Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Game of Thrones: Season 4, Episode 10 "The Children" Review

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
Positives this week included... Mance and Jon's conversation, Stannis arriving North, Jon's burning of Ygritte's body, Daenerys' slightly emotional dragon scene, Bran arriving at the Three Eyed Raven's crib, Cersei breaking ties with Tywin, Tyrion dealing out revenge to Tywin and Shae, Brienne Vs. The Hound, Arya sailing off to Braavos

Negatives this week included...  Cersei and Jaime's twincest scene (Why?!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             


Wait.. how long do we have to wait for next Season?!
And so another Season concludes with a bang, thanks to some stellar performances, a pretty fantastic screenplay, and some emotional conclusions to various story lines. Yet is The Children the best Season finale we've ever had, as David and Dan have been promising us for weeks on end? After last week's insurmountable episode, I was excited for this week's episode, though is it really good enough to serve as the finale to one of the strongest Seasons of television ever created? Well, in our final Game of Thrones recap of the year, I shall establish the official list for best episodes of the year, best moments, among other various tidbits for next year. Lets explore the Season finale of Game of Thrones, for 2014. 

So, continuing straight off last week, with a bit of hand-held camera work from this week's director, Alex Graves, Jon Snow arrives in the Wildling camp to take out Mance Rayder and hopefully put an end to the battle that will no doubt continue until every man in Castle Black is dead. Ciaran Hinds... I couldn't give a shit if you aren't exactly like how Rayder is in the books, with his lute and all; his performance is utterly glorious! Great chemistry with Kit Harrington, who for a second consecutive week in a row, gives more than a single look! Their scene was funny, drama filled, tense, and a glorious way to begin this Season finale. Then... Stannis shows up. My least favourite-favourite character shows up, just when everything looks to be going well. Sure, Jon is found out to be on a suicide mission, but he does hesitate! Then Stannis shows up with an army that he funded using the money he was loaned by the Iron Bank, and he wipes the floor with the army of Wildlings. Let us clarify things, firstly; no, Stannis' army did not kill all the Wildlings. There are still thousands of Wildlings around that area. Some scattered back North at the first sight of enemy, others surrendered quickly, and others managed to kill a few southerners before they made away in haste. Secondly, Stannis' army is only consisted of 1,300-1,500 soldiers, based on book proportions. Now whilst that sounds tiny compared to the enormous 100,000 men and spear wives Mance has, take into account that Stannis' army is mounted on horseback. As this battle so clearly shows, mounted fighters are much more dangerous than those on foot, especially if the mounted men have actual discipline, unlike the Wildlings whom never seem to be able to work together efficiently. Add to this indiscipline the fact that many of the Wildlings scattered in different directions, and it makes sense as to why Stannis' army totally decimated the giant army that Rayder managed to forge. Moving on; we got some Jon/Stannis and it was pretty awesome, Mance refused to lower his knee which made me quite happy, and during these North scenes, we also got an emotional Ygritte sendoff. Grenn and Pyp got their time in the sun, or fire, but Ygritte got her own personal sendoff, thanks to Tormund's suggestion. Burnt North of the Wall. Respect to you, Mr. Snow, respect. 

Loving the skin!
    
Bran got his first screen time since the fifth episode or so! And he did quite a bit! Jojen got some knife to the chest, Hodor did some smashing, a Child of the Forest threw some magic fireball grenades (As the Reddit community is calling them), and Bran finally met the Three Eyed Raven! Finally! After 2 Seasons of trudging around in the North, Bran and his crew have finally found themselves into the lair of the Bloodraven... and he's a bit of a disappointment for some. For me, he was never a character whom I was actively anticipating this Season, but the Internet's reaction to his first appearance has been either "Why does he have 2 eyes?!" or "He just looks like an old man on a twig throne." I shall address the second reaction, because explaining the first is simply too much effort for such a pathetic soul as my own. The Bloodraven was a bastard of King Aegon IV Targaryen, and was born in the Riverlands in 175 A.C. Let me repeat; 175 A.C. That's 125 years prior to where we are at in the story now! He's old, is my meaning; even to Maester Aemon! So the fact that he looks like an old guy on a throne of twigs, without looking majorly ghastly is pissing a few people off, including myself. Nonetheless, what else happened with Bran this week? Well, Jojen died. Wait?! What?! Jojen fucking Reed died?! But... he's not dead in the books! David and Dan couldn't settle with Grenn and Pyp, and just had to to kill one more character whose still alive by the end of Dance of Dragons! Love you too, you blood thirsty pricks! Yes, he serves no other purpose towards the plot, because his entire mission required him delivering Bran to the Bloodraven, but still, that doesn't mean you should kill him the minute the end of his sole mission is near! Shouldn't Meera die as well, then? She was only with Bran because she minded Jojen. Unless... maybe my Bran+Meera shipping shall finally pay off?! Now that kind of has me excited, for some unknown reason! Now, to the Children of the Forest. Damn... they're really underwhelming! Based on deviantART images, I expected something creepy, not really childlike, but I think Graves, Benioff and Weiss all took the title description of the Children a little too literally. And so... we have actual children. Though, I can somewhat forgive this considering they throw motherfucking fireball grenades!!!! That was a little excessive, true, though I think it's justifiable. David and Dan may have reduced the physical badassery the Children are composed of, and added a little bit of badassery in the way of combat skill. How in Seven Hells do the Whitewalkers have any chance of victory when the Children are throwing fireball grenades at them?

