‘Game of Thrones’ Season 4 Finale Review – We Do Not Kneel

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Maisie Williams and Rory McCann in Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 10 Game of Thrones Season 4 Finale Review – We Do Not Kneel

[This is a review of Game of Thrones season 4, episode 10. There will be SPOILERS.]

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Contrary to what is seen in the opening credits season after season, the world of Game of Thrones is not actually expanding. What once felt like a multitude of storylines unfolding tantalizingly close to each other – yet seemingly a day or two (as the raven flies) apart – have now begun to converge and intersect – and unlike Bran’s deliberate near miss of his brother Jon, they impact one another in dynamic fashion. That means the events happening in and around Westeros are no longer destined to become secondhand tales carried on a whisper by Varys’ web of spies, or communicated via airmail on stationery marked: From the Desk of Tywin Lannister; it means that the influencers of Game of Thrones are defiantly, refreshingly on the move, and they’re taking this obsession-worthy narrative with them.

The signs have been there from the beginning, marked by the determined, but unhurried pace of what has been an absolutely fantastic season. As much as season 3 will likely be remembered for its unrelentingly grim dance with mortality and hopelessness, season 4 seemed destined to step in, open a window and air things out– get that stench of death and despondency blown off and freshen things up a bit. And yet, unsurprisingly, writers D.B. Weiss and David Benioff ushered in that tonic by capitalizing on Joffrey’s now infamous Purple Wedding early in the season. From then on, everything else seemed to fall quite effortlessly into place.

In a way, then, the season 4 finale, ‘The Children’ was about the use of agency and what it means for characters who live in a world that isn’t just a dangerous, threatening place, but seems to actively be seeking to kill them at every turn to defy it, like Mance Rayder says to Stannis: “We do not kneel.” Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean those who stand up for themselves and impose their will on a situation will stand a better chance of living through the day. But perhaps it does mean that in showing defiance against the odds, they stand to make some meaning of a life that could very easily be the next one arbitrarily snuffed out. And in this world, that may be as good as it gets.

Isaac Hempstead Wright in Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 10 Game of Thrones Season 4 Finale Review – We Do Not Kneel

That notion of defiance is what made ‘The Children’ out to be not just an important episode in terms of (surprise!) who dies, but in terms of what it means to be counted among the living. And being counted among the living is especially important when, like Bran, you find yourself in a literal life and death struggle against the undead. Bran’s quest to find the Weirwood tree in the North has been a thread that may as well have been stuck in a dog kennel next to Theon for all the propulsion that particular plot seemed to have. Here, however, Bran doesn’t merely reach his objective and meet the titular children – or the fire throwing Children of the Forest – but he finds out his destination is actually just the beginning of his journey; one that won’t see him walk again, but it might just see him fly. Sure, the old man in the tree’s roots is a rather cryptic fellow, but through his exposition, and Bran’s subsequent discovery of the path that lay ahead, ‘The Children’ manages to set the tone for the rest of the episode, and deliver a series of ambitious (but not entirely encouraging) next steps to be taken by the core (surviving) members of the narrative.

That means Daenerys bitterly finds her quest to bring freedom to the enslaved people is complicated with aspects she cannot control, like an entire generation of men uninterested in being free if it means having to start over, and, on a more personal note, that her dragons, like the kingdoms she conquered and left behind, she may no longer have power over. And so, ironically, and perhaps because of her current status, Dany winds up shackling two of her dragons, the very things that helped her achieve her goals, simply because of their instinctual defiance.

But the idea of defiance carries most strongly through the final two arcs, which Weiss and Benioff wisely save for last, so that they can be savored and help restore some sense of balance by demonstrating that acts of boldness and destruction can benefit the weak just as easily as it can the powerful. Brienne’s defiance of the Hound – his reputation as an unstoppable killing machine, and of course, his skill – ends with her besting him in a manner that opens the door for Arya to triumphantly defy Sandor’s wish that she end his suffering, and later, his declaration that she’ll die without him. Watching her sail away after cashing in her iron coin from Jaqen H’ghar is about the brightest, most uplifting thing that’s been seen on the series to date, which makes it odd to think of how well it is paired with Tyrion’s escape from King’s Landing in a wooden crate under the cover of darkness.

Maisie Williams in Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 10 Game of Thrones Season 4 Finale Review – We Do Not Kneel

Tyrion’s flight from death row best encapsulates the two ideas of well-timed progression and, certainly, defiance. Most troubling, though, is not that Tyrion’s boldness leaves two people dead, but he kills the woman he loved, and the father he should have been granted the opportunity to love. For their parts, both Shae and Tywin turned on and sought to punish Tyrion when they could not get what they wanted from him, and so his act against them, though brutal and vicious, winds up affording him the same thing nearly everyone else was so thrillingly granted in the course of the episode: A chance to continue playing the game with a fresh deck of cards.

