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

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?

Read more: Game of Thrones season 4, episode 9 review
George RR Martin to kill off Facebook employee
HBO makes season 4 available to download in UK
Arts and Entertainment
Tate Modern chief Chris Dercon, who will be leaving to run a Berlin theatre company
Arts and Entertainment
Tasos: 'I rarely refuse an offer to be photographed'
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Girls on the verge of a nervous breakdown: Florence Pugh and Maisie Williams star in 'The Falling'
Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls


The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury


Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas


Arts and Entertainment


  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk
    Nepal earthquake: One man's desperate escape from Everest base camp after the disaster

    Escape from Everest base camp

    Nick Talbot was sitting in his tent when the tsunami of snow and rock hit. He was lucky to live, unlike his climbing partner just feet away...
    Adopting high fibre diet could dramatically cut risk of bowel cancer, says study

    What happened when 20 Americans swapped diets with 20 Africans?

    Innovative study in the US produces remarkable results
    Blake Lively and 'The Age of Adaline': Gossip Girl comes
of age

    Gossip girl comes of age

    Blake Lively is best known for playing an affluent teenager. Her role as a woman who is trapped forever at 29 is a greater challenge
    Goat cuisine: Kid meat is coming to Ocado

    Goat cuisine

    It's loved by chefs, ethical, low in fat and delicious. So, will kid meat give lamb a run for its money?
    14 best coat hooks

    Hang on: 14 best coat hooks

    Set the tone for the rest of your house with a stylish and functional coat rack in the hallway
    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?