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55 Things You'll Want To Remember From The "Game Of Thrones" Finale

Bend the knee!

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Season 4 of HBO's Game of Thrones had its highs — the death of Joffrey, the empowerment of Samwell Tarly, the rise of Margaery Tyrell, the trial of Tyrion — and its lows — the quagmire of Daenerys, lots of characters walking places and not getting anywhere, and the Jaime–Cersei scene that appeared to be rape even though the show didn't mean for it to be.

But it closed out on a high with "The Children," written by showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and directed by Alex Graves. In past seasons, the ninth episode of Game of Thrones has traditionally been its apex, and then the 10th, the finale, has set the table for the next season. It's an interesting narrative strategy — but also a letdown and kind of a bummer.

That was not the case with Season 4, however. The ninth episode, "The Watchers on the Wall," was exciting and visually impressive. (Neil Marshall, who had directed "Blackwater" in Season 2, and excels at huge battles, directed it.) But its sole focus was on the Wall, and let's be real: We also like a lot of the other Game of Thrones characters who are further south.

Which brings us to Episode 10, "The Children," which had the formidable task of pushing forward several plots crucial to the mythology of A Song of Ice and Fire, the George R.R. Martin novels that provide source material for Game of Thrones.

Most of all, our favorites — Tyrion and Arya in particular — have to actually start getting somewhere, which on Game of Thrones is both a physical and an emotional concept.

Onward!

1. The battle at the Wall is over, and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) scraped together a win for the Night's Watch. Knowing their triumph is fleeting, however, he's gone to hunt down Mance Rayder.

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2. Though it makes no sense that we haven't seen Mance (Ciarán Hinds) since Season 3, here he is in the finale of Season 4.

HBO
HBO

The show has downplayed Mance, who is so important in the books where he serves as another wildling temptation to Jon, who wonders whether he has chosen the wrong life for himself. Until now, we've seen Mance in only a few episodes of Game of Thrones Season 3, and briefly at that. (Twelve minutes and four seconds, to be exact.)

"You're wearing a black cloak again," Mance says here. "I've been sent to negotiate with you," Jon answers. Jon explains that his orders from the Halfhand were to infiltrate the wildlings, and that he was always loyal to the Night's Watch.

3. Jon tells Mance that Ygritte (Rose Leslie) shot him with arrows when he escaped — and that she's dead.

They toast to her. Mance tells him that all they want is to go through the Wall — to safety away from the White Walkers and the wights. Jon then makes a very weak attempt to assassinate Mance, and he is thwarted. Before he is killed, a horn sounds. Mance asks Jon if the Night's Watch is attacking them, and Jon says no, they don't have the manpower.
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They toast to her. Mance tells him that all they want is to go through the Wall — to safety away from the White Walkers and the wights. Jon then makes a very weak attempt to assassinate Mance, and he is thwarted.

Before he is killed, a horn sounds. Mance asks Jon if the Night's Watch is attacking them, and Jon says no, they don't have the manpower.

4. An army swarms the camp.

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5. And very quickly stomps the wildlings. Mance surrenders.

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6. It's Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) and Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane)!

It's truly one of the best surprises in the story, don't you think? Stannis won't be winning the Iron Throne, I imagine, but at least, when the Night's Watch sent out a call for help saying, basically, "The dead are walking, guys, who cares about everything else!" he's the one who heeded it.
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It's truly one of the best surprises in the story, don't you think? Stannis won't be winning the Iron Throne, I imagine, but at least, when the Night's Watch sent out a call for help saying, basically, "The dead are walking, guys, who cares about everything else!" he's the one who heeded it.

7. Mance surrenders again. Stannis tells Mance to kneel. He won't.

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HBO

8. Jon introduces himself to Stannis.

About Mance, Stannis says, "Your father was an honorable man. What do you think he would have done with him?" Jon says Ned (Sean Bean) would have taken him prisoner. Stannis agrees.And then Jon adds: "Your grace, if my father had seen the things that I've seen, he'd also tell you to burn the dead before the nightfall. All of them."
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About Mance, Stannis says, "Your father was an honorable man. What do you think he would have done with him?" Jon says Ned (Sean Bean) would have taken him prisoner. Stannis agrees.

And then Jon adds: "Your grace, if my father had seen the things that I've seen, he'd also tell you to burn the dead before the nightfall. All of them."

9. King's Landing: Gregor Clegane (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) — aka "The Mountain" — has a disgusting open wound!

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10. And Qyburn (Anton Lesser) is examining it with delight.

Cersei (Lena Headey) and Grand Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) look on. The Mountain's troubles were caused by venom on the weapons of Oberyn Martell (aka, the Red Viper, RIP). Qyburn says he knows how to save him, even as Pycelle objects. Cersei kicks Pycelle out of his own lab.
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Cersei (Lena Headey) and Grand Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) look on. The Mountain's troubles were caused by venom on the weapons of Oberyn Martell (aka, the Red Viper, RIP). Qyburn says he knows how to save him, even as Pycelle objects. Cersei kicks Pycelle out of his own lab.

11. Qyburn tells Cersei in the creepiest way possible that the process may "change him."

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HBO

"Will it weaken him?" she asks.

"Oh no," he answers.

12. Qyburn begins extracting disgustingness from Gregor Clegane.

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13. Cersei goes to talk to Tywin (Charles Dance) about not wanting to marry Ser Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones).

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HBO

Tywin tells her that she must, because Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) can't marry anyone and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) is about to be sentenced. Cersei tells Tywin that she refuses to leave Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman).

She then says she will tell everyone the truth. Tywin seems to genuinely have no idea what she's talking about, which seems impossible. Then she realizes: "Of course it's possible," she says, almost to herself. "How can someone so consumed by the idea of his family have any conception what his actual family was doing? We were right there in front of you, and you didn't see us."

"One real look at your own children and you would have known," she continues.

She tells him about her and Jaime.

14. "Your legacy is a lie."

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15. He tells her he doesn't believe her.

"Yes, you do," she says, and walks out.
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"Yes, you do," she says, and walks out.

16. She goes to find Jaime.

She tells him, "I choose you," and says that she told their father about them. They have sex.
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She tells him, "I choose you," and says that she told their father about them. They have sex.

17. Daenerys (Emilia Clarke)! The unburnt, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men. Kaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons.

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18. She's receiving requests from her conquered people. Things are going terribly, pretty much.

A nice old man tells Dany how bad things are in the city. He tells her he was better off as a slave, and asks her permission to sell himself back into slavery. She tells him that part of being free is being able to sell yourself if you want, but he can do it for only a year. What a disaster Dany's reign is.
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A nice old man tells Dany how bad things are in the city. He tells her he was better off as a slave, and asks her permission to sell himself back into slavery. She tells him that part of being free is being able to sell yourself if you want, but he can do it for only a year. What a disaster Dany's reign is.

19. But it's even worse. Drogon the dragon has burned a small child to a crisp.

The father places the girl's dead, burned body before Dany.
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The father places the girl's dead, burned body before Dany.

20. The dragons are out of control, realizes the Mother of Dragons.

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21. Drogon is on the lam. But she lures Rhaegal and Viserion into the catacombs, and chains them to the floor.

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22. She walks out.

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23. They're mad; she's sad.

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HBO

24. Maester Aemon (Peter Vaughan) presides over the burning of the dead Night's Watch men.

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25. We see Jon see Melisandre (Carice van Houten) for the first time.

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HBO

They don't speak; they just stare at each other through flames. But presumably this relationship will be an essential one going forward.

26. Jon talks to Tormund (Kristofer Hivju), who tells him that Ygritte loved him.

He also says that Ygritte belonged in The North — the real North.
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He also says that Ygritte belonged in The North — the real North.

27. Jon goes north of the Wall to burn her body.

Rose Leslie
HBO

Rose Leslie

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You know something, Jon Snow.

28. Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and his crew get to the tree of Bran's dreams.

