The Lion and the Rose
Breaker Of Chains
First Of His Name
The Laws of Gods and Men
The Mountain and the Viper
The Watchers on the Wall
Combining the book material from both A Storm Of Swords and part of A Feast For Crows, Game Of Thrones returns for an action-packed fourth season. The 10 episodes this season are relentless too; throwing twists, turns, shocks and big action set pieces into the fold. This rewarding season does a great job advancing each of the key characters from before whilst offering enough unpredictability along the way to keep things interesting.
Following the events of the last season, we catch up with our main characters right where they all left off from before. Joffrey’s wedding is fast approaching and tensions between Tyrion and Joffrey reach boiling point at the celebrations. After Joffrey is poisoned by wine and drops dead, Cersei is beside herself with rage, convinced Tyrion is to blame. After having him arrested, Margarey and her Mother conspire together to seduce Tommen in order to keep their ties to the throne alive.
Most of the episodes from here involving King’s Landing revolve around Tyrion’s imprisonment. After declaring he wants the matter settled in combat, it falls to Oberyn Martell, a Prince with a score to settle against the Lannisters, to help secure his freedom. This brings a brand new family into the fold, further complicating the politics wrapped around the shadowy underbelly of the city.
Meanwhile, Arya and The Hound continue their trek across the Riverlands, eventually leading them into an encounter with Brienne and Podrick who were tasked by Jaime Lannister earlier in the season to find the Stark children and make sure they’re safe. This results in a fight between both Brienne and Sandor Clegane, one of two big one-on-one fights this season. The other sees Oberyn square off against The Mountain in one of the more dramatic moments of the season.
While these storylines advance, up north Jon feels torn between his feelings for Ygritte and his sworn oath to the Night’s Watch, as the Wildlings run rampant across the Northern villages. They narrowly avoid a confrontation with Bran and the others, partly thanks to Bran’s newfound warging abilities that sees him telepathically controlling Hodor to avoid them being caught. Their story eventually leads them north, beyond the wall, where Bran finally comes face to face with the Three Eyed Raven following a number of prophetic dreams.
As things escalate in Westeros, across the Narrow Sea Daenarys begins to exert her growing influence on the realm, freeing slaves from neighbouring cities and punishing anyone who defies her rule. With the dragons growing restless and her desire to head across to Westeros stifled for now, we leave the Mother of Dragons in the sun-kissed heat after making a big decision regarding her scaly pets.
There’s no denying that Game Of Thrones has an awful lot going on this season and for the most part, does an excellent job balancing all of its storylines. Much like A Storm Of Swords, the fourth season really typifies just why Game Of Thrones is such an endearing show. The endless twists and turns along the way combined with subverting expectations and conventional fantasy tropes is really what sets this one apart from others fantasy series.
The characters are all well written and the pacing for each of the episodes is generally excellent throughout, helped along by a pulsating soundtrack and gorgeous visuals. While the later seasons don’t quite match the excellence displayed here, the fourth season is a constant reminder of how good this show can be, throwing in plenty of big action set pieces and unpredictable plot twists to make for an unforgettable season of entertainment.
Verdict - 10/10