Game of Thrones: The Children Review

game-of-thrones-stannis-baratheon-headerEpisode Tens are usually quiet episodes in Game of Thrones seasons. The big moments from the last couple of episodes are very neatly tied up with some new plot threads dangled to keep you interested in the next season. While those fresh threads were teased in this episode, a lot more than just quick little tie-ups happened this week. Yeah, I can see why the producers submitted this for a writing Emmy.

Spoiler Alert: Now that the series has closed the book on A Storm of Swords, I can finally read it. However, until I’ve read it, it’s still off-limits on here even though I’ve read the spoiler about how Tyrion’s scene played out in the books. That being said, the first two books and preceding 40 episodes are fair games for the comments.

So the moment we’re all talking about didn’t involve Ser Ilyn Payne or our favourite halfman’s head getting taken off. It just involved a little Father’s Day patricide. No big deal.

It all looked so straight forward at the start. Tywin and Cersei having their showdown over their family. For Tywin, his family is a tool for him to manipulate for power. Cersei found her nerve and threatened to undo it all just to get what she wanted. She is willing to burn Tywin’s legacy to protect her family. It’s one of the few moments where Tywin isn’t in control. And Cersei takes the drunk on power feeling to mount Jaime. I guess she’s over what happened in the Sept.

Despite Cersei’s play, Jaime (with Varys’s help) frees Tyrion so he can escape to the Free Cities and live out the rest of his days in hiding. Of course, nothing could ever be that simple in King’s Landing.

Tyrion takes the opportunity to visit Tywin to finally take his revenge. First, he runs into Shae who is in Tywin’s bed and calls him her lion, the same thing she called Tyrion, in her sleep. Well, that’s the final heartbreak for Tyrion. Each having broken each other’s hearts leads to the final confrontation. It’s not really anger but heartbreak that leads to Tyrion killing Shae. The internet makes it sound like it’s a little different in the books but I can update you on that when I actually read it.

And then it’s onto the man I called the final boss. It turns out that he wasn’t the final boss. I guess that title moves onto Cersei. While his heart may have been broken by her betrayal, Tyrion still wanted to protect Shae. While I’m sure he would have shot Tywin regardless, the way he talked about Shae sent him over the edge and two arrows through Tywin’s chest.

Yes, it’s a little disappointing for a show to lose its MVP during its run. Charles Dance carried so many scenes to greatness and elevated the performances of everyone around him. He even managed to do so while sitting on the crapper. If this man doesn’t get knighted after this, it’s a travesty. He carried this show and now we have to see who can step into his shoes and dominate the GoT landscape.

And now Tyrion is on a boat. Realizing what Tyrion did, Varys got the hell out of Dodge as well. So, well, you know which hashtag is coming.

North of the Wall, a couple of storylines came together as a mainstream favourite met an internet favourite. Just when it looked like all was lost for Jon Snow as he tried to treat with Mance Rayder and he had no chance to save the Seven Kingdoms from the Wildlings, who comes to the rescue but the Mannis?

We haven’t heard much from The Mannis, Stannis Baratheon, the One True King of Westeros, this season. However, that doesn’t mean that his appearances haven’t been building to the most awesome moment of the season. Okay, I’m sure you’d argue that Tyrion’s revenge was a better moment but I thought Stannis’s army riding in a pincer formation to defeat the assembled Wildling forces was a spectacular scene on par with anything from last week.

Usually, when storylines intersect, someone ends up dead. However, no one dies here. Everyone comes out strong. Jon tries to be a hero but doesn’t entirely fail. Stannis saves the realm from the Wildlings which will certainly earn him more support than saying “I’m the one true king of Westeros” (though he is). And Mance Rayder saves his people from a slaughter and still sticks to his guns by not kneeling before a King. For leading an army of near savages, Mance is pretty good at playing to their strengths. He uses guerrilla tactics and numbers to his advantage. He knows he’s outmatched in every way against Stannis so the only way to save them is to surrender. He might make a pretty good King south of The Wall someday.