And Jojen (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) is really struggling. (Also, there's some really beautiful photography in this episode.)
HBO

And Jojen (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) is really struggling. (Also, there's some really beautiful photography in this episode.)

29. Before they can get to the tree, they're attacked by some wights. Bran does his warg thing, and inhabits Hodor's (Kristian Nairn) body to help fight.

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HBO
HBO

Hodor!

30. Unfortunately, it's too late for Jojen, who is stabbed by a wight.

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31. A creepy small person from the tree saves them.

"He is lost. Come with me, or die with him," says the creepy small person about Jojen.
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"He is lost. Come with me, or die with him," says the creepy small person about Jojen.

32. They go into the tree, where the wights can't follow.

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HBO

The creepy small person says that the First Men called them "The Children."

33. They go deeper into the tree.

This tree man, who also takes the form of the three-eyed raven from Bran's dreams, tells Bran that Jojen "died so you can find what you have lost." "You'll never walk again," he says. "But you will fly."
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This tree man, who also takes the form of the three-eyed raven from Bran's dreams, tells Bran that Jojen "died so you can find what you have lost."

"You'll never walk again," he says. "But you will fly."

34. Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Podrick Payne (Daniel Portman) have lost their horses on their way to the Eyrie.

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35. They come across Arya (Maisie Williams)!

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36. Arya is understandably interested in Brienne. They bond over being fighty ladies.

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HBO

One thing Game of Thrones has done to great effect is bring characters together who never met, or who interacted less, in the books. It compresses the sprawl of Martin's plotting and character list, and makes these meetings more meaningful. We can look forward to more of these deviations as the show further diverges from the novels.

One early example of that is Arya's relationship with Tywin in Season 2. And this is another: Brienne and Arya have never (or not yet) met in A Song of Ice and Fire, but here they are, talking about how both of their fathers reluctantly taught them how to fight. For those who are show viewers only, there's no extra layer of pleasure here. But when you have read the Martin novels, a scene like this feels like a fan fiction mashup. Just wonderful.

Especially since Brienne within minutes will be the one who fatally — presumably — wounds the Hound (Rory McCan). In A Storm of Swords, it's a brawl with Polliver (Andy Kellegher) and the Tickler (Anthony Morris) that causes him to get an infection that we assume kills him.

37. Pod recognizes the Hound, making them realize that Arya is...Arya. And so Brienne finally gets to tell one of the Stark daughters that she had sworn to their mother that she would bring them home safely.

"I swore to your mother I would bring you home to her," she says. And that she had sworn to protect Catelyn (Michelle Fairley). "Why didn't you?" asks Arya.
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"I swore to your mother I would bring you home to her," she says. And that she had sworn to protect Catelyn (Michelle Fairley).

"Why didn't you?" asks Arya.

38. Brienne and the Hound begin to fight, viciously.

She de-swords him. He grabs her sword. It's gross.
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She de-swords him. He grabs her sword. It's gross.

39. They continue to fight — and then Brienne pushes the Hound off a cliff.

It's not a high cliff, but still, it's a cliff.
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It's not a high cliff, but still, it's a cliff.

40. Arya, in the meantime, has hidden from Brienne and Pod.

They go looking for her.
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They go looking for her.

41. Arya goes to talk to the Hound, and to delight in his excruciating pain.

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HBO

He tells her to chase after Brienne because she'll help Arya — she won't last a day alone, he says. "I'll last longer than you," Arya replies. The Hound tries to taunt her into killing him so he can stop feeling this way. He reminds her he killed her friend, the butcher's boy. He tells Arya he should have fucked Sansa (Sophie Turner) "bloody — at least I'd have one happy memory." He begs and begs. She takes their pouch of money.

42. Arya walks away as the Hound yells, "Kill me! Kill me!"

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43. Jaime comes to rescue Tyrion.

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HBO
HBO

Hugs!

44. Tyrion should really be leaving, but instead he goes to find his father.

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45. To his shock, he finds Shae (Sibel Kekilli) in Tywin's bed.

