Game of Thrones finale recap; Valer Morghulis, justice is served

Arya Stark sets sail for Braavos to end Season 4 of
Arya Stark sets sail for Braavos to end Season 4 of "Game of Thrones." Photo: HBO

SAN DIEGO, June 15, 2014 – Season 4’s final episode of “Game of Thrones” on HBO met and exceeded fan expectations, leaving viewers signs of hope for many of their favorite characters and anxious for Season 5.

This series has become so beloved and so popular, it’s tricky for producers to depict such ambitious scenes and storylines on a television budget and production schedule while continuing to satisfy viewers, especially those who love the novels and have imagined them for years. To their credit, the staging of several key scenes from the novels couldn’t have been better.

It wouldn’t be “Game of Thrones” without the deaths of a few more major characters before the season’s end. This time, fans cheered for several of them.

Happy Father’s Day, Tywin – Love, Tyrion

Tyrion Lannister wasn’t one of them. His brother Jaime helps him escape from his Red Keep dungeon before his death sentence could be carried out, with a little help from Varys. The farewell between brothers is brief, one of the most touching scenes in the series to date.

Meanwhile, Cersei puts her foot down about marrying Loras Tyrell. In her confrontation with Tywin, she threatens to reveal that Jaime is Tommen’s father and so not an heir to the Iron Throne. Did Tywin know all along, simply refusing to speak it? Cersei informs Jaime that Tywin knows, and throws herself at her brother. Jaime can’t resist his desires. Yes, eww.

As Tyrion sneaks out of the castle, he looks into his father’s bedchamber… and sees a woman. He is shocked to see it is his former lover, Shae, who betrayed him by testifying against him at his trial. It seems she was for sale to a higher bidder, Tyrion’s father Tywin Lannister. Enraged, Tyrion strangles her and breaks her neck.

But where is Tywin? Where all men are who get out of bed in the middle of the night… in the privy. Tyrion takes a crossbow off the wall, and lets Tywin have it twice, killing him. Happy Father’s Day, Tywin.

Tyrion Lannister escapes from the Red Keep with help from brother Jaime, and kills Shae and Tywin. Photo: HBO
Tyrion Lannister escapes from the Red Keep with help from brother Jaime, and kills Shae and Tywin. Photo: HBO

With this, Tyrion is safely hustled aboard a freighter inside a cargo container. Headed for where? We will find out in Season 5.

Stannis Baratheon to the rescue at Castle Black

Jon Snow walks into Mance Rayder’s tent to kill him, under the guise of negotiating a truce. But Rayder isn’t about to trust Snow after he deceived him once. He has a good idea what Snow is there to do. Rayder is about to kill Snow, but get interrupted when the horns sound the alarm. To Rayder’s shock, reinforcements have arrived, courtesy of Stannis Baratheon. Stannis tells Rayder he will kill him unless he surrenders; Rayder refuses. But Jon convinces Stannis Rayder is more valuable as a prisoner, and Stannis agrees. Thanks to Stannis, Castle Black and the north are saved.

A massive funeral pyre is built for the men who died at Castle Black. Maester Aemon speaks the rites, as he says “And now their watch as ended.” We see Melisandre, The Red Prietess, fixing her gaze on Jon Snow. She’s got plans for him.

Jon Snow visits Tormund, the wildling general, who is a prisoner at Castle Black. Tormund respect Snow as a fellow warrior. He asks him to lay Ygritte to rest north of the wall, and we see him build her a funeral pyre and say his goodbyes.

Bran Meets the Three-Eyed Crow, Not a Crow

Bran Stark, Meera and Jojen Reed, and Hodor continue their search for the three-eyed crow in Bran’s vision. As they travel, they are attacked by fearsome wights, the zombies of the series. Meera manages to hold them off but is being overcome until Bran enters Hodor’s body and joins the fight. The animation was inspired by the old stop-motion technique used by filmmaker Ray Harryhausen and it works beautifully. The wights are too strong, and there are too many.

Help arrives in unusual form: a gray waif girl appears, throwing fire and killing the wights. Sadly, they have mortally wounded Jojen, and he tells his sister to kill him so the wights won’t take him. The girl leads Meera, Bran, and Hodor into a large cave, where they find an skeletal man living in the roots of a huge tree. He tells them he has been watching them. He is the three-eyed crow. Bran hopefully asks if he can help him walk again. The man says, “You will never walk again… but you will fly.”