Daenerys is having a good ole' time in the East! Having former slaves asking to be returned to slavery, finding out that your biggest dragon Drogon is killing poor little children, and locking away your 2 youngest dragons in the catacombs beneath your new seat of power. Wow, t'was a great week for Dany! This Season has been the weakest in the way of Daenerys related importance. And if you hated this season for Daenerys, have no fear people, it's only going to get worse! Sure, we'll have a few shocking moments thrown into the later stages of Season 5, though they won't be able to make up for the disappointment you'll fell after you realise that she's going to be sitting in Essos for at least another 2 Seasons! Oh god I hate her character! Though this week, Emilia Clark did at least manage with infusing some emotion into her performance; she's done this twice this year! First with Jorah's dismissal, and secondly with chaining Rhaegal and Viscerion. It may have looked awkward at first, watching her slot on a chain around a CGI dragon, though this is soon rectified with some tears from Clarke's beautiful eyes. It was a genuinely emotional moment, made harder by those damned screams coming from the dragon's throats. God dammit; CGI creatures are going to have me crying now! Crying 3 weeks in a row! First, Oberyn's unfortunate demise, secondly, Ygritte's unfortunate demise, and now CGI dragons and their screams of horror as they're locked away from their mother. Part from that, though, we also had some politics intervene in all these tear-jerking moments. And we can't have a totally spotless episode from Emilia Clarke; we need some stale and emotionless acting! Portions of the throne room scene felt forced and devoid of emotion from Emilia's side, as did her incredibly short scene with Grey Worm and Missandei. Nonetheless, though, Emilia did hone in on an acceptable final episode performance, and for that, she does deserve praise. You're getting better Emilia! (I think...)

Learn to accept it; this is the best acting we can expect from Emilia Clarke.
Everyone in King's Landing had a great time this episode, didn't they! Part from Tywin, Shae, Cersei, Varys, and pretty much all the Tyrells! Particularly Tywin and Shae though; sure, they managed to squeeze in one implied fuck towards the end of the Season, though that didn't make up for getting either A) shot in the lower intestines and then heart, whilst on the privy (which doesn't do good for your legacy that you hammered on about Tywin), all by your son, or B) strangled to death by your former lover. Wow... that must really hurt! Tyrion's scenes were strong, though they lacked a few excerpts from the book that I would've love to have seen. Most notably, Jaime's confession to Tyrion that Tysha, Tyrion's first lady wife, was in fact not a whore, as he had been made to believe by his father. There follows some slapping, some accusations; it's some wild shit that I was really looking forward to see. But alas, like so many things this episode, we didn't get to see it come to life. The same happened with a few of Tywin's quotes. "Wherever whores go," is Tywin's response when Tyrion asks him where Tysha went when he sent her off. In another life, we may have had these memorable quotes and moments. But just like the rumour that Tywin Lannister shits gold, we are disappointed once again with the result. That was another quote reference that only book readers would have gotten now; the disappointment never ends! Though I can rest assured that Tywin's death was as satisfying as I wanted it. And in some ways, it's almost his own fault. Despite his carefully arranged demeanor, Tywin partially brought his own death upon himself. Not just because he's fucked over Tyrion ever since his birth, but also thanks to the fact that he didn't acknowledge Tyrion's wish that the word "whore" was not to be spoken once more. So, by saying it just a final time, he sentenced himself to his own death. Poor Tywin. Such a great character. Brutal, unforgiving, shit father, yet a great character all the same. And Shae. Harsh death for someone... well, actually, I fucking hated Shae. And it wasn't Sibel Kekilli's performance, either; it was David and Dan's direction. The fact that she actually did love Tyrion in the show, yet somehow refused to take note of the fact that she could totally die in King's Landing. It was infuriating! So her death was in some ways quite satisfying. Nonetheless, the biggest "yay" moment during this whole segment was the fact that Varys hops onto the boat with Tyrion as they're being shipped away over the narrow sea! Varys is one of my favourite characters, and so we may finally see the eunuch travelling around Essos with everyone's favourite dwarf! That sounds fucking awesome! 

