Written Roundup: Season 4, Episode 10 “The Children”
By Bex on in Recap.

Braavos

Lots of comments this week from book-reading critics on the nature of the adaptation moving forward. Critics also addressed the amount of events packed into a single episode, characters’ placement, “Children” vs. the finales preceding it, and reflected on the end of an era for the great houses of Westeros. Many just can’t wait until next spring and the arrival of season 5.

Read the Books

James Hibberd – Entertainment Weekly

The Thrones showrunners like to reject the idea of the show’s episodes or seasons having themes — the stories are too disparate. But the finale, “The Children,” definitely had a common thread, and it’s right there in the title — Jaime, Cersei, and Tyrion all defied papa Tywin. Dany’s dragon “children” defied mom. Jon Snow took a leadership role. The Children of the Forest rescued Bran. And Arya set out on her own.

Charlie Jane Anders – io9

Even George R.R. Martin might have needed to rewind a couple times to figure out some of the characters’ motivations in the Game of Thrones season finale. There were out-of-left-field plot twists and self-destructive choices, some of which weren’t in the books…It’s not just that a lot of stuff in “The Children” was pretty different than the books last night (either in what happened, or why it happened), but also a lot of the characters seemed to be behaving in wild, self-destructive fashions.

Alyssa Rosenberg – Washington Post

“Game of Thrones” spends a great deal of time distinguishing the worlds it is set in from our own through the application of brutality. But on Father’s Day, in an episode characterized by rotten relationships between fathers and their children, the show knits itself to our present with a fragile skein of hope.

Todd VanDerWerff - A.V. Club

A-; “The Children” is the best season finale of this show by a fair amount, but it’s a season finale that underlines how the series is slowly coming apart at the seams. In this regard, it’s a more or less accurate adaptation of the books, which reach the end of book three and then realize how thoroughly they’ve ripped up the status quo before having to wander around for a bit. It can be fun to rip up the status quo, to be sure, but it also has a tendency of backing the writer into a corner, forcing him to try and come up with something just as compelling to replace it. Much of “The Children” has its eyes turned toward the future, and much of it is uncertain.

Sean T. Collins – Rolling Stone

The longest episode in the series’ history, “The Children” thrummed with storytelling energy — not just the usual ’round-the-world scene-shifting, but actual, honest-to-god Major Plot Developments in each storyline

More book readers and Unsullied recaps, reviews and reactions under the cut

James Poniewozik – Time

The season finale deals with some troubling parent-child relationships, takes some weird turns, and leaves us wondering where this ever-more-sprawling story is headed.

Myles McNutt - Cultural Learnings

Each season of Game of Thrones has been an exercise in selective adaptation, but its fourth season has been a feat of adaptive engineering. Working primarily with material from the third book but leaning heavily on the fourth and fifth in certain storylines, it is the season that has emphatically taken the “book-to-season” adaptation comparison off the table. At the same time, though, the season has been organized around key climaxes taken directly from the third book in the series. Moreso than in other seasons, you could tell the writers were having to stretch storylines to maintain the timing they had established, creating material to flesh out the scenes on The Wall to justify the Battle of Castle Black taking place in episode nine or finding things for Arya and the Hound to do so that their scenes in “The Children” wouldn’t take place until the end of the season…

Esquire Power rankings for Episode 10

Nina Shen Rastogi – Vulture

The relationships between generations has always been one of the show’s major themes, and GoT used it in resonant ways throughout the hour

Matt Fowler- IGN

“The Children” changed the playing field/chess board dramatically for the show going forward. A board that had already been shifted around a ton after both the Red and Purple weddings. But whereas the Red Wedding left us with fewer heroes in play, this finale left us with fewer villains…you do wonder how many major characters need to be taken out before Westeros itself becomes somewhat of a wasteland, personality-wise. Especially with two of the show’s most pivotal and interesting characters now taking off on ships for foreign lands.

Scott Meslow – The Week

Last night’s season finale, “The Children,” tackles the futures of those great houses without the men who once served as their leaders. In every case, their children have been left to carry on their legacies after their deaths. And in every case, their children have branched from the paths their parents would have chosen for them.

After the first season’s finale, the finale episodes of the following seasons of Game of Thrones have tended to be received with some disappointment by those familiar with the books, at least in relation to the penultimate episodes that preceded them… I think “The Children” will feel the same way to many fans of the novels, an episode that touches and captures some amazing moments, and avoids or undercuts others in ways that are difficult to understand. It feels as if “Fire and Blood” will remain the best finale of the show so far.

Unsullied

Alan Sepinwall – Hitfix

In previous seasons, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have tended to use the finales in the same way that “The Sopranos” and “The Wire” so often did: as a time for reflection after the climactic events of the different episodes 9, and as a preview of what’s to come in the following season. ”The Children” didn’t work quite like that, in part because ”The Watchers on the Wall” wasn’t a climax of the season in the way that “Baelor,” “Blackwater” and “The Rains of Castamere” were…As such, it was a finale with many big denouements — too many, arguably, given the need to squeeze them all into a single episode, even a slightly longer one than normal. Some had the desired emotional impact, but others simply got lost in the trans-continental shuffle.

Andy Greenwald – Grantland

After four years spent on assignment there, I can say it’s no secret that Westeros is a cruel place. In the past few weeks alone, we’ve seen skulls popped like blisters, throats used for target practice, and blood spilled like wine…But nothing prepared me for the rank inhumanity of last night’s season finale, when the true, savage depths of the Seven Kingdoms were revealed for all to see.