In that sense, then, season 4 was all about moving things around, getting characters not merely from one place to another, but to put them in completely different situations that makes this season’s end the start of something fresh and, undoubtedly exciting.

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Game of Thrones will return for season 5 in 2015 on HBO.

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  1. As someone who has read the books and someone who has been watching the show since season 2 started I was really happy with this episode. Although it’s strayed pretty far from the book in some aspects I’m still happy with it, the show is amazing! I’m just glad they’re saving some parts i.e. Stoneheart, Coldhands for season 4…the beginning of A Feast of Crows was a bit bland…haha

    • Same here. Having read the books as well, I take a surprising amount of pleassure in already knowing what happens, and still loving every minute of watching it unfold.

      As for Cold Hands…. I don’t think they are putting him in next season…. He should have appeared multiple times this season if they were going to cast him at all. Bran should have seen him in person at least a couple times before he gets to the Children of the first men.

      Although they could stray from the books on this one, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to leave the parts he should have already had out.

    • I wish I had your optimism but the show has been straying further away and starting to leave some great characters from the books out of the series. It seems to me that we are way past time for Coldhands to come into play so like Strong Belwas I fear we won’t be seeing him. I am still holding my thumbs for Stoneheart though and I swear if they leave out Wun-Wun I’m going to be very unhappy. Despite this I still love the series and this finale was near perfect

      • Yeah I have to admit not having Strong Belwas in it was a bit of a disappointment although with Coldhands I’m hoping they might bring him in the next season…really hoping! But that said it’s good to have it a bit different from the books, I get to read the books and enjoy them then have a similar experience with the show and it being a bit different :D but I do understand how some book readers are a bit angry/annoyed

      • No way they leave out Stoneheart, but I agree they better have Wun Wun. I think Belwas may still make an appearance, but he just may be hard to cast. I was very happy with season 4, especially the last three episodes.

      • I assume Stoneheart couldn’t appear this season due to the person playing the role being in another show that filmed around the same time frame.

    • No cold hands on this show. He would have been shown all season and end of last if that was the case.

  2. It’s going to be a long wait for season 5! This is without a doubt the best show on tv! Glad to see Tywin died on the throne! :)

    • Agreed! Easily.

  3. I have to agree with beefalo, I definitely think that Coldhands is not going to be in the show, unless of course he has a larger role in the books to come. All in all this show is fantastic. There are some things that they’ve changed/removed from the books that irk me a little bit, but I believe that the directors need to have a little creative discretion, after all it’s there interpretation of events, so while some things may bother for the most part the changes have been satisfactory.

    For those of you that think the show is the greatest thing since sliced bread, do yourselves a favor and read the books (if you haven’t already). I’ve been getting people to read these for 5 years now. My favorite set of books ever and I’m not a terribly big fan of fantasy/sci-fi. It’s an injustice to watch the show but not read the books

    • “For those of you that think the show is the greatest thing since sliced bread, do yourselves a favor and read the books”

      I would but I’d rather wait until the show’s finished first. That’s why I’ve been tempted to buy the books since 2011 but chose not to yet.

      • How do you know who Stoneheart is if you haven’t read the books? Did someone accidentally mention a Spoiler to you then you flayed them Ramsay style?!?

  4. Wonderful episode!

    I loved the cinematography, especially the scenes/shots involving Arya Stark.

    Were those scenes filmed in Iceland/Greenland?

    • I think it goes like this:-

      Kings Landing = Croatia for outside and Northern Ireland (Belfast Titanic Sound Stage) for the indoor set.

      Mereen/Danaerys = Used to be Malta for the Dothraki but I believe they moved to Morocco after the first season. Again some indoor scenes in Northern Ireland.

      The North/The Wall = Northern Ireland. Few scenes in Stirling (Scotland)

      Beyond the Wall = Iceland

      They just had another exhibit here in Belfast (Northern Ireland) and was great seeing all the armour and costumes again. It’s been so good for our economy as they spent $68m in the local industry for the first three seasons, and it’s always fun seeing people you know as extras!

  5. great visuals, great cast, fantastic stories and no stereotypes. thumbs up.
    this is how a tv show should be.

