‘Game of Thrones’ 4.10 Recap: “The Dead Can’t Hear Us”

Over the past week, the producers of ‘Game of Thrones’ have made the PR rounds promising that, contrary to previous seasons, the show’s finale episode this year would be big – the biggest season finale yet. Could the series really try to top last week’s epic action extravaganza?

Indeed, episode ‘The Children’ has some pretty momentous events in it, including a couple of significant character deaths. However, this is not another budget-busting action showcase. Last week’s assault on Castle Black remains the climax of the season, and (like prior seasons) the finale feels like a lot of falling action and set-up for next year.

At the Wall

We last left Jon Snow crossing the gate to the north on a suicide mission to kill Mance Rayder. I expected that this would form the basis of a significant storyline next season. Instead, it gets wrapped up in surprisingly short order.

Snow walks into the Wildling camp unarmed and is brought before Rayder. He says that he’s come to negotiate terms. Rayder informs him that he sent a troop of 400 men to scale the Wall five miles down from the Castle Black. Once they get over, they’ll swing around and mop up the remaining Night’s Watch. Rayder also claims that all the Wildlings want is to cross into the south so that they’ll be protected from the White Walkers by the Wall. He proposes an exchange: If the Night’s Watch will let them pass, the Wildlings will leave them be in peace.

Snow is skeptical and still looks for an opportunity to grab a weapon and kill Rayder. Before he can do anything, a giant army on horseback charges the camp, slaying Wildlings left and right. It’s Stannis and Davos. Heeding Melisandre’s prophecy that the true war is north of the Wall, Stannis has brought his newly-funded army to save the Night’s Watch.

Jon Snow identifies himself and convinces Stannis to take Rayder as a prisoner rather than kill him. He also advises Stannis to burn the dead – all of them. Later, after a conversation with Tormund, Snow brings Ygritte’s corpse across the Wall to burn it in the north.

And that would basically seem to be that. I assume that Stannis will (if he hasn’t already) clean up the extra troop of 400 Wildlings. They of course still have the White Walkers to worry about, but the Wildling threat appears to be over. Just like that.

This kind of makes last week’s huge battle seem needless and irrelevant to the overall story. Why did we dedicate an entire hour to that?

At King’s Landing

The Mountain is still alive, though we learn that Oberyn’s blade was poisoned and he’s as good as dead. Grand Maester Pycelle says that there’s nothing to be done for him, but Cersei won’t listen and orders him out of the room. She instructs Qyburn (the former maester who was disgraced for unethical experiments) to do whatever is necessary to save the Mountain. With what she has planned, she’ll need his strength to protect her. Qyburn warns her that, “The process may change him, somewhat,” but will not weaken him. Will Qyburn turn him into a zombie?

Cersei meets with her father and defiantly tells him that she will not marry Loras, nor will she leave King’s Landing. She does not want her son Tommen, the new king, to be raised by Tywin the way she was. She threatens to expose the truth of his parentage, if that’s what it takes. Tywin seems confused. He has refused to ever give any credence to the rumors about his children. It never occurred to him that they could be true. Cersei throws it in his face that, “Your legacy is a lie.”

Cersei then finds Jaime, tells him what she’s done, and throws herself at him, professing her love. I guess she’s gotten over that time just recently when Jaime raped her.

In Meereen

Daenerys receives yet more lessons that being a queen isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. A former slave begs her to let him sell himself back to his old master. He was better cared for and held in better stature as a slave, and life is pretty miserable in the city for an old man on his own. He claims that a long line of others also wish to return to slavery. As much as Daenerys prides herself on being a liberator, it turns out that liberation is not necessarily in every slave’s best interest.

After this, another supplicant presents himself at the throne carrying the charred corpse of his young daughter. Dany’s dragons are proving untamable and have terrorized her new kingdom. The biggest one, Drogon, has gone A.W.O.L. Daenerys is forced to chain the other two dragons in a pen, essentially enslaving them. She feels like a terrible mother, and realizes that ruling is nowhere near as much fun as conquering.

