With every season that passes Game of Thrones becomes a bigger and better show, year after year you wonder can this show get better? Invariably the answer is yes as it consistently puts in glittering display after glittering display. Game of Thrones has become the best show on TV and rightly so it is a true masterpiece.
Now if you haven’t watched season 4 of Game of Thrones then I probably wouldn’t bother reading on from here because there will be spoilers, but if you have watched season 4 then you might as well keep on reading because you have nothing to lose.
Season 4 of Game of Thrones covered roughly the second half of the third book and followed season 3 which was pretty damn good, had an incredible game changer in the Red Wedding but at times was a bit ponderous. I personally have read the books and although it was a while ago I’m pretty sure that the timelines are all over the place for the last two seasons. Naturally you get things which have happened in the books that haven’t happened in the TV show and vice versa and it is hard to not be nervous when a TV show strays from its source material (because generally that’s when quality drops) but so far Game of Thrones isn’t showing a drop off.
Usually major game changers don’t happen in episode two of a season because early episodes are usually to build to the final episodes but they were left with no choice as Joffrey got his comeuppance after being mean to some birds who were nesting in a big pie. In fact the last four episodes of season 4 had massive game changing moments in them (Lysa’s death, Oberyn’s death, the battle at the wall and the entire last episode), and although there wasn’t anything quite as dramatic as the final fifteen minutes of the Red Wedding episodes in season 3 as a whole season 4 was much better than its predecessor.
Anyway season 4 was a busy season for the undertaker’s of Westeros with major characters like Joffrey, Ygritte, The Hound, Shae, Tywin, Oberyn, Jojen, Grenn, Pyp, Lysa but thankfully not Hot Pie (whew), yes Westeros is a dangerous place to live it would seem. Naturally some of these deaths are more impactful than others, mainly the Joffrey and Tywin deaths due to them being major antagonists.
I’m going to break the rest of the review down into each of the many storylines going on in the world of GRR Martin.
Probably the place where the most things changed was at King’s Landing, not only did we see the death of a King but also the death of a viper, the trial of a dwarf and the death of a Kingmaker, not too bad in just one season. I think that Game of Thrones has in the past been guilty of over saturating the show with Tyrion because he is such a popular character, this season it didn’t feel like we were just going to Tyrion because he was Tyrion but rather because his story was vital to the plot. Joffrey’s wedding was natural a glorious affair as we received rising tensions within the Lannister family, the death of everyone’s most hated character and the realisation that weddings in this show never end well.
The repercussions of the Purple Wedding drove the story at King’s Landing the rest of the season, which included the great trial of Tyrion followed by the awesome trial by combat between Oberyn Martell and the Mountain, which didn’t end too well for the former (or Tyrion for that matter). On that note how great a character was Oberyn Martell? He only appeared in seven episodes but he left an everlasting memory in our hearts which was smushed along with his head when the Mountain took offence to him showboating and not using a sword in a duel (that’s a lesson for all the kids out there).
This led us onto the scary thought that maybe just maybe poor Tyrion the lovable little rogue was going to feel the sword along his neck a la poor Ned. Thankfully after a cunning escape orchestrated by Jaime and Varys Tyrion managed to avoid Illyn Payne. That same escape also gave us the final scenes for both Shae (who choked on something other than semen that night) and sadly Tywin. Nobody really likes Tywin because the guy was a knob, but he was a great antagonist. Tywin wasn’t pure evil, he was a diplomat who did what was best for him and more importantly what was best for his family’s lineage. I felt that the loss of Joffrey was a big one but wasn’t so bad because we still had guys like Tywin to drive the story but the loss of both characters is a huge blow to the show. Both parts were executed perfectly by Charles Dance and Jack Gleeson and the loss of their chemistry with the other Lannister’s will be felt in the next season. Also I was disappointed that Tyrion killed Tywin when he was on the shitter, every man knows that the rules of killing say that the one place you aren’t allowed to kill someone is on the toilet and no shots to the balls, Tyrion broke those rules, and I was disappointed.
That leaves us with the wonder twins who brought back incest to our TV screens this season. Not that I think it is overly remembered now but there was that awkward scene earlier on in the season where Jaime and Cersei’s sweet love making had a bit of a rapey overtone. Now I don’t think it was rape, it certainly wasn’t rapey in the book but it very much came across as rape in the TV show. Maybe I’m too sensitive to these situations but generally when someone is saying things like no, I don’t want to and generally fighting against the idea of coitus, but then what do I know? Pretty sure brothers and sisters aren’t meant to be doing it…
Season 4 finished on a cliff hanger in King’s Landing, Tywin’s dead and Tyrion has escaped along with Varys, leaving the city with a lack of characters but an instant story to start season 5 with.
It’s weird Dany’s story should be a good one, after all she is going about taking over cities and kicking ass, however despite that her story still managed to be pretty damn boring. Nothing ever seems to happen with Dany, not since the first season has she really had a good story and at times is nothing but an afterthought. The best thing about Dany’s story is the incredibly awkward relationship between Dany and Jorah (got to feel sorry for the guy). Sadly this ended when Dany sent Jorah away for formerly being a spy, which was made all the worse when she had teased him days before by having Daario do the walk of shame in front of him (damn pretty boy!).
That’s the weird thing about Dany’s whole story, you know she’s important, you know that eventually she will be back at Westeros and you know that dragons are super cool but you can’t help but wonder when all of this is going to happen. There seems to be a lot of talk about it without much action. Instead what we get is more awkward relationships (must be something in the air) between Grey Worm (the guy without the penis) and Missandei (who is meant to be like seven). Another concern about this story is that they have made no attempt to make Daario Naharis seem like an important character (you know the guy that looked totally different last year). If you compare Daario to Oberyn for instance it is night and day despite the fact that they’ve had similar screen time, the writers really need to develop his character more.
