Over the past four years, since making it’s debut in April 2011, Game Of Thrones has grown to become a true worldwide phenomenon; it’s the most popular show HBO have ever produced (a true accomplishment for the network which gave us The Sopranos, The Wire, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire and Rome), and being based on the worldwide best-selling novels of George R.R. Martin it’s not hard to see why.
Based on Martin’s series of Fantasy novels A Song Of Ice And Fire, Game Of Thrones is set in the sprawling fictional world of Westeros, where great families go to war for control of the Seven Kingdoms, each vying to gain power, control, and hoping to secure the infamous iron throne for their own ends. It’s a show embroiled in intrigue, mystery, and fantastical elements where sex and violence are part of everyday life, everyone has an agenda, a score to settle, and not one of your favourite characters is ever safe.
So without further ado, ahead of the Season 5 premiere on April 12th in the US (on HBO) and on April 13th in the UK (on Sky Atlantic), we present the fourth & final of our Game Of Thrones “Best Of” features, celebrating the Top Ten moments from Game Of Thrones Season Four.
Needless to say, massive spoilers follow.
10. Skeletons Attack!
By the end of Season 4 of Thrones, magic has been firmly established to viewers and the world of Westeros is starting to turn to it’s benefits as the threat of wars and invasions are abound. But considering the show is firmly set in a medieval setting, it’s a little surprising we haven’t seen a trope of the time period and fantasy genre which has appeared in numerous other media outlets like Dungeons & Dragons – Skeletons! With the end of Bran Stark’s lengthy (and dull) quest to find the meaning behind the three-eyed crow, he and his crew run afoul of the ‘defence system’ of their end location which is tonnes of undead boney scum, who keep regenerating and are too hard to put down. Whilst not a massive moment, barring one or two deaths of some needless characters, to see some deadly skelebones make their impact felt in Thrones was a scene worth waiting for.
9. Daenerys’ Dragons show their vicious side
With Season 4 being relatively unnoteworthy for the ‘Mother Of Dragons’, the hints that her ever-growing dragons were becoming too big for her to handle was pretty juicy. From the hint that they were starting to stand up to their mum with one snapping at her before he joined the other two in devouring a goat, you can tell it was never going to end well. From there, we see Daenerys’ reactions throughout the season with the three roaming freely burning through a whole herd of goats and eventually a child, building to a heartbreaking moment where she deems them too unruly to control anymore and locks up two of them (with one already escaped). Easily the highlight for Khalessi, it’s surprisingly moving to see her having to ‘banish’ her beloved offspring because she realises she cannot control them anymore.
8. Tyrion’s Trial & Shae’s Betrayal
With the fallout of entry #4, poor old Tyrion Lannister is in a bad old place; accused of offing the king. He is granted a trial by his father Tywin to clear his name but, needless to say, anyone loyal to the Lannisters are willing to stick the knife in. What’s remarkable is that all the little digs and putdowns Tyrion placed at Joffrey in earlier seasons to keep him in line have come to a head and are being used against him as evidence that he plotted to get rid of the King. Such planning must have been intentional and it’s not until you see it all come together do you really appreciate the writing of the show. The best of all this is that Tyrion’s on-off prostitute/servant girlfriend Shae sticks the final blade in to crush Tyrion’s spirit by betraying him after he’s been told for a long time she can’t be with him by his father Tywin… only to find she’s now sided with him! A genuinely shocking and unexpected turn and the incredible conclusion to all this ain’t half bad either (See #2).
7. Man Vs. Horse
I won’t lie – I am a man of simple tastes and I enjoy just a random moment of pure awesomeness now and again. Case in point, Daenerys marches up to yet another city on the other side of Westeros (who dabble in slave labour which she’s totally against) to conquer it. The city produce a champion to settle the dispute without massive bloodshed – a knight on a horse. Up steps Daario Naharis (who was confusingly recast inbetween Seasons 3 & 4 in a long list of Thrones constantly swapping B-level character portrayals) looking to impress her. As the two face off from afar, the knight and his horse bolt for Daario. With everyone thinking Daario has no chance, he cleverly turns and swings – for the horse. The beast comes crashing down before he finishes off the knight, meaning the city is Khaleesi’s. A simple twist yes but it was unexpected and cool to see, with the added bonus of some fictional man-on-animal violence.
6. A Giant’s Arrow
Again, I just appreciate a random cool moment now & again and nothing summed it up when one of the Wildling giants drew back a giant bow & fired a giant arrow through one of the lookout posts for the Nightswatch on top of The Wall, taking a few ‘crows’ out with it. Wonderful.