Cersei also had a great and not-so-great pair of scenes this week. Her scene with Tywin; her refusal to simply be married off to Loras Tyrell without complaint was another really strong performance from Lena Headey. What really made my head spin, though, was the fact that she admitted to Tywin that she was and had been fucking Jaime. And for clarification, did Tywin already know this? Or has he been rejecting this piece of knowledge since the rumours began? I'm fairly sure he would've heard this kind of rumour circulating all throughout his life at Casterly Rock, though he's probably been dismissing it as bogus all the same. Well, now he can't, can he? Well, he couldn't, considering he's a little dead now. All the same, it was a really good piece of acting from Charles Dance; his denial of the claims was both funny and a little saddening. "But we killed the last Targaryens, part those damned Viserys and Daenerys! Incest/twincest should not be a thing anymore!" After that pivotal scene, we got Cersei seducing Jaime for... what purpose? Because we were lacking a sex scene? Jaime's still recovering from that rape, motive-wise; Cersei, you can't just jump out and seduce him right when everyone is beginning to like him again! I'm trying to like you Jaime, but it's really hard when you're fucking your sister and pushing the White Book away! Weird, silly scene.

And then, Arya/Brienne/The Hound/Podrick scenes. We get a fucking awesome fight between two of the biggest badasses on the show, and then get to see Arya ride off into the sunset, or to Braavos. Which ever suits your fancy. Whilst I would have really enjoyed seeing Lady Stoneheart close off the episode and Season, that final shot of Arya was really quite exciting nonetheless. It heralds in the new era for Thrones; Tyrion, a primarily King's Landing character is moving away from the capital after 2 whole Seasons. Bran has finally found the character he's been searching for for 2 whole Seasons, and now needs to learn off him. Arya has been moving about, deciding where to go for 2 whole Seasons, and now she finally has a clear goal; Braavos. Sansa is moving around the Vale with Baelish. So much change, all to be condensed into next Season. Before I wrap up this episode recap, though, lets explore that fight between Brienne and The Hound; if Oberyn Vs. The Mountain hadn't been in this Season, maybe this could've been best fight of the Season, but alas, a Dornish Prince spear fighting a giant of a man who can wield a great sword with a single arm wins out by a fraction. This fight though was by far the most brutal fight of the Season. Rocks to faces, headbutting, as some Reddit users noted, a "cunt-punt"; this fight had graceful fighting and brutal fighting, all rolled into one. And afterwards, Arya simply leaves The Hound to die. After all this time, Arya, this is how you leave him. I knew they had to depart during this episode, though I wished she had shown more emotion. Barely a word spoken to him, before she simply walked away with Needle, a horse which she somehow later captured, and some silver from The Hound's wounded body. May we raise a toast to the best companionship this show is ever likely to serve up, part Varys and Tyrion, because I just know that it'll be the best thing we'll ever see! 

Fighting on molten rock? Does Thrones get any better than this?!
Now, friends, time to rank the episodes from worst to best. This Season, that is. Let's begin with:
10. Breaker of Chains
9. Mockingbird
8. Two Swords
7. First of His Name
6. Oathkeeper
5. The Laws of Gods and Men
4. The Children
3. The Lion and the Rose
2. The Mountain and the Viper
1. The Watchers on the Wall

The episodes to take major note of are the Top 3. The Lion and the Rose sits as #4 on my Best Episodes list. The Mountain and the Viper sits at #2. And inevitably, The Watchers on the Wall sits at #1. Some will cry bullshit, and let them; I fucking loved last weeks episode. Now, what were our best moments of the year? #1 is by far Oberyn Vs. The Mountain; t'was a beautifully choreographed fight, as well as a brutal and tear-jerking ending. Joffrey's death was a close second, and if I ever feel bad about a Game of Thrones death in the future, I will go back and look at that pivotal moment to feel good about myself. Tyrion's demand of a Trial by Combat was viscous and brilliantly filmed. Every Oberyn scene was fun, spicy and glorious to watch. Don't forget motherfucking fireball grenades in The Children. Ygritte's death was beautiful. The scythe was awesome. All in all, a Season for great kills, deaths, and moments in general. 

And so ends our weekly recaps, friends. It's been a wonderful year for Thrones, the best Season by far, but now it must end, as does everything good. Now you all have to sit through formal reviews for 9 and a half months! Nothing informal to make me sound like a normal human being on a weekly basis! You could follow me on Google+ for that, though... I apologise for plugging another of my profiles. Nonetheless, it's been fun, if not tiresome, reviewing every episode, though I look forward to doing it next year. Keep your eyes out for the Season 4 score, by Ramin Djawadi of course, out at the start of July. And until next year, goodbye. I leave you with a Stannis meme, though no promo :(.


And until next year...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Junkie Score: 9.6

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