REVIEW: Game of Thrones, “The Children”

Includes spoilers.

Once again, “Game of Thrones” has come to an end. Now it’s back to the age old question: What will come firstthe next season or “The Winds of Winter”? But thankfully the show left on a strong note, with so many deaths I almost mistook the entire episode for an elaborate Dothraki wedding.

It seems appropriate for “Game of Thrones” to say farewell on Father’s Day, given the huge number of daddy issues in the show. Sadly, they didn’t serve us any Roose and Ramsay Bolton uncomfortable bonding, but there were plenty of other fathers and father figures to fill the void. The episode kicked off at the Wall, picking up exactly where it left off last week with Jon Snow heading out into the battlefield to negotiate with the Father-Figure-Beyond-The-Wall, Mance Rayder. Mance is obviously a bit hurt he won’t be able to say a few words at Jon and Ygritte’s Wildling wedding after all, but the two of them drink to their dead and start discussing terms to end the fighting.

But they don’t get far, because hark! A horn in the distance! Mance pulls a knife on Jon, as one does, but Jon is obviously as confused as he is and it’s just wrong to kill a man when he has no idea what’s going on. In a blur of horse hooves and banners, a huge army pushes into the woods and starts taking down Wildlings one by one. It’s not clear who this army is led by until out of the haze of death and confusion comes the one true silver-haired king of my heart and perpetually disappointed father figure, Stannis Baratheon. Real talk: Everyone else may be all about Dany or Tyrion, but Stannis is the one true king and he hates it so much that I can’t root for anyone else.

Mance takes one look at Stannis and Top Bro Davos Seaworth and knows he can’t stand up to those jawlines. So he throws down his arms, and after a brief discussion about what Ned Stark would do, Stannis takes Mance hostage. Once they get back on the other side of the Wall, the Night’s Watch burns their dead. Jon says goodbye to Ygritte by burning her in the North, in a scene that felt heartbreaking but can’t really compare to the way Jon smiled at her when she had an arrow pointed at his heart in the last episode. That smile killed me.

Meanwhile, way in the North Bran and his gang are finally about to arrive at their magnificent weirdwood tree. But before they can get there, an army of skeletons starts rising out of the snow! These aren’t your run-of-the-mill wights, seeing as how it’s daytime and these guys are straight up skeletons with knives. It’s a pretty intense fight, with Bran warged into Hodor for most of it, but right when it looks like a group of kids are no match for an army of skeletons, a mysterious child starts hurling firebombs and the tide is turned! Jojen doesn’t make it, but Meera, Hodor, and Bran take refuge in the roots of the weirwood and learn that they were saved by one of the Children of the Forest. Then they meet the ultimate nature father figure, a dude hooked into the root system of the weirwood who is going to teach Bran how to fly. Honestly, I’m over this whole storyline. Done.

Over in Meereen, Dany is being benevolent and kind and flexing her ruling muscles in the aftermath of Jorah’s betrayal. But when a father brings her the charred remains of his three year old daughter, claiming Drogon came out of the sky and killed her, Dany is faced with a difficult choice. Although Drogon is no where to be seen, she takes her other two dragons into the catacombs, where she silently chains them up. When the dragons realize she’s leaving them, they freak out and my heart absolutely broke. I once adopted a dog with separation anxiety and he made similar noises when left alone, so I get it, Khaleesi. I can relate.

Let’s jump ahead and talk about the Hound. The decision to have Brienne and Podrick find Arya and the Hound was, well, strange. I’m assuming it was because they don’t have the secondary characters the books do, but it still felt odd that Brienne would see Arya. Anyway, the Hound was on point this week, managing to be both gruff and somehow heartwarming when he refuses to let Brienne take Arya because he doesn’t believe Brienne will be able to keep her safe. Let’s be real: The Hound is the father figure Arya needs and, in some ways, deserves. On a related note, Brienne did such a horrible job of explaining who she was and why she was in with the Lannisterstake a beat and gather your thoughts, girl!

The ensuing fight was brutal, and left the Hound near death. In a moment she will likely regret for the rest of her life if she has any conscience left, Arya refuses to finish him and end his pain. The Hound tries making her angry, framing it as her being able to kill him, and finally begging, but Arya just walks away like a stone cold thug. There haven’t been many Arya moments that make you cringe, despite how many people she has killed. But last night, I found myself really wondering what kind of person Arya is growing into if she would let someone who took care of her for so long suffer in so much agony.

But no dad in Westeros had a more horrible Father’s Day than Tywin Lannister. His children heaped disappointment on top of disappointment on him this week. First, we have Cersei. Tywin is just chilling, trying to force her to marry Loras Tyrell like any father would, when Cersei drops the bomb that all the rumors about her relationship with Jaime are true. Talk about a nuclear option: You marry me off to someone and I’ll destroy our entire family. This is a huge difference from the books, in which Jaime is the sibling that wants to come clean about their being in love while Cersei knows it would cost all her power. I’m curious where they will take that next season.

Fortunately for Cersei and Jaime, though, Tyrion is the one who really ruins Father’s Day. While awaiting his execution, Tyrion is saved by Jaime. But before heading to meet Varys and get out of town, Tyrion takes a detour to say goodbye to his dad. After finding and killing Shae in Tywin’s bed, Tyrion snags a crossbow and finds Tywin in the bathroom. Tywin plays it cool, like he’s taken some sort of self defense course in how to avoid being murdered on the toilet and the first lesson was don’t let your agitation show. But his calm and dismissive approach doesn’t save him, and Tyrion shoots him despite Tywin’s repeated, “You are my son,” and promises that obviously he wasn’t actually going to get executed. Yeah, OK, nice try, Tywin.

Season premieres and finales tend to be a bit weak on “Game of Thrones”, but this episode managed to balance tying up loose ends and setting up the pieces for next season without feeling like filler. The whole season reminded me of Season Two, with more small climaxes than Season One’s beheading or Season Three’s Red Wedding. It was balanced, pushing characters forward and giving us a sense of where everyone is now that the War of the Five Kings is more-or-less over. Even with the large deviations during key scenes, this season felt closer to the books in a lot of ways. There is a lot left to play with before they run out of source material, a concern many have voiced given how long it’s taking GRRM to turn out “The Winds of Winter.” But with the number of questions left by the season finale, we should at least have another season before we have to really worry about the show catching the books.

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll To Top