So with the Wildling threat seemingly quelled and Jon Snow’s current arc wrapped up, where does that leave him? Presumably he’s going to take over as commander of the Night’s Watch but we’re going to need some wights and White Walkers to keep Jon busy. As for the Mannis? There’s nowhere to go but south for him and his giant army. Those Bolton boys better watch themselves. The Fury is coming.

Meanwhile, in Essos, Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen,  the First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons has gone back a bit on the last two of those titles.

First, she decides that she can’t keep the peace in Meereen so she allows slavery back in the form of employment contracts. Let’s let a bunch of (usually) uneducated men negotiate employment with smarter men. That’ll work out perfectly well. And after The Breaker of Chains unbroke the chains of the people she freed, she shackled two of her dragons after the third torched a little girl. Jorah was right. She can’t control dragons. If only he was around to gloat.

My problem with this scene is that I don’t know who I’m supposed to be sympathetic toward. Sure, those weren’t the dragons that incinerated the girl but they shouldn’t be allowed to roam free to terrorize the countryside. They’re wild beasts. They kill, they eat and that’s it. Dany can’t control them so I should sympathize with her for having to chain her dragons to save everyone else. The problem is that Dany does so many dumb things, you can’t help but not care about her problems. I wouldn’t be heartbroken if the dragons turned on her and we could see if being the Unburnt also included dragon fire.

Arya and the Hound had an important moment as one more name got crossed off Arya’s list. It just happened to be Sandor Clegane.

The fight between Brienne and The Hound was fantastic. It was like two heavyweight boxers just stand their and pound each other. Unlike old school Jon Snow or Oberyn Martell, there was no technical swordsmanship on display. This one was just two warriors throwing big blows at each other until someone went down for the count. When swords were dropped, punched and kicks were the weapon of choice. In wrestling, this would be like a hoss fight. Two big fighters trading power moves until one didn’t get up. This was a fantastic fight with brilliant choreography.

I’m not happy about losing The Hound… Maybe. He didn’t actually die on-screen which is usually a TV sign that he’ll probably come back. On the plus side, Arya is finally going to Braavos to learn the ways of… whoever Jaqen H’ghar worked for. Just when you thought that story thread was forgotten, they tell us about it in the teaser. They really need to stop spoiling the show in the pre-episode teaser. That’s a major complaint I had about this week’s episode.

And north of the Wall, Bran’s storyline got interesting thanks to attack skeletons, the Children of the Forest and magic. It took all those things to make anyone interested in Bran marching north. No one was even arsed that a skeleton took out Jojen. But a kid throwing a fireball to blow up skeletons? That’s awesomeballs. Too bad the follow-up will bore us all to tears.

So while the book readers are a little disappointed by what was omitted from this episode (including different motivation for Tyrion and a character introduction that was omitted), what was included was absolutely great. It wasn’t earth-shattering like episodes two and eight of this season but it managed to close a bunch of storylines in a very spectacular way while setting us up for next year.

Other random points of note:

  • I don’t know who this Pycelle replacement is but I can get behind a mad scientist character. And what could be more frightening than a stronger Mountain?
  • Dammit, Pod! You forgot the bags!
  • Tyrion and Varys #TrueDetectiveSeason2

And so ends another season. That’s 40 episodes and three books through. Only four more books and four or five more seasons to go to find out who lands on the Iron Throne. At this point, we know that Ned Stark, Robb Stark and Tywin Lannister won’t win the Game of Thrones. Now it’s a 10 month countdown until we find out who joins them among the dead. Unless the come back as wights as rule the Seven Kingdoms as the undead. That would be a… Actually, that would be a disappointing plot twist.

Cross-posted from et geekera. For more from et geekera, follow on FacebookTwitterGoogle+Tumblr and RSS.


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