‘Game of Thrones’ Season 4 Wrap-Up: Producers Talk Big Deaths, Canon Changes and Season 5
And lo, 'Game of Thrones' season 4 has closed out yet another chapter of HBO's epic saga, leaving us all dangling until 2015 for new episodes to follow last night's finale "The Children." Some adaptations of George R.R. Martin's novels proved more shocking than others, but what do producers have to say of last night's shocking deaths, and where they might lead us in season 5?
You're warned of major spoilers for the whole of 'Game of Thrones' canon, as well as the entirety of the first four HBO seasons from here on out, but suffice to say the arrival of Lady Stoneheart wasn't the only major alteration brought forth by season 4 finale "The Children." In particular, young Bran's story moved the furthest along the book timelines (culling from Martin's 5th novel 'A Dance with Dragons,' while season 4 largely wrapped the 3rd novel 'A Storm of Swords'), in particular killing off Jojen Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), a character who in print had survived the fifth book.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss offered up some thoughts on the canon change:
Jojen is a bit like John the Baptist. He’s there to make sure a person of cosmic importance ends up where he belongs. Once Bran gets to the Three-Eyed Raven, he has served his greater purpose. It felt right to have him sacrifice himself to get Bran to his destination. Also, there are a lot of wights in that frozen field. It seemed pretty unlikely they wouldn’t score at least once.
Other changes to the books still ended up with similar results, as Brienne's battle with the Hound led to the expected outcome of Arya denying her captor a mercy kill, and forging her own path on a ship to Braavos. It's difficult to see where Brienne and Podrick themselves may end up next season, given that they too have covered the majority of available story from Martin's work, and may bypass the interactions with Lady Stoneheart. The showrunners would only offer "You can expect that she’ll remain irritated with Pod for some time to come."
As for the two biggest deaths confirmed deaths of the hour, which saw Tyrion reluctantly strangling his former lover Shae in Tywin's bed, and shortly thereafter pelting Tywin himself with crossbow bolts on the porcelain throne, director Alex Graves worried most about capture in the difficult emotions of Shae's death. Where the books had the character acting primarily in her own interests on a consistent basis, actress Sibel Kekelli's portrayal of Shae informed a much more balanced and genuine take in their relationship, which turned all the more heartbreaking to have Tyrion choosing to kill her. From TVGuide:
The key to that scene was capturing the unfolding panic that results in her death. Peter and I talked a lot about it. We've thought a lot about the fact that they had been so successful in portraying that love story, moreso than [in] the books, that it was very hard. I was terrified of that scene. That was one of my toughest ... much harder for me than Joffrey's death by far.
It was really making sure that we were with [Tyrion] in the moment of, "This can't possibly be happening. It's the most psychologically traumatic event that I could imagine, and she's reaching for a knife -- what do I do?" And it goes wrong fast, like everything else does that night. One thing leads to another.
So, where to go from here? We'll naturally see Stannis and Jon (don't forget Melisandre!) interacting quite a bit next season, while Arya forges a new destiny in Braavos, and Tyrion and Varys sail for parts unknown. In the books, Tyrion makes it to Essos and eventually encounters Ser Jorah Mormont, who captures the imp in an effort to get back into Daenerys' good graces, but it remains to be seen if the HBO drama will continue to chart its own course. If nothing else, Benioff teased THR of some complicated scenes ahead in season 5, saying "There are a few sequences that are absolutely terrifying from a production standpoint."
We'll hopefully learn a bit more from Comic-Con 2014, but in the meantime, what say you? Were you satisfied with 'Game of Thrones' season 4's ultimate end? For book readers, did the changes make "The Children" any more difficult to endure? Give us your thoughts on the finale below, and tell us what you want to see from 'Game of Thrones' season 5 in 2015!