|Season 4, Episode 10|
|Air date||June 15, 2014|
|Written by||David Benioff and D.B. Weiss|
|Directed by||Alex Graves|
"The Watchers on the Wall"
"The Children" is the tenth and final episode of the fourth season of Game of Thrones. It is the fortieth episode of the series overall. It aired on June 15, 2014. It was written by producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and directed by Alex Graves.
At the Wall, and Beyond
Jon Snow emerges from the outer gate of the Wall and begins trudging north through the aftermath of the previous night's battle towards Mance Rayder's war camp. Jon eventually reaches the tree line and is quickly surrounded by wildlings, who bring him before Mance, who notes that he is wearing the black of the Night's Watch again. Mance brings Jon inside his tent, and questions his status as a traitor. Jon confesses that his time spent with the wildlings was all part of a plan orchestrated by Qhorin Halfhand to get Jon to infiltrate Mance's army, and that Qhorin tricked Mance into trusting Jon by allowing Jon to kill Qhorin himself in a fight. Mance asks about Ygritte and Jon reveals that she died at the Battle of Castle Black, though not by his hands. Saddened, Mance proposes that they drink a toast to her memory, but Jon is hesitant when given an unfamiliar drink. Jon accepts after Mance assures him that if he'd wanted to kill Jon, poison would be the least of his worries. Mance then asks about the giant who got through the gate but never came out, and Jon informs Mance that the giant perished attempting to breach the inner gate at the hands of his friend Grenn. Mance ruefully notes that the giant was named Mag the Mighty, and he was "king" of the giants, the last of a bloodline stretching back thousands of years before the First Men entered Westeros, to which Jon then glibly notes that his friend Grenn was from a farm. They have another toast to Mag and Grenn.
Jon then proposes his terms to Mance: Mance is to turn his army around and return home. Mance immediately counters that the Night's Watch is low on oil, arrows, and men, and when he sent his full force against the Wall the Night's Watch threw everything they had at him to repel the attack. Mance guesses there are no more than 50 men left guarding Castle Black, but Jon lies and insists that there are still over 1,000 men defending the garrison. However, Mance calls Jon's bluff and reveals that after seeing how few men were defending Castle Black, he sent 400 men about five miles west to climb an unmanned section of the Wall, and they will attack Castle Black's weak southern side as soon as he gives the order. Mance then changes his demeanor and reveals that his people have suffered enough bloodshed and that he has no intention of conquering the lands south of the Wall; that the wildlings are moving south to seek refuge from the growing threat of the White Walkers just as those south of the Wall are. Mance then makes his counteroffer: if the Night's Watch will open the gates to the wildlings and allow them to pass through the Wall, no more harm will come to the black brothers. However, if his terms are refused, his wildling army will slaughter every last member of the Night's Watch and move south by force.
Mance then notices that Jon is eyeing a cooking knife, and quickly deduces that Jon came to parley with Mance simply so he could assassinate him. He notes that at that moment his personal guards are far enough across the room that Jon might actually be able to kill him before being cut down himself, but that Jon must have known he would die assassinating Mance. Mance is shocked, and questions Jon if this is what the Night's Watch has sunk to: killing a man who let him into his own tent, accepting a parley in good faith, who shared food and drink with him, and who even offered him (relatively) reasonable peace terms. Jon hesitates, but before anyone can make a move, war horns are heard from outside. Mance's guards safely grab Jon during the distraction, and Mance demands to know if the Night's Watch is attacking them, but Jon admits that it's just as Mance said: the Night's Watch doesn't have remotely enough numbers to leave the safety of the Wall and attack.
Columns of heavy horse carrying hundreds of mounted knights charge into the wildling camp carrying the flaming stag banners of House Baratheon of Dragonstone, and are led by none other than Stannis Baratheon and Davos Seaworth. The wildlings are caught in their own camp, resting from the battle the night before and only expecting attacks from the Wall, so their eastern flank is completely undefended. As they are undisciplined and have no experience fighting heavily armored cavalry, they are quickly dispatched by Stannis' riders, who attack the wildling camp from both sides in two separate columns that catch the wildlings in a perfect double envelopment. Quickly cutting the wildling forces down, Stannis and Davos ride up to Mance, who throws down his weapons in surrender, officially ending the wildings' siege of Castle Black.
Davos introduces Stannis as the true king of the Seven Kingdoms, but Mance wryly points out that they are not currently in the Seven Kingdoms. Stannis demands that it is customary to kneel when surrendering to a king. Resignedly, Mance says that the Free Folk do not kneel, knowing that Stannis will kill him if he does not. Davos, however, asks what a man of the Night's Watch is doing in the camp, and Jon explains that he came to treat with the King-Beyond-the-Wall. Jon says that he knows that Stannis is the true king, as his own father died supporting his claim, revealing himself as the bastard son of Eddard Stark. This makes Stannis regard Jon more seriously. Stannis proclaims that Eddard was an honorable man, and asks Jon what Ned would have done with Mance. Jon responds that Mance could have killed him or tortured him when he was his captive but instead he spared his life, so instead of killing Mance he should be taken prisoner and interrogated. Before they leave the wildling camp, Jon also urges Stannis to burn the dead before nightfall.
Back at Castle Black, a funeral is held for the slain members of the Night's Watch, who have arranged in a huge funeral pyre in the castle courtyard. Maester Aemon delivers a eulogy, saying that they died to protect the men, women, and children of the south who will never even know who they were, that it is the duty of the surviving black brothers to keep alive their memory. Aemon closes his speech with the customary line, "and now their watch has ended", which is repeated by the gathered men. Samwell then aids Aemon in setting the pyre alight, which is continued by Jon and other men carrying torches. Stannis and Davos look on, along with Queen Selyse and Princess Shireen. Jon looks across the flames and catches the gaze of Melisandre, who is revealed to be standing on the opposite side of the pyre from Jon, and they stare at each other through the flames. Melisandre seems intrigued, her piercing stare clearly making Jon uneasy.
