Hodor. Hodor. Hodor.
Hodor. Hodor. Hodor. Hodor. Hodor. Hodor. Hodor. Hodor. Hodor.
Hodor. Hodor. Hodor. Hodor. Hodor. Hodor.
Hodor. Hodor. Hodor.
Ok…so I’m not going to write this review in Hodor (although that would be fun!) but just wanted to let you know that I will be spoiling the hell out of Game of Thrones S4 so if you are not up to date or haven’t seen anything of the new series, I suggest you bookmark this post and come back later.
Tyrion’s quote (the title of my review) completely sums up season 4 of Game of Thrones. After “Red Wedding” and the outpouring of reaction videos (trust me I went through all those reactions in about 30 seconds), there was a sense of injustice. We should have all learnt our lessons – when Ned Stark was beheaded right back in Season 1 we should have gotten use to our favourite characters dying. “Red Wedding” didn’t make it any easier and season 4 went to another level where it has me proclaiming these words:
Best. Season. Ever.
I guess the worry in my mind with each season raising the bar to ridiculous and addictive new levels, it makes you wonder what’s left in the tank? But the expertly created finale showed its strength and teased us of the huge possibilities to come. When the writers were proclaiming that the season 4 finale was the best they’ve ever done…they were not kidding!
Season 4 starts off where season 3 left off in the aftermath of “Red Wedding” – The Lannisters (Tywin, Jamie, Cersei and Tyrion) are once again back together and yet at the same time, more divided than ever. Jon Snow (who knows nothing 🙂 ) battles to convince his brothers at the Night’s Watch that Mance is coming with a huge army. Daenarys learns that being a queen is harder than it looks, Sansa grows up and Arya and the Hound are still on their journey for reward, revenge and survival.
“I will do what Queens do. I will rule.” – Daenary’s Targaryen
I won’t have time to talk through every single character thread in this review (because there’s so much!) but what’s appreciative about this season is that your patience will be rewarded. Threads going back from season 1 are answered or play a key role in future episodes of the series. Each episode ended with cliffhangers, in particular episode 8, 9 and 10, played with your emotions to the point where it naturally feels customary to swear at it and vow “never to watch this show ever again”. Now of course that is a lie – and we came back for more. There are still a lot of unanswered questions but my God this show really did push your buttons.
Maybe it’s because lately I’ve been reading the first book that the fourth season is making me feel more connected with certain characters. I feel at ease and confident with their motivations and intentions, whether there’s nobility in that action or scandalous behaviour involved.
A great example of that conflict is with Daenarys Targaryen. I love this character but the more this season unfolded, she’s slowly becoming more like a villain. Freeing slaves is one thing but it’s the aftermath – building her kingdom that she’s finding hard. The difference between slaves and masters have been exposed, putting her under pressure to effectively respond. Some of her slaves preferred captivity because they had respect and a title rather than be ridiculed in freedom, not sure of their new purpose. She may view the master as evil but painting them all with the same brush was prejudice on her part as demonstrated in one scene where one requested to bury his father out of dignity and respect because his father had no part in the slavery business. Her dragons are out of control and as demonstrated in one powerful scene, it’s now barbecuing kids 😦 . It’s the irony that the “mother of dragons” who has made it her mission to free slaves and reclaim the iron throne is locking up her dragons or as I joked with my friend, “how to chain up your dragon”. I sympathise with Daenarys because she too was a slave, thanks to her brother but her power and responsibilities are now getting to her. Now that Ser Jorah is no longer with her, (Daenarys finding out that he once spied on her) it will be interesting to see how she continues to instil her rule on her army and kingdom. Jorah has always been a moral compass, guiding and reassuring her through her mistakes. I hope they reunite again because I will miss this relationship.
“I understand that if any more words come pouring out your cunt mouth, I’m going to have to eat every fucking chicken in this room.” – The Hound
The relationship between Arya and the Hound continues to grow on me. They’ve become the unintentional double act in the series, showcasing great humour and the essence of surviving in a cruel world, which Arya is slowly coming to grips with. Arya has changed, now consumed with revenge that she can’t go to sleep without saying the names of the people she wants to kill. Seeing Arya kill people can be a bit uncomfortable especially how easy it is for her to do so but judging from the finale, Arya doesn’t just want to be any type of killer and she will use every arsenal she has to make sure she is the best – Valar Moughulis. I love that we see more of The Hound this season, opening up to Arya about his past and how he got his wounds (in book one, he actually confesses that to Sansa). He may pretend not to care, but I do like his realism and his protective nature over Arya, even if his intentions were purely based on something else entirely.
“War is war, but killing a man at a wedding, horrid. What sort of monster would do such a thing? As if men need more reasons to fear marriage.” – Olenna
It’s fair to say that Game of Thrones don’t do weddings!
I basically fist pumped the air like the ending of The Breakfast Club! Credit to Jack Gleeson for giving his all in bringing to life a despicable character. Every line uttered from Joffrey’s mouth was cringeworthy, still psychologically bullying and humiliating Tyrion and Sansa. This season he continued with the inappropriate jibes such as his quote on “cutting off Ned Stark’s head again” when he received his new Valyrian sword as a wedding gift. I can’t be the only one during episode 2 thinking “would someone kill him already!” Then he started choking…
I couldn’t be more pleased on his death – I’m sorry but that little twat deserved to die. Then they accused Tyrion of the crime…more on him later.
