Game of Thrones season 4 finale review: 'The Children' is a fitting end to the most tumultuous season to date

It may not have lived up to its hyped billing by the show's producers, but the finale proved a sterling close to a brilliant series

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The Independent Culture

It was billed as the “finest hour” of Game of Thrones to date, the mother of all finales, but while "The Children" was a sterling close to a season that has been filled with more twists than the staircases of the Red Keep, it didn’t quite live up to the hype or Emmy submissions.

As season conclusions go, "The Children" was more dramatic than previous years. Tyrion escaped King’s Landing but not before slaying his father and his former lover. Never before has an act of patricide been more justified. After orchestrating last year's Red Wedding, dying while on the toilet was an apt death for such a vile man.

Then there was Bran, who finally reached the three-eyed crow but lost Jojen Reed to a White Walker with a penchant for stabbing. The battle between the rag-tag gang and the undead was an impressive sequence that kept viewers on tenterhooks. Bran’s storyline requires a lot of patience but the waiting finally paid off.

Those expecting a last-minute Red Wedding would have been left disappointed. Yes, the makers have upped the ante but "The Children" was still a more understated and contemplative affair that is characteristic of episode 10.

It was more emotionally involving than last week’s action-driven instalment. Daenerys made the difficult decision of locking up her dragons. Her last glance over one shoulder before shutting the catacombs was heart-breaking. But the tears were not just reserved for the dragons; watching Jon Snow cremating Ygritte was equally as sad. It was a fitting send off for such a feisty and well-loved character.

Meanwhile, fans witnessed the dissolution of the Game of Thrones comedy duo that was Arya and the Hound. They have been entertaining fans week-in week-out with their sweary exchanges but all good things must come to end. Perhaps Brienne and Pod can take up the mantle?

Speaking of which - Brienne and Arya’s encounter was wonderful. Yes, it never happened in the novels, but it was a delicious digression and compelling. These characters are only miles apart, so their meeting is entirely possible and the makers have taken advantage of this to great effect.

"The Children" served its purpose by whetting the audience’s appetite for season five. It only has a slight edge over other Game of Thrones finales – season one’s "Fire and Blood" was arguably as powerful and dramatic.

Overall, season four has best of the best of them, even if "The Children" failed to deliver. The season has also deviated more from the novels compared to previous years, but in most cases these changes have benefited the show and condensed the substantial source text admirably well.

The only question is, how season five can possibly top this year?