[Ed note: The season finale was so epic, we couldn’t contain our thoughts in just one post! So to accommodate all the thoughts and feels from the Season 4, Episode 10 “The Children,” we’ve called on the heroic trio that led us the last ten weeks — Anna, Julie, and Alice — to each share their thoughts on the finale and the season overall.]

And now my watch (for book six and season five) begins. What a finale. Online, I read mixed reactions from hardcore fans but I found plenty to enjoy about the finale.

Much to my surprise, my favorite moments happened North of the Wall, whether it was Mance pointing out that there were better ways to murder Jon Snow than to poison him or the confrontation between the King beyond the Wall, the rightful current King of Westeros, and the true King of Westeros (wink-wink-nudge-nudge, book readers). Jon’s interaction with Stannis was a highlight for me, as he paid tribute to his father’s loyalty and wisdom. Stannis’ asking Jon for advice was a lovely gesture as well, and it demonstrated the level of respect he has for the Starks. Jon’s farewell to Ygritte (who made a beautiful corpse) was also poignant and emotional. Watching him build her pyre was heartbreaking, and poetic.

Now for three things I didn’t care for: let’s start with the Children of the Forest. Um, what in the entire fuck was that creepy little person supposed to be? Because the CotF are awesomely intriguing and that odd creature was not. Complaint #2? Bloodraven was hardly awe-inducing, which is exactly what he is in the book. He was just an old guy moaning in a cave.

Illustration from the 2013 Song of Ice and Fire Calendar

Finally, a Mountain who was being devoured by manticore venom should have been screaming and writhing in pain (Thanks, Oberyn!) It’s hardly satisfying to just see him unconscious (though it was satisfying to see Pycelle get dissed and dismissed).

Everyone will probably focus on Tyrion’s extraordinary arc tonight, but for me, the most moving and unforgettable moment was the one between two Lannister brothers. Jaime’s love and affection for his little brother was so beautiful to see.

It also added to Jaime’s “shades of grey;” he’s one of the most complicated characters in the series and our inability to file him away as either good OR evil is one of the show’s strengths.

Speaking of strength, Arya’s scenes with Brienne left me as delighted as the Maiden of Tarth felt when she realized she’d found half her elusive quarry. I loved the bonding over tomboy-like pursuits, but I loved the ice cold look in Arya’s eyes when she watched the Hound plead for mercy even more. What a brilliant actress Maisie is. I thought ending with Arya sailing off to the free cities as the sun sets was a gorgeous send off, and like several million other people, I can’t believe I have to wait ten more months before I can visit Westeros again.

What an amazing show. What an eventful episode. What a great excuse to reread the books (for a third time!) as I wait for next season.

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