SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of tonight’s Game Of Thrones Season 4 finale.
The Father’s Day timing of tonight’s Game Of Thrones Season 4 finale could not have been more perfect. In a packed episode of family relations revelations, the carcasses and other remnants of battle, dragon realpolitik, lovers’ betrayals and destinies revealed, a long festering father and son confrontation finally came to a fatal end on the David Benioff and D.B. Weiss created blockbuster HBO series. “This season, almost every storyline ended up peaking in the finale, which has never been the case for us before,” the duo said via email of tonight’s 66-minute finale. “It was great, knowing we’d be going out on so many climactic events. It was also terrifying,” the EPs say of the finale. Among other ends, the episode’s final minutes saw Tyrion Lannister (played by Peter Dinklage) kill both his lover Shae and patriarch Tywin (played by Charles Dance), who it turns out was having an affair with the elder Lannister.
“Both basic confrontations, Tyrion/Shae and Tyrion/Tywin, have their source in the books,” acknowledge the showrunners of the novels by George R.R. Martin on which the fantasy drama is based. “It feels like the people who haven’t read the books will probably be pretty surprised by both scenes,” they add of viewers of what is now HBO’s most watched series ever. “We loved those scenes, and kept many of the broad strokes and particulars,” said the two, who wrote tonight’s “The Children” finale as they have the majority of the entire series, of the depiction in Martin’s Storm of Swords. That book is the third of the 5 books so far in Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire series. Caught on latrine by a crossbow wielding Tyrion, Tywin unsuccessfully tries to talk his way out of his own demise. “To see Tyrion’s entire, troubled relationship with his father distilled into three minutes, that’s a lot of weight to put on two actors. It was our good fortune that the two actors in question were Peter and Charles, who are both power-lifters in this category.”
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The Season 4 ender of the award winning series was directed by frequent GoT helmer Alex Graves, who also handled the second murderous episode and two other episodes this season. Earlier this year Graves confirmed there would be a confrontation between the perpetually scheming son and his often-loathing father in the finale. He obviously wasn’t kidding around. Nor was Graves off base when he called “The Children” and Benioff and Weiss’ intentions as the “first true finale they’ve ever done” since GoT debuted in in 2011. “We made it as lean as possible, but there’s a lot in there,” Benioff and Weiss add in what is surely a production understatement.
“Usually a good deal of episode 10 involves playing out the aftermath of the previous episode,” the two note of the series’ penultimate episode tradition and the June 9 broadcast of the dark and mammoth battle for the Night Watch in “The Watchers On The Wall” show. “With our show, there’s sort of an unstated contract with the audience that each season will up the ante on the previous season, culminating with an ending that justifies the 70+ hours it took to get there.”
Currently in prep in Belfast for Season 5 of the series, which is scheduled to start filming in July, tight-lipped Benioff and Weiss won’t give anything away about where the next cycle is going to take the show. Well, almost nothing. The two do hint on future alliances and outcomes when they say that the boat carrying Dinklage’s Tyrion from King’s Landing is heading “east.” As followers of the books and the series know, east of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, which Tyrion was fleeing and across the Narrow Sea is Essos. To get really insider, in Martin’s Dances With Dragons book, the now banished Jorah Mormont character meets up with Tyrion and hopes to use him get back in favor with the dragon controlling Daenerys Targaryen, who is still learning to be a Queen unto herself. Of course, this being the world of George R.R. Martin not all goes at all according to plan – which might be a bit of a blueprint for next season and the sixth season GoT was also renewed for on April 8 this year, a day after the fourth season premiere was watched by an average of 6.6 million viewers – a 52% rise over the Season 3 debut in what has been a season of new highs.
One thing the two are very clear on is that despite topping The Sopranos as HBO’s most watched series this season, they and Games bow down to the David Chase-created series. “Numbers aside, nothing will ever surpass The Sopranos,” Benioff and Weiss email. “More than anything else, that show created modern television, expanded people’s notions of what’s possible on television, sometimes, what’s only possible on television.” With two episodes left in this season, GoT hit an average gross audience per episode of 18.4 million viewers across all plays. The previous HBO record had been held by the fourth season of the James Gandolfini-starring show, which averaged 18.2 million viewers per episode in 2002. “So, bully for us and all that, but The Sopranos will always be The Sopranos,” the GoT showrunners conclude.