At the Tree of Life

In what is by far the episode’s worst scene, if not a low point for the series as a whole, Bran Stark and his friends arrive at the magic tree that he’d dreamed about. As they approach it, a bony hand bursts through the ground and grabs Jojen.

Before anyone can react, a bunch of walking skeletons rise up through the ice and attack. Bran wargs Hodor to fight them off, but the humans are overwhelmed and outnumbered until a little girl appears from out of nowhere calling Bran Stark by name. She tosses magic fireballs at the skeletons. Jojen gets the shit stabbed out of him and dies while the others flee to a cave beneath the tree. Skeletons that try to run into the cave explode when they cross the threshold.

Inside the cave are more kids and an old Gandalf-looking dude who tells Bran that he’s the three-eyed raven from Bran’s dreams. The girl explains that they’re called “The Children” and predate even the First Men. Raven-Man says that Jojen foresaw his own death but came anyway so that Bran could regain what he has lost. Bran asks if this means that he’ll walk again. Raven-Guy says no, but he’ll learn to fly.

I cannot emphasize to you how intensely cheesy everything about this scene is. The skeletons look like something out of an old Ray Harryhausen movie (or ‘Army of Darkness’). The magic kids and the fireballs and the Gandalf wannabe are all unbelievably lame.

Fortunately, the scene is a relatively small portion of the episode. However, it suggests that this storyline could play a prominent part of the following seasons, which makes me worry that this could be a jump-the-shark moment for the show.

Near the Vale

Brienne and Podrick have lost their horses. In searching for them, Brienne stumbles upon Arya Stark (which tells us that Arya did not meet with Sansa at the Vale). Brienne doesn’t recognize the girl at first, but Podrick immediately recognizes the Hound, so Brienne puts two and two together. She identifies herself and tells Arya about her promise to Catelyn.

This leads to an incredibly tense confrontation and brutal fight between Brienne and the Hound. Naturally, the Hound fights dirty and gives Brienne a good ass-kicking, but Brienne eventually overcomes him by punching him in the balls, biting off his ear, and tossing him over a cliff.

Brienne calls out for Arya, but the girl hides. She doesn’t know Brienne and isn’t about to entrust her life or her safety to a stranger.

When Brienne and Podrick leave, Arya finds the Hound. He’s still alive but just barely. He’s a mess and admits that he’s done for. He tells her to go find Brienne, because she won’t last a day on her own. Arya retorts that she’ll last longer than he will.

The Hound taunts Arya to kill him and check a name off her list. When she merely sits there staring at him, he begs her to put him out of his misery. Instead, she steals his satchel of gold and coldly walks away, leaving him to die in pain. This is the death he deserves.

Later, Arya comes to a small harbor where a ship is loading cargo. The captain is a Braavosi. Arya shows him the coin that her friend Jaqen gave her and says the phrase “Valar morghulis.” The captain gives her a cabin on the ship, and the episode ends with Arya sailing to Braavos. This is the first good thing that has happened to her in a very long time.

Once More at King’s Landing

Late at night, Jaime breaks Tyrion out of the dungeon and tells him that Varys is waiting to smuggle him out of the city. Before he leaves, Tyrion take a detour. He skulks through the castle and sneaks into his father’s quarters, only to find his former lover Shae in Tywin’s bed. Shae sees Tyrion and grabs a knife. He rushes forward and they struggle. Tyrion strangles Shae to death with her necklace (the necklace he gave her). After the love of his life dies, Tyrion weeps, “I’m sorry.” He means it.

Tyrion takes a crossbow from Tywin’s room (if I’m not mistaken, it was Joffrey’s crossbow – the one he killed Ros with) and walks down the hallway to find his father sitting on a toilet. Tywin does not seem all that surprised that Tyrion has found a way out of his predicament. He tells Tyrion that he was never really going to let him be executed, and calls him his son several times (which should be sign enough that he’s bluffing and trying to manipulate Tyrion).

Tywin asks that they return to his quarters to discuss what happens next. Tyrion tells him that he just killed Shae. Unperturbed even by this, Tywin makes the mistake of dismissing her as a mere whore. Tyrion shoots him in the stomach. Tywin angrily lashes out, “You’re no son of mine!” Tyrion shoots him in the chest.

Tywin Lannister may have wanted to die on the throne, but I doubt this is what he had in mind.

Tyrion makes his way to Varys, who asks what he’s done. Varys stows Tyrion in a crate that is loaded onto a ship. As he turns back toward the city, bells ring out. Varys realizes that the jig is up and there’s no going back now. He sighs and gets onto the ship, sitting next to Tyrion’s crate.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Aside from the Bran storyline (which is horrible), this is a pretty good finale that leaves open a lot of interesting possibilities for next season. Although it couldn’t quite live up to the hype (I suppose that it really is the show’s biggest finale ever, but only by virtue of the fact that this show’s finales are usually so small), the episode delivers some unexpected plot twists.

That scene at the tree really leaves a bad taste in my mouth, though. I can only foresee that storyline growing in importance and getting even lamer and lamer as the threat of the White Walkers grows. Honestly, I’ve always been a little uneasy about the White Walkers, which tread a fine line between threatening and cheesy. They function best as something happening in the background of the story, out of sight. If Season 7 or 8 turns out to be an entire year of skeletons and zombies versus magic children, I don’t know if I could bear it.

33 comments

  1. I more or less agree with you about the finale, although I sense those children north of the wall (which I believe are the race of “First Men” everyone talks about?) are going to play a big role in Season 5.

    Also, I think we’ll see the Hound again.

      • William Henley

        Okay, that does it, I’m reading the books! I cannot stand the show, but there seems to be a really great and involved story here.

          • William Henley

            I cannot stand the show, but I recognized in what I saw that there appeared to be a very good story there. Purchased the series on Kindle for $20. Will probably start on it this evening.

    • What I have learned from reading the books is to never trust what you don’t actually see through the character’s own eyes. I have no clue the fate of the Hound, but we didn’t see him breathe his last…so there’s that. His character is much more likeable in the show, so I’d love to see him alive! I’ve been waiting on the return of Syrio Forel for the longest time now and have not had my wish fulfilled and apparently according to a writer on the show he is actually dead…grrr!

  2. The show did a horrible job building up the children of the forest. For one thing Bran’s story is now caught up to hos story in book 5, meaning next season will spoil his story for the book readers if the book doesn’t hurry. The other thing is that in the books there is tons of history being tossed around. The Children of the Forest are mentioned often and considered myth just like most magical beings in this world. When the first child shows up in the book it is a great moment. In the show, meh. I’m surprised that you aren’t intrigued by Bran’s story. His arc is turning out to be the most dramatic than anyone else’s. We only got a small snippet of what his potential powers will be when he was able to transcend time and watch his father through a weirwood tree. He is going somewhere very crazy and I love that.

    As you probably have noticed the major cliffhanger was missing from this episode. There is a lot of discussions as to whether or not the showrunners will even do what was supposed to happen. Sad to not see it, but I forsee it happening later next season.

    The Hound/Brienne fight was a wonderful addition. It made so much sense it is surprising it wasn’t in the books.

    Probably the biggest misstep you will hear is the handling of Tywin’s death. As Jaime frees Tyrion he tells him that his first wife was not a whore after all and that his father lied to him, further humiliating him. This causes Tyrion to hate Jaime as well for hiding this all his life and gives him reason enough to go after Tywin. Why he goes after him in the show is a mystery because he could easily escape and disappear. I don’t like that Shae fought him either. I remember it being more sad for Tyrion to kill her. Also he shot Tywin in the nuts and made him expel his fluids leading to one of the best lines in all of the books.

