In the wake of the last week's battle at the wall, Jon Snow set out on his own to find Mance to start things off on Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 10.
As Jon Snow walked past the numerous dead, I kept imploring him to grab a sword, to arm himself in some way. His plan, of course, to reach the Wilding leader was more subtle, but somehow direct as well.
Marching right up to the camp, he gained access. Soon after, he sat face to face with the man who once spared his life, with the intent to ultimately kill him.
Before Mance realized this, the two drank to those they lost.
Mance: One of our giants went into your tunnel and never came out again. Mag the Mighty.
Jon: He's dead. He killed my friend Grenn.
Mance: He was their king. Last of a bloodline that stretches back before the first men.
Jon: Grenn came from a farm.
Mance: Mac and Grenn.
Jon: Grenn and Mac.
At first, Jon balked upon being given something to drink by his enemy, but was assured by Mance it was not poisoned. Still, after his first sip produced a cough, I momentarily thought Mance had lied.
In reality, Jon just was not used to drinking "a proper northern drink." It brought a little levity to what was a very tense encounter, especially for viewers who knew what Jon's ultimate plan was.
Mance opened our eyes to the real goal of their march on the wall. He and his men were there to hide behind it, to hide from the march of the White Walkers. Mance had grown tired of seeing his people die. Which is why, after witnessing more of them killed by Stannis's troops, he yielded.
Just prior to hearing the horn blow, Mance had realized Jon's true intentions, but his words to Jon seemed to have an impact as Jon suggested to Stannis that Mance be spared.
Back at Castle Black, Jon said goodbye to his fallen brothers before saying a personal farewell to Ygritte. In the midst of the battle, he didn't really have a chance to mourn her and perhaps it had not yet sunk in, but the emotion poured out of him at last when he set her body aflame.
Elsewhere, Cersei met Pycelle and Qyburn in Pycelle's laboratory to examine Gregor Clegane; he had been been poisoned during the trial by combat. Qyburn claimed to be able to cure him. He seemed to think he was only "mostly dead," ala Miracle Max from The Princess Bride.
Qyburn did give the caveat that if his method worked, Gregor may be somewhat different when brought back, but not lose any of his strength.
Qyburn said he had done it before. Was Hodor the fruit of his previous labors? We know mentally he is not on par, but as we were reminded in the fight scene at the tree, with Bran at the controls, Hodor is strong as an ox.
Thanks to Hodor's brawn, Meera's bravery and the help of a fire ball-throwing child, Bran reached the Three Eyed Raven. He learned he would never walk again... but he would fly. I don't think this statement meant Bran will just be warging into birds. I think this gave support to my belief that Bran is going to learn how to control dragons.
Perhaps Bran can become some warg version of Mary Poppins for Dany and help her gain control of her most unruly child, Drogon.
The scene of the grieving father laying the charred remains of his daughter at Dany's feet was tough to watch. It forced Dany's hand to do something that went against her very being. The breaker of chains was forced to collar her own children and seal them away in darkness.
Cersei sought to prevent being sold into a form of slavery herself. Tywin was unyielding as ever, forcing her to speak a truth so many had whispered for so long. Unshackled by this burden, she went to Jaime to share the relief of the moment.
I don't choose Tywin Lannister. I don't love Tywin Lannister. I love my brother. I love my lover.Cersei
With the two siblings getting what they wanted, Jaime sought to give their third his freedom from their father as well.
Escape for Tyrion was not freedom enough, though. I think he detoured to his father's chambers intent on killing him. If there was any lack of conviction in him, it was quickly erased when he saw Shae in his father's bed.
He murdered them both in ironic fashion. He strangled Shae with the very necklaces he gave her; and Tywin met his demise courtesy of the crossbow so favored by the sadistic Joffrey.
Game of Thrones Season 4 concluded with two storylines literally colliding as Brienne and Sandor squared off. What an amazing sequence of scenes. Brienne and Arya cutely compared notes about refusing to fit into a role determined by their gender.
Then, as Sandor emerged from behind the rock, the friendliness continued as Brienne wished him the seven blessings.
No introductions were made, but as Pod recognized and named aloud the man before them, the mood quickly changed. Arya circled around behind him and to the side, almost like a cat circling a mouse it had been playing with.
Sandor's candor was as blunt as ever as he told Brienne to piss off and their fight was quite possibly the best we've seen to date.
After his fall off the cliff, the Hound was tracked down by Arya. Even in his predicament, he didn't lose his gift for gab.
I'd skin you alive for wine.The Hound
When Arya didn't rise to put him out of his misery, he tried to goad her into killing him by stoking her hatred for him. He then resorted to begging her. She didn't use needle to cross him off her list, but leaving him to suffer was perhaps an even more satisfying exclamation point on their relationship.
Let's just hope the White Walkers don't happen upon him. Sandor would make one nasty wight.
Lastly, Arya invoked Jaqen and used his coin to book her passage north. As season four came to a close, she took flight on a new chapter of her life, like her brother Bran.
So ended an epic set of episodes, but was it the best finale we have seen thus far?