Afterwards, Jon enters the chamber of the castle where Tormund is being held. Tormund asks why blind old Maester Aemon patched up his arrow wounds, and Jon says that Aemon is sworn to heal all wounded men, friend or foe. Tormund asks if Jon really loved Ygritte, and he admits that he did. Tormund says that Ygritte truly loved him too, and that he knew because although she never admitted it, she talked only of killing him, revealing her true feelings for him (if she hadn't loved him, she wouldn't have been so angered by his betrayal). Saddened, Tormund implores Jon that Ygritte's final resting place should be in "the real north". Jon then takes Ygritte's corpse to the north side of the Wall and builds a funeral pyre for her near a sacred Heart tree. Jon looks at his lover one last time and lights her pyre, and weeps silently as he turns his back and heads home.
Far to the north, Bran Stark and the Reed children continue their journey to find the Three-eyed raven, though they are on the brink of exhaustion. Jojen Reed has grown sick and and he is barely able to stand, eventually collapsing into the snow. As Meera begs Jojen to gather what little strength he can muster to continue forward, Bran calls out to them, revealing that they have found the massive heart tree that Bran has seen in his visions. As they approach the tree, wights burst up from the snow, grabbing Jojen's ankles and attempting to drag him under the ice. These wights appear far older than those seen near the Wall, appearing as ghastly skeletal warriors who move with surprising agility. Meera attempts to defend Jojen from the wights, but they begin to swarm over Hodor, who is too scared to fight back. Bran wargs into Hodor's mind and begins fighting off the wights with the aid of his direwolf Summer, but more wights keep bursting through the ice and they are quickly overwhelmed.
Just as all seems lost, the wights around Bran suddenly burst into fireballs, and he hears a young girl's voice calling to him from a cave entrance at the base of the heart tree. Amidst the confusion Jojen is repeatedly stabbed by a wight before Meera can fight it off. The mysterious girl calls to Meera and says that Jojen is lost and that she must leave him if she wants to live. Meera hesitates, but Jojen himself urges her to save herself. Crying, Meera slits her brother's throat to grant him the mercy of a quick death. Meera runs to the cave entrance along with Bran, Hodor, and Summer while the mysterious child covers their retreat by magically throwing fireballs from her hands at the wights. Just as the life drains from Jojen's eyes, she launches a fireball at his body, immolating his corpse and preventing his return as a wight (and fulfilling Jojen's vision that his death would involve fire).
They run into the cave, pursued by the wights, who instantly shatter upon crossing the threshold of the cave. The little girl explains that the power which animates the dead corpses is powerless inside the cave. When Bran asks who she is, she replies that "the First Men called us 'the Children', but we were born long before them." Bran realizes that she is one of the last surviving members of the Children of the Forest, the original, non-human inhabitants of Westeros who carved the faces into weirwood trees and taught the First Men to worship the Old Gods thousands of years ago.
The child leads them deeper into the cave, which is overgrown with white weirwood roots from the massive tree above. Other Children of the Forest peek out around corners as they advance. Finally, they arrive at a large central chamber, its floor littered with bones. In the middle of the cave is an old man seated in the middle of weirwood roots, which have grown around and even through much of his body. Hodor places Bran on the ground and Bran crawls towards the old man, asking if he is the Three-eyed raven who appeared in his visions. The old man admits that he is, having taken several forms in the past, but his true form is before them now. Meera is upset that her brother died to reach him, but the Three-eyed Raven says that Jojen (who possessed the Greensight, as Bran does) always knew that he would die helping Bran arrive here, but that he came nonetheless. He informs them that he has been watching all of them throughout their entire lives "with a thousand eyes, and one." He continues by stating that Jojen died so that Bran could come here and regain what he has lost. Bran asks if he means he will regain the use of his legs. The Three-eyed raven replies that Bran will never walk again, "but you will fly."
In Slaver's Bay
In Meereen, Queen Daenerys Targaryen sits in her throne room where she is receiving the day's supplicants. An old man named Fennesz approaches the throne, first speaking in High Valyrian but then revealing that he also knows the Common Tongue. Fennesz explains that he was not one of the slaves who toiled away at manual labor, but a well-educated teacher and servant to Master Mighdal, who employed him as a teacher for his own children. He tells Daenarys that Master Mighdal's seven year old daughter Calla admires Daenerys, having learned of the Targaryen dynasty through Fennesz's teachings.
As a servant of Master Mighdal, Fennesz was well-treated and even well-respected in the household, but when Daenerys forcibly freed all of the slaves in the city she did not understand the full-scale complications of suddenly having to care for so many people. Fennesz originally stayed in Master Mighdal's house after she took the city, and Mighdal's children begged him to stay, but Mighdhal and Fennesz agreed that he must leave rather than face reprisals, forcing Fennesz to become homeless. Daenerys insists that she had established mess halls to feed the freed slaves and barracks to house them. Fennez says that he has visited these refugee centers and they are not very safe: the young prey on the old, harassing and robbing them. Daenerys insists that her Unsullied will restore order, but Fennesz points out that even assuming that they are able to ensure his physical safety, he has lost his livelihood and his purpose and is too old to start anew. Therefore, he has come to Daenerys to beg her permission to sell himself back to Mighdal. She is shocked that he would want to be a owned as a slave again, as a man might own a goat or a chair. He implores her that the young who can adapt rejoice in her new world, but for those too old to change, there is only fear and squalor. Nor, he says, is he alone: there are many supplicants waiting outside lining up to make similar requests.
Daenerys is crestfallen, and says she did not liberate the slaves of Meereen only to preside over the very injustice she sought to destroy, but surprisingly relents and admits that freedom means making one's own choices. Therefore she will allow Fennesz to enter into a labor contract with Mighdal, but lasting no more than one year. He earnestly thanks her, and leaves. Ser Barristan Selmy warns Daenerys that the masters will assuredly take advantage of this, quickly making "contracts" with all of the displaced former slaves until they are all slaves again in all but name.
The next supplicant then enters, a shepherd carrying a bundle in his arms similar to past herdsman have come to show the bones of their livestock which Daenerys's dragons burned in order to be reimbursed. The shepherd timidly approaches and states that he is unable to speak in the common tongue and requires Missandei to translate. Distraught, he tells Daenarys that the "winged shadow" came, placing the bundle on the ground and opening it to reveal charred bones - of a human child. Daenerys's largest dragon, the black one named Drogon, has roasted the man's three year old daughter Zalla until this is all that was left of her. Horrified, Daenerys meets with Missandei and Grey Worm in private to discuss how to deal with the growing threat the dragons are posing to the people of Meereen. Grey Worm reports that Drogon was last seen flying over the black cliffs three days ago, but he can no longer be found. Realizing that she can no longer control her dragons, Daenerys tells them to head with her to the catacombs under the city. Later, she leads her remaining two dragons, Rhaegal and Viserion, into the catacombs, where they are distracted by sheep carcasses. As they are feeding, Daenerys personally locks huge iron collars around their necks, which are secured by heavy chains. She weeps as she does so, as it is symbolically reducing her remaining "children" to chained-up slaves themselves. Daenerys wordlessly leaves and closes the huge stone door to the catacombs behind her as her dragons grow distressed and pathetically call after her when they attempt to follow and realize they are chained in place.
In the Seven Kingdoms
In Grand Maester Pycelle's laboratory in King's Landing, Cersei, Pycelle, and Qyburn stand over Ser Gregor Clegane, who lies immobilized on a flat wooden table and is revealed to be suffering from a massive wound centered around his right side. Pycelle informs Cersei that Oberyn Martell had coated his spear with manticore venom, poisoning Ser Gregor. The effects are horrific, with Gregor's wounds putrefying and creating a terrible stench. Pycelle says that he is beyond any hope of recovery, but Qyburn insists to Cersei that he can save him using more unorthodox methods. Pycelle chaffes at his suggestion, stating that he is not even a maester, and that such arrogance is what led to Qyburn's expulsion from the Citadel in the first place, for experiments that were deemed both dangerous and "unnatural". Cersei, determined to save Gregor from death, dismisses Pycelle and orders Qyburn to do whatever is necessary, infuriating Pycelle, who angrily shuffles out of the laboratory. She asks if Qyburn if his treatment will work, and Qyburn claims that if his past work is any indicator, he stands a chance at saving Gregor. Qyburn states that the process will "change" him, although Cersei seems only concerned with whether it will weaken him, to which Qyburn replies "Oh no."
Cersei approaches Tywin and insists that she will not submit to a forced marriage to Ser Loras Tyrell. He attempts to dismiss the subject by stating that that the matter is closed, but she relents and says that it is not just because she does not love Loras: he wants to ship her off to Highgarden and remove her from the court entirely, keeping her away from her last remaining son. With Cersei out of the picture, both Margaery and Tywin will attempt to get their claws into Tommen, each trying to manipulate him into their allegiance. Tywin refuses to budge so Cersei plays her trump card: she threatens to destroy House Lannister by telling everyone the truth. Tywin seems confused, and at first Cersei scoffs that he is merely feigning ignorance. With growing realization, she assesses that even the brilliant Tywin Lannister never noticed what was going on between his own children, when all it would have taken was one attentive moment in the past twenty years. Tywin is still apparently confused, so with a merciless grin Cersei reveals that all of the rumors about her and Jaime (and their children) are true--she will tell everyone and destroy Tywin's vaunted family legacy. Tywin shakes with barely constrained rage, but in denial he accuses that Cersei is simply lying to anger him. Cersei says she doubts he truly thinks that and leaves him standing in his chamber alone.
Cersei finds Jaime in the White Sword Tower, and he expresses disgust at her blatant attempts to have Tyrion killed. Cersei accuses that Tyrion killed their mother when she gave birth to him. Jaime is surprised that she still irrationally blames him for that, pointing out that he was an infant and had no control over what happened. He insists that Tyrion is her family whether she chooses to accept it or not. She rebukes his claim, saying he is not her family and that they all have a choice, and that she chooses Jaime. She then reveals that she has spilled their secret to Tywin. He is stunned by her actions, asking how Tywin reacted to the news but she states that she does not want to discuss their father. She begins to seduce him, saying she chooses her brother over everyone else in the world, no longer concerned with whether everyone else knows their secret. He yields to her advances, kissing her passionately and throwing her on the table where they begin to have sex.
In the middle of the night, Tyrion is awoken in his cell to by the sound of his cell door being opened by Jaime, who reveals that he has orchestrated an escape plan for Tyrion with the assistance of Varys, who has secured a galley in the harbor on which Tyrion can sneak out of the city and flee to the Free Cities. He leads Tyrion to a stairway leading up to a locked door, instructing Tyrion to knock on it twice and then twice more to summon Varys, who will lead him to the ship. Before they part ways, Tyrion and Jaime share a tender embrace and say their goodbyes, unsure if either will ever see each other again.
Tyrion, alone, stares at the door at the top of the staircase, ultimately deciding to use the secret passages of the Red Keep to infiltrate the Tower of the Hand. He enters the Hand of the King's quarters, and sees a woman lying in Tywin's bed, with Tywin's clothes folded up on a chair. As he draws closer he sees that the woman is Shae, who thinks it is Tywin and calls out for him, calling him "my lion" as she had once done to Tyrion. When she turns over and sees that it is Tyrion, looking utterly betrayed, she grabs a knife to defend herself. Tyrion could retreat but instead he rushes forward onto the bed to wrestle it from her grasp. Tyrion manages to knock the knife from her hands and the two continue to struggle violently until Tyrion manages to grab the necklace around her throat and strangle her with it. He continues to strangle her long after she has stopped resisting, until she is dead. He sinks to the floor and sits next to Shae's lifeless body, weeping, and tells her he's sorry. He stares at the wall across the room and sees several weapons on display, among them Joffrey's old crossbow, and his expression quickly darkens.