    So now Sansa and Bran are caught up. Hopefully this doesn’t mean we have to be bored with unnecessary filler next season!

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      I think it was plenty clear in the show how much Tyrion hated his father and had reason to want to kill him. His father had just gleefully sentenced him to death for a crime he knew Tyrion didn’t commit, after all. Tyrion knew that once he escaped, there’d be no coming back, and this was his only opportunity to get back at his father for a lifetime of humiliation.

      • Very true. They had a few really good scenes together to show their relationship. Tywin was a monster to Tyrion. Tyrion is known for being very rational. He analyzes everything and does what is best for him. Killing Tywin was not what is best for his survival seeing as he had a free pass out and killing the most powerful man in the world would only cause others to seek him out more. Tyrion needed that little push to force him to act irrationally and kill Tywin. I think it still works in the show quite well, it just wasn’t as effective as it could have been. I still loved it! It was great seeing Tywin acting so cool and trying to still manipulate in his last moments. So great to see him get humiliated.

    • Ryan

      Wow. Can’t believe the show is actually caught up to the books when it comes to Bran and Sansa.
      I really hope they don’t do filler nonsense.

  3. I personally love the Bran story line, its extremely far from jumping the shark IMO. I cant wait to see what he can do and whats behind his powers and the people he has found. I’m guessing at some point down the road, he will be able to control those dragons that Dany has 🙂

    The skeleton fight I thought was awesome as well, FAR FAR from looking claymation and way better animated and rendered than most anything else on TV, I could certainly watch that again. So needless to say, you thinking it was absolutely horrible and jumping the shark doesnt mean that other people thought that. Bran’s story has intrigued me the most and is the most supernatural out of the bunch, I’m pissed he hasnt been given more time actually, but its looking to pick up big time for next season and I’m very happy for that.

    Everything about this season was great, I cant think of another show that I’ve enjoyed more, I really need to get to reading these books as I started and had a hard time with all the characters, but that was before the show sucked me in so much, so gonna try them again over the summer here

    • It’s great reading the books after getting a grasp on the characters! The amount of history and sheer number of characters can boggle the mind, but since I’m very visual it helps to see some faces to remember characters and such. Try and finish before the next book comes out! And after reading the books, rewatch the show and you will see a lot of things you never noticed.
      I also liked the skeleton fight. Looked awesome 🙂

    • hal9thou

      I’m totally with you. Loved the Bran scene and thought the skeletons were brilliant. To each his own, though. This is just one reviewer’s opinion and many other reviews have been very positive about the scene.

  4. Ryan

    “This kind of makes last week’s huge battle seem needless and irrelevant to the overall story. Why did we dedicate an entire hour to that?”

    I have no problem with that. it’s no different that Aragorn showing up with the dead army to save the day in Return of the King.

    Jon Snow saved the wall….they would have ALL died without him.

    • Ryan

      Also, I couldn’t disagree more with you on the whole “At the Tree of Life” scene. I found it very interesting and the FX were quite well done

  5. Brian

    Yes, Sinbad rip-off. Wondered how long it would take for someone to reference Harryhausen. Good call, very ripe cheese there. Tyrion’s “patricide” was foreshadowed in the previous discussion with Jaime prior to the contest. All of his efforts to protect Shae only to be cuckolded by her with Tywin. Shae all but forced his hand, but how on earth could he not kill the bastard! You missed the best part though, on Father’s day! I was all but wringing my hands and twirling my mustache over the timing of this episode. Now if only we could be done with the inertia across the narrow sea. Must be some sort of penance for objectifying that amazing bod of Daeney’s!

  6. Timcharger

    Josh: “I expected that this would form the basis of a significant storyline next season. Instead, it gets wrapped up in surprisingly short order…. but the Wildling threat appears to be over. Just like that.

