Photo: Game Of Thrones

Month of Thrones

We’re counting down to Game Of Thrones’ final season by distilling the fantasy epic to 30 essential moments. This is Month Of Thrones.

The moment

Tyrion kills Tywin with a crossbow.

The episode

The Children” (season four, episode 10)

The season finale of season four is when big-picture events are set into motion. Characters make decisions that will reverberate for a long time to come, especially Arya, who sails to Braavos to become a faceless assassin, and Tyrion, who kills Shae and his father before fleeing with Varys aboard a ship. A lot of stuff happens to characters, but the most powerful actions are the ones borne of decisions they make. Tyrion has been locked up for much of season four, and Arya had been the captive of The Hound. Both are freed, in a sense, and both act boldly to chart their next steps, putting a great amount of distance between their pasts and their futures.

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For Tyrion, it means enacting revenge on the man who locked him up and would have seen him killed: his own father. Even though Tywin knows Tyrion didn’t poison Joffrey in The Purple Wedding, it’s still a convenient excuse to humiliate and lock up Tyrion. Considering their relationship, it’s not all that surprising Tyrion does kill Tywin. What’s more devastating is that he kills Shae, too, because his father has destroyed even that relationship.

What we said then

From our “experts” review: “I think I’ve posited somewhere in these reviews that much of Game Of Thrones is about breaking the flawed cycles of the past, about the characters doing their best to release themselves from the endlessly renewable resource that is trying to find a justice that often curdles into revenge. And ‘The Children’ nails this dynamic, with every single character (save maybe golden boy Jon) having to make some awful choice, exact some terrible price from the universe, in order to get what they want. Arya gives up the life she knew to sail toward Braavos. Dany locks up her dragons in a cave (in a scene that should not have been as sad as it was, given that the dragons exist only on a computer somewhere). Bran loses Jojen Reed. Tyrion loses his father and the woman he loved, both dead by his own hand. And on and on.”

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Elsewhere in the episode

In Meereen, Daenerys deals with the repercussions of freeing the slaves, but the bigger upset comes when a goat header reveals the charred remains of his young child, whom Drogon had set on fire in his wanderings beyond the city. In a surprisingly sad scene, considering Emilia Clarke is acting against CGI dragons, the queen imprisons chains Viserion and Rhaegal and locks them in dark catacombs.

Back in Westeros, Arya and The Hound run into Brienne and Pod; The Hound and Brienne cross swords, and The Hound is brutally wounded. He begs Arya to kill him, but she doesn’t, heading for Braavos instead. Jon Snow parlays with Mance Rayder, only to be interrupted by Stannis Baratheon. After Stannis’ forces overwhelm the wildlings, Mance is taken prisoner and Jon returns to the Wall. The Children take Bran to meet the Three-Eyed Raven. And in King’s Landing, Qyburn begins his project to turn The Mountain into “Robert Strong.”

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Previously: The Battle of Castle Black
Next: The election of Lord Commander Snow