  6. The disparate and myriad threads pretty well negated any emotional impact of these last episodes. Too much story. Not enough time ie episodes to tell them. Yes the episodes have looked great and were well executed but without much emotional investment built up – with the exception of anything Tyron related – they are more interesting from a technical perspective rather than storytelling one.

    What has been accomplished on a TV budget and schedule is amazing. Unfortunately the casualties have been with story and characters. More so evident this season than any other.

  7. Ever get the sense that the people that read the books feel like theyre better just because of that fact?

    • I know. It’s like they feel the show creators should be there to please them. I could read the books just like every other epic I’ve read but I don’t want to spoil myself. I’d rather watch it unfold with Peter Dinklage and co. Dear book readers: NOBODY CARES.

      • You feel that way because people who read books ARE better than you. Fool.

        • Yea I have to agree yall are damn annoying yall come on here and usually ruin upcoming episodes with spoilers this is a review of the tv show not was is going to happen later down the road. I like to come on here and read the comments on what people like to predict whats to come and talk about this specific episode, if you want to talk about the f’in book go on a book forum. I keep wondering when the author of these review articles are going to put no future spoilers is that so much to ask, does anyone else feel the same

          • At least put book spoiler before you start ruining the future of the show for the just tv show crowd

        • Well said Cap.

        • SteveRogers guy… I feel sorry for you, I truly am…

        • Now that’s an intelligent reply right there. You read that from a book too?

    • I’m not sure if that comment is directed at me (I hope not). My comment was made only because in all honesty the books are simply amazing. I’ve literally got into fights with friends to stop pushing the books on them, only for them to come back 2 years later and apologize and confess how amazing the books are. All of them have admitted they wished they had read the books first too. I’m not trying to say I’m better because of it, I just want everyone to experience the joy of reading these first hand. The writing and the commitment to detail is truly special. It’s the sort of literature that should be around for hundreds of years. Having the show as a compliment just makes it even better.

      • I had read the first three books after watching Season 1 and have been regretting it for the past 3 seasons. The books were really good, but I haven’t enjoyed watching the TV show as much as I did in Season 1. It’s fantastic, but being able to watch the story unfold in the same room as friends or family gives the show the advantage for me. I’ll be holding off on the next book until Season 5 is over.

    • Yeah the book readers are the worst for spoilers they actively want to ruin the surprises for us. I actually think its great when they compare to the book so I can find out what I’m missing etc but it’s always discussion about what will happen next! Put a spoiler tag on it!

      • Seriously? I think the book readers are doing exceptionally well at NOT spoiling the show. I don’t know anyone who had the Red or Purple Weddings spoiled for them. There is an absolute ton of stuff that book readers could drop on you, but they don’t. Stop whining.

  8. Ruined moments like Tyrion`s conversation with Jaime and with Varys (which should happen BEFORE he killed Tywin), ruined Shae`s death as she tried to kill him first (WTF????)and Tywin`s death because Tyrion`s motivations were not all of the same. And this episode is being submitted for the Best Make Up Emmy? The child of the forest wasn`t anywhere near amazing and the Three-Eyed-Raven didn`t have his red shining eye, the skeleton wights were CGi and LSH didn`t show up. The episode is still good but it was ruined and reduced to something MUCH LESS impactful than what it should have been.

    • Agreed 100%. See comments below.

  9. I think this series is overrated – I tried to watch each week – but understanding the plot(s) – difficult – this is an average to below show – way overrated.

    • maybe they should dumb it down for you lol.

      • Yup. some people are best off just watching kid Disney since GOT is too much for the, to handle. lol

    • Perhaps “Dog with a Blog” is more your speed?

      • ^ Great show.. bahah ;)

    • You only focus on what’s different on the show to whats in the book. That’s why you don’t like it. If you only watched the show you would realize that it’s the best produced, best acted and just best overall show on TV period. Of course ten one hour episodes will NOT have everything in a 1000 page novel. lol Enjoy both for what they are.

  10. This is a bit off topic but after seeing The Hound die (or assume he did) I can’t help wonder why we haven’t seen anyone brought back from the dead again?

    I say again because I’m thinking of the episode in early season 3 when Arya and The Hound were with the group of men that were able to bring someone back after apparently dying.
    That seems like a pretty good thing to have in one’s arsenal and after making such a big deal out of it I’m surprised it hasn’t been brought up again…

    Maybe I’m just in denial?