Tyrion takes the crossbow down from the wall and loads it, and heads down the hall to the privy, opening the door to find his father seated upon the toilet. Tywin seems surprised to see Tyrion, but quickly regains composure and asks Tyrion to lower the crossbow. He correctly deduces that Jaime helped Tyrion escape his cell, telling Tyrion that they can discuss the matter back in Tywin's chambers. However, when he attempts to stand, Tyrion steadies the crossbow, stopping him dead in his tracks. "All my life you've wanted me dead," Tyrion states, and Tywin acknowledges the validity of his claim. He attempts to defuse the situation by telling Tyrion that despite this, Tyrion has stubbornly clung to life, which Tywin states he finds admirable and insists that he was never going to have Tyrion actually killed. Tyrion admits that he just murdered Shae with his bare hands, but Tywin scoffs that it doesn't matter as she was nothing more than a whore. Tyrion is angered by Twyin's indifference and raises the crossbow, threatening that if his father says the word "whore" one more time he will kill him. Tywin balks that Tyrion won't kill his own father in the privy, and again tries to convince Tyrion that they should continue to discuss this in his chambers. Tyrion says he cannot go back to Tywin's chambers because Shae's body is still there. Tywin dares Tyrion by calling his bluff and mocking him by saying "because you're afraid of a dead whore?"
Tyrion was not bluffing. The moment Tywin utters the word "whore" again, Tyrion looses his crossbow bolt, hitting Tywin in the belly and knocking him backwards. Tywin is incredulous that Tyrion actually had the courage to fight back against him, and that he will die in such an undignified way at the hands of his hated dwarf son. As Tyrion reloads the crossbow, Tywin angrily declares that Tyrion is no son of his. "I am your son," Tyrion replies quietly, "I have always been your son," and fires a second bolt into Tywin's heart, killing him. Tyrion discards the crossbow as he leaves to find Varys, who immediately realizes Tyrion has done something terrible, exclaiming "What have you done?" Nonetheless, he leads Tyrion out of the castle to the docks where Tyrion is stowed away inconspicuously in a crate aboard the ship. Varys begins walking back towards the Red Keep but stops when he hears the bells begin to toll, signaling the discovery of Tywin's body. Realizing that returning to the castle is likely unsafe, Varys turns around and heads back for the ship, sitting next to Tyrion's crate in silence as they cast off for Essos.
In the Vale, Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne are heading towards the Bloody Gate when they happen upon Arya Stark practicing her water dancing while Sandor Clegane is off relieving himself, both returning from the Eyrie after receiving words of Lysa Arryn's death. Brienne and Arya converse for a moment, both showing respect for one another as they are both women who have fought against what has been expected of them their entire lives. They are interrupted by the return of the Hound, who is immediately recognized by Podrick, causing Brienne to realize that the girl is Arya. Brienne tells Arya of her sacred vow to protect her mother, although she failed to do so because she was sent by her mother to return Jaime Lannister. The Hound immediately accuses Brienne of working for the Lannisters, noticing her Valyrian steel sword Oathkeeper, which Brienne admits was given to her by Jaime, frightening Arya into thinking that Brienne is working for the Lannisters (not realizing how much of a change of heart Jaime has had). Brienne implores Arya to come with her to safety, causing the Hound to mock Brienne, pointing out that there is no "safety" for Arya anymore: her aunt Lysa Arryn in the Eyrie--whom Brienne and Podrick are seeking out--is dead, as are her father, mother, and older brother, while the Stark armies are scattered and Winterfell is a smoking ruin. They draw swords and begin fighting, both eventually disarming each other and resorting to brutally fighting each other in hand-to-hand combat. Ultimately, Brienne gains the upper hand (by biting off a chunk of Sandor's ear) and knocks him down a cliff side. Brienne goes to search for Arya, who slipped away during the melee and has hidden herself amongst the rock formations. As Brienne and Podrick search the surrounding area for Arya in vain, Arya makes her way down the cliff side to find the Hound badly wounded. He tells her that unless there is a maester miraculously on hand to tend to his wounds, he's finished. Sandor tells her to kill him and scratch another name off her list, but she just sits and stares at him silently. He grows angry and begins recounting running down the butcher's boy and how he should have raped Sansa in King's Landing in an attempt to goad Arya into killing him in anger, but she remains silent. Sandor finally begs her to kill him and put him out of his misery, but she quietly refuses and takes his money purse, leaving him screaming at her to kill him as she silently walks away.
Arya rides a horse to the nearby coast of the Vale, where she sees a wharf with ships docked. She approaches a captain and asks if she can pay for travel to the North, but he says that they won't go there because these days the North is full of war, cold, and pirates. Instead, the ship is going "home": to the Free City of Braavos. Arya remembers the special coin that the Faceless Man known as Jaqen H'ghar gave her, and instructed her to present to any man from Braavos if she needed aid. She does so now, and the captain is utterly surprised at how she obtained it, but she says only "Valar morghulis" (as Jaqen instructed), to which the captain gives the response line "Valar dohaeris". He warmly welcomes her aboard the ship, and insists that she will have her own cabin. As the ship casts off, Arya stands aboard the ship and watches as the shore of Westeros shrinks further and further away. She then moves to the prow of the ship, looking forward across the Narrow Sea in the direction of the Free Cities and Braavos.
- Three-eyed raven (as played by Struan Rodger)
- Ternesio Terys
- Child of fhe Forest
18 of 26 cast members for the fourth season appear in this episode.
- Starring cast members Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell), Aidan Gillen (Petyr Baelish), Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), Hannah Murray (Gilly), Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Bolton), Jerome Flynn (Bronn), and Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont) are not credited and do not appear in this episode.
- This episode includes the final appearance of Rose Leslie (Ygritte), Josef Altin (Pypar), and Mark Stanley (Grenn): all three characters died last episode, but each of the three actors returned as their corpses in this episode as they were burned on funeral pyres.
- HBO confirmed in a press release that this episode was extended to a 66 minute runtime, making it the longest episode of the series to date (beating out the previous record holder by 2 minutes).
- This episode aired on Father's Day 2014.
- This episode marks the death of Tywin Lannister, shot with a crossbow as he was sitting on the privy, by his own son Tyrion.
