It’s been a dramatic year for Game of Thrones. The series had a tall order to follow on from last season’s Red Wedding and with new characters popping up faster than old ones can be killed off and with the sheer number of storylines it’s now juggling, you wonder if it runs the risk of collapsing under its own weight.
Now that events on screen are catching up to events in the books, there have also been a number of deviations from the books as the writers have been forced to think up new ways of cramming the story into ten episodes. But the show retains its ability to shock and awe in equal measure. It’s been a few weeks since the finale hit our screens and we’ve had a good chance to absorb all that the season had to offer. So let’s take a look back at some of the best and worst moments from season four…
The Purple Wedding
After the Red Wedding, fans were desperate for some retribution and for once on Game of Thrones, a villain finally got what was coming to them. Probably the best episode of the season, the Purple Wedding was filled with many excellent moments, from Margaery’s crisis resolution tactics (“Oh look, the pie!”) to Brienne’s look of shock at being confronted with her feelings for Jaime. But of course the moment everyone had been waiting for finally came when Joffrey took one last sip of wine and promptly collapsed, clawing at his own throat as his face turned purple. It was shocking and it was brutal, but boy did it feel right.
Sansa Stark becomes a player
For four seasons now, Sansa Stark has merely been a pawn in the game of thrones. But she’s been attentive and now she’s finally in a position to assert herself. Following her aunt’s murder, Sansa expertly swayed the lords of the Vale to her side, using every trick she’s learnt from watching the scheming of Kings Landing. Her transformation has been fascinating to watch and she and Littlefinger make a formidable alliance. I can’t wait to see where she goes next season. Queen in the North, anyone?
Unbowed, unbent, unbroken. The badass words of House Martell were perfectly embodied in Prince Oberyn, played with utter style and panache by Pedro Pascal. Fans were quickly won over by Oberyn, and his quick wit and carefree attitude in the bedroom helped to fill the Tyrion shaped hole in Kings Landing. But it was his quest for revenge that would ultimately prove his downfall, culminating in an epic fight against The Mountain which resulted in mutual (and horrifically graphic) destruction. Oberyn was an absolute scene-stealer and he will be sorely missed. But don’t worry. He has daughters.
After surviving months of torture at the hands of Ramsay Bolton, Theon Greyjoy is a changed man. Now twisted into the mild and obedient Reek, he will do anything his master instructs him, even if that means betraying his own people. Alfie Allen has been astonishing this season, playing a man broken beyond all recognition – watch him fall apart under the pressure of pretending to be Theon again, shaking and muttering his name to himself. The scene where he was told of Robb Stark’s murder was equally heartbreaking. Never did you think you could feel such sorrow for Theon Greyjoy.
The detour to Craster’s Keep
With events on screen fast catching up to events in the books, the writers felt it necessary to get creative with Jon Snow’s storyline this season and invent a skirmish up to Craster’s Keep to kill off any remaining Night’s Watch deserters. But the sequence received intense criticism due to the gratuitous depictions of violence against women and rape as mere background action. What’s more, it did nothing to advance Jon’s story and when so many other plotlines have been cut completely due to time constraints, it seemed that it was purely there to shock. Unnecessary, HBO.
Tyrion stuck in a cell
Seeing Tyrion Lannister spar with his family and engage in the ruthless politics of Kings Landing was one of the highlights of the show; he’s long been a character that the audience loves to watch and can really root for. So when he was arrested for killing Joffrey and forced to spend the rest of the season in prison, his presence was sorely missed. Though the trial and his embittered defence of being born a dwarf was an absolute tour de force from Peter Dinklage, his later confinement left a big hole in the heart of the show. With Tyrion now on the run, let’s hope he’s soon back to his old ways.
That sex scene
Game of Thrones has long been a source of controversy due to its explicit content but no scene caused more outrage than Jaime and Cersei in the Sept. As if having sex next to the body of your dead son wasn’t shocking enough, the writers turned what was a consensual act of sheer grief in the books into a rape. Not only did it ruin what is essentially one of the only loving relationships on the show, it also completely undermined both Jaime and Cersei’s characters – he repeatedly abhors violence against women and can you imagine Cersei letting him live after such an act? She’d have him punished – pillar AND stones.
Yara Greyjoy is scared of dogs
Yara’s one appearance this season had all the makings of a kickass sequence – she decides to mount an attack on the Dreadfort in order to rescue her brother, Theon. Things get a bit tricky though when she discovers that Theon has a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome and is reluctant to leave but Yara is determined not to leave him behind. Until Ramsay unleashes his dogs that is, then the Ironborn turn tail and run for it. That’s right, axe-wielding warriors who are scared of a few dogs. Right. Yara, you deserved so much better.
We now have the long wait for season five but there’s plenty to look forward to – where will Tyrion run to? Just what the hell is going on with Bran under that tree? Will Danaerys ever go to Westeros? Only time will tell.