    As for the finale I thought it was easily the best season finale of the series. We are so used to episode 9 being the big deal and then episode 10 getting things back in order but this episode broke that trend. So much happened and it was all pretty amazing.
    For the first time in a long while I even found the stuff with Bran interesting. ;)

    • If they follow the book there is a good chance the hound is not dead, although even with the book your not sure. There is a story line in the book about a refuge at the quite isle, a monastery. There is a character called the gravedigger that some think is the hound. They made a point of showing the damage to the hounds leg in the show, and in the book the gravedigger also has a limp. Not sure if they are planning to continue that story line in the show as there has been no talk of the quite isle. As for coming back from the dead, there are two that I know of for next season.

      • Really?

        It’s taking all my willpower not to ask who but I don’t want to be spoiled.

        Speaking of being spoiled, thanks for the reply but not giving everything away. There are certain folks who would have said everything.
        I appreciate it.

        • Google “GOT Gravedigger” and some stuff will come up. No spoilers since no one really knows. But the hints are very promising. I for one loved the “Extended Hound” this season. Arya and the Hound had very good chemistry and some of the best one liners this season. By the book he’s gone by eps one.

      • Y would you come on here and say that when it’s a review of the tv show?

        • this was for Gornsgonewild “Y would you come on here and say that when it’s a review of the tv show?”

          • Wait, what? Kevin asked a question and I answered it. In his post he mentioned about the Hound, so I responded to that in the last post. Its NOT a spoiler since its NOT in the Books and NOT in the TV show either. Just speculation. Heck…. he even mentioned in his post “Speaking of being spoiled, thanks for the reply but not giving everything away. There are certain folks who would have said everything. I appreciate it.” I went OUT OF MY WAY not to spoil the main question he posted.

    • I haven’t read the books but I got the impression that coming back from the dead was not easy or common at all; Lady Melissandre seemed pretty impressed that Beric had been able to resurrect so many times. Also, I’m guessing you’d have to be a follower of the Lord of Light for that to work.

      • I agree. I think I remember reading somewhere that ‘magic’ is tied to the dragons coming back? The more they grow the more magic grows in the realm. My main fear for HBO was if people would be cool with the magic part of it. Season one was very knights of the round table, etc. The more it goes, the more it “could” start to look like a Dungeons and Dragons show. HBO has done a pretty good job tempering it, the look of the old man in the tree roots is an indication of this.

  11. I have to say I was REALLY disappointed with the finale. There was a lot they let hit the floor that should have been in the show. Things that added more weight to the scene as well as impetus for decisions of the characters. For instance:

    1. Milesandra spontaneously combusts an eagle that was controlled by a warg to set of the attack by Stanis’ cavalry. It was described beautifully in the book. The attack in the finale seemed rather lackluster. Keep in mind there are thousands and thousands of wildlings still on the edge of those woods. All hell breaks loose when that cavalry comes in.
    2. Jaime tells Tyrion, during his escape, that his wife wasn’t really a whoor (stupid spam blocker) back when they were young (as described in season one) and that his father lied about the whole thing. Thus, prompting Tyrion that rage to go back and kill his father.
    3. The Green Seer… looked ridiculous! In the book he had roots coming out of him (left eye and chest) and he was a dried up husk. Not some tired old man merely sitting in some roots.
    4. Mance Rayder has a wildling wife and son. The son being a plot device later in the story.
    5. No Coldhands… that irked me greatly.

    Other than that, there were minor differences that don’t affect much.

    It wasn’t a BAD episode, but it could have been a LOT better. Especially with how well previous episodes have been handled.

    • Two thing s that DID happen in the show that imroved the plot though were:

      1. Varys getting on the ship with Tyrion. I never understood why he didn’t in the book.
      2. That fight with Brien and The Hound. ROSHAMBO!!! /c-punt!

  12. Boo to no Lady Stoneheart. Have been waiting two seasons for her reveal. Imagine if that was the last scene for the finale, showing her face, and cut to black and cue people going crazy. Perfect ending to a season finale. Super disappointed they didn’t include that yet.

  13. SMUG ALERT!! SMUG ALERT!!! Could all the book-readers please stop smelling their own farts for a minute. My goodness, no one cares if this was left out or what they got wrong, this is a review of the TV show!! So can you stop self-congratulating yourselves for one minute and stop ruining the story for those who don’t know the story.

    By the way, I’ve also read the books. I just choose to not be such a “male sexual organ” about it.

    • So, I guess your opinion is more valid than others. Hmmm… pot/kettle.

      • You don’t understand, it’s not your opinion I have a problem with it’s the blatant spoiling disguised as a review of the show. Also, I don’t think I stated my own opinion of the show so you have no idea what I think. Review the show, don’t review the show as a book.

