Warning – spoilers ahead.
The climax to a great season, episode 10, “The Children,” brings together a lot of the plot threads that have been open in HBO’s awesome series Game of Thrones since season 3. Now we get to see what every one’s plans have created and we can only imagine the chaos that will ensue.
To begin, the show opens back at the Wall with the great Wildling army led by Mance Rayder camped outside its icy cliffs. While the last episode didn’t lack for epic glory, we get to see what the cost of all that blood and steel was – namely, the burning of the corpses of the fallen Night’s Watch brothers. Before that can commence, however, Jon Snow has come to parlay with Mance and discuss terms, somewhat acknowledging the Night’s Watch dire situation.
Stannis Baratheon arrives from nowhere with an army ready to maul the Wildlings. He takes Mance into captivity and follows Jon Snow’s advice not to kill him. This sequence of events seems slightly too convenient for my tastes, but this is pretty much how it played out in the books.
We learn that Prince Oberyn had imbued his weapon with a deadly poison prior to his match with the Mountain, Gregor Clegane. Maester Pycelle is at a loss as to how to save the giant from this poison while Qyburn takes a more experimental approach to treatment under Cersei’s direction. Her desire to keep the Mountain alive is born of her paranoia and need to surround herself with strong, all male, characters so as to preserve her position as she sees it. Having the Mountain alive and well would fit in with her general outlook on the world, especially since Jaime is now maimed and unable to serve as the champion he was once was for her.
In a more awkward more in a season filled with awkward moments, Cersei confesses to her father Tywin that she and her brother Jaime are in an incestuous relationship. When he insists she marry Loras Tyrell she threatens to reveal the truth concerning her children. Of course, he doesn’t believe her at all and it’s kind of tough to read – it seems he could be totally ignorant of his childrens’ sexual relationship with each other or that he may just be sweeping it under the rug for convenience, never expecting to be confronted with it to his face, particularly in a confessional type of setting with one of the aforementioned children. She tells Jaime all about it and they have sex, almost hoping to be caught. Most kids drink, some do drugs – the Lannisters have incestuous sex with each other. This is perhaps one of the worst forms of child rebellion for all parties involved but nothing has stopped Cersei or Jaime so far so that’s…that.
Daenerys was actually incredibly boring in this episode. She’s confronted by all kinds of moral quandaries during her rule of Meereen but the only thing that stands out as a particularly poignant moment in this episode is her realization that her dragons are dragons, tempted by their dragon nature to do things like burn peasant children alive. Daenerys decides it would be best if the dragons spent some time in the catacombs of Meereen to prevent this from happening again.
Even further beyond the Wall, with Jojen, Bran, Hodor, and Meera finally come upon the tree from Bran’s visions. There’s only one problem – the field before it is infested with wights that kill Jojen and nearly take the lot of them if it weren’t for the introduction of Game of Thrones’ newest magical race – the Children of the Forest. Bran meets with the seer who depicted himself as a three-eyed raven in Bran’s dreams. All in all, the Children of the Forest segment injects a heavy dose of fantasy into a series that pretty much had ice zombies, three dragons, and Melisandre. Now we have some genuine elf-folk type characters, and that’s really cool.
Brienne and Pod encounter the Hound and Arya on the road to Eyrie. Brienne and the Hound engage in an awesome duel which she wins, forcing the Hound over a cliff, seemingly to his end. Arya escapes from Brienne and finds the Hound at the bottom of the cliff. She refuses him the gift of mercy (killing him), instead she steals his silver and goes on her way.
Now, what most fans have been waiting for, Tyrion’s execution, is one of the best parts of the whole episode – in fact, if you were to watch this episode for only one thing, these scenes would be that one thing.
Tyrion is freed by Jaime and Varys. He is to sail away from Westeros and live abroad, accompanied by Varys who has decided that King’s Landing may not be the best place for someone such as himself (or to meet up with Daenerys?). Before fleeing the castle, Tyrion visits his old digs, the quarters of the Hand of the King. There he finds Shae, his former lover, who attacks him. He kills her by choking her to death with her golden necklace. It’s intense, it’s in the books, and it hit all the right points. But that’s not all.
Tyrion finds his father Tywin on the toilet and he uses this opportunity to lodge a bunch of arrows in him. Tywin claims he was not going to execute Tyrion, which no one really believes, and even attempts to command Tyrion to stop what’s he doing. Tywin’s death is a big moment in the season and HBO handled it amazingly well.
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