Sunday nights just became markedly less exciting. With the end of Game of Thrones season 4 comes the limbo period of Sunday night television; truly purgatory, possibly even more torturous than inferno. True enough, there are some things to hope for: Masters of Sex and Ray Donovan return on July 13, FX’s The Strain premieres on the same date, and (for some people) True Blood’s final season airs on June 22. But, c’mon, do any of those shows destroy our souls as much as Game of Thrones, or tear our guts open with laughter like Veep, or enigmatically skull-f**k us like Mad Men? Short answer: no.
Last night ended the ever-entertaining spring television season, and I’m not happy about it. Although I’m most anxious for the final installment of Mad Men, Game of Thrones’ annual departure is the freshest and therefore it’ll be the subject of my lament. This should be obvious, but the following will contain *spoilers* for Games of Thrones.
In my opinion, “The Children” was the strongest episode of Game of Thrones in season 4. I bet that most of you feel similarly. While there were many moments during season 4 where I thought the storyline was methodically drawn out in order to lengthen the series to allow time for George R. R. Martin to catch up with his series, “The Children” skillfully included virtually all key characters and offered substantial developments in each of their respective narratives. Sure, one may suggest that all season finales are characterized by similar qualities, but GoT’s season 4 finale was more than that; it was an example. “The Children” may be the best finale we’ve seen in Game of Thrones since Ned’s decapitation at the end of season one.
Jon Snow is in a decent place. Yes, the sumptuous Ygritte died of an arrow through her midsection, but Jon’s fortunes are much better than at the end of the third season. His blood, which is just teeming with honor, forced him to meet the King-beyond-the-Wall in an attempt to take his life. Jon didn’t have a chance to strike Mance Rayder down, but did finally meet Stannis Baratheon. Depending on where your heart resides at the moment, you may have been happy or saddened by the presence of Stannis. It’s understandable if the latter. He does lug around that bewitched red woman, and by the looks of the ending scene with Jon, she has plans for him. Knowing Jon Snow, if those plans collide with justice and tradition she’s screwed. Although… Jon does have a thing for girls who are kissed-by-fire.
Thankfully we were able to see some of the indomitable Arya in the finale. Her resolve and headstrong nature increasing by the day, she has become a force to be reckoned with. Did you see that flicker of approval when Brienne and The Hound began to spar? Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for her traveling partner, Sandor Clegane, who was bested by the lady-warrior, Brienne, which goes to show once Martin makes a character likeable they’re liable to die. Ironically for Arya, her naivety left her at the wrong moment. Most preteens would have jumped at the mention of their deceased parents, but Arya is above that now. She can take of herself. And now she’s on her way to Braavos. I think all fans would agree when I say, “Mother and Father be with you, Arya. We don’t want you to die.”
Daenerys Targaryen, in all of her beauty and wisdom, has reached an impasse. Fueled by her guilt, Dany decided to rule her conquered cities instead of let them fall into disrepair or back into slaving ways. Now, however, we have seen her struggle with the completion of such. Turns out it’s considerably more difficult to rule a city than to conquer it, free the slaves, and leave. Huh. To make matters worse, Drogon is burning three-year-old girls and forcing her hand to make them captives. This development does not bode well for Daenerys’ conquest. We all await the day she sails to Westeros and battles for her land, but she needs to get her camp in order first. Will she get any closer to Westeros next season? Or is her foreseeable future intertwined with the success of Meereen?
Even Bran had a great episode! Bran’s narrative has been one of the most drawn out stories of Game of Thrones. Though everyone has a feeling that his purpose in the whole series is monumental, his contribution to the fourth season has been minimal; that is until last night, of course. Bran and his band of friendly fellows finally made it to the luminescent tree that had haunted Jojen. Upon there long awaited arrival, however, they were greeted by some very unfriendly skeletons with weapons. Sadly, Jojen was taken by one of the possessed skeletons and Bran would have surely been killed if it wasn’t for a mysterious (and eponymous) child, who eventually led the gang into a seemingly darkness-shielded tree. There they met the being responsible for Bran’s visions. I have no idea what to expect from this new thread. Apparently Bran is going to fly?
But what of Tyrion? He’s no longer held captive by his father; he took care of that with a crossbow. Shae is dead because of her stubbornness and absence of loyalty (euphemism). Varys, seemingly friends with no one, helped with his escape as did his reinvented – but still incestuous – brother. Should make one wonder: Now that Jaime has jumped sides and become a likeable character, is he poised to die? Also, will Varys become suspect and lose his position? It is likely Tyrion is going across the sea, away from Westeros, but that’s also not a certainty. How will his role in the show look now?
Like a good finale should, “The Children” answered a few questions but posed even more. Every character’s fate was dramatically altered in this balance-shifting episode. It was one of the best hours of television I have watched this year. Only about 292 days until season 5!
Brent Glass is a Michigander who graduated from Eureka College in May of 2013. He spent time at the Sagamore Institute in Indianapolis, IN (a non-partisan think tank) where he worked on political economy pieces for Detroit, MI and Elkhart, IN. Additionally, he spent the summer of 2012 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA, working on social media management. Currently he is working full-time as a Management Assistant. He plans to further his education in the fall of 2014 at Wayne State University in pursuit of a Ph.D. in Urban Development.