“Are you not entertained?”
If you listened closely last night you could almost hear the creators of HBO’s Game of Thrones yelling like Maximus during the season 4 finale. It was an episode overstuffed with plot like a Thanksgiving turkey. There were shocks, deaths, and of course shocking deaths. This is Game of Thrones after all. The finale wrapped up some major questions, while creating brand new mysteries for next season. The only thing negative to really say about the episode was that it is the last Game of Thrones until next year.
We kick off the action back over the shoulder of Jon Snow as he ventures out to kill Mance, the leader of the Wildings. Jon’s willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the realm. He hopes that killing Mance will force the rest of the Wildings to scatter. It doesn’t take long for Jon to be captured by Mance’s men and brought to speak with him. There’s a discussion between the men over Jon’s allegiance to the Wildings, and the death of Ygritte. In the middle of the talk Jon spies a hunting knife within his reach. He’s about to make a move, knowing it will mean a horrible death for himself when warnings horns sound. There’s an attack happening on Mance’s camp. He blames Jon Snow for the attack, but Jon pledges that this wasn’t his plan.
Outside we get our first glimpse of the attacking forces. Beautifully coordinated men on horseback bracket Mance’s party. They sweep in from both sides and have them surrounded. Who is behind this force? We got our answer a few beats later as King Stannis and Lord Davos ride through a fog into the clearing where Mance and Jon stand at the ready. Stannis is here to protect the Wall and answer the letter for help from the Night’s Watch. Jon reveals to Stannis that he is Ned Stark’s son, and Stannis asks him what Ned would do with Mance. He replies that Ned would take him under guard and talk to him. Jon also tells Stannis that he must burn all the bodies left over from the fight.
Back at Castle Black there is a ceremony for burning all the bodies of the Night’s Watch lost during the attack, and where there’s fire, there’s the Red Priestess Melisandre. As Jon says a final goodbye to his men, he spots Melisandre through the flames. She looks at him like a porterhouse steak. Those two will be interesting to watch next season. After that ceremony Jon keeps his promise to Mance to burn Ygritte’s body beyond the Wall. In a way Jon said goodbye to the old naive boy he was. With the loss of Ygritte he’s become a much harder character. How will that effect his dealings with the prickly Stannis?
Jon isn’t the only son of Ned Stark to find some closure north of the Wall. Bran, Hodor, and the Reed Twins finally reached the area they’ve been searching for. Before they can arrive though they are attacked by scary skeletons straight out of a Jason and the Argonauts. During the attack Jojen dies, but a young magical child saves the rest of them. The child has the power to shoot fire from her hands, and she sets Jojen on fire to keep him from becoming a White Walker. Once inside the young girl reveals to the group that she is a member of a race that was in Westeros long before man. They were like the Native Americans of the realm. She then leads Bran and the rest to the heart of the giant tree.
In the middle of the tree is a man suspended by roots that plunged in and out of his body. Bran asks if he is the Three-Eyed Raven from his dream, and the man admits that he’s the one behind those visions. He’s been waiting for Bran to arrive. Bran gets emotional and asks him if he will help him learn to walk again. That was always Bran’s hope with finding the Raven. The man replies that he can’t teach him how to walk again, but Bran will fly. We’re still not clear what’s happening with Bran, but he’s definitely in the right place. Bran could end up being the Super Stark. He’s like Tony Stark, except younger and sober.
Over in Meereen, Dany learned the tough lesson that there is no State Farm or Progressive Insurance help when it comes to Dragons. Dany is holding court when her problems begin. First up is a former slave who is unhappy with his new life. In the old world he was a respected teacher of children, and now he’s been banned from that due to Dany’s freedoms. He asks for permission to sell himself back to his master. Dany can’t understand why he would want to give up his freedom, but allows him to enter into a year contract with his old master. She’s allowing the old system to get a foothold back in the city. Slavery just got reinstated in Meereen.
That teacher though has nothing to complain about when compared to the next guy. He arrives distraught and carrying a bundle. He tells the Queen of Dragons that his daughter was killed by her large black dragon, Drogon. The all black Dragon is referred to as the dark shadow by the people of Meereen. Dany’s been unable to control her Dragons as of late, and this was a clear sign that they’ve grown outside of her control. While she still has no idea where Drogon is, she must do something to secure the rest of her people.
