Game of Thrones recaps often read like fantastical obituaries. The season finale on Father’s Day marked the start of the Lannister downfall with Tyrion’s murder of his father Tywin. “I am your son.” Tyrion declared, before skewering Tywin on the privy with two close-range crossbow shots. So continues the dirge of Ice and Fire.
George R.R. Martin, the Grim Reaper, has created a show culture in which a character’s death scene becomes a celebratory event for the actors. For Ned Stark’s actor Sean Bean, death was just another day in the life of his volatile acting career, but for the victims of the Red Wedding, the situation was more emotional and surreal.
Actor Richard Madden, who played Robb Stark, cried on the plane ride home. After Ygritte’s last scene, the crew presented her with her character’s engraved bow.
Lord Tywin’s Charles Dance reportedly went out with applause and a personalized speech from the executive producers.
“He died like a boss,” said co-creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss in a joint statement.
Game of Throne’s death toll includes 291 major and minor TV characters. This does not include casualties from warring armies, the scores of white walkers, or the handful of possibly undead characters. For a series total, estimates go as high as 10,000 deceased.
Why not blame it on Sean Bean? His character’s northern naïveté clouded his ability to foresee Robert Baratheon’s demise in the first season. King Robert’s death served as a catalyst similar to the assassination of archduke Franz Ferdinand before World War I. That being said, blame also belongs to previous kings, R.R. Martin, and feudalism.
Mance, the king beyond the wall, reminds us that there is something worse than death—the undead. Remember: the night is dark and full of terrors. “The true war lies to the north. Death marches on the wall,” Melisandre told Stannis, foreshadowing his arrival in the north.
Tywin’s death initiates a political power vacuum. A semblance of stability would stem the violence and endear them to a leader. If there was ever a time for Daenerys to unchain her dragons and descend upon the Iron Throne, it is now.
Instead, Daenerys shackled her dragons in the city’s catacombs after discovering that they have begun to feast on the children of local farmers. She also found that her blanket policy of providing housing and food for the released slaves has disproportionately disadvantaged older household servants. One such slave begged her to allow him to make a contract with his former master. For those too old to change, “there is only fear and squalor.” Like Brooks Hatlen in Shawshank Redemption, this servant preferred the prison he knew to the frightening world outside its walls. Daenerys, welcome to the world of unintended consequences.
A leader, no matter how “benevolent,” cannot create a perfect policy; however, she may be able to bring peace to the Seven Kingdoms.
The episode ends with Arya earning passage to Braavos—the Hong Kong of R.R. Martin’s world. As her boat set sail into the sunset, a choir sang the theme song. Rest in peace season four.