Laura Stone – Hey, Don’t Judge Me

Click the link for the whole thing…do it, I dare you

Jordan Yerman – Vancouver Observer

I’m going to suggest you go ahead and read the whole thing. Points for homemade macros.

A.V. Club

B+; As we begin to look back at Game Of Thrones’ fourth season, it becomes plain that the money quote was there from the first trailer on: “They have a choice: They can live in my new world or they can die in their old one.” Season four hinged on the tectonic shifts Daenerys Targaryen alludes to in that line of dialogue: The deaths of rulers and their closest allies, the ascendance of Westeros’ new heirs.

David Malitz – Washington Post

“The Children,” the fourth season’s finale, was a strong send-off that had a little something for everyone…For a show that toggles between making you wait seemingly forever for a storyline to reach its conclusion and sudden shocking deaths, this final episode of the season found an ideal sweet spot with both catharsis and anticipation. Let’s take one last detailed journey through an episode.

Jeremy Egner  - Arts Beat, New York Times

“The Children,” written by the series creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, crammed plenty into 75 minutes. It did the usual work of wrapping up some plot lines and setting others into motion for next season, but whereas past “Thrones” finales have dealt primarily with fallout from previous episodes, this one was chockablock with often shocking set pieces and new dimensions.

Brian Juergens – The Backlot

Sooooooooo what the eff just happened? Skeleton armies, whore murders (their words, not mine), patricide, fireball-shooting children and the Perils of Brienne were NOT how I expected this season of Game of Thrones to end. Not that I’m complaining mind you.

It’s been a pleasure compiling these posts for you. Thank you for your weekly suggestions, and I hope this has been a helpful way for you to see a swath of viewpoints.


69 Comments

  1. chamush
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Death to skeletons! No more fire balls!

  2. Turncloak
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Fireballs were a low point in the series for me. For as much as GRRM likes breaking down fantasy tropes, D&D seem to make it a missions to include the worst type of fantasy tropes and cliches. I’m hoping we don’t see more of that. Still good episode overall. Especially liked The Stannis scene, Brienne vs Thr Hound, and Arya and The Hounds scene

  3. Turncloak
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Turncloak,

    Actually scratch that. I feel like I’m complaining about 1% of the episode. Great season overall. Looking forward to season 5

  4. Turncloak
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Bryan Cranston,

    Way to be mature.

  5. Valaquen
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    The only thing that is seriously rubbing me the wrong way about this episode is something that annoyed me in the novels: The Children of the Forest. I always thought they could be very hokey and unfortunately they are. Maybe it was the actresses performance or the way she was shot. She didn’t seem to be throwing fireballs either; I had a look and it seems to be a small bag or something that quickly ignites. Maybe something from the books we haven’t seen yet, otherwise I have no idea what they were thinking.

    I also didn’t like the tone of the Bran scenes. I like the Harryhausen nod, really, but until that point the show had been treating wights in the manner a horror movie would. Dark lighting, spooky music – I liked that. The sudden shift in tone still has me reeling. Maybe I’ll come around later.

    Jon/Mance/Stannis, Brienne/The Hound/Arya – fantastic stuff. I loved it. Some of the best scenes yet. I only refrain from praising the Daenerys stuff because it feels like the least organic of the lot: we drop in, have a pointed chatter, and then depart. I just don’t feel so involved. But the books’ rendition had plenty of problems and inertia there too, so…

    Not the best episode of the season, I think episode one was probably better. Their writing isn’t always stellar but D&D can direct. Maybe they should consider directing a finale. Graves is 80% stellar (more than you can say for most directors) but that 20% seems to rub everyone the wrong way.

  6. Boojam
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Just read:

    Elio Garcia – Westeros.org

    Myles McNutt – Cultural Learnings

    and you are they are all you need.

  7. Ser Florian
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Turncloak,

    Aside from the fireballs, what other “worst fantasy tropes and cliches” have D&D made it their mission to include, that weren’t in the books?

  8. Chaser
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Plasma grenading the Jojen should be the new Jumping the Shark

  9. Lyn
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know why everyone is complaining about the fireballs. Leaf also used fire magic in the books. She killed a couple of wights with a bonfire she created and then she illuminated the cave with a fireball that changed its colour. If anyone should be blamed for this it should be GRRM and not D&D.

  10. Ser Florian
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Lyn,

    This. Although I think it’s just a torch that Leaf uses in the books… but throwing a fireball or small explosive packet is better TV and more exciting than a little blur scurrying round setting things on fire. The Children having magic is well established in the books, flooding both the Arm of Dorne and the Neck, Greenseeing, skin changing, talking to ravens, and using magic in battle. And now, with the return of Dragons, their magic is coming back.