Controversially it brought up another moment between Cersei and Jamie, their incest relationship where Jamie rapes Cersei in front of Joffrey’s dead corpse. Here’s how I view it – whilst I don’t support what Jamie did (and again in book one, a similar scene does occur right before he pushes Bran from top of the castle), Cersei brings out the worse in him. She does love him but she practically blames him for “taking too long” to return to her when he got kidnapped and lost his hand. She plays around with his desperation and his emotions. Whilst I do like Jamie as a character and that rape scene was a reminder that he can switch back to his arrogant and scheming ways, a part of me feels Jamie wants to grow up. He can see how the liars and the cheats prosper, calculating their way “for the sake of family” or for their own gain. The history book paints him as a Kingslayer and nothing more. There’s no legacy with him, a bit like Stannis refusing to let history dictate his role in his quest for the Iron Throne. Jamie’s experience with Brienne brings out the nobility and honour in him – the best of him. He’s willing to make do on his promises. He becomes the only true confidant in Tyrion while he goes through his trial, more so than any other Lannister.
At the wall, Jon Snow faces his own troubles. The attitudes of some characters sum up this entire show – too much ego and thinking how best to better their situation and outcome, too self consumed by refusing to look at the bigger picture. Jon Snow may have broken his vows whilst he was infiltrating the Wildlings but he was spot on with how Mance and his army were going to attack. After weeks of teasing, the threat at The Wall all cumulated in episode 9, “The Watchers at the Wall” where a full-scale battle erupted between the Wildlings/Giants and the Night’s Watch. Watching this episode was like watching a condensed version of the Battle of Helms Deep in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. It was a stunning watch, easily eclipsing the events at Blackwater back in season 2. The battle wasn’t without it’s causalities such as Ygritte but it was great to see Sam come of age as he played his part in defending the wall.
“Watching your vicious bastard die gave me more relief that a thousand lying whores.” – Tyrion
My favourite character in the entire season – if anything, this entire season really belongs to Tyrion. The acting performance from Peter Dinklage has once again been outstanding and while there have been so many outstanding performances in TV this year, Dinklage deserves to be included as one of them.
As mentioned before, season 4 is the season where “the chickens came home to roost” and Tyrion was the character that mostly suffered. Imprisoned for a crime he didn’t do, Tyrion was placed on trial and had to listen to people incriminate him, especially his sister Cersei. If you didn’t love Tyrion before (to be honest I don’t know why you wouldn’t) then you will so now after this season. All his life he has always been on trial, blamed or used as an excuse for someone else’s gain. He’s tried to play along, often philosophising about the games that people play, whether it is through words or the simple essence of human nature as he talks to Jamie about their simple cousin who couldn’t help himself but “smash the beetles”. In the end, what has it left him – persecuted, humiliated and ridiculed, no more so by his beloved Shae (why Shae why?). Even his so called friends and confidants such as Varys and Bronn abandoned him as soon as a better offer was on the table.
While Game of Thrones has always been an examination of that “grey area” of moralities, it was heartbreaking seeing Tyrion in this situation. His speech at the end of episode 6 showed his frustrations and defiance at how the world looked at him and what a great moment that was. Even when Prince Oberyn (aka Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride), my favourite new character in the series leapt to his defence, even he paid the price in the most dramatic fashion that made me feel sick and empty – all thanks to The Mountain.
My friend warned me not to get attached to characters in this show…
So come the finale and Tyrion gets his revenge against the people who betrayed him. Even when he murdered Shae (to be fair he didn’t know she was in the room), he still apologized which goes to show that Shae meant more to him than she will ever realise – if only Shae could see that when he sent her away in the first place in his efforts to protect her. Then Tyrion completes his revenge by murdering his father Tywin, on the toilet no less. When he escapes King’s Landing, you could sense that Tyrion was changing – these were his first kills after all. It was the acceptance of the world that Tyrion lived in. He finally understood why his cousin couldn’t help but “smash the beetles” because the essence to destroy is part of human nature. You don’t have to be the smartest guy in the room to figure that out. You wouldn’t blame Tyrion for his actions because of his persecution but it would be interesting to see in the next series the state of his mentality. How will he cope knowing he killed the woman he loved despite her betryal? What will the repercussions be after he murdered his father, who was also the hand of the King? I guess we will have to find out in the next season. In season 5 we could probably do with less Tyrion just to prolong the agony (and love) for the character. There are so many other characters in Westeros and after a Lannister filled season, it might be best to see how others are getting on in the quest for the throne, especially as Game of Thrones has been teasing us the threat of The White Walkers.
Judging from the finale, they did pull out all the stops. Stannis’s army coming out of nowhere to defeat the Wildlings. I absolutely loved the Ray Harryhausen style tribute to Jason and the Argonauts when the dead rose from their icy graves, putting Bran, Hodor and co. in trouble. Now I know why they burn the dead in Westeros – you don’t want to come back like that! I love that Arya is finally on her quest to be the assassin that we dream her to be. I don’t believe for a second that The Hound is dead (we did not see him die!) but his fight with Brienne was awesome and yet at the same time, it’s two brilliant characters who you didn’t want to see fight. It was brutal and yet true to the standard of what we have come to expect from this show with it’s faithful audience once again at the mercy on the edge of their seats.
Fans debate why a certain character was omitted from the series finale, which represents a major departure from the book to the screen. Unfortunately for me I’ve accidently spoilt who that character was (thanks internet!) but while cast members have denied it’s not going to happen, my thinking is it probably will happen. The season 4 finale was already congested but adding the character as part of season 5 might be worth it. You have to hold something back for the future seasons right?
All in all, I can’t wait for next season. I want to see how far this journey goes and so far the journey has been exciting. As I make my way towards the end of book one, my appreciation for this show continues to grow and I love every minute of it. Long may it continue.