“Mag the Mighty… was their king, the last of a bloodline that stretches back before the First Men.”
“Grenn came from a farm.”
-Mance Rayder and Jon Snow
That line puts the cork in this, the season four finale, quite succinctly. Stories of common men coming to overpower, outwit, or simply kill men of higher esteem and lesser quality. It’s really quite amazing that a series in this day and age would be able to successfully draw out plot points over entire seasons to immense payout. At the beginning of the season Arya stabbed a Lannister soldier in the neck, choking him on his own blood in a callback to the second season when the same soldier used Needle to do the same to a wounded boy who was heading for the Wall.
Torture, torture, torture, torture…
Could also sum it up. George R.R. Martin loves to put his characters through the crucible. It’s what makes them so interesting, but it also makes it so hard to watch at the worst of times. Not just for what characters are consumed, but for what a character becomes for surviving. The greatest character transformations from the first season are most certainly Tyrion Lannister and Arya Stark. They went down the same path too. From lives lived in the comforting shade of their family’s banners, they soon found themselves in the heat of the sun and ire of those who simply don’t want them in their sight. Finally broken, but still strong-willed to survive, they lash out at last. However, the passion is gone. All they feel are the cuts from the shards of the soul they want to put back together. Shae’s betrayal hurt too much to bear. The Hound asked a child to finish him off and she refused.
Jon Snow’s one way trip past the Wall proved to be more than a little coincidental as he reached Mance Rayder’s encampment just in time to watch Stannis Baratheon’s men stampede over it. Jon made it back to Castle Black if only to find Ygritte’s body and burn it beyond the Wall, in her homeland. Bran Stark’s journey north of the Wall has finally brought him to the Three-Eyed Raven. Before they can meet him they must make it past an army of wights, skeletal soldiers who attack Bran’s group and kill Jojen. It’s at that moment they are saved by a little girl who reveals herself to be one of the Children, the beings that inhabited Westeros before the First Men, the ones who carved the faces into the Weirwood trees. She guides them to the Three-Eyed Raven; a mystic who has been watching over Bran his entire life.
Daenerys continually discovers the shades of gray blurring her once idealistic, black and white view of the world. A freedman comes to her with the request to be returned to slavery, and she loses control of the dragons she sees as her children.
Cersei, still angry about her engagement to Ser Loras Tyrell, lashes out at her father by admitting to her relationship with her twin brother Jaime, immediately going to him after their “conversation”. Despite his love for Cersei and the rage she feels towards Tyrion, Jaime does the brotherly thing and murders the men watching over the cell in cold blood so that Tyrion can escape. Before he goes, Tyrion tries confronting his father in his chamber. Instead he finds Shae sprawled out on the bed as she calls out for Tywin, her lion. Tyrion chokes her with her necklace, takes Joffrey’s old crossbow off the wall and finds his father squatting over a chamber pot. One last time they speak as the father and son they are, and Tyrion fires two bolts into Tywin. Varys, making good on the honor he once told Ned Stark he shared, smuggles Tyrion out of King’s Landing along with himself. Brienne finds Arya and her protective Hound. After a particularly rough fight which leaving him in a sorry state, he asks Arya to finish the job. Instead, she leaves him. She reaches a small port and finds a ship heading to Braavos. With the coin she received from Jaqen H’ghar, the Faceless Man, she makes her way across the Narrow Sea to Braavos. Sansa and Petyr, as well as Ramsay and Theon seemed to have concluded their time in episode 8.
The most significant piece of this episode seems to have only received a modest amount of screen time; the dissolution of the Lannisters. Starting with Cersei’s refusal to marry Loras and concluding with Tyrion’s escape. Tywin’s stubborn belief in the purity of family was turned upside down with Cersei’s admission. Then Jaime betrayed Cersei by freeing Tyrion. Despite Cersei’s arrogance, she didn’t have the control she thought she did. When Tyrion put two bolts in his father, he destroyed the one person who was not only able to maintain his family banner, but the whole of Westeros as the Hand to a novice King. Ironically, it was his belief in family that distracted him from the children right in front of him; an irony that certainly won’t be missed by his surviving legacy.
Hopefully, in the next season we can see the salvage of Westeros’ ruling family. Maybe the Tyrells will have come out in full force to usurp the Iron Throne in all but name. At the end of every season excitement turns to speculation then impatience. What’s going to happen to Arya in Braavos? What will Petyr and Sansa do to House Frey or the Boltons?
“Given the opportunity, what do we do to those who’ve hurt the ones we love?”
If this season was the start of small payoffs leading up to major character deaths, what kind of big payoffs are going to happen next season? What is Stannis going to do with an army of 100,000 wildlings at the Wall, and a country he means to take to the south of him? What did the Three-Eyed Raven mean when he told Bran that he was going to learn how to fly? I guess speculation already turned into excitement!
Is it next year yet?
If you liked that review, Marc’s got a blog! Check out kinocabal.blogspot.com for more insights and critical analysis of movies and TV shows!