  11. Wodja
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    As a book-reader I have learned to try and seperate my mindset between the written material and the Tv show. I emphasize “try” since try as I might – that is near impossible. And this season finale is a good example of me failing at it.
    I really wanted to love the episode but was quite dissapointed. Dissapointed at yet another ending that was not a great WTF moment to savour – not as cheesy as Dany crowd surfing but kind of a let-down. There were lots of options to end this with a “Holy Shit” moment and that didn’t happen (yes, I am dissapointed at no LS appearance), dissapointed at the Tyrion and Tywin scene and lack of Tyrion’s famous words and generally felt too many mistakes were made prior to this episode, which resonated quite strongly.
    1) I know for a fact a lot of unsullied didn’t get that Shae was in Tywin’s bedchamber or how and why Tyrion suddenly appeared there.
    2) Did not at all like the Draugr/Diablo-skeletons and Fireballs (?!) bit. Just don’t understand why this was included. CGI for the whole Bran sequence was subpar. Maybe I am spoiled and have come to expect too much. But even the chamber of the 3-eyed raven felt to me like a Tv set, not convincing. The stabbing of Jojen was executed (no pun) in a silly way.
    3) Deviations from the books are fine – I get it. But this has lots of people confused. If the wildlings are in such a plight (they HAVE to get to the other side of the wall or they are toast… well… icy toast) than why put so much emphasis on their barbaric behaviour (the Thenns, the raid on Moles town, even dear Ygritte shooting an innocent farmer)?
    All in all it was a good episode and the acting was fantastic (including Kit and Emilia who are not always praised for their acting skills). Rory was phenomenal. I just feel it could have been much better.

  12. Turncloak
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Lyn,

    I would have preferrd to make it either more like the book (use a bonfire to kill wights instead) or an adaptation choice that elimates the hokiness of the scene

  13. Hodor Targaryen
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Ser Florian,

    It was established in the books maybe (can’t be sure, those magical parts are the hardest to remember for me, but I’ll take your word for it). However, nothing about the Children was established well in the series. No reference to them that I can remember, And suddenly we have another magical grouo that is somehow super important to the story.

  14. gewa76
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I just listened to Greenwald’s podcast. He got wind of who LS is, and said it is “very very dumb”. So yeah, I think it’s safe to say a number of non-readers would have reacted to LS the same way they did to the COTF and the fireballs.

  15. Lexyvil
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Ser Florian,

    I agree. I love how they take advantage of what’s captivating to the eye while adapting on the screen. The fireballs were quite enjoyable to watch, it makes us wonder more about the mystical aspects of the world.

    The magical factors that’s slowly becoming more apparent is what makes me love this franchise so much: seeing how the characters, the ones who don’t believe in any supernatural aspects, deal with their long forgotten history and the unexplained.

  16. gewa76
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Turncloak,

    I would have preferred something like a bonfire too, but they already used that in the opening of season 3 with Mormont torching the wight, instead of a proper battle at the Fist. I guess you could say the show was bitten by its own butterfly effect.

  17. Ser Florian
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Hodor Targaryen,

    They were mentioned mostly in season 2, by Maester Luwin, as a long forgotten magical race, along with Giants and Dragons. We’ll likely get decent/lengthy exposition on them next season when Bran learns all about them from Leaf or the 3 Eyed Crow.

    I really don’t get why people are complaining about the Children, in a series in which we’ve already had blood magic birthing Dragons, Wights and White Walkers, Beric Dondarrion, Shadow assassins, faceless assassins, skin changing, prophetic dreams etc. etc.

  18. Lyn
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I wouldn’t mind a bonfire either but they need to show clearly that the COTF know magic. In the books Leaf could change the colour of the fire in the torch at will. And the bonfire is also part of her fire magic. So I don’t really care how we see the magic being used as long as we see it.

  19. Bex
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Let’s keep slurs out of the comments, shall we?

  20. Turncloak
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Ser Florian,

    I’m ok with the children, just not ok with how the fireball throwing was presented on screen. Took me out of suspension of disbelief mode which hasn’t happened for most of the magical stuff in the show (except for the shadow birthing. I didn’t like that in the book either though)

  21. Justin DiMatteo
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    gewa76,

    So one critic says he thinks it sounds dumb, thus it’s “safe to say” a number of Unsullied would agree? How does that logic follow? You need to remember that people who have read the books were at one time just as clueless as to what was going to happen, and the vast majority *loved* that Epilogue.

    So far most show-only watchers have lavished praise on the same plot twists us readers did. I don’t see why it would have changed here.

  22. ace
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Turncloak:
    Ser Florian,

    I’m ok with the children, just not ok with how the fireball throwing was presented on screen. Took me out of suspension of disbelief mode which hasn’t happened for most of the magical stuff in the show (except for the shadow birthing. I didn’t like that in the book either though)

    the Children have been at odds with the White Walkers and wights since ancient times. I think in all those years, they would have developed some rudimentary incendiary device to fend off wights than just poking them with a flaming torch. That is believable to me.

  23. jentario
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Turncloak,

    “D&D seem to make it a missions to include the worst type of fantasy tropes and cliches” I see just one (fireballs). Care to elaborate on your D&D assessment? And if you say skeletons, I distinctly remember the wights in the equivalent GRRM chapter to be rather skeletal too. I might be wrong, though.

  24. Turncloak
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    jentario:
    Turncloak,

    “D&D seem to make it a missions to include the worst type of fantasy tropes and cliches” I see just one (fireballs). Care to elaborate on your D&D assessment? And if you say skeletons, I distinctly remember the wights in the equivalent GRRM chapter to be rather skeletal too. I might be wrong, though.

