Airdate: June 15, 2014
Directed by: Alex Graves
Written by: George R.R. Martin (“A Song of Ice and Fire” by), David Benioff (creator), D.B. Weiss (creator), David Benioff (written for television by), D.B. Weiss (written for television by)
Here it is already – the season finale of Game of Thrones. Eleven short weeks (with the one week break between episodes 36 and 37), and another season will be coming to an end. The last two weeks have proven to be excellent episodes, with plenty of storylines coming to some sort of resolution, but plenty more left unresolved. This is, of course, the nature of the source material, a series of books that is still not close to being finished. How much further along will we find ourselves at this time next week, with a year to wait for the next episode? Click through to take a look at the Promo video, and get my take on what I expect us to see this coming Sunday.
<<Spoiler Alert: This preview of Game of Thrones S04E10 – “The Children” – will discuss major plot points and events suggested by previous episodes and the Promo video; read further at your own risk!>>
This week’s IMDB synopsis reads: Circumstances change after an unexpected arrival from north of the Wall. Daenerys must face harsh realities. Bran learns more about his destiny. Tyrion sees the truth about his situation.
Certainly a lot more going on here than last week’s single short sentence. To begin with, who could be the surprise arrival from the north? Mance is already there with his army, and Bran is still moving north with Meera and Jojen, so it can’t be them. We know from previous evidence that Stannis has been hinting at a move north, but then he’d be an unexpected arrival from the south, wouldn’t he? I guess it’s possible that someone put down the wrong direction inadvertently, but that’s unlikely. For now, this one’s a bit of a mystery.
Dany’s harsh realities will likely have two sources: one, dealing with the sudden exile of her, until now, most trusted adviser Ser Jorah; and two, dealing with her attempts to maintain control over Slaver’s Bay. The old masters in Yunkai overthrew her provisional government after she took her army to Meereen, and we saw her send Daario there a couple of weeks back to try to bring things back under control. However, she doesn’t at present have the army to control the entire region without local support, and her harsh treatment of various groups during her conquests may begin to come back to haunt her. This will be particularly difficult without the moderate voice of Ser Jorah whispering “Khaleesi” in her ear.
Bran’s destiny lies north of the Wall, with the weirwood and the three-eyed raven he’s been following since the first season. His destiny is clearly tied with the old gods, the gods who inhabited the gods wood of his home, Winterfell, and the heart tree he’s been seeing recently in his visions.
That is quite the ominous statement regarding Tyrion – “seeing the truth” almost sounds like a euphemism for something more sinister. He chose trial by combat, his champion – Prince Oberyn – lost, and he’s been sentenced to death. What truth is there left to be seen? Tyrion is a personal favorite, and likely the most popular character in the entire series, so here’s hoping he finds a way out of his predicament. Yes, I am familiar with the books, so I do have some ideas – but Benioff and Weiss have show a willingness to change things so often, there’s no telling what new rabbit they’ll pull out of their hats. But whether what happens to Tyrion in the books happens here is yet to be seen. If you want my take on what will happen based on my knowledge of the books, check out my spoiler-rich sneak peek here.
Let’s see how much more we can learn from this week’s Promo video:
We open with Hodor carrying Bran through deep snow, Jojen and Meera in tow. Jojen falls, and Meera says, “We’re not going to make it.” He says, “We’re already here,” as the camera pans over a bastion of warmer weather in the frigid landscape, a lone gigantic heart tree with autumn foliage standing in a ring of stones, the sun breaking through the clouds behind it. We see that the old gods still have some power, at least in this place. Next we hear Cersei in voice-over, saying, “How can someone so consumed by the idea of his family, have any conception what his actual family was doing?” As she speaks, we see her facing Tywin; alone and looking over her shoulder; kissing Jaime passionately; an unseen person holding a crossbow – although the arm looks fairly short; and then Tyrion lying on the bed in his cell. We jump to a sword being drawn in close-up, then see Arya drawing Needle, saying, “There’s people coming.” We then see her behind the Hound, his hand gripping the hilt of his sword as he approaches a stranger. We go back to the north, where we hear Mance Rayder in voice-over, saying, “The dead can’t hear us,” as a herd of animals runs through the woods in a panic, and we see wildlings running as well – to battle, or from something, is unclear. We cut to Jon Snow, and then to scenes of a battle, men on horses taking out men afoot. Mance is looking right at Jon, saying, “You’ll kill every last man at Castle Black,” before cutting back to a scene of battle. We then get a quick montage of close-ups: Tyrion in shadow; Dany, with tears in her eyes; Varys, looking as though he’s chewing on something bitter; Jon pulling back as a blade reaches for his throat; someone rolling down a hill in armor – it looks as though it’s the Hound; and two of Dany’s three dragons in full roar.
So our focus is going back to a scattershot approach, which is appropriate as there are so many stories to touch on before hiatus. The North will still be a focus – I’m glad that we’re going to see the meeting between Jon and Mance Rayder this season; it would have been cruel to make us wait until next April to find out what happens, as it could have an enormous impact on events to come. Bran finding his destination, and his destiny, should clarify what exactly the three-eyed raven is, and why it’s been appearing to Bran ever since his fall at Winterfell.
Moving south, Tyrion is, of course, in grave danger. He has few allies – Jaime has told him he’s one of his few friends, but what can Jaime do for him at this late hour, especially with what appears to be a newly kindled relationship between he and Cersei? It will be good to at least get some Varys in this episode. Aside from an appearance at the two weddings, it seems the only speaking part he’s had the second half of the season was at Tyrion’s trial, where he memorably stated that, “Unfortunately, I remember everything.” This was in response to Tyrion reminding him of his words, that he had told Tyrion that without his leadership, King’s Landing would have fallen. Is there still a debt to be paid from that quarter?
In the Vale, it will be interesting to see who Arya and the Hound meet. It looks as thought the Hound is taking a tumble – it would have to be a formidable opponent indeed, to be able to do that. Arya’s story is ready for a change – does this mean she’ll be striking out on her own without the Hound’s stoic cynicism?
Ending in the east, Dany’s tears could mean many things. She’s not openly crying, but her eyes are red, as though facing something painful or difficult. Losing Ser Jorah to betrayal as she has will likely harden her; in many ways, and as she as good as said to him a couple of weeks ago, Ser Jorah was the only person she truly felt she could trust. Now she’s lost that. The dragons began this season, and it’s fitting that we’ll end with them, much as they ended Season One three years ago. Then, they were hatchlings, born from Khal Drago’s funeral pyre in the arms of their mother; now, they are maturing beasts, increasingly dangerous, and bound to play a major role as the Game of Thrones continues into future seasons.
I’m a little bit sad to find myself writing my tenth and final Sneak Peek article for this season of Game of Thrones. The waiting between seasons seems interminable at times, and with the quality of this season keeping myself and millions of other viewers glued to their televisions every Sunday for the past two months, it’s going to be challenging to go through yet another nine and half month hiatus. Maybe we can get George to finish writing Book Six so that we’ll have something to do in the interim.