- The song that plays in the background as Tywin is murdered is The Rains of Castamere. This provides the scene with an ironic motif, as the song about Tywin Lannister's victory over the Reynes plays as he is killed in a humiliating manner: being shot while on the toilet.
- The episode's title appears to derive from the conflicts between children and their parents or guardians that are central to the plot: Tywin's with Cersei and Tyrion, Daenerys with her dragons, and Arya's with the Hound. It also has a double meaning, since the Children of the Forest (referred to as simply the Children) make their debut.
- Davos previously explained to the Iron Bank of Braavos in "The Laws of Gods and Men" that House Lannister would continue to maintain strong control of the Seven Kingdoms so long as Tywin Lannister was alive and serving as Hand of the King (and with his grandson Tommen as a pliable boy-king, Tywin was king in all but name), but that Tywin had no immediate successor who would carry on his strong rule. Queen Cersei's own subjects openly despise her, Jaime is resented as "the Kingslayer", and Tommen is an inexperienced little boy, widely believed to be a product of incest. Tyrion is very capable but Tywin disowned him. Even Jaime pointed out to Tywin in the same episode that despite his fixation on "family legacy" (as some sort of abstraction), Tywin had abused and alienated all of his children to the point that none of them could fill his leadership position when he died. Tywin was the only one holding House Lannister together, as a political faction. Simply asking the Iron Bank what they thought the Lannisters' prospects were once Tywin was dead was enough for Davos to convince the bank to extend a new loan to Stannis as a potential future alternative.
- This episode marks the introduction of the Children of the Forest, the non-human original inhabitants of Westeros. While the animated "Histories and Lore" featurettes that appear on the Blu-ray sets have given detailed explanations of who they were, in the TV series proper they were only mentioned once before, in Season 2 episode 3, "What is Dead May Never Die".
- Bran first saw the large weirwood heart tree atop the entrance to the Cave of the three-eyed raven in his Greensight vision which occurred back in "The Lion and the Rose".
- Pycelle states that Oberyn poisoned Gregor Clegane by coating the blade of his spear with manticore venom. A manticore is the large, scorpion-like insect that the Warlocks of Qarth attempted to assassinate Daenerys with in the Season 3 premiere, "Valar Dohaeris". Their venom is one of the most deadly poisons in the known world. Tywin previously remarked in "Breaker of Chains" that Oberyn studied poisons at the Citadel (and learned more about poisons during his adventures in Essos), and is very knowledgeable about their creation and use. Just prior to the trial by combat in "The Mountain and the Viper", Oberyn's squire can be seen wiping the blades of his spears with a cloth - likely coated in manticore venom. Although not stated explicitly in the series, Oberyn's penchant for coating his weapons in lethal poisons is specifically why he was called the "Red Viper of Dorne".
- This also provides some explanation for why Oberyn didn't simply kill Gregor immediately once he knocked him to the ground during their duel: he never intended to give the man who raped and murdered his sister the mercy of a quick death, even before the duel began. Oberyn wanted to ensure that Gregor would have a long, drawn-out death in utter agony.
- Pycelle mentions that extracted manticore venom is famously "of Mantari origin". This marks the first mention of Mantarys in the series, a city located east of the Free Cities but west of Slaver's Bay, on the direct land route between the two regions. Few actually take this overland route, however, calling it the "Demon Road". Mantarys has a very sinister repute and is considered a city of monsters, assassins, and poisoners.
- While Cersei and Pycelle are covering their faces with handkerchiefs due to the overpowering stench from Gregor's putrefying wounds, notice that Qyburn is standing even closer than them (even leaning right over Gregor for a better look) but he doesn't share the same reaction. This seems to be a subtle hint that Qyburn's years of unethical medical experiments on living people (including vivisection) have made him unusually accustomed to the smells of death and rotting flesh.
- This episode marks the first time in which the title of the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms is exactly the same as in the books: Daenerys is referred to by Missandei as "Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men". Until this episode the title didn't include the mention of the Rhoynar people, whose legacy lives on in the Dornishmen.
- This episode actually marks the first time that the name of any one of Daenerys's three Dragons has been mentioned on screen: the black one, the largest, is referred to in dialogue as "Drogon". Daenerys named him after her late husband, Khal Drogo. The names of the other two still have not been mentioned: from the books, it is known that the green one is named Rhaegal (for Daenerys's oldest brother, Rhaegar) and the white/cream one is named Viserion (for her brother, Viserys). The writers have mentioned in various interviews since Season 2 began that the dragons in the TV continuity have the same names as in the books, they just couldn't find an opportunity to smoothly work them into dialogue, short of Daenerys giving a long expository speech directly at the camera explaining what all three of their names are.
- The show does not appear to be keeping track of Cersei Lannister's age. Tywin makes an off-hand remark that he left Casterly Rock to serve as Hand for the Mad King when she was 9 years old. It has also been stated that Tywin served as Aerys II Targaryen's hand for about twenty years, and also that Cersei was about 17 when Robert's Rebellion began. Logically, Cersei and Jaime could only have been born around the time that Tywin became Hand to Aerys II. Tywin became Hand not long after crushing the Reyne Rebellion, which impressed Aerys II. In Season 3, Cersei also stated that - implausibly - she remembered the Reyne Rebellion as a little girl. See the "Lannister ages" section of the "Timeline" page.
- Though it is possible to reconcile this by interpreting that this was just one specific time when Tywin was visiting Casterly Rock, and Cersei was begging to return with him to King's Landing. Tywin was Hand for twenty years, but he still made sporadic visits to his home castle during that time.
- Rory McCann (who plays the Hound) explained in the behind-the-scenes video for this episode that his fight scene with Gwendoline Christie (Brienne) was filmed on-location in Iceland, thus the rocky ground they are knocking each other onto is actual stone - and volcanic rock, which is very hard and very sharp. Therefore they frequently came close to seriously injuring themselves during the fight sequence.