    That was just an overreaction which I talked about in my next post. Unfortunately this site does not have an edit option for mobile phones. I did dislike the skeletons and fireball scene because I felt the cgi was bad and the fireball throwing looked hokie. However, other than that and a few other exceptions that I thought the episode and most of the season were very well done

  25. IKRITI
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    This

    Wodja:
    As a book-reader I have learned to try and seperate my mindset between the written material and the Tv show. I emphasize “try” since try as I might – that is near impossible. And this season finale is a good example of me failing at it.
    I really wanted to love the episode but was quite dissapointed. Dissapointed at yet another ending that was not a great WTF moment to savour – not as cheesy as Dany crowd surfing but kind of a let-down. There were lots of options to end this with a “Holy Shit” moment and that didn’t happen (yes, I am dissapointed at no LS appearance), dissapointed at the Tyrion and Tywin scene and lack of Tyrion’s famous words and generally felt too many mistakes were made prior to this episode, which resonated quite strongly.
    1) I know for a fact a lot of unsullied didn’t get that Shae was in Tywin’s bedchamber or how and why Tyrion suddenly appeared there.
    2) Did not at all like the Draugr/Diablo-skeletons and Fireballs (?!) bit. Just don’t understand why this was included. CGI for the whole Bran sequence was subpar. Maybe I am spoiled and have come to expect too much. But even the chamber of the 3-eyed raven felt to me like a Tv set, not convincing. The stabbing of Jojen was executed (no pun) in a silly way.
    3) Deviations from the books are fine – I get it. But this has lots of people confused. If the wildlings are in such a plight (they HAVE to get to the other side of the wall or they are toast… well… icy toast) than why put so much emphasis on their barbaric behaviour (the Thenns, the raid on Moles town, even dear Ygritte shooting an innocent farmer)?
    All in all it was a good episode and the acting was fantastic (including Kit and Emilia who are not always praised for their acting skills). Rory was phenomenal. I just feel it could have been much better.

  26. Duval
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    The link to the Laura Stone article appears to be episode 9, not 10.

  27. gewa76
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Justin DiMatteo,

    You questioned my logic, then said a vast majority of readers loved that twist. I read the books and thought it was lame. I’m not interested in doing a survey, and I’m not saying everyone would hate it. But it’s a fair criticism to say killing someone only to bring them back for a shocking twist cheapens the original death, even if it’s set up beforehand. George reportedly said so himself about Gandalf coming back.

  28. Valaquen
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Ser Florian:
    Hodor Targaryen,

    They were mentioned mostly in season 2, by Maester Luwin, as a long forgotten magical race, along with Giants and Dragons. We’ll likely get decent/lengthy exposition on them next season when Bran learns all about them from Leaf or the 3 Eyed Crow.

    I really don’t get why people are complaining about the Children, in a series in which we’ve already had blood magic birthing Dragons, Wights and White Walkers, Beric Dondarrion, Shadow assassins, faceless assassins, skin changing, prophetic dreams etc. etc.

    The Children are the only thing I’ve ever complained about, and I really thought they were daft in the books too, so it was already difficult for the show to sway me. The presentation and acting felt off to me, and I’ve happily weathered every other thing in the show. I think it was the tone of the scene more than anything, and one shot of Leaf throwing an explosive/fireball that was not up to Graves’ usual high standard.

    Everything elsewas exemplary, bar an editorial niggle or two (Tyrion making his way through the catacombs). If I could change anything else it’d be Gregor’s scene. I would have liked to see him in agony, the leeches dying from his blood and the implications his survival or death would have with Dorne.

    Otherwise, best damn show on television.

  29. Stella
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Here is the correct link to Laura Stone’s recap of “The Children”:

    http://heydontjudgeme.com/2014/06/16/game-of-thrones-4-10-the-children/

  30. Tatters
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Im looking forward to fireballs in the winds of winter

  31. John M W
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    This is probably petty of me, but I’m almost looking forward the bickering and complaining that comes with more fantasy elements coming into the series (both show & book).

    I’ve always hated that GoT is sometimes taken as a “fantasy show for those who don’t like fantasy”. I love fantasy, and if anybody thinks this show isn’t headed for White Walkers and armies of the dead vs. warriors flying on the backs of fire breathing dragons, and all manner of other fantastical elements, then they’re sadly mistaken.

    This show has a lot of historical epic-style drama and politics, but if you’re not into fantasy, then you’re just not going to enjoy where this is all headed – plain and simple.

  32. Sheikh of Asshai
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    All in all it’s just another fireball in the wall…

    All in all you’re just another fireball in the wall…

  33. ArgonathofBraavos
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    John M W:
    This is probably petty of me, but I’m almost looking forward the bickering and complaining that comes with more fantasy elements coming into the series (both show & book).

    I’ve always hated that GoT is sometimes taken as a “fantasy show for those who don’t like fantasy”. I love fantasy, and if anybody thinks this show isn’t headed for White Walkers and armies of the dead vs. warriors flying on the backs of fire breathing dragons, and all manner of other fantastical elements, then they’re sadly mistaken.

    This show has a lot of historical epic-style drama and politics, but if you’re not into fantasy, then you’re just not going to enjoy where this is all headed – plain and simple.

    This (though I prefer the terms “myth” and “legend” to fantasy). The story is a song of ice and fire, and that is going to play out in an epic mythic confrontation at the end of the series. There are subtle and evocative ways to do this, however, that do not involve too much action-y CGI. Up until the fireball stuff, the magic and supernatural elements in GoT were handled very well (especially the scene of that White Walker carrying the baby to the Land of Always Winter – just awesome).

    But I imagine audiences will be split on this. Some will sneer at these fantasy elements, and others will love it. And those of us who love it can go on ignoring the sneers.

