“YOU RAPED HER! YOU MURDERED HER! YOU KILLED HER CHILDREN!” –Oberyn “The Red Viper” Martell
It is a fun experience watching Game of Thrones. I don’t know how far they will deviate from the books or how they will execute certain events or scenes. Honestly, I wish I hadn’t read the books so that I could go into each season with a blank mind with no idea what is in store for me. I would be shocked when someone dies. I would get goosebumps when a character steps up. And as a reader of the books, I was still worried going into Season Four. Why? Because they had just ended Season Three on one of the biggest shocking events on TV…ever. They had gotten rid of the character viewers most likely rooted for the most. Without that aspect, would the show still be able to hold the same vibe? Would it still feel like the same show? The short answer: Yes.
From here on in, be cautious of spoilers. This season was so good that I had actually forgotten about the huge plot developments that actually took place earlier in the season. The premiere was similar to other premieres. They could only focus on so many characters, so the first episode really felt like it was just to catch us up on what all of the characters were doing. Then the episode after, fans everywhere were screaming in joy. If the Red Wedding had people screaming in anger at the screen, episode 2 did the exact opposite. The little prick died! I knew it was coming but it shocked me how much satisfaction I got from watching a kid die on a TV show. But, let’s be fair; Joffrey was a despicable douchebag from which there was no escape.
And from that moment on, the season just kept getting better and better. Of course there were elements that weren’t as strong as they could have been and there was an aspect of the show completely gone. Since Robb and Lady Catelyn were brutally murdered, there really hasn’t been any character to step up and go after the throne. So, before Joffrey is murdered and even after, there really is no conflict with the King. That whole element is gone and it took me a couple of episodes to adjust to that missing element. That, along with Jaime and Daenerys’ weak storylines sum up the only complaints I have from Season Four.
Jaime had such a strong arc last season. He did a complete 360 in terms of character development. He went from being the smug douche to a much more layered and sympathetic character. And this season, he is toned down. Big time. You still see him bond with Brienne on occasion and they have him train with Bronn just to have him on-screen, but mostly, his arc was much weaker this season in comparison to Season Three. But I will admit that every scene Nikolaj Coster-Waldau shared with Peter Dinklage was pure gold. And as far as Daenerys’ story goes, there really wasn’t much of one. It followed the same pattern from last season. Freeing slaves and talking about dragons. There were a couple of key moments and one of them in particular I thought could have been handled much better. The scene between her and Jorah felt a little rushed to me. But I fear that going forward, I’m only going to get more and more bored by her character and her story.
This season had recast three previous roles. Daario Naharis, Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane, and Tommen Baratheon were all recast. I was pleased will all of the new additions. I hated the pretty boy version of Daario from last season. The Mountain needed to be bigger and meaner. And they definitely hit that note perfectly. And Tommen needed to be a tad older for his scenes with Natalie Dormer. But the best addition this season had to offer came in the form of Oberyn Martell played brilliantly by Pedro Pascal.
Pedro Pascal deserves an entire article written about him; that is how good he was this season. It is rare to introduce a brand new character and have the viewers be so invested in him right out of the gate. His accent, the way he talked, his chemistry with everyone he was on-screen with, and his presence are all things that add to a magnificent portrayal of an awesome character. Pedro Pascal deserves an Emmy nomination and a win for best acting from a guest actor. You can pick just about any scene with him, but the scene between him and Peter Dinklage was just filled with emotion. Pedro Pascal is directly responsible for making Season Four so damn good.
I could go on for days talking about the acting on this show. The great performances usually come from Peter Dinklage and Maisie Williams, but only talking about them in no way discredits every other actor on this show. I may have my qualms about certain casting choices (*cough* Theon) but you can not find bad acting from anyone on this show. And the courtroom scene with Dinklage is one of my favorite scenes ever on a TV show. There are just so many emotions that he is conveying in that one speech alone.
Another great thing about this season is the dynamic duo that is Arya and The Hound. If you look at it, they really don’t do a whole lot of anything this season; but their back and forth and their bickering provides some laughs and some great entertainment. I looked forward to seeing them on screen every episode and their story literally went nowhere for, like, 6 episodes.
Episode 9 didn’t disappoint with the big battle on the Wall. It was a big battle on a grand scale and the direction in that episode was breathtaking. I didn’t think an entire episode devoted to the Night’s Watch and the Wildings would hold my attention, but it did. And it was one of the best episodes of the season. This season had so many plot developments and arcs that were just terrific. Oberyn playing “Pop Goes the Weasel,” Tyrion’s trial, Littlefinger being Littlefinger, and Stannis finally showing up and doing something truly noteworthy is only a handful.
The finale may have left out a couple of things from the books that I wasn’t pleased with, but overall, I’m reviewing the show that they give us. And the show they give us is still terrific in every way. I enjoy seeing the changes the writers make to this show because it keeps it fresh and interesting. It even keeps me on my toes sometimes.
Season Four of Game of Thrones is the best yet. Even with Robb’s story, this season upped the ante in every way, bringing us so many good stories and so many great acting performances. I am interested to see how they approach the next couple of seasons. I never thought any season would top Season Three with the Red Wedding but this one did. This is one of the best shows on TV right now, and this was the best season yet.
WHAT I LIKED:
+: Pedro Pascal as Oberyn Martell is easily the best part of the season.
+: Arya + The Hound = Magic
+: Peter Dinklage’s speech
+: Great acting all-around
+: JOFFREY’S DEAD!!!!
+: The Battle, Tywin on the Shitter, The Mountain vs The Red Viper, The Moon Door, Stannis to the rescue, and The Hound vs The Beauty all add up to the biggest and best moments of the season. They all set the bar high for next season.
+: The recasted actors are all upgrades
+: Great finale that sets up so many good threads for next season
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
-: The story with Reek and Ramsay felt kind of pointless. Especially with Theon’s sister showing up for one episode to give up and go home. Seemed thrown in for some random reason.
-: Daenerys’ story is really starting to become stale
-: I miss Jaime’s hair and beard. It isn’t a real negative knock on the show. But I felt I had to make it known.