- When Sandor "cunt punts" Brienne (in retaliation for her punching him in the crotch) the production team didn't want it to look fake by having McCann simply pretend to kick her. To solve this, they tied a belt between Christie's knees (hidden by her clothing and the camera angle). McCann could therefore kick the belt at full force, without actually hurting Christie.
- In this episode, Arya finally uses the special coin that Jaqen H'ghar gave her in Season 2 episode 10 "Valar Morghulis", as he indicated: she gives the coin to a Braavosi and says "Valar morghulis". She gets the formal response "Valar dohaeris" and is offered transport to Braavos.
- Each column of Stannis's host can be seen to number roughly 1,650 riders (33 formations of roughly 50 riders each), making a total of 3,300 men. Since Stannis said to Tycho Nestoris he commanded 4,000 men, this means he didn't buy the services of the Golden Company (10,000 men) nor of any other sellsword company but instead likely bought horses, weaponry, supplies, and transport to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea (specifically, re-hiring Salladhor Saan's sellsail fleet).
- In the TV series so far, as in the books, undead wights have been presented as fairly slow-moving, zombie-like creatures. The wights that attack Bran's group in this episode are quite fast, and have rotted to the point that they are little more than skeletons. Director Alex Graves confirmed in a subsequent interview that this was indeed an homage to special effects legend Ray Harryhausen's famous stop-motion skeleton warriors fight scene in the 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts. Graves stated that the homage was his suggestion, which Benioff and Weiss then agreed to. Graves said:
- "When I read the outline, I called David and Dan, I went straight to Hollywood and met them and I said, 'Are we talking about the zombie guys that we've been doing or could these guys be viciously dangerous?’ They said, 'Oh, yeah, that would be great.' So they go across this snow plain and skeletons start to come out of the snow, à la Ray Harryhausen, who we sort of privately dedicated the sequence to. They come out of the snow at 90 miles per hour, and they are there to kill Brandon and Jojen before they get there, and they've been waiting for like a thousand years. Nobody knew about the sequence and it [wasn't] in any of the marketing, which is the most brilliant marketing move I've seen."
- There appears to be a camera continuity error when Jojen dies: Meera knocks him on his back to push him out of the way of an attacking wight. In the next shot, Joren is not on his back but is facing downwards, and yells to Bran "Save yourself!" The camera cuts to Bran and then back to Jojen, who is now on his back again, and gets stabbed in the chest repeatedly by another wight that pops up next to him. It is possible that the shot of Jojen shouting "Save yourself!" was originally from the beginning of the scene, when a wight grabs Jojen by the ankle and he falls forwards, but the shot was then moved later in the sequence for pacing reasons. Then again, a point made earlier in the season is that Jojen has grown very feverish and physically weak (the books imply that he is so sick that he will die soon), so it is possible to say that in the brief moment when the camera cuts to Bran, Jojen tried to get up, but then fell back down facing in the other direction, because he is exhausted from being so feverish.
- The crate that Varys hides Tyrion in on the ship at the end of the episode seems to be the same one that Varys used in Season 3 episode 4 "And Now His Watch is Ended", to imprison the elderly Sorcerer who castrated him as a youth, but whom Varys's agents had captured and shipped to King's Landing. It is about the same size and has air-holes in it. Though even if it is the same prop, it isn't clear if it is meant to be the same create in-universe: on the set, the Game of Thrones production team may have already had a man-sized crate with air holes in it, so they simply re-used it; in-universe, it's possible that because Varys already had a man-sized crate, he simply re-used it.
- Tywin's death was foreshadowed two episodes ago in "The Mountain and the Viper", when Littlefinger tried to assuage Robin Arryn's fears about leaving the safety of his home castle, by pointing out that people die all the time even when there is no apparent danger - and then Baelish remarks that people even die on their chamber pots. If you haven't read the books, and were watching this episode with someone who has read the books already, this is why they seemed to find Littlefinger's remark disproportionately funny.
- Littlefinger also said that people die in their beds and at their dinner tables. Ultimately this also foreshadowed Shae's death (in Tywin's bed), while calling back to how earlier this season Joffrey was poisoned to death at the feast table during his own wedding.
- When the Targaryen kings built the Red Keep, they had it honeycombed with numerous secret passages - partially as escape routes, but primarily so they could spy on their own courtiers. As the royal spymaster, Varys and his agents have made extensive use of these. Note that the tunnel Tyrion exists from runs directly through the main chamber of the Hand of the King - explaining how Varys apparently knew details of private conversations that Eddard Stark had there with Cersei and Littlefinger in Season 1. In Season 2's "What is Dead May Never Die", Tyrion was in the Hand's chambers when he told the three Small Council members contradictory reports about who he intended to marry Princess Myrcella to, in order to determine which of them was Cersei's spy (in order, he told Pycelle, then Varys, then Littlefinger). Notice that when Tyrion talked to Varys, he seemed visibly confused that Tyrion wasn't telling him the same plan he previously told Pycelle, strongly implying that Varys's agents had been spying on the earlier conversation using the secret tunnels.
- In the books, Tyrion has only heard rumors about the hidden passages, so when he is being rescued he has to be shown the correct path through the maze of secret tunnels: Jaime led Tyrion immediately to Varys, but when Tyrion realizes they are passing under the Tower of the Hand he tells Varys to wait while he heads above. He then makes Varys give him explicit instructions on what path to take to get to the Hand's chambers. In the TV series, Jaime leaves Tyrion while still in the tunnels, and tells him to keep going until he finds the door Varys is waiting at, but Tyrion then detours to head up to the Tower of the Hand - without a clear explanation of how Tyrion could have known the correct way up through the secret passages from the dungeon level to the top of the tower. Then again, the TV series introduced an invented scene in Season 3's "Blackwater" in which prior to the siege of the city, Varys gives Tyrion a map of secret tunnels (said to extend throughout the city) in case they lose the battle and he needs to escape. Therefore, the apparent explanation is that Tyrion simply has greater knowledge of the secret passages in the TV continuity, given that Varys explicitly gave him a detailed map of them earlier.
