Game of Thrones fourth season finale Sunday night, "The Children," traveled North of the Wall, to King’s Landing, the Riverlands, Mereen and back again, providing shocking revelations in jaw-dropping scenes that could make the fifth season of the HBO series the most heavily anticipated yet.

North of the Wall

"The Children" began with Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) going through with his admittedly bad plan to walk out North of the Wall to find Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds). On his way out into the wintery forest, he passes his dead comrades, who look like fallen crows in the snow. Not long after he begins his journey, he’s surrounded by Wildling warriors, who escort him to Rayder’s tent. When Jon Snow tells him he’s been sent to negotiate terms, the King North of the Wall invites him inside.

Once seated, Mance tells Jon Snow that he knows that the Night’s Watch’s arrows and men are depleted and that they don’t stand a chance at staving them off for long. He adds that all he wants is for the gate to be lifted so that his people can get the protection of the Wall for when winter comes and the Others come out in full force. If Castle Black opens the gate, no more lives would be lost. Before Jon can take the proposal back to his men, sounds of an attack are heard outside the tent. Both Jon Snow and Mance Rayder know it’s not either of their men.

Racing through the trees on horseback in perfectly ordered groups, Stannis Baratheon’s men cut down disorganized Wildlings as Stannis (Stephen Dilllane) and Davos (Liam Cunningham) go to Mance Rayder’s tent to treat. Rayder quickly surrenders. When Stannis asks Jon Snow what his father would do with the Wildling king, Jon Snow says he’d take him prisoner and hear what he had to say, noting that Mance treated him well when he was his prisoner. Back at Castle Black, the Night’s Watch burn the bodies of their dead en masse, and later, Jon takes Ygritte (Rose Leslie) North of the Wall to light her funerary pyre near a Weirwood tree.

King’s Landing

In King’s Landing, Cersei (Lena Headey) is overseeing Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) and Qyburn tend to The Mountain’s wound from his battle with Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal). Apparently, the Red Viper has dipped his spear in a poison that Pycelle thinks is sure to kill The Mountain. Qyburn claims to have a few tricks up his sleeve that could save the Lannister’s favorite hired sword. Putting her confidence in Qyburn, Cersei fires Pycelle from her services.

Upon leaving The Mountain’s sick room, Cersei pays a visit to her father Tywin (Charles Dance). In a bold show of defiance, she tells him that she won’t be marrying Loras Tyrell and moving to Highgarden. She won’t leave Tommen to be a pawn of both Tywin and Margaery (Natalie Dormer). When Tywin waxes on about family and duty and legacy, Cersei tells him it’s all a lie, for the first time revealing to her clueless father that everything said about her and Jamie (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) being lovers is true. Leaving her father, Cersei goes to Jamie, kissing him and telling him, "I choose you. I love my brother."

Mereen

In Mereen, Dany (Emilia Clarke) is once again giving her people an audience. The first man who comes to her throne room is an elderly former slave. He tells her that he’s too old to find a new path, to take on a new role and misses the respect and love he had of his former master’s children, whom he taught. After hearing his pleas, Dany decides that freedom means he gets to chose that life if he wishes.

The next citizen of Mereen has a worse tale with far greater implications for the Mother of Dragons. Coming before Dany, he reveals that his three-year-old daughter was immolated by the flames of her fire-breathing children. In response, Dany decides that she must do the unthinkable in order to prevent another incident, placing her dragons in chains.

North Of The Wall With Bran

After months of travel, Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) has finally arrived at the three-eyed crow with Hodor (Kristian Nairn), Meera (Ellie Kendrick) and Jojen (Thomas Brodie-Sangster). As they get closer to the Weirwood tree he’d seen in his dreams, the hand of a wight (re-animated skeleton) rises up from the snow and pulls the weak Jogen down to the ground. More and more wights rise up from the snow, leading to a brief battle in which Bran inhabits Hodor to join the fray and Jojen, as he knew all along, met his death.

The battle ends when a Child of the Forest flings fire at the wights and urges Bran and company to follow her into the cave. Inside the cave, the Children of the Forest introduce Bran to the three-eyed-crow – and old man wrapped up in the roots of a tree. Though he admits Bran will never walk on his own two feet again, he will fly.

Riverlands

Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) wakes up in the Riverlands to find her and Podrick’s (Daniel Portman) horses missing. In search of them, she spots Arya (Maisie Williams) practicing her water dancing with Needle. It’s hard for Arya to mask her admiration for a woman in armor with a large sword at her hip. When the Hound (Rory McCann) comes out, Podrick realizes who he is – and therefore who it means Arya must be. Upon realizing that a Stark girl is before her, Brienne tells of her promise to Catelyn Stark. The Hound refuses to give up Arya and the two decide to fight for her.

Brienne and the Hound’s fight is as ugly as they get. They attack each other with swords until they’re both unhanded. They wrestle, they throw punches, they bite, they kick, they grab. As the fight sequence comes to an end, Brienne pummels the Hound until he falls backwards over a cliff. The victor, she starts calling for Arya, who is hiding from her would-be protector.

When Brienne goes off looking for her in another direction, Arya goes to find the Hound, who was gravely injured but not killed in the fall. He tells Arya she’d be wise to let Brienne look after her. He then asks for Arya to kill him to put him out of his misery. Instead of piercing his heart with Needle, she walks away without saying so much as a word.

Tyrion Kills Shae And Tywin

Back in King’s Landing, Tyrion is sleeping in his cell waiting for his imminent death. When he hears his door opening he’s surprised to find his brother Jamie, who has come to help him escape. Jamie leads Tyrion down a passageway and to a set of stairs that leads to a small door. On the other side will be Varys (Conleth Hill), who will help him get out of King’s Landing.

Instead of immediately heeding Jamie’s instructions, Tyrion goes down another passage, eventually rising up from the floor of his father’s room. In Tywin’s bed is Shae (Sibel Kekilli), who is muttering about Tywin being her lion. In a state of panic, Shae reaches for a knife. They swat at each other until Tyrion reaches for her necklace, and with determination and regret, chokes his former love to death.

After taking a crossbow off the wall, Tyrion then goes to find his father, who is sitting in the privy. As is his custom, Tywin tries to disarm Tyrion with his casual authority. When that doesn’t work, he gives him a few back-handed compliments and claims him as his son and that he’d never actually go through with overseeing his son’s death. In his cool rage, Tyrion shoots not one but two arrows into his shocked father, killing him.

Finally, Tyrion exits the Red Keep to find Varys, who immediately knows Tyrion did something terrible. After loading Tyrion into a crate and onto a ship, Varys decides he’d be safer joining his friend in escaping King’s Landing.

The closing scene is with Arya, who is determined to make her own way without Brienne. She comes across a dock and pays for passage to Bravos with the Iron coin given to her by the Faceless Man, saying “Valar Morghulis” – all men must die in High Valyrian.

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