    This kind of makes last week’s huge battle seem needless and irrelevant to the overall story.”

    Episode 9’s huge battle WASN’T needless and irrelevant to the overall story.
    Stannis’ army arrives late. If it weren’t for the heroics of Jon Snow and
    company, everyone at Castle Black would be dead when Stannis’ army
    comes riding it.

    While I agree that Stannis’ wrapped things up in surprising short order,
    the 100,000 Wildlings aren’t dead. Stannis used his calvary to get to the
    head of the snake, the leadership. They capture Mance Rayder, but the
    Wildlings masses are still a risk and potentially an ally against the White
    Walkers while Mance is still alive to organize them.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      Tim, I have to say that it’s been fun to watch you work your way through the season while I (and most others following your comments) already knew how everything ends.

      • Timcharger

        The delay is interesting.

        It’s almost like the old days when people had pen pals.
        Snail mail took time to get there.

        I figured that you wrote great recaps (with some bad
        parts- and I make every effort to tell you the bad parts),
        so it’s a good read to me. It’s brand new to me (except
        for the spoilers that aren’t caught by my world filters.
        So why not read and comment on them, too.

        And I enjoy owning my own media, watching it in the
        best quality possible, at the time of my choosing.
        (Wifey’s choosing, kids’ schedule permitting)

        I rather wait to watch it on Blu.

        Glad that it’s been fun for you, as it is for me to
        participate postdated.

    • Timcharger

      And the whole plot about borrowing more money from the Iron Bank
      of Braavos, this really is a pet peeve of mine.

      I never understand how simple economic realities are manipulated
      by the storytellers of our fiction. No wonder our financial knowledge
      skills suck!

      So a bank knowing that its loans aren’t worth the paper the terms are
      written on, that bank will loan MORE money to the same people with
      horrible credit?

      And not just loan to the same country/land, but make new loans to
      the very opponents of those who you are already vested with?! Let’s
      give money to Stannis who will kill and rob the Lannisters whom we
      have already lent tons of money?

      This would be like in the American Revolutionary War, if France helped
      the Colonists AND helped the English?!

      The logic is that the investment with Stannis will be profitable, despite
      making the investments with the Lannisters complete worthless.

      Sh*t, the Greyjoys should visit the Iron Bank, too. They can get a loan
      to fight Stannis. Then the Iron Bank will have bet on every horse.
      They can’t lose!!!

  7. Timcharger

    Josh: “Will Qyburn turn him (Mountain) into a zombie?”

    When I watched this, I immediately thought that GRR Martin has now
    also worked into his fantasy, Shelley’s Frankenstein. The Mountain
    is huge as Frankenstein’s monster is. And the whole mad scientist/
    maester thing, too.

    Dragons, zombies, shapeshifters, demons, resurrections, walking
    skeletons, now Frankenstein is next.

    If Bran becomes a flying bat, I might utter some unkind words at
    Martin for putting in some Twilight vampires into GoT.

  8. Timcharger

    Josh: “Cersei then finds Jaime, tells him what she’s done, and throws herself at him, professing her love. I guess she’s gotten over that time just recently when Jaime raped her.”

    That’s one possibility, that Cersei has gotten over being raped.

    Or the other possibility, that it was never rape. And that some
    of us anachronistically placed our modern values into a world
    with very different sensibilities, in a long time ago, in a galaxy
    far, far away….

    • Timcharger

      And this Jaime, he is not right in the mind. It weird how normal,
      how rational he seems when confronting injustice done on his
      brother Tyrion or with Brienne. But he really is a selfish prick, just
      motivated by his prick.

      That scene with him looking at the blank pages of his Kingsguard
      entry. He is contemplating what great deeds he will do to bring
      honor and glory to his name, and Cersei parts her legs and all
      that rationality flows out of his brain into his prick.