  34. Ian Zelaya
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Check out my recap of the finale here! (And yes, I was more than a little bummed about the lack of LS) http://tvgasmic.com/2014/06/16/game-of-thrones-season-4-finale-recap-setting-sail/

  35. barak
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    It’s so incredibly annoying to see book readers going to Unsullied reviewers and complaining about the lack of LS and how omg deviations from the books whine whine. It’s like, “I didn’t like the episode so nobody should enjoy it, damn it!”

    (And for what it’s worth: I’m a book reader and I also think that LS is pretty dumb. Along with the Children and Bloodraven. Seriously, Children of the Forest, Lady Stoneheart, Bloodraven? Even the names are lame. And people are complaining about D&D’s sense of fantasy…)

    I’m also a bit surprised that so many people managed to miss Shae’s entire character arc, and that now they’re surprised that she turned against Tyrion. It’s not like it was particularly subtle, too, she was talking about her issues all the time. Were people so focused on Tyrion that they completely missed what was happening to Shae? Tyrion hurt her and humiliated her, how is it surprising that she turned against him in revenge, and also tried to use Tywin to secure her position? “You can’t fuck your way out of everything” – well, she tried. This time, it didn’t work out.

  36. Hollyoak
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    On Fireballs, A Treatise on Fantasy.

    Game of Thrones is centered around a mythical world, much like our own past. Indeed, George RR Martin even alludes to the War of the Roses, a real-life GoT when describing his inspiration for A Song of Ice & Fire.

    The viewing audience, much like the characters in the book, look at talk of dragons, white walkers and other supernatural goings-on with a critical eye.

    I think that is why we all roll our eyes when a child-like being comes out of the forest and starts throwing fireballs. Not to mention stop-motion-inspired Jason & The Argonauts-looking skeletons.

    BUT.

    I loved it.

    See, whenever the show depicts the supernatural side of things, I get excited. It shows that this world we’ve been watching–one full of real-world drama and intrigue and back-stabbing–is not the most important thing in the realm.

    There’s another side to things.

    I thought the skeletons, or whatever they were (can someone tell me whether this was in Dance with Dragons, I don’t remember) were a great surprise. I had no idea what was happening there. Throwing fireballs is a fantasy cliche, but I still liked it because it turned the show on its head. I wish people weren’t so critical of this traditional fantasy aspect of the show. I wish they could enjoy it as much as I do, but we all have our preferences.

    I am re-reading the books right now and am on a Storm of Swords. I have to say, I remember absolutely nothing of A Dance with Dragons. When someone mentioned Bran being rescued by the Children of the Forest I was like what?

    Anyway, I’m curious what others think of the fantasy/magical element in the TV show. I say the more the better. But I also wonder if the show will lose some viewers as the fantasy elements really ramp up in future seasons. I mean, it has to right? This is all leading to something, correct?: dragons and wights and white walkers and giants and BloodRaven and the Children of the Forest?

    That’s it.

    Oh, I’m also drunk right now.

  37. John M W
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    ArgonathofBraavos:There are subtle and evocative ways to do this, however, that do not involve too much action-y CGI. Up until the fireball stuff, the magic and supernatural elements in GoT were handled very well (especially the scene of that White Walker carrying the baby to the Land of Always Winter – just awesome).

    Well, to each their own. :)

    I was trying to communicate that even the fireball stuff was right up my alley. I’ve got zero issue with the Children of the Forest exhibiting magical powers such as that (and visually it was great). It really doesn’t seem any different to me than the dragons breathing fire down on Dany’s enemies.

    The time for subtlety with the fantasy elements is coming to an end. Magic is returning to the world, and sooner or later these elements will come completely to the fore.

    And I couldn’t be more excited.

  38. Valaquen
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    For the record, I love fantasy, that’s not my problem with the Bran scene. I merely think it could have been done better. Everything else I felt was implemented perfectly.

  39. Chickenduck
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    OK, I’ve avoided posting anyway since the episode aired.

    I’m fine with lack of Tysha and LS (and regards the second point, if it needs to happen, it’ll happen at some point). I’m fine with the skeletons, and the fireballs. I actually really liked the episode overall.

    My main criticism is the art direction regarding the Three Eyed Crow. I was hoping for something much more decomposed/merged with the tree, roots growing out of his face etc. Instead, he just looks like an old man in a cave (and a bit Gandalfy), which I was a little disappointed by. But that’s just me.

    Other than that, I enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to all the off-season casting rumours and set leaks etc.

  40. Ginevra
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Hodor Targaryen:
    Ser Florian,

    It was established in the books maybe (can’t be sure, those magical parts are the hardest to remember for me, but I’ll take your word for it). However, nothing about the Children was established well in the series. No reference to them that I can remember, And suddenly we have another magical grouo that is somehow super important to the story.

    The magical guru on the weirwood throne, the three-eyed raven, is not actually a child of the forest. They also didn’t seem to make that point clear at all for the Unsullied. The three-eyed raven guy is human.

  41. Ginevra
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    gewa76:
    Justin DiMatteo,

    You questioned my logic, then said a vast majority of readers loved that twist. I read the books and thought it was lame. I’m not interested in doing a survey, and I’m not saying everyone would hate it. But it’s a fair criticism to say killing someone only to bring them back for a shocking twist cheapens the original death, even if it’s set up beforehand.George reportedly said so himself about Gandalf coming back.

    I’m on the fence regarding Lady Stoneheart. I loved the epilogue of SS, but I didn’t like her much in future books. She was never Molly Weasley to begin with, but she becomes this cold-hearted bitch, little better than those she seeks to destroy. Perhaps George’s point is that you can’t really bring people back – only monsters who may at first glance seem like the people they once were. Not that she is a monster yet, but she seems headed in that direction.

  42. Ginevra
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Sheikh of Asshai:
    All in all it’s just another fireball in the wall…
    All in all you’re just another fireball in the wall…

    Love!

    John M W:
    This show has a lot of historical epic-style drama and politics, but if you’re not into fantasy, then you’re just not going to enjoy where this is all headed – plain and simple.

    George has indicated in interviews that the fantastical elements won’t increase more than they are now, although like you I do think there will be at least a White Walker and dragon showdown at some point. I couldn’t find that interview where he said the magic won’t increase, but I did find this:

    George RR Martin:
    The other factor that made Bran difficult to write bout was that he is probably the character in the early books who is most deeply involved with magic, and magic is central to fantasy. You want to get that sense of wonder and mystery, and give the reader things that they don’t get in ordinary, mundane fiction, but at the same time, it can ruin a fantasy. Too much magic, or magic that’s thrown in, can take over a book and suddenly it becomes all magic and you lose a lot of the inherent human drama, when people are solving their problems with a spell or waving a wand.
    Read more at http://collider.com/george-r-r-martin-interview-game-of-thrones/#4mfCscWwePyCmfrU.99

  43. Daenerys Naharis
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Chickenduck,

    I agree. I didn’t like how the Three Eyed Raven looked. Maybe because I’ve seen a lot of artworks that clearly depicted how I envisioned him as I was reading the books. In the series, he looked like he was just trapped among the roots/branches/whatever.

  44. Tyrion Pimpslap
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    I rewatched the episode last night and really loved it. It is right there with ‘Mockingbird’,Two Swords’, and ‘Watchers On The Wall’ as being a true standout episode for the series. No, I didn’t like the fireballs, and I wish the Jaime-Tyrion scene had more time, but other than that it was top notch.

    Final season 4 episode rankings:

    1. ‘Mockingbird’
    2. ‘The Children’
    3. ‘Two Swords’
    4. ‘The Watchers On The Wall’
    5. ‘The Lion And The Rose’
    6. ‘The Laws Of Gods And Men’
    7. ‘Oathkeeper’
    8. ‘The Mountain And The Viper’
    9. ‘First Of His Name’
    10. ‘Breaker Of Chains’

    Season 4 was the most consistent season yet. Season 1 is still my favorite, as it really rolled in the final 5 episodes. However, season 4 is a close 2nd.

  45. johnnytata
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    so, what is really the point of watching a show/movie with the express purpose of comparing it to the book? then why not just read the book? except for very rare occasions, a person’s own imagination will always be preferred to someone else’s imagination

    i read some of these reviews, professional and amateur, and they just can’t get away from it, they read like a teacher grading a term paper, just an academic exercise but with some sanctimonious feaux rage thrown in. no wonder, no surprise, no excitement that you get from experiencing something for the first time. that is seriously the most boring and pedantic way to experience something that i could ever imagine. why do it? i have done it both ways and i can say that book amnesia is just such a much better experience.

  46. Tyrion Pimpslap
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    Daenerys Naharis,

    Not to mention Bloodraven is supposed to be an albino with a missing eye. Maybe they can rectify that moving forward? Casual fans won’t notice, anyway. ‘A thousand eyes, and one’ doesn’t make much sense if Bloodraven has two eyes.

  47. johnnytata
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    1000 eyes and one. ugh. minutiae. i couldn’t for the life of me remember every detail, so i understood that to be a metaphor. someone who hasn’t read the books would not think so concretely.

  48. gewa76
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    johnnytata,

    THIS!

  49. ArgonathofBraavos
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    Chickenduck

    I just loved how Odinic Bloodraven looked. And given that Odin famously sacrificed himself by hanging from the mythical tree Ygdrassil, the image of Bloodraven in the TV show is essentially ripped right out of the Old Norse Eddas. Great stuff, which really makes the legendary “North” seem real.

    And if he looked a bit like Gandalf, that’s because Gandalf was essentially modeled after Odin in his human form.

    Though I admit that I may be one of the few people who prefers this look to the more horrifying version in the book.

  50. ArgonathofBraavos
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    Tyrion Pimpslap:
    Daenerys Naharis,

    Not to mention Bloodraven is supposed to be an albino with a missing eye. Maybe they can rectify that moving forward? Casual fans won’t notice, anyway. ‘A thousand eyes, and one’ doesn’t make much sense if Bloodraven has two eyes.

    The “one” refers to his inner “third eye,” which is represented visually by the third eye of the Three-Eyed Raven. This third eye is the greenseer eye. The eye that lets him (and Bran and Jojen) see things that no other mortals can.

  51. KG
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    Monsters don’t only appear at night, after all.

    Valaquen:
    The only thing that is seriously rubbing me the wrong way about this episode is something that annoyed me in the novels: The Children of the Forest. I always thought they could be very hokey and unfortunately they are. Maybe it was the actresses performance or the way she was shot. She didn’t seem to be throwing fireballs either; I had a look and it seems to be a small bag or something that quickly ignites. Maybe something from the books we haven’t seen yet, otherwise I have no idea what they were thinking.

    I also didn’t like the tone of the Bran scenes. I like the Harryhausen nod, really, but until that point the show had been treating wights in the manner a horror movie would. Dark lighting, spooky music – I liked that. The sudden shift in tone still has me reeling. Maybe I’ll come around later.

