Written Roundup: Season 4, Episode 10 “The Children”

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.


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.