Game of Thrones: Season Four Overview
By Thomas Firth.
Before Season four aired, we were promised a foreshadowing from the executive producers. Whilst it seemed inevitable due to the amount of death that came its way, there was a lack of epic drama, especially in the first half of the season. Nevertheless, it turned out that the fourth year of the show was big improvement on the last three especially when tensions rose in King’s Landing by the sixth episode.
In this article I want to express my views on what made this season a triumph more than anything and also where the show could benefit from an improvement. The scale of the season was evident and it turned out that episode nine became the most expensive episode of the show, and considering the blockbuster-style execution of the episode, it felt like it paid off in the end.
There were a number of contenders for the best character slot, in my view. Arya and the Hound have been consistent throughout the series as strong characters, whose back story has provided them with strength and influence. Arya, in particular, has had her coming of age recently and her character development has extended to become her independence. Equally, the Hound has been a consistent individual whose attitude remains the same. Their bonding throughout the season has been quite a comical struggle. Ser Davos has also been a strong character, who’s loyalty to Stannis has grown during the season. Exchanges with Shireen, Tycho Nestoris and Salladhor Saan were some of the best moments.
I foresee that a number of the viewers will be keen to vote Ser Oberyn Martell as the best character. His charisma seemed unmatched, acting by Pedro Pascal worthy of a number of awards and his death was a momentously horrific end. As one of the supporting cast, his contribution to the show was a vast one, even taking part in Tyrion’s trial, but one other character still managed to push him out of the picture: Tyrion Lannister himself. Tyrion’s storyline along with Arya’s was highly anticipated. At the beginning of the season, he was an influential member of the Lannister family, and then as the season progressed, a demoralised killer who’s only intention was to kill all those who had wronged him. Peter Dinklage, by far, provided the best performance, with a stunning display during the sixth episode, the Laws of Gods and Men. His story may not be over yet, but I doubt anything else could match what happened to him this season. From the terrible accusation by his sister, to his revenge against Shae and his father, the show made the most of utilising Tyrion and transforming him into a significant symbol of Game of Thrones.
I think it’s evident from my ratings during the last eleven weeks, which episode was my favourite, but let’s just take a look back at why I liked some instalments more than others.
The Lion and the Rose was the first game-changer for me. Joffrey’s death might seem a long time ago now, but ultimately it was the first of a number of big developments in the series. Whist the episode contained some rather unnecessary content involving Dragonstone, the sequences with Ramsay and Reek and the impressive Purple Wedding ensured a satisfactory build-up to an event some viewers have been praying for since Arya was forced to separate from her Direwolf, Nymeria. The Purple Wedding overall, was cleverly orchestrated with some heated arguments between a number of characters throughout. The best was probably Cersei confronting Brienne about her time with Jaime during Season Three.
The second game-changer was The Mountain and the Viper, which would probably be nightmarish to watch again. Oberyn’s death is something a number of people have described as “brutal” and it certainly turned you inside out on the basis of some great acting and grotesque imagery. Those who still feel ill after watching the defining moment – I don’t blame you. Simultaneously to that moment, this was the episode where Jorah was sent away by Daenerys, after finding out about his deception. Once a loyal servant to his Khalessi, now forced to walk the road alone. This is a massive change for the show, and something I don’t think any of the non-readers were expecting. For these reasons, the eighth episode stood out as the second best episode of the season.
Naturally, I believe the finale, The Children, was the best episode, and the only ten I would have given to any episode of Game of Thrones apart from The Rains of Castamere, last year. Something similar to evolution happened with the show in this episode, and it appeared to mature significantly. The first half of the episode was based on wrapping up important elements of the series in a quiet fashion, and the second half was based on implanting fierce shocks and ensuring that viewers couldn’t wait until Season Five. In this case, it was a success. Highlights of the episode were The Hound and Brienne’s battle, Arya’s cruel goodbye, the meeting between Jon and Mance, and finally Tyrion’s brutal revenge. Unlike the eighth episode, the finale was enjoyable to watch, in a sense that it ran smoothly and the extra ten minutes of film was a gift for all of us. And so, the Children was undoubtedly the best episode of Season Four.
Here’s the order I chose in the end: The Children, The Mountain and the Viper, The Lion and the Rose, The Watchers on the Wall, First of His Name, Oathkeeper, Two Swords, The Laws of Gods and Men, Breaker of Chains, Mockingbird.
I have no trouble in deciding which scene impressed me the most. The Purple Wedding turned out to be just over twenty minutes long, with an array of confrontations between rivalling families and other interesting encounters as I’ve said before. Another memorable moment was the conversation between Oberyn, Ellaria Sand, Tywin and Cersei. Those who were rivals and those who would be dead in the near future. Isn’t it intriguing that one from either side of the battlefield have been killed: Oberyn and Tywin?
However, it all boiled down to the final excruciating moments between Joffrey and Tyrion. The scene is drawn out well, with the viewers on the edge of their seats, waiting for something terrible to happen. Everything seems to dissipate as the pie arrives, but as usual, George R. R. Martin has fooled us once again in a surprising turnabout. Joffrey’s face at the end is a defining moment for the series and it caused a lot of problems for Tyrion in consequence. The Purple Wedding, due to its vast importance, sparked a number of events in addition: Tyrion’s trial, Oberyn’s death, Sansa’s escape, Lysa’s death and even Tommen’s coronation. And for this, I believe it is the best scene of the season.
The fights in Game of Thrones have always been based on brutality. Take the fight in Kissed by Fire, between Berric Dondarrion and the Hound. There’s something about the circumstances that makes them work really well. In Season Four, the amount of fights were countless, but the best included: Arya and the Hound vs Polliver and Lannisters guards, Jon vs Karl Tanner, Oberyn vs Gregor Clegane, Jon vs Styr, Magnar of Thenn & The Hound vs Brienne. As I’ve already pointed out, the one that stood out the most was probably Oberyn vs Gregor Clegane because not only did it underline how repulsively brutal this show can get, but it turned out to be the death of one of our favourite characters. If the writers can take people like him away from us, who knows what else they will take. Potentially, this was also the most-shocking moment in Season Four and sprouted the most debate in fans and even had some of them threatening to not watch the show anymore. Yes, this was the best fight – that’s unquestionable.
Improvements for Season 5?
Season four of Game of Thrones was bigger and better than all three of their previous seasons, that’s true, but there’s still some work for the show to do in order for the whole season to be a consistent line of great episodes. The biggest problem I found with this season is Stannis Baratheon’s weak storyline. It would have been better to see his army move with him towards the north, instead of having just short scenes involving either him or the Red Woman, Melisandre. To improve this, I would advise using more dialogue between these characters, revealing their feelings to the viewers as their story moves on. Maybe then, their story could become more popular with the fans.
Also, as an afterthought, the writers might benefit from ensuring that they keep to the story and also make sure that it progresses in good time and not allow obstacles like unnecessary romances or conflicts to get in the way. Then, perhaps, we’ll have a more conclusive season for all the storylines, equally.
Verdict for Season Four: 9/10