    Jon/Mance/Stannis, Brienne/The Hound/Arya – fantastic stuff. I loved it. Some of the best scenes yet. I only refrain from praising the Daenerys stuff because it feels like the least organic of the lot: we drop in, have a pointed chatter, and then depart. I just don’t feel so involved. But the books’ rendition had plenty of problems and inertia there too, so…

    Not the best episode of the season, I think episode one was probably better. Their writing isn’t always stellar but D&D can direct. Maybe they should consider directing a finale. Graves is 80% stellar (more than you can say for most directors) but that 20% seems to rub everyone the wrong way.

  52. Tyrion Pimpslap
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    ArgonathofBraavos,

    No, the saying is a reference to the loss of one of his eyes to Bittersteel and his extensive network of informants and spies. Do you really think the common folk knew what the hell a ‘third eye’ was?

    If the show is going to include the character and use that phrase, at least do a little more prosthetic work and cover one of his eyes. It’s not that hard.

  53. SkyWrathMage
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    To be a little specific, The Child of the Forest didn’t actually threw fireballs. It’s more of she threw a small, bright orb that explodes on contact with the wights. Definitely different from fireballs.

    And so it seems that I’m not the only one who’s disappointed with the Three Eyed Raven. He pretty looks pretty much like an old man stuck on the roots. But I got a feeling David&Dan have a plan regarding that.

    A question for you guys. What do you think would Bran do next Season? He has one chapter left on ADwD, so I guess they’d be inventing stuff for him, for expositions, maybe? And they can move past ADwD and show his material for TWoW. What do you guys think?

    I really hope it’s time to show the R+L=J theory, if it’s true. I think they’d be “killing” Jon Snow in Season 5.

  54. Chickenduck
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    ArgonathofBraavos: The “one” refers to his inner “third eye,” which is represented visually by the third eye of the Three-Eyed Raven. This third eye is the greenseer eye. The eye that lets him (and Bran and Jojen) see things that no other mortals can.

    No, it doesn’t. I think it was explained in one of the Dunk and Egg tales – he lost an eye in a fight, but still had all his informants (and can warg into the mist, trees and stuff) who are the other thousand eyes.

    The “three-eyed crow” moniker does refer to what you’re mentioning though.

    His look on the show is probably a weird thing for me to complain about though, as normally I’m not really into fantasy. Wasn’t a big Tolkien fan or anything. But for some reason, I was really taken with the image in my head of him all grown into the tree. Oh well, not really a dealbreaker for me.

    And… I’d wager that whilst you’re on the right track, Bloodraven isn’t based on Odin ;) I’m pretty confident the guy who used to post on here as 4skins was right – the Song of Ice and Fire IS a direct reference to Ragnarok. Thor is quite obviously Robert Baratheon (I mean, GRRM was really, really unsubtle about the symbolism, the “Storm lords”, his hammer etc etc etc). Bran is Fenrir the Bound Wolf. Bloodraven is actually Loki.

    Read this if you’re interested – http://gameofthronesandnorsemythology.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/ragnarok-song-of-ice-fire.html

    Some of it I think he’s drawing a long bow, but even if he’s not right about all of it, I’d dare say he’s in the ballpark. Too many coincidences.

  55. MickJ
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 1:55 am | Permalink

    johnnytata:
    so, what is really the point of watching a show/movie with the express purpose of comparing it to the book?then why not just read the book?except for very rare occasions, a person’s own imagination will always be preferred to someone else’s imagination

    i read some of these reviews, professional and amateur, and they just can’t get away from it, they read like a teacher grading a term paper, just an academic exercise but with some sanctimonious feaux rage thrown in.no wonder, no surprise, no excitement that you get from experiencing something for the first time.that is seriously the most boring and pedanticway to experience something that i could ever imagine.why do it?i have done it both ways and i can say that book amnesia is just such a much better experience.

    Because people need things to complain about. Fortunately, their opinions mean jack shit because the creators are (rightfully) not paying attention to them AT ALL because it’d be crazy to sift through that many thoughts. Maybe next time in a future life, they can get involved in TV production, work their way up, convince a network or studio to give them a bunch of money, and then they can go and make their own favorite book series with as many true-to-canon inconsequential details as they’d like.

  56. Sean
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 5:05 am | Permalink

    Here’s an idea, how about everyone stops being such unappreciative c@#ts and just enjoy what creative people are doing for our entertainment…

  57. WinterRy71
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    So i think the hound vs brienne fight was terribly predictable. As a book reader i totally knew that the hound was going to lose. Why did they have to make it so obvious? Plus they dont even run into each other in the book! D&D are so stupid! stupid stupid!!

    #trolling and lolling

    #just fuckingkidding

    #holdyourfuckin’horses

  58. Turncloak
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Dino and Byron’s finale review is up. Love these guys. A shame they were disappointed by the Tyrion scene being rushed. Just goes to show you that both sullied and unsullied alike had a problem with the way that scene was handled. To all of those defending every single choice the show runners make regarding the show, these reviews are from the perspective of diehard unsullied fans.

    Part 1: http://youtu.be/l-hduuAz8-U
    Part 2: http://youtu.be/mKdnBZ9w4BQ

  59. Valaquen
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    KG:
    Monsters don’t only appear at night, after all.