Mhysa and Her Dragons

Danaerys Targaryen struggles with the fallout from releasing the slaves in Meereen. She discovered many want to return to their masters. She is visited again by the shepherd whose sheep were killed by her black dragon, Drogon. This time, Drogon has killed the shepherd’s three year old daughter. Tearfully, Danaerys chains her two dragons for safety, but Drogon remains missing.

Perhaps the best staged duel in TV history: Brienne takes on The Hound, and prevails. Photo: HBO
Perhaps the best staged duel in TV history: Brienne takes on The Hound, and prevails. Photo: HBO


Episode director Alex Graves told Variety Magazine the scene in which The Hound and Arya are discovered by Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne was his favorite scene. He got it right, as Brienne and Arya first have a conversation as kindred spirits, fierce women warriors. At first, Brienne doesn’t realize who Arya is. And Arya’s not alone. The Hound, Sandor Clegane, joins them. Podrick realizes who they are, and things get tense.

The Hound sees Brienne’s Valyrian steel sword, Oathkeeper, and he assumes Brienne must serve the Lannister. He doesn’t want her to take Arya, and The Hound draws his sword. In a beautifully staged battle against a craggy backdrop, the pair give it all they’ve got. Brienne disarms The Hound, but he grabs her sword in his hands, and the fight really gets rough: rocks, biting, bare knuckles, kicks. Finally, Brienne throws The Hound off a ledge. Brienne realizes Arya has disappeared; she and Podrick leave to find her.

Arya watched the fight from a safe hiding place. She goes to The Hound’s side. He’s alive, but in bad shape with serious wounds. And he’s angry about being “killed by a woman.” The Hound asks Arya to end his misery, and travel with Brienne. But she won’t do it. She takes his coins, and she leaves, on the horse she stole from Brienne.

Remember this scene from Season 1? "Valer Morghulis." Photo: HBO
Remember this scene from Season 1? “Valer Morghulis.” Photo: HBO

Valer Morghulis

Under a bright winter sky, Arya rides on Brienne’s horse to the harbor. She tries to book passage on a boat to go to the North, but the captain tells her he’s going to Braavos. She remembers the iron coin in her pocket, given to her by the assassin Jaqen. She hands it to the captain, saying “Valer Morghulis.” The captain, taken aback, agrees to take her to Braavos.

As the season ends, we see Arya on the deck of the ship. She runs to the bow, looking out to sea, toward a new future. It is a pitch perfect note on which to end the series, with hopefulness that Arya and Tyrion are both traveling toward brighter futures.

It was a difficult season for many fans. While they cheered King Joffrey finally meeting his end, they mourned Prince Oberyn Martell, brought to life by actor Pedro Pascal. The brutal death of this warm, intelligent brave man as he attempted to avenge his sister’s murder upset fans more than Season 3’s “Red Wedding.” They braced for the execution of Tyrion, but he was saved after all.

What’s Ahead in Season 5?

Season 5 will be a season of journeys: Bran Stark’s journey to understanding his destiny; Tyrion’s journey to freedom and a new life; Jon Snow and Stannis Baratheon’s new alliance; Sansa Stark embarking on her life as a grown woman. Arya Stark has the wind at her back with an epic adventure ahead of her. We’re all ready to go on that journey with her across the sea and all our favorite “Game of Thrones” character in Season 5.

Fans of the novels expected one more new character to appear in Season 4 that would send shock waves through the viewers, but to their disappointment it didn’t happen. They are sure to see this character in Season 5. No spoilers here, but you can find out easily enough.

Filming begins next month in July on Season 5 of “Game of Thrones.” The series is expected to return in April 2015.. Until then, there are four seasons to watch again, and the novels can keep you busy until the series returns.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +

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  • jkubin

    Gayle, thank you for a great Season 4 filled with chats, previews and post mortems! We start again with True Blood next sunday… and it will be fun, fun, fun once again!

  • tbryson92110

    Hey Gayle,
    I know you!!!
    GREAT recap.
    #1 Tywin Lannister’s death.
    I was devastated that after finally finding his soul & some compassion, The Hound had to die. 🙁 I think his character could be redeemed like Jaime Lancaster has.
    Ted Bryson

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