Game of Thrones Season 4 Finale Recap and Review
This week’s Season 4 finale was probably the most exciting hour of my life since the time in 6th grade when I went to Six Flags and got dumped by my girlfriend of six days because I cried instead of going on the Mind Eraser.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about this week’s episode. It was incredible. Honestly, it might be the most riveting hour of television ever made. The showrunners managed to fit probably 15 tremendous plot progressions into a 60-minute episode, and every second was amazing. Here’s what happened (spoilers ahead…so, so many spoilers ahead).
At The Wall
The episode opens with Jon Snow taking a leisurely stroll north of the wall. Except it’s not a leisurely stroll, he’s going to fuck some shit up at the wildling army camp. And by fuck shit up, of course, I’m referring to calmly negotiating with Mance Rayder, the King Beyond The Wall. He enters camp and offers himself as a prisoner to be taken to Mance, who proceeds to bring him inside his adorable little tent and chat with him.
Mance pours Jon a cup of some weird-looking liquid which, judging from Jon’s physical reaction to it, was malort. Jon urges Mance Rayder to call off his attack on the wall, but Mance won’t budge. Just as tensions are building in their conversation, a battle begins outside.
What? No, seriously, what? The camera cuts to dozens of perfect ranks of cavalry racing toward the wildlings, cutting them down without even slowing. These are clearly not Night’s Watch soldiers. The wildlings who resist are slaughtered, and the troops surround Mance and Jon Snow.
And who rides boldly into their midst but STANNIS. FUCKING. BARATHEON. Apparently that little bank loan he took out a few weeks ago was used to sail to East Watch By The Sea and go wreak some dick on the wildling army. Stannis introduces himself as the One True King of Westeros, with Ser Davos at his side. Jon quickly endears himself to Stannis by reminding him that his father died legitimizing Stannis’ claim to the throne, and when Stannis asks him what he thinks Ned Stark would do with Mance Rayder, Jon says he would take him as a prisoner and “hear what he has to say.”
Back at Castle Black, a cute little ceremony happens before those killed in battle are burned, and through the flames, Melisandre makes eyes at Jon Snow. Maybe Jon really has a fetish for redheads, or maybe she’s going to do some terrible shit to him. Who knows, really?
Later, Jon speaks with Tormund, who’s being held in a prison cell. Tormund tells Jon that Ygritte loved him, and that she ought to be buried in the “true north,” so Jon goes full-on Denethor and burns her in a funeral pyre north of the wall. Then he cries. “Oh, boo-hoo, I loved someone and then watched them die in my arms.” He didn’t have time for that shit in Pompeii when lava and ash were falling around him, and he doesn’t have time for it now.
North of the Wall
Jojen, Meera, Bran, and Hodor are trekking their way through the North. Just as Jojen loses strength, they arrive at the tree. You know, the big tree, with the branches and leaves, in the north. The one they’ve been trying to find.1 They walk toward it across a frozen lake. Did they never listen to their mothers? Never walk across a frozen pond, especially when there are anthropomorphic skeletons beneath it that will kill you. OH YEAH, DID I MENTION? THERE ARE ANTHROPOMORPHIC SKELETONS THAT COME OUT OF THE GROUND AND ATTACK THEM. The gang initially has some struggle killing the skeletons, because apparently not a single fucking one of them has seen Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, which would have taught them that all they need to do is get all the skeletons stuck on a giant stick together, then put a bomb inside one of them and push them into the moonlight so their true bodies reappear and they can’t pull out the bomb.
Anyway, one of these skeletons stabs the shit out of Jojen, and he dies. That’s pretty sad. Hodor is getting basically Eiffel-Towered by two skeletons before Bran goes all Wargy and Bess and sends Hodor into Beast Mode. It also helps when a creepy little girl comes out of a cave and shoots fire out of her hands to kill the skeletons.
I know what you’re thinking: this sounds ridiculous. Yeah, it was pretty crazy. But Bran’s plotline clearly does not deal heavily in the laws of known universe, instead preferring to deal in magic and weird shit.
Moving on, the creepy little girl — who, I should mention, looks a little too much like the warlock who tried to kill Daenerys in Astapor — leads Bran, Meera, and Hodor into the cave, where Bran speaks with the physical manifestation of the Three-Eyed Raven, a man who looks like the lovechild of Grand Maester Pycelle and Mike Ditka. This man informs the group that Jojen knew he would die along the way, and then informs Bran that he can return to Bran what he lost.
“I’ll be able to walk again?” asks Bran.
“You won’t walk again,” the man responds. “You will fly.”
Across the Narrow Sea
We’re back for another episode of Judge Daenerys, where she learns about the myriad of ways she has greatly inconvenienced her subjects. First, we see an elderly ex-slave who, it turns out, had a great relationship with his master, and wishes to return to his master again. Daenerys grants him the freedom to choose whether to return to his slavemaster, which Barristan kindly reminds her is going to fuck up a lot of things.
Next, a man comes in and shows Daenerys the charred skeleton of his infant daughter, who was torched by her dragons. Oops. We also find out that Drogon, one of her dragons, hasn’t been seen for days, and is presumably terrorizing small villages somewhere. Kids, am I right?
