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

3.00

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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried