There were a few standout moments in this season that may not quite have rivalled the ‘Red Wedding’ but were shocking nonetheless. King Joffrey’s death by poison just two episodes into the season, and completely out of the blue, was simultaneously delighting as it was horrifying. Seeing what is a boy drowning in his own blood should not have made people quite as happy as it did. The show might well have lacked something afterwards, with Joffrey being a universally despised character who was well-written and well-acted, and nothing really to take his place to draw the ire of the audience. But for the purpose it served in setting up the events of the season his death is still probably the biggest event of the season.
The quest of Arya and The Hound was perhaps the story I liked most going through the season. Even though they were in grave circumstances at times, their scenes drew the biggest smiles and were always highlights of the episode. Both played their characters very well. When they encountered the other road-tripping pair Brienne of Tarth and Podrick in the finale, I knew something bad was going to happen – and I was right. Brienne and The Hound fought, with Brienne looking to take Arya under her wing as she promised Catlin Stark she would last season, and the bloody, epic fight ended with The Hound falling to what would likely eventually lead to his death. This was a good ending, but I felt it was spoiled a little as Arya finds The Hound and refuses his wishes for her to kill him and end his suffering. Arya proved her inner steel, but it demeaned one of the best relationships in the show.
“The Watchers on the Wall” was my favourite episode because it had everything I watch Game of Thrones for. Characters you root for, great action scenes, romantic interest and moments you won’t forget. Jon Snow is a really likeable character, always trying to what is right and he shows his battle qualities in this one. He takes charge and spearheads the successful defence of Castle Black against the invading Wildlings. The best scene of the episode was where he is confronted by former lover Ygritte, who shot him and left him to die at the end of season 3, with her bow drawn and aimed at him. The two share a knowing glance before she is shot by young watchmen Ollie and dies in Jon’s arms. His mission became clear then, as he became the de facto leader of Castle Black.
Tyrion is widely considered to be the best character in the show, and to have him in the dungeons for most of it should have weakened it. But what we saw of him in short doses more than made up for it. His speech at his trial, at which he was accused of murdering Joffrey, condemning his father in a vitriolic tirade for wanting him dead, was incredible television. He then demanded a trial by combat, which produced another of the season’s highlights as Prince Oberyn Tyrell fought The Mountain. Oberyn was swift and nimble against the bulk of the mountain, but his quest for the perfect revenge was his own downfall. Oberyn floored The Mountain, and had him poisoned with arrows, but could not finish him off as he was tripped himself and then executed in the most brutal manner. Tyrion’s story concluded in the finale as he was freed by Jaime, who has been his confidant throughout the ordeal, and then went on to kill not only his former lover Shea, who testified against him in the trial, but his father Tywin. Tyrion then fled King’s Landing, as the bells tolled for his father.
There were plenty of fantastic moments this season, but there’s still little overall progress. The fact that Daenerys Targaryen has STILL not crossed the Narrow Sea after four seasons frustrates me. I’m all for set up, but I get the feeling that four years worth of building an army is going to conclude with perhaps just half an episode where Daenerys takes the throne or is killed. This is the sort of story stalling that makes me love Game of Thrones a little less.
Game of Thrones is easily one of the best shows on TV, and the wait for next season will leave me Hodoring for months.