Daenerys doesn’t mess around when it comes to How To Train Your Dragon, because she proceeds to chain them up in the catacombs beneath Meereen. They’re not especially thrilled by this, since they’re essentially grounded. As she walks away, they voice their displeasure by stridently squawking what appears to be a song from one of Jewel’s earlier albums.
Arya and The Hound
Well I’ll be damned if Arya and The Hound don’t come across their buddy-cop rivals, Brienne and Podrick. They exchange some simple words, until Podrick recognizes The Hound, and Brienne puts two and two together to realize that the girl in her presence is Arya Stark.
The Hound and Brienne then begin arguing about custody of Arya, and — unable to reach an out-of-court settlement — begin fighting. There’s a lot of back and forth, with both suffering wounds. It’s especially fun, because these are two of the best characters in the show, and one of them probably has to die here. Eventually both lose their swords and the battle turns to fisticuffs, with The Hound beating the shit out of Brienne, then Brienne bludgeoning him with a rock. Ultimately, Brienne beats The Hound back with a series of blows, and he rolls down a big hill.
But LOL SURPRISE Arya has run off. Podrick, in all his sex-godly incompetence, didn’t notice when she ran off, and Brienne and Pod are unable to find her. She finds The Hound, who is indeed dying. He gruffly asks Arya to put him out of his misery, but Arya sits stoically as he spews every insult and filth imaginable to instigate her. Then, she calmly walks to him, takes the money he had with him, and walks off. BADASS. It’s clear that Arya is actually starting to develop a nuanced understanding of how the world works, and taming her initial bloodthirst.
Later, Arya rides her horse to a dock and BOARDS A SHIP TO BRAAVOS OH MY GOD WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN WITH ARYA IN BRAAVOS WHATEVER IT IS IT WILL BE AMAZING.
Oof, here comes the really good stuff. First, we see Cersei, Pycelle, and Qyburn (the disgraced maester who cured Jaime’s severed arm) rallying around the body of The Mountain, who is suffering from the poison on Oberyn’s spear. Qyburn tells Cersei that he might be able to bring The Mountain back, with some of his batshit crazy Josef Mengele mad science shit. SO WE’VE GOT THAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO.
Cersei goes to Tywin, revisiting the issue of her marriage to the queer-as-day Loras Tyrell. An argument escalates, ending when she reveals to Tywin that the rumors of her and Jaime’s incest are founded in truth. It’s one of those classic daughter-tells-father-that-she-bangs-brother moments.
Cersei then finds Jaime, poring over the book of knights which names him as Jaime the Kingslayer. They talk about a few things, and then get freaky with each other. There isn’t much foreplay, presumably because Jaime’s solid gold hand isn’t really engineered to maximize clitoral stimulation, and honestly, nobody wins when you use your non-dominant hand.
Toward the end of the episode, Jaime visits Tyrion in prison. By “visit,” of course, I mean he breaks him out of his prison cell, which is remarkably unguarded. He informs Tyrion that Varys has agreed to help sneak him out of King’s Landing, as a nod to their friendship and alliance. After Tyrion and Jaime share a heartfelt farewell, Tyrion decides to do one last thing before leaving King’s Landing. He goes to Tywin’s bedchamber.
Tyrion is understandably shocked when he finds Shae, his former paramour and undermining witness in court, sleeping in Tywin’s bed alone. First of all, no 67-year-old should be able to get with a woman that hot. That’s just frustrating and wrong. Second of all, WHAT? Tyrion marches angrily toward Shae, who attempts to defend herself, but ends up getting strangled to death by Tyrion in a midget-versus-hooker showdown that would give even the darkest corners of PornHub a run for their money.
Tyrion ominously grabs the Joffrey’s old crossbow from the wall and finds Tywin Lannister, taking a regal shit in his bathroom, because even a Lannister’s colon pays its debts. For the 567,844th time in this episode, Tyrion and Tywin exchange an aggressive volley of words that regularly revolve around Tyrion’s mother dying during his birth. You don’t think Tyrion’s going to do anything, but he remains steadfastly threatening against Tywin. Tywin calls Shae a whore, and Tyrion says he will shoot Tywin if he says the world whore again. Guess what happens next time Tywin says the word whore?
TYRION SHOOTS HIM. Right in the chest. Then he goes to load another arrow, and Tywin tries to plead with him, but Tyrion shoots him again in the shoulder. THE TYRION LANNISTER VENGEANCE TOUR IS UPON US.
As Tyrion is boated away inside a crate on a large galley, the King’s Landing bells ring solemnly, suggesting that Tywin Lannister is, in fact, dead.
So let’s just recap this episode here.
Stannis and Company are north of the wall, and about ready to do God-knows-what. Bran is in the hands of some creepy old man with magical powers, and his friend Jojen is dead. Daenerys has locked up her dragons, and is quickly losing control of her subjects in Meereen, Yunkai, and Astapor. Brienne and Podrick are still headed toward The Eyrie, The Hound is (probably) dead, and Arya is on a boat to Braavos. Cersei and Jaime Lannister are “back together,” Tywin Lannister and Shae are dead, and Tyrion and Varys are on a boat to, well, somewhere.
In one fell swoop, this show has delivered a crushing blow to the Lannister name and created some enormous opportunities for the Baratheons, and even the Starks. Now, all we do is wait nine months for our next taste of Westeros and Essos.