- Cersei's seduction of Jaime in this episode, as he resists insisting that they are in danger of being discovered where they are, is apparently meant to parallel the earlier scene in Season 4 episode 3 "Breaker of Chains" in which their roles were reversed: in that instance, it was Jaime who was sexually advancing on Cersei, and Cersei who was worried that they would be discovered in such a public place.
- Shae's gold necklace, which Tyrion strangles her with, is the same one that he gave her in Season 3 episode 7, "The Bear and the Maiden Fair". In the books the necklace she was wearing, which he strangled her with, was the gold chain made up of interlocking hand designs, used as a symbol of office by the Hand of the King. Tyrion was seen wearing this in Season 3's "Blackwater". Subsequently Tywin assumed the office so the gold hands chain passed to him. This was the equivalent of finding Shae in his father's bed, wearing a necklace with his father's personal sigil on it.
- A point made in the books is that Tywin has drilled into his children the philosophy that they should never make a threat unless they seriously intend to follow through on it. The TV series has alluded to this, such as earlier this season in "The Lion and the Rose" when Varys points out that Tywin threatened to hang the next whore he found in Tyrion's bed, and that Tyrion knows his father never makes idle threats. When Tyrion confronts Tywin with a crossbow, however, and threatens to kill him if he says the word "whore" again, Tywin apparently underestimated just how deeply he had ingrained this lesson into his children. Tywin still thinks he's bluffing - despite the fact that he's the same man who specifically stressed to his son that he should never to make an idle threat.
Tywin and Tyrion's closing scene
Tywin's death in the series, and Tyrion's motivation for killing him, are drastically different from in the books:
- In the books, as Jaime is saying goodbye to Tyrion in the tunnels under the Red Keep, he is overcome by guilt, and reveals to Tyrion a secret he has kept for years: one of the formative events in Tyrion's life and his relationship with his father was his first marriage, to a girl named Tysha. Tyrion and Jaime were out riding and the girl was being attacked by rapers, they saved her, and while Jaime went after the bandits she commiserated with Tyrion and ultimately had sex with him. In love with a girl who didn't seem to mind his stunted dwarf body, he bribed a drunken septon to marry them in secret, and for about two weeks they played at being man and wife - until the septon sobered up and confessed what happened to Tywin. Furious, Tywin had Tyrion brought before him, and explained that the whole thing was a sham: Jaime had wanted to do something nice for Tyrion and felt it was time he had a woman, so he set up the whole thing. Tysha was really a whore he hired, and the alleged "bandits" were simply some men he had paid off, because he had wanted Tyrion to think that a girl really did love him. Tywin forced Jaime to confess all of this, then had Tysha brought in. Tywin proceeded to give Tysha over to his guards, who gang-raped her, while forcing Tyrion to watch. Jaime finally reveals, however, that he did not set up the whole thing. In truth, after Tywin found out that Tyrion had eloped with a commoner, he physically threatened Jaime and made him tell Tyrion that he had hired the bandits, and that Tysha was just a whore he hired. In reality, the bandits were actual bandits, and Tysha wasn't a whore, but truly loved Tyrion and their marriage was entirely genuine. Tywin had the innocent girl gang-raped for no greater reason than loving his ugly son, and because he enjoyed tormenting Tyrion as petty revenge for his wife Joanna dying giving birth to him. On top of this, Tywin tricked Tyrion into thinking that Tysha had never loved him in the first place, so that he could not even enjoy the memory of her. Regarding this as the ultimate betrayal, Tyrion then snuck into the Tower of the Hand. He did strangle Shae to death, but her betrayal wasn't what motivated him to outright want to murder Tywin.
- The TV writers in the In-Episode Guide say that Tywin was genuinely trying to kill Tyrion, and was trying to lie his way to safety when he said he wasn't really going to execute him. Tywin may have been earnest about letting him join the Night's Watch before, but after embarrassing Tywin by demanding a trial by combat his patience with Tyrion had worn out. In the books, it is very ambiguous whether he was lying or not - if only because it would be seen as embarrassing for any Lannister to be executed. Simply killing Tyrion was never really the goal of Tywin all of these years: he always pontificated about how he brutalized Tyrion because he was a shame to the family, when deep down Tywin simply had an irrational hatred for Tyrion since Joanna died giving birth to him. For this one brief, clear moment, this mask falls away and Tywin's deeper motivations become clear: he has a childlike need for inflicting petty humiliations on Tyrion, which have become an end unto themselves. Killing Tyrion would only free him from this torment.
- Thus when Tyrion confronts Tywin on the privy, he arguably believed him when he said he was never really going to execute Tyrion - that isn't why Tyrion was really confronting him. Tyrion demanded to know what Tywin had done with his wife Tysha. Tywin said he honestly couldn't remember, though he left the girl alive and sent her on her way. When Tyrion asked where, Tywin assessed that Tyrion had been bluffing when he said he would kill Tywin if he said the word "whore" again. So deliberately, mockingly, he responded "Wherever whores go"...thinking that Tyrion had made an empty threat, and calling his bluff like this would re-assert his dominance over him. Tywin didn't realize that Tyrion was so enraged that he would actually fight back against his father. Tywin is shot through the bowels, only once. The arrow ruptures his intestines and feces pour out of the wound, causing Tywin to die slowly and in agony. After Tywin dies he voids his bowels, making it a very ignominious death.
- The TV version omits Tysha entirely. Curiously, the TV series set up Tysha when Tyrion explained the story of his first marriage to Bronn and Shae in the Season 1 episode "Baelor". She was referred to again in Seasons 2 and 3, yet she was ignored when her role in Tyrion's past became the most crucial.
- Furthermore, in the books Shae makes no attempt to resist Tyrion, but pleads for her life as he strangles her to death in a fit of rage. The TV version has her reach for a fruit knife - possibly to make Tyrion's strangulation of her a bit more sympathetic by giving it shades of self-defense - though Tyrion is standing away from the bed and it is he who has to charge Shae, and in the end he still strangles her long after she stops resisting. Regardless, even in the TV version Tyrion bluntly describes that he "murdered" Shae with his bare hands, so TV-Tyrion certainly didn't think of it as self-defense.