    Yes, that’s true, I just preferred it when they did, or under some cover of darkness or obfuscation (the rolling mist). Earlier in the episode Jon tells Stannis to burn the bodies, and the spooky wight/White Walker music played. I love that treatment. The tone here was radically different and it surprised me. I could really warm to it on later rewatches.

  60. Greatjon of Slumber
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Tyrion Pimpslap:
    I rewatched the episode last night and really loved it. It is right there with ‘Mockingbird’,Two Swords’, and ‘Watchers On The Wall’ as being a true standout episode for the series. No, I didn’t like the fireballs, and I wish the Jaime-Tyrion scene had more time, but other than that it was top notch.

    Final season 4 episode rankings:

    1. ‘Mockingbird’
    2. ‘The Children’
    3. ‘Two Swords’
    4. ‘The Watchers On The Wall’
    5. ‘The Lion And The Rose’
    6. ‘The Laws Of Gods And Men’
    7. ‘Oathkeeper’
    8. ‘The Mountain And The Viper’
    9. ‘First Of His Name’
    10. ‘Breaker Of Chains’

    Season 4 was the most consistent season yet. Season 1 is still my favorite, as it really rolled in the final 5 episodes. However, season 4 is a close 2nd.

    I liked the fireballs! :)

    And I really do like the ending – the juxtaposition of two of our favorite characters crossing the Narrow Sea in very different circumstances. The grim one, Tyrion, a prisoner of his own creation (and his father’s). And Arya Stark, no longer a prisoner, escaping from the confines of the world that has kept her on the run, and instead alighting for a new world, with hope in her mind.

  61. Wodja
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    gewa76,

    Gandalf coming back is perhaps my favorite chapter in the whole LOTR trilogy. I get teary-eyed every time I read that. LS coming back is a whole different ball-game. It is a major shock but we already see Beric Dondarion being resurected so it’s not as if this whole theme was discarded. I believe LS will happen next season and obviously D&D had their reasons to emit it from the season finale. I just think it could have been such a great scene to end this season with, that to have Arya sail off as the closing shot was kind of… nice? I don’t want nice!!! I want to see unsullied fall off their chairs! This is GoT! If I have any complaints about the supernatural it’s the Bran scene with the skeletons and fireballs. Just felt waaaay too cheesy to me

  62. Wodja
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Sheikh of Asshai,

    We don’t need no education about fireballs in the wall
    Hey! Teacher! Leave that wall alone!

  63. johnnytata
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    gandalf coming back is so incredibly different that to compare the two shows an utter lack of understanding of tolkien.

    gandalf was a demigod who’s death/sacrifice led to elevation to a higher plane of existence, he was destined to return from the creation of tolkien’s universe. to even imply that his rebirth was a plot twist or machination (not saying LS is) is just ridiculous.

  64. Wodja
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    ArgonathofBraavos,

    I love fantasy, myth, etc. I read the books and yet if (at first) I was angry they called the Tv show “Game of thrones” (rather than “A song of ice and fire”) I understood the logic. Like you say, the fantasy elements were handled exceptionally well in the show. The birth of the dragons, the visions, the white walkers, and of course the wall… for the most part were very good. I also understand the lack of red eyes (Mel) and the Targarean eye color being omitted. Those are all logical decisions.
    I didn’t like the ending of season 3 though (the army of white walkers and others was bad CGI in my opinion, except for the mounted ww which was not so much CGI to begin with). I really did not like the fireballs.
    So the thing is (as you reminded us) – fantasy elements are part and parcel of GoT, since it is actually ASOIAF. It all boils down to how is it rendered. I just thought the fireball-skeleton scene was really done badly. Just my opinion.

  65. Nikola S
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    I loved the finale! The best episode of the show so far. Did NOT think Tywin would die! I thought he would make it to the end. But I guess not =D Will be interesting to see how the show will be without him, because in my opinion, the Lannisters are screwed without him.

    WiC crew, dont forget to add the SchmoesKnow review on this weeks video review roundup, they are Unsullied. Link below.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9XZu9cnRyc

  66. Pau Soriano
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Turncloak:
    Dino and Byron’s finale review is up. Love these guys. A shame they were disappointed by the Tyrion scene being rushed. Just goes to show you that both sullied and unsullied alike had a problem with the way that scene was handled. To all of those defending every single choice the show runners make regarding the show, these reviews are from the perspective of diehard unsullied fans.

    Part 1: http://youtu.be/l-hduuAz8-U
    Part 2: http://youtu.be/mKdnBZ9w4BQ

    Spoilers!!

  67. Shady_Grady
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    I thought the confrontation between Tyrion:Tywin was very well done. I didn’t care at all for the Brienne:Sandor fight but the choreography was nice. I wished that the show runners had included a little more of what prompted Tyrion to seek out his father but all in all it was a decent enough finale except for no Lady Stoneheart

    http://www.theurbanpolitico.com/2014/06/hbo-game-of-thrones-season-4-finale.html

  68. AnneMarie Bowman
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Vanity Fair LOVES Game of Thrones, they have 8, count ‘em, 8 stories just about the show (including a re-capper who is a unsullied) just on their Television page:

    http://www.vanityfair.com/vf-hollywood/television

  69. loco73
    Posted June 20, 2014 at 1:25 am | Permalink

    Those comments from the critics are worth about as much as the toilette paper I wipe my arse with…sure it’s quilted and it’s got aloe, looks good and smells good…but at the end of the day it still only serves one purpose, and that purpose is shit!

    Same for these braindead and moronic comments (and that goes not only for the critics).


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