Dany’s tied up two of her dragons (much to her dismay) but one is still on the loose killing kids willy nilly. Will season 5 finally bring us some cool dragon play, will Dany begin to realise Jorah was the love of her life and will Daario actually receive some character development? I guess all these questions will be answered in season 5.
Nothing happened at the wall for ages, yes you knew there was impending danger because they kept talking about it but that danger never seemed to be approaching until the second last episode where it all happened at once. I personally thought that The Watchers of the Wall was a very good episode and had a few really good holy fuck moments (generally involving giants). There are two problems with the wall however and they are firstly that because they dedicated a whole episode to the attack it meant there wasn’t much else for them to do in the season so you felt disconnected with their story and secondly Kit Harrington (who plays Jon Snow) is a pretty poor actor which is bad when you consider he has such a big part.
The last episode of season 4 also delivered big for the wall as Stannis came to the rescue with his many formations of horses and cut into the wildling army like a fat man through butter. This gives us an incredibly interesting dynamic heading into season 5 as Stannis and Red Woman go for a sleepover with Jon and his Night’s Watch buddies. How will they get on? Will Sam turn out to be the reincarnation of Azor Ahai? What will happen to the free folks and poor old Mance? It should be fun.
In the Vale
After Sansa’s daring escape during Joffrey’s wedding (leaving early, how rude!) we discovered that it was Littlefinger all along that was helping her with her escape. Now it would have been a bigger reveal if Dontos had been used last season like he should have been but hey it was still pretty good. Almost as good as that was Littlefinger and Sansa’s (let’s call it) fucking weird relationship. Not that Sansa has done anything really wrong here but it’s a bit like walking down the street and seeing a man in his forties making second base with a teenager, it’s just plain wrong.
Beyond Sansa’s awkward relationship with her newfound uncle the Vale didn’t offer overly much, things we learned were that Littlefinger was a fabulous lover, cousins don’t make for good matchmaking and don’t stand at the moon door when Littlefinger is in the room. It was probably one of my favourite scenes of the season, who doesn’t find it funny to see some crazy bitch be pushed through a massive hole that goes pretty far down by her husband after telling her he preferred her sister? I know Littlefinger is a romantic!
This season saw the development of Sansa to the extent where she has become a shrewder player in the game. Finally she has grown up and realised that everyone in this land is selfish and plays around the rules, so she has to as well. Are Sansa and Littlefinger going to develop into the new power couple of Westeros? My heart says yes but my head says no…
I can recall the dread last season whenever we saw Theon, all of his scenes were pretty similar, torture this, torture that and so on, so surely this season could only be better! Well sort of…but…how not really. Reek (as he is now known) was a good boy this season and went on some hunts and even got to pretend that he was Theon Greyjoy again, this however was followed by a bath which you can only imagine Reek will be telling a psychiatrist about some time in the future. Nothing really happened at the Dreadfort beyond bath time with Ramsay, oh and he got legitimised which I assume was for services to bathing.
The Trek to the Tree
Hands up if you forgot that Bran existed until the last episode? Yeah I thought so. Bran’s story hasn’t really transferred well from the books yet and there really was only one worthwhile episode in the lot for this story. Despite all that, how great was that scene with the skeletons? It could so easily have been tacky and silly but instead what we received was pretty damn cool. The death of Jojen didn’t have the impact which they probably wanted but that is due to them not establishing him as a character enough, I’m just glad Hodor made it through ok and smashed some shit up! I also wonder what it is with the writers of Game of Thrones and doing the old stab the guy multiple times in the stomach move, poor Jojen got the Talisa treatment.
I can’t help but wonder who the old man in the tree is and what he wants with Bran. I also can’t help but wonder why the social workers and the police haven’t been round to his house (can trees be houses?) because he is harbouring lots of kids and just keeps adding to the collection, I guess it’s just one of life’s many mysteries.
Arya and the Hound
One of the best parts of season 4 was the development of the relationship between the Hound and Arya, every scene was excellent and the two actors had great chemistry. Then the Hound goes and dies…what the fuck dude? Honestly! Killed by a sort of woman as well! It’s sad to see Sandor Celgane go but how great was that fight with Brienne? It was brutal! I could question her actually beating the Hound (a monster of a man) in a fight but instead I’m just going to remember the good times. Like when the Hound killed that guy, or Arya killed that guy or Arya and the Hound killed those guys…there was a lot of killing in this pair.
The development of Maisie Williams as an actress has been phenomenal; she has great comedic timing but also does the serious scenes very well. I’m sure Pod and Brienne will become the new Arya and the Hound which everyone should be happy about. Arya has an exciting new journey ahead as she heads along the narrow sea; her stories tend to be some of the strongest on the show, so I’m looking forward to it.
It’s a long piece but Game of Thrones is an incredibly dense show and it is incredible how much they can squeeze into ten episodes. Going forward into season 5 there is huge change ahead for the show; Tyrion and Arya have left Westeros, Stannis and Jon’s worlds have collided and King’s Landing has been turned on its head.
I imagine that season 5 and 6 will cover the 4th and 5th books, so in two years the show will have caught up with the books which beg the question about what will happen in the likely event of the show running out of source material. Does the show take a hiatus (a terrible idea) or more likely does the show overtakes the books and is treated like it is the source material? That is two years down the line though so let’s just sweep it under the carpet and hope it goes away like all my other problems…
So what did you think about season 4 of Game of Thrones? Personally I thought it was pretty spectacular and has moved Game of Thrones into the best show on TV slot. Do you think that GRR Martin will ever get the finger out and finish those damn books? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!