      I have no idea what happens in the books, but I’m hoping that
      Jaime disappoints his fans by backstabbing Brienne and Tyrion,
      just because Cersei promises to wear a schoolgirl outfit and do
      that dance he likes.

  9. Timcharger

    Josh: “The biggest one, Drogon, has gone A.W.O.L. Daenerys is forced to chain the other two dragons in a pen, essentially enslaving them.”

    When the show makes references to the great dragons in the Targaryen army,
    and how the Targaryen kings rode them. I imagined dragons being a
    disciplined horse, a flying, fire-breathing horse. This turn that Daenerys
    might not be able to control her dragons is interesting. I can’t imagine
    Daenery becoming a warrior-queen like Khal Drogo righting atop her
    dragon. I wish Khal Drogo is back; he atop a dragon, that’s a sight to see.

    I am looking forward to find out where that missing dragon has been.

  10. Timcharger

    Josh: “Near the Vale…”

    …we learned nothing about Sansa this final episode. Was Sansa on verge
    of getting smart about her life? She gets no respect, even from the
    writers of the show’s last episode. 🙂

  11. Timcharger

    Josh: “At the Tree of Life… which makes me worry that this could be a jump-the-shark moment for the show.”

    I am wary of this too. This “Gandalf” dude, an all-knowing, all-powerful God-like
    dude is on Bran Stark’s side. This is very jump-the-shark.

    Key to drama is that lack of certainty of where the penultimate power lies in.
    Will the Starks prevail? Lannisters always pay their debts? Dragons will
    sway the tide for the Targaryens?

    But if the most ancient Gandalf/God dude is on the Starks’ side and he can
    make Bran fly (by calling in Gandalf’s giant eagles whenever he wants), this
    flying-over-the-shark will be too easy.

  12. Timcharger

    Josh: “When she merely sits there staring at him, he begs her to put him out of his misery. Instead, she steals his satchel of gold and coldly walks away, leaving him to die in pain. This is the death he deserves.”

    It may be the death that the Hound deserves (and I can argue that he has redeemed
    many of his crimes), I don’t think Arya should have done that.

    I would have written that she takes Needle and pokes a hole in the Hound’s heart.
    This could have been a great comeback to that whole heavy armor versus precision
    sword argument. Hound with his heavy armor and heavy sword cannot carry all
    that weight over rocky terrain to get to town for help. He can’t even remove his
    armor without help.

    (Or could have tied back in, the Hounds’ deadly infection from the wound that he
    didn’t allow Arya to treat with fire.)

    Have a town be at the bottom of that hill, so that the Hound can see there is
    medical help just a 1000 yards away. But the heavy armor and his injury makes
    it impossible for him to get there. Instead of asking Arya to kill him. The Hound
    asks her to help remove his armor, so that make it down the hill. Any number of
    witty comeback lines Arya can use when she pierces Needle into the Hound’s eye.

    But Arya definitely should kill him, not leave him in pain. It seems like a very
    unStark-like thing to do.

  13. Timcharger

    Josh: “Once More at King’s Landing…”

    Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t!!! What happened here?

    The Tyrion part, great!
    The Shae part, even better!
    But Twyin? Tywin is gone?!

    Yes there is a ton of poetic irony in the volatile relationship between
    Tywin and Tyrion. So I do see the greatness in writing that outcome.

    But I can’t help but be disappointed that the show doesn’t have Tywin
    anymore. He was the puppet master controlling all the strings. The
    puppets don’t dance as well without Tywin, I fear.

    After Season 1, I didn’t know how the show would be as good without
    Ned Stark. And I have the same feelings now.

    In the New Hope, GRR Martin kills of Sean Beanskywalker. Now in
    Season 4, GRR Martin kills off Darth Tywin?!

    Yes, I want Tywin to die. But I want him to die last!

    (Does this mean that Littlefinger is the real Sith master? Emperor
    Baelish is the true Phantom Menace?)

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