Her decision is to lock up the remaining two dragons deep in a dark armory. She personally places chains on each of them before departing with a tear in her eye. The two Dragons scream out in protest, but Dany closes the heavy door behind her. In one episode Dany backed down on her embrace of complete freedom. First she allowed for the return of slavery, and then she personally placed a free animal back in chains. She’s learning that ruling a nation isn’t always wine and roses.
Outside the Vale the paths of two intense characters come together as Brienne and Podrick run into Arya and the Hound. Brienne sees Arya practicing her sword play, and strikes up a conversation with her. She soon deduces who the child is, and the Hound arrives to tell her off. Brienne says that she swore to protect Arya for Lady Catelyn, but the Hound won’t budge. They both draw swords and a massive fight is on. Armor covered fists are thrown, and both of them nearly die during the battle. Finally Brienne knocks the Hound off a ledge. Brienne screams for Arya, but she doesn’t respond. Pod and Brienne leave the scene to look for her, but she’s been hiding near the Hound.
After they leave Arya sees that the Hound is mortally wounded. He asks for her to kill him, but she refuses. He then tries to goad her into killing him by reminding Arya that he killed her friend the butcher boy, and that he could have raped her sister back at King’s Landing. All of his attempts fail though, and she leaves him there bleeding slowly to death as he screams for her to kill him. She ends up on a ship bound for Braavos, but they don’t want her around. She flashed the coin given to her Jaqen H’ghar, and says the secret words “Valar Morghulis” (All Men Must Die). The Captain quickly changes his tune once he sees the coin and hears the words. Arya is off now to continue her journey to the free city of Braavos.
All of this action, and we’ve still not seen anything about the execution of Tyrion. We start out in King’s Landing with Cersei looking over The Mountain. It appears that Oberyn used a spear tipped with poison during their battle. Maester Pycelle claims there is nothing that can be done to save him, but Qyburn claims he can save him. Qyburn warns that his method might change the man’s person, but won’t effect his strength. Cersei give Qyburn the go ahead to fix up her champion. She then goes to speak with Lord Tywin about things, and he reiterates to her that she will marry Loras Tyrell. Cersei is so upset she goes so far as to admit that the rumors about her and Jaime are true, but Tywin refuses to believe her. Tywin is only concerned about his legacy, and Cersei wants him to know it is all fake. She then visits Jaime and tells him that she revealed all to her father because she wants to be with him. She doesn’t care what people think, and they end up banging on the desk in Jaime’s office.
The night before Tyrion is to be executed his cell door opens up. Jaime is here to save his brother. Jaime is working with Lord Varys to free Tyrion. There is a ship in the harbor ready to take him out of the city and to safety. All Tyrion needs to do is climb these steps and he has his much sought after freedom. Jaime leaves him, but Tyrion is frozen in place. There’s still something he needs to do before he leaves. He turns his back to the stairs and walks away. He’s soon back in the Hand of the King’s rooms. Remember he knows the secret passage ways into the room from when he lived there. In Lord Tywin’s bed he finds Shae. His old prostitute fiance is now sleeping with his father. Tyrion and Shae fight in bed, and eventually Tyrion ends up choking her to death. She betrayed him during the trial, but her death had more to do with sleeping with Tywin. That was the ultimate betrayal.
Tyrion spies a crossbow on the wall of Tywin’s room. He grabs the weapon and heads for the bathroom, the only place a man Tywin’s age hangs out during the middle of the night. There he finds his father on the privy. Tywin tells his son that there was no way he was going to allow his exceuction to go ahead. Tyrion is a Lannister and his son, but the pledge of loyalty comes off hollow. Tywin just want them to adjurn to his room so they can speak. Tyrion says they can’t because Shae’s body is in the room. This leads Tywin to call her a whore. Tyrion tenses and says that if he says that word again he will kill him. A few seconds later Tywin mocks Tyrion for being afraid of a dead whore and boom an arrow slams into Tywin. He’s shocked that Tyrion would do this, and claims he isn’t his son. However Tyrion reminds him that this is exactly what his the son of Lord Tywin would do. He lets go another arrow and this one strikes Tywin’s heart. The Hand of the King is dead. The man with so much blood on his hands finally gets his comeuppance.
Tyrion eventually makes it to a ship in the harbor with Varys. Did Varys know that releasing Tyrion would lead to the death of Tywin? Varys makes the decision right then to join Tyrion in fleeing King’s Landing. He knows that he can’t survive the inquiry into Tywin’s death. This leaves Cersei and Jaime as the only adults in charge of King Tommen. That’s not going to be good for anyone.
What did everyone think of the shocking finale? What moment will stay with you the most?