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HBO

Making Shae a character who at first was worthy of Tyrion's love in Game of Thrones was a welcome change to how she is drawn in the novels, in which she's a greedy, simpering, stupid user. Unfortunately, it was a doomed attempt at character building, since their story was going to end one way: with Tyrion murdering Shae in a jealous, grieving, psychotic rage.

46. Shae attacks Tyrion immediately, and they fight.

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47. Tyrion strangles her to death. "I'm sorry," he says.

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48. He finds his father sitting on the toilet.

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HBO

Tywin thinks they're going to go talk, but Tyrion, holding a crossbow says, "All my life, you've wanted me dead." Tywin tells him he never would have let Tyrion be executed: "You're my son." Tyrion tells Tywin that he loved Shae — and that he has just murdered her. Tywin says not to worry, she was only a whore. Tyrion says if Tywin says "whore" one more time he will shoot him with the crossbow.

He tells Tywin he can't go back into the bedroom because Shae's dead body is in there. "You're afraid of a dead whore?"

49. Oops: Tywin said "whore" again.

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50. Tyrion shoots Tywin again. "I have always been your son."

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HBO

In A Storm of Swords, this conversation is all about Tyrion's first wife, Tysha, whom Tywin said was a prostitute using Tyrion. Before sending her off, Tywin had his men rape her — and then had Tyrion rape her last. This bit of history has haunted Tyrion, and in the novel when Jaime rescues him, he tells Tyrion that Tysha had been only a girl who loved him. His good-bye with Jaime is decidedly less warm as a result, and it's this knowledge that sends him to find Tywin to interrogate him. He asks Tywin repeatedly what happened to Tysha, and Tywin says she went "wherever whores go." It's a phrase Tyrion fixates on, even as he lives in exile, and seems like it could almost be a quest to find her.

Apparently not, though, since all of that has been cut out here. I'm OK with it.

51. Varys (Conleth Hill) has Tyrion packed into a crate to go to Essos.

He then hears the city's bells, making him realize that either Tywin's body has been discovered or Tyrion's escape has. Either way, he gets on that ship!
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He then hears the city's bells, making him realize that either Tywin's body has been discovered or Tyrion's escape has. Either way, he gets on that ship!

52. Arya, unencumbered by the Hound or anyone else holding her back, gets to the coast with seeming ease.

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53. She talks to a ship captain, and tries to make him take her north.

He says no. He tells her he's going home to Braavos instead. Aha!
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He says no. He tells her he's going home to Braavos instead. Aha!

54. She gives him the coin that Jaqen H'ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) gave her in Season 2, and "Valar morghulis"-es the ship captain. He "Valar dohaeris"-es her back.

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HBO
HBO

He offers her passage.

55. Finally, there's some hope for the Starks, with Arya heading away from Westeros. (And Bran in the tree too.)

There's also hope for us, Game of Thrones viewers. Practically speaking, the show's story has gone only through the plots of the first three books. But considering how little happens in the fourth and fifth novels that really propels the story, Benioff and Weiss (with Martin's guidance) are going to be able to discard the inessential meanderings that bogged down both A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons. Having seen the first four episodes of Season 5, I trust that going forward, the show is going to keep Martin's best bits and edit out the rest, creating a wholly original path for Game of Thrones. And an endgame. I can't wait.
HBO

There's also hope for us, Game of Thrones viewers. Practically speaking, the show's story has gone only through the plots of the first three books. But considering how little happens in the fourth and fifth novels that really propels the story, Benioff and Weiss (with Martin's guidance) are going to be able to discard the inessential meanderings that bogged down both A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons. Having seen the first four episodes of Season 5, I trust that going forward, the show is going to keep Martin's best bits and edit out the rest, creating a wholly original path for Game of Thrones.

And an endgame. I can't wait.

Game of Thrones Season 5 premieres Sunday, April 12, at 9 p.m. on HBO.

By the old gods and the new, a previous version of this post misspelled "Eyrie."

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