- Westeros.org's Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson, who co-wrote the World of Ice and Fire worldbook with George R.R. Martin, were deeply confused in their analysis of the episode why Benioff and Weiss chose to change such an iconic scene, drastically altering Tyrion's motivation for finally killing Tywin. Their review said that the change "defies easy reasoning". In Westeros.org's video-review of the episode. Elio went on to say (in the comments section) that "It removes a great deal of the pathos and tragedy. Some is there still, of course, but it's significantly less powerful than it could have been. Shae, in particular, more than anything."
- Perhaps most bizarre of all, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly after the finale (titled "George R.R. Martin explains that murderous finale scene"), author George R.R. Martin was asked to explain Tyrion's motivations in going up to the tower in the middle of his escape and killing Shae and Tywin. Martin then proceeded to describe the book-version of these events, apparently unaware that the TV series version had drastically changed them to include no mention of Tysha:
- Question: "So when Tyrion goes up to confront his father, what is he thinking he's going to do? Just have a conversation with him?"
- GRRM: "I don't think he’s thinking about it at that point. He's at the nadir here. He's lost everything....Now he’s lost all of that and he’s also found out that Jaime — the one blood relation that he loved unreservedly and has his back, and was always on his side — played a part in this traumatic event of his life, the ultimate betrayal...He's furious at Lord Tywin because he found out the truth about his first wife [Tysha] and what happened to her, and Tywin keeps calling her a whore — which she is by Lord Tywin's logic. Lord Tywin is convinced that since he doesn’t love Tyrion, then no one can possibly love Tyrion. So it's obviously some lower-class girl who's just trying to get the dwarf into bed because he was a Lannister, so she could become a lady and have money and live in a castle and all that. So basically the equivalent of being a whore — she's just fucking him for possession of status and he's trying to teach Tyrion a lesson in that regard. And so he keeps using the word 'whore' which is like pouring salt into his wound, and Tyrion tells him not to do that, don’t say that word again. And he says that word again and at that moment, Tyrion’s finger just pushes on the trigger."
- This implies the startling possibility that Benioff and Weiss simply didn't tell Martin that they had so drastically altered the reasons behind Tyrion's murder of Tywin. Either that, or even when Martin was directly asked "why did Tyrion kill Tywin in the TV series's season finale?", he disagreed so strongly with the change that he refused to acknowledge it by proceeding to describe Tywin's death as it occurred in the books.
- At the Game of Thrones panel at San Diego Comic Con 2014, Benioff and Weiss explained the omission was because it would have necessitated a flashback scene to refresh, but they did not have the time or room to do a flashback.  Keep in mind that in "The Mountain and the Viper", four full minutes were devoted to the invented scene in which Tyrion discusses how his halfwit cousin smashed beetles. Elio Garcia himself, in the Westeros.org review, pointed out in anticipation of a "time constraints" justification by the writers, that they could have easily taken 30 seconds out of that speech for Tyrion to reminisce that this isn't the first time he fell in love with a whore, recall Tysha, and then for Jaime to look really guilty.
Three-eyed raven (to Bran Stark): "You will never walk again, but you will fly."
Maester Aemon: "They came to us from White Harbor and Barrowton, from Fairmarket and King's Landing. From north and south, from east and west. They died protecting men, women, and children who will never know their names. It is for us to remember our brothers. We shall never see their like again."
Black brothers: "And now their watch is ended."
Maester Aemon: "And now their watch is ended."
Sandor Clegane: "Fancy sword you got there, where you get it? I've been looking at Lannister gold all my life; go on Brienne of fucking Tarth, tell me that's not Lannister gold."
In the books
- The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Storm of Swords:
- Chapter 73, Jon X: Jon meets with Mance Rayder in his tent to negotiate while Stannis and his bannerman arrive at the wall and take Mance captive.
- Chapter 74, Arya XIII: Arya leaves the Hound to die and makes her way to the Titan's daughter with Braavos as its destination. When she asks for a cabin, the captain refuses, but Arya then presents the coin she got from Jaqen H'ghar and says "Valar Morghulis", which grants her a cabin and passage onboard.
- Chapter 76, Jon XI: Stannis tells Jon that he believes Ned Stark was a man of honor and Jon meets Melisandre at Castle Black.
- Chapter 77, Tyrion XI: Tyrion is saved by Jaime who leads him out of the black cells to the stairs that will take him to Varys and they say goodbye. However, Tyrion decides to go to the Tower of the Hand to encounter his father Tywin before leaving and he finds Shae in Tywin's bed. Tyrion in rage strangles Shae and then goes to find Tywin on the privy and shoots him with a crossbow after much confrontation.
- The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Feast for Crows:
- Chapter 7, Cersei II: Cersei consents Qyburn to treat Gregor Clegane.
- The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Dance with Dragons:
- Chapter 2, Daenerys I: Daenerys learns that one of her dragons killed a child when a shepherd empties out a sack of burnt bones on the floor.
- Chapter 11, Daenerys II: Daenerys decides to chain up two of her dragons Rhaegal and Viserion, but Drogon was unable to be taken and was last seen flying somewhere north of Slaver's Bay to the Dothraki Sea.
- Chapter 13, Bran II: Bran, Jojen, Meera, Hodor, and Summer encounter a child of the forest, after being attacked by dead men emerging from the snow. Bran wargs into Hodor to fight some of the dead men off, before being dragged into the cave of the three-eyed crow. Bran then meets the three-eyed crow, who has been watching over him for quite some time.
- ↑ 
- ↑ 
- ↑ MakingGameOfThrones.com Rory McCann interview
- ↑ 
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- ↑ 'Game of Thrones': George R.R. Martin explains that murderous finale scene.
- ↑ http://www.vulture.com/2014/07/comic-con-9-tv-highlights-from-yesterday.html
- ↑ http://winteriscoming.net/2014/07/25/full-video-game-thrones-panel-san-diego-comic-con/