        • I agree. I’ve read the books and don’t know y people come on the Tv review and leave SPOILERS of the future. Imagine someone came on and ruined the last season of breaking bad or something. It would suck. So please just don’t reveal spoilers from the book or future events. I just don’t see why people cannot be cool.

  14. Well on the plus side this finale , much like the whole season was better than the 3rd season. Things moved at a much quicker pace and there was a much more sense of importance and urgency within the story.

    Having said that , the overall impact of the finale just felt a little flat.It was action packed and full of intense scenes yes, but it things still felt a little scattered and disjointed.

    Concluding Tyrion’s arc with just 2-3 scenes at the end was the episode’s biggest crime. His story was the most compelling of all and considering the performances of Dinklage & Dance, the father – son face off should have been incredible but it just felt like a side issue.

    Danerys story continues to be as ponderous as ever. She practically could’ve been cut out from the whole season. In theory the most powerful character yet she does nothing at all.

    And ending with Ayra sailing off just had a ‘so what’ feeling about it. Nothing there really to make you anticipate for the next season.

    Overall the show has majorly improved from last year, but still needs to up it’s game a little bit more.
    After that epic last stand at the wall, Stannis’ army literally come out of nowhere and clear up in like 2 minutes, draining out all the importance of the previous episode.

  15. I’ve decided NOT to read the books first because based on reading the key scenes of Tyrion’s trial and the Viper’s “I will be your champion” scene AFTER watching them on TV, IMO the TV show is vastly superior to the way those scenes were written in the book. MUCH more dramatic and exciting, AND in the book the champion reveal came before the trial, so Tyrion’s demand for a trial by combat in the book was nowhere near as powerful or awesome as it was on the TV show.

    I hope to read books 1-3 before season 5 starts, but I won’t be spoiling the show for myself. I can’t even read people’s comments here unfortunately.

    • Ive read the books and LOVE the tv show. I agree somewhat in that a LOT of the scenes are even BETTER on the show than the book and I’ve never said that about any other material. However there are also a lot of AWESOME events in the book that cannot be matched on TV. I LOVE BOTH!

  16. I agree with what most have stated since season 1. I dont understand why the books readers have such an arrogance about them. Its awesome you have read the books but its also ok that probably the same majority have not! Not everyone wants to or plans to read the books. So I dont understand the point of comming on threads which discuss THE SHOW & SPECIFIC EPISODES if all you want to do is talk about events & characters in the book which have not happened yet or may not happen at all on the show. Go on a book thread! I dont think anyone is better then the other, all I ask is please respect the type of board your going to add comments in. Dont ruin it for others.

    • I personally love that they are both different it’s like I’m seeing the story all over again for the first time. The only thing I hope the show doesn’t do is not follow certain hints, theories, and conspiracys that may come into play later. I imagine George R.R Martain has told the main writers which ones are true and that matter to make sure they don’t leave them out.

    • thank you backing up my point earlier i actually feel like the majority of people on here have not read the books nor want to hear about the books it’s a review for the tv show not the damn books

  17. Very much enjoyed this review, this season and this finale. Thought the acting was top notch all around, special mention to those who play Tywin (when Circe spilled the beans), Arya on the ship, Varys when the bells started to ring, the conversation between Jon Snow and Mance Rayder and Jon gagging in the background after the second toast. Amazing fight scene between Brienne and the Hound and I like that Arya just robbed him and left him to die in the end – served him right. Fantastic photog for that last scene. I had forgotten all about the iron coin, so when Arya pulled that out, it made my heart sing. And the music there was awesome.

  18. I have to say, Kevin’s reviews of GoT are consistently brilliant. His analyses are eloquent and insightful, clarifying themes that drive the narrative. His reviews always make me want to watch the episode again. It’s a shame he’s not a regular on the podcasts instead of the insufferably pompous and painfully inarticulate Kofi. I’ll have to catch up on Mad Men and Fargo so I can read his reviews on those shows too.

    • Agreed and further state equally excellent are his reviews of Hannibal.

  19. Although the hounds end in the book was different, it was kind of cool to see him face off against brienne. But I do think he would have beaten her if not for his infection and constantly being hung over.
    SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!

    The hound may still be alive because the books hint at a man named the gravedigger that has a similar size as him and has a healing wound similar to the one he had

  20. Tyrion’s soft spoken, child-like “I’m sorry” after strangling Shae nearly broke me. His quick arrow bursts into Tywin’s chest cured me. I cheered.

    The look between Lady Melissandre and Jon Snow over the fire of the burning bodies, I assume there’s more to come between these two….?

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