dance because he delivers an incredible performance as Tywin. He’s been great all season, and one of those characters who everyone loves to hate. Tywin was ignoring/denying the truth about Jamie and Cersei for a while now, but that scene where Tywin was told by Cersei was also an important moment. However, Tywin didn’t get long to think of it because Tyrion paid him a visit shortly before his escape, and in one of the biggest shock moments since the Purple Wedding, killed his father. Even at the last, Tywin was still trying to convince Tyrion to spare his life – quickly trying to say that he’d never let his son be killed – but that all changed when Tyrion shot him the first time.
Appropriately saving that sequence until the end, we were met with several awesome encounters beforehand. The Brienne/Hound fight was great to watch, with both characters challenging their strongest threat yet. Like the rest of the events in this episode it was all pulled off very well, and the fact that Arya refused to go with Brienne made it all the more notable – because it’s a significant gamechanger in Arya’s story. She no longer has the Hound to look after her, and Brienne isn’t going to catch up with her anytime soon, so seeing Arya make that journey to Braavos at the episode’s end was a strong way to set up her storyline in the fifth season, and it’ll be interesting to see where her character goes from here.
A character who we haven’t seen since episode 5, halfway through the series showed up this week – Bran. We got the fight between the undead skeleton walkers which was handled very well, and unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to Jojen this week, but his death came with a very awesome fight scene with some special effects that worked surprisingly well on TV. With Meera, Bran and Hodor now in the cave under the tree, like most of the other characters on this show, they’ll be in an entirely new place come next season. And even though this hasn’t been the strongest arc out of the season so far, it did up its game for the finale which proved to be very effective indeed.
Finally, Dany also got a big moment this season, saying goodbye to her dragons after seeing the harrowing cost of what these creatures could do in the open. Much like the departure of Jorah, it was an emotionally touching moment, made even moreso by the fact that these dragons were the loyal ones.
The extra length really helped The Children. It was well-paced, providing several key developments in several major storylines and has laid a lot of groundwork for season 5. It’s got plenty of shock moments on its own – Arya and Tyrion leaving Westeros for example, and Tyrion killing Shae and Tywin – but on the whole, this was another strong episode in a very strong season, which has been one of my favourites so far.
However, now we’ve got to wait until Season 5. This is going to be my first long wait for a new season because I was mostly playing catchup on the series until this point. But now it’s gone, the wait will be longer than ever.