Epic, shocking, exhilarating and momentous are just a few words to describe Season 4. It lived up its motto of “Valur Morghulis” (All Men must Die) with awesome fights, deaths and character driven moments. There was even a huge reveal for both non -readers and readers alike with a White Walker conclusion. Neil Marshall came back to direct episode 9. Bryan Coogman wrote 2 episodes while George RR Martin penned Episode 2. All other episodes were written by David Benioff and Dan Weiss.
The newest character to grace Kings Landing was Oberyn Martel and his paramour Ellaria Sand from Dorne; we also were reintroduced to Dontos Hollard and a new Mountain. Even, Tommen grew up quickly. In the North, we met the Thenns, a couple of mammoths, a few giants and lots of wildings. Meanwhile beyond the Wall, Bran finally found the Three Eyed Raven. Back at Castle Black, Jon had to deal with Janos Slynt and Alliser Thorne. And finally, he was reunited with Ghost.
Over in the East, Danny met with the citizens of Meereen especially one nobleman name Hizhdar and a new recast Daario. And yes, those dragons grew bigger and stronger. Stannis and Davos introduced us to Tycho Nestoris of the Iron Bank of Braavos. Even Sallador Sann made an appearance.
The unlikely duo of Brienne and Pod bumped into Hotpie in their quest to find Sansa Stark. While in the Vale, Sansa was welcomed by her Aunt Lysa and Cousin Robin. Arya was reunited with Needle after she showed no mercy to Polliver. Rorge and Biter wounded the Hound. As well, we met Wanda Frey, Roose’s new wife. Yara Greyjoy reappeared to save her brother but her efforts were fruitless.
The standout favorite character this season had to be Oberyn Martell who was hell-bent on vengeance for his sister’s death. Pedro Pascal was welcomed addition to the cast but unfortunately, it was short-lived as he met his unfortunate fate at the hands of the Mountain. The recurring cast had moments as well. Lena Headley’s performance as Cersei came to the forefront as the grieving yet, manipulative Queen Regent. Peter Dinklage was amazing as usual; especially in Episode 6, “The Laws of Gods and Men”. Both actors are nominated for Emmys this year.
Honorable mentions also go to Rory McCann as the Hound who came into his own especially in the finale as well as Kit Harrington’s Jon Snow in episode 9. Also, Stephane Dillane’s Stannis, Liam Cunningham’s Davos and Iwan Rheon’s Ramsay (Snow) Bolton were solid performances. Sophie Turner’s eventual twist as Sansa Stark or Maisie William’s Arya did not go unnoticed either, both had unbelievable moments too.
Death or battles seemed to be the core of this season. We lost many characters, some beloved; others, deserved and some, unexpected. Joffrey’s death was sasifying for everyone. Ygritte’s death was sudden loss while Jojen, Tywin and Shae’s were shocking in the finale. One of the best deaths had to be Lysa being pushed out the Moon Door. The most gruesome deaths were those at Moat Cailin, curtsey of the Boltons. The Red Viper’s death took us all by surprise.
Episode 9, “The Watchers on the Wall” was simply epic. It is always a treat to have one episode every so often that focusses on one major battle. Marshall outdid himself again with major fight scenes, character driven moments, special effects; especially the 360 camera that encapsulated the entire courtyard of Castle Black. After 51 minutes of fighting, the ending with Jon into the white frozen north left us wanting more.
Two other outstanding fight sequences had to the Viper and the Mountain as well as Brienne versus the Hound. The Viper/Mountain scene was fierce and fast while overlooking the beautiful landscape of King Landing via Croatia. It was a piercing moment for viewers. On the other hand, the Hound/Brienne fight was brutal as the Hound met his match in Brienne. It was an unexpected dual that showcased both actor’s fight prowess. Kudos to GOT’s fight coordinators for well-choreographed scenes that kept everyone on edge.
It would not go without saying how important the production of Games of Thrones adds to value of the series. The incredible directors, most of whom direct two episodes per season, to the wardrobe/costuming, the CGI effects and music. The locations were incredible as always. Croatia, Iceland and Ireland have some breathtaking scenery. Additionally, the opening credits and “previously seen” gave subtle foreshadowing hints. Also, we were introduced to some new places in Westeros such as Moat Cailin while across the sea, Braavos and Meereen came into focus. The Braavos piece was added touch via CGI making it another significant locale. Sigur Rois gave us “The Rains of Castamere” during the Purple Wedding. Ramin Djawadi continued his brilliant work for this year’s soundtrack.
The adaption of books to screen is the biggest hurdle GOT’s writers faced with cutting back certain characters, plot or dialogue. The series followed the general plotlines for most characters however; some storylines worked better than others. Jon, Bran and Stannis meandered throughout the season until the last few episodes of their threads. Also, using the same technique of last year of the Bran/Jon near miss didn’t work; whereas, the Brienne/Pod/Arya/Hound scene flowed for both character and plot. Sansa’s storyline worked for all intensive purposes adding a new dimension. The Arya and the Hound scenes gave us some of the best lines ever. Dany’s chapters worked satisfactorily but were quickly amped up by adding romance and of course, dragons. Theon’s thread continued its slow paced direction.
The most controversial and heavily adapted scenes were those of Kings Landing. The Jamie/Cersei scene sparked sudden outrage. It gave rise to Cersei but left Jamie’s character in the dust (considerably different in the books as Jamie is a POV; not Cersei). At the same time, there were many outstanding character moments, such as the Oberyn/Tyrion scenes, Jaime/Tyrion (in the cell), Tyrion/Bronn and Tyrion’s trial. Secondary scenes such as the Margery/Tommen or Bronn/Jamie were pleasant departures from the chaos of Kings Landing. And it didn’t matter which scene Tywin appeared in, it just worked until his death. The loss of Charles Dance will be missed.
Season 4 had the highest ratings of the series to date. As viewers become invested, both readers and non-readers are eagerly anticipating the next installment of Game of Thrones. It will be long wait until next spring!
What were some of your favorite moments of Season 4?