5. Yrgritte’s Death
Whilst a big part of me was tempted to inducted the whole Nightswatch-centric episode of Season 4 (it’s an hour of quality), editorial mandate says I can’t sadly. But let’s pick out possibly the most important long standing storyline blow off in the whole season from it. Jon Snow of the Nightswatch has had his on-off romance with Wildling Yrgritte since Season 2 but by the time they meet in the Wildlings’ assault on The Wall in the fourth series they’re on opposite and opposing sides. With a full-on battle waging, the two finally meet in a courtyard with Yrgritte’s bow drawn back but she stops when she realises who she is aiming at. Before either of the pair can react however, a young farmboy taken in the Nightswatch who isn’t bad with a bow either seizes his opportunity and brings Yrgritte down. Jon truly knows nothing about what to do next as his rival-turned-lover-turned-rival-again is downed. This engaging relationship is truly Thrones’ answer to Romeo and Juliet and if it wasn’t for that scummy peasant farmboy’s interference, who knows what would have happened next for this couple.
4. The Purple Wedding
I won’t lie – this is perhaps the most disappointing moment in Thrones to me. Not because of the events that unfold but rather it was spoiled for me and I don’t think the hype lived up to when I finally viewed it if I’m being honest. In a counterpoint to Season 3’s Red Wedding with half of the surviving Stark family being wiped out quickly and ruthlessly, the death of Bad King Joffrey on his wedding day via poison was slow and torturous which appease many viewers. The gory death as he chokes to death was a splendid visual with Joffrey turning through different shades of colour before settling on a deathly purple. The way it was done I was half expecting him to explode ludicrously, such is the good and convincing job Jack Gleeson did in his character demise. The implications across the whole of Westeros are magnificent – the King is dead, as the lottery of the prime seat of the world begins again. An excellent visual and a genuinely surprising moment given the character’s ‘popularity’, it works better if you were not expecting it… bloody social media.
3. Arya & The Hound part ways
Again, a part of me would like to induct the whole storyline for these two from this season, but let’s focus on it’s superb finale. After the Hound takes a tumble down a mountainside in combat and is mortally wounded, revenge seeking Arya Stark considers granting him one last ‘pleasure’ before his death. However, she simply turns away and walks off, wiping her hands of her relationship. All the pain and torture she has suffered at the hands of the Hound – by him cutting down members of her family earlier and being forced into his company as he looks for a surviving Stark sympathiser to auction her off to – in her quest to cause suffering on the man in revenge is turned away as she knows his hurt now is worse than anything she could ever inflict as she coldly walks off to her next target. A powerful moment to end another one of Arya’s kooky relationships with people that she wants dead. Who is in line next as she journeys across the seas?
2. Tyrion’s Revenge
After the events of our #1 moment, Tyrion is sentenced to death but his kindly brother Jamie Lannister organises his escape from King’s Landing under the cover of night. Tyrion however uses this as an excuse to go put an end to his meddling and mistreating father Tywin. Crossbow in hand, he comes to Tywin’s chamber only to find his betraying ex-girlfriend Shae in his father’s bed. Rage consumed, the Imp lives to his dark namesake as he strangles her to death. Seeking his father, he comes across him as he is on the privy (or what passes for a toilet in Westeros) and sinks two bolts into him to cut off the head of the Lannister family. As he escapes across the sea, Tyrion’s satisfying revenge against both his cold and brutal unloving father and the lover he cared for, who turned his back on him, is out of your chair applauding and totally justified. Who doesn’t love a toilet kill also?
1.The Red Viper Vs. The Mountain
Easily Game Of Thrones most shocking moment ever, the hype behind this scene lived up to expectations. Tyrion requests a trial by combat and struggles to find someone to represent him as the Lannisters select the enormous gigantic brute of a man, Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane. Eventually, Tyrion has Prince Oberyn, or ‘The Red Viper’, come to him and begs to pick the foreign representative as he has beef with The Mountain as he thinks the giant brute raped & killed his sister. Tyrion obliges. The two men have been built up as strong supporting characters in earlier episodes of Season 4 to the one point where their showdown takes centre stage of the episode. The setting is perfect – a half circle small coliseum on a cliff looking over the sea at sundown, with the Lannisters, Tyrion and a regal crowd looking on. As a fight, my intial thoughts were of severe disappointment as The Red Viper uses his agility to get one over the sluggish movement of the giant knight and poisons him with flicks of his trademark poisoned blade. As the giant was downed, I instantly thought “Oh? That’s it? That’s all I’m going to get out of the man built up as this brick shithouse of a machine? *sadface*”
…I should have expected better from Game Of Thrones. Oberyn gets too cocky as Clegane is on the floor and starts demanding answers from the accused killer of his sister, letting his emotions get the better of him. The Mountain then suddenly comes to life and floors The Viper and after a solid fist to his face destroys Oberyn’s teeth, Clegane gets his mammoth hands around the Viper’s head, before admitting his crimes and destroying the silk foreigner’s head by crushing it with his brute force with bone and viscera flying everywhere. Crowd members shriek in horror. Stunning. Marvellous. Unpredictable. The build for this moment has paid off massively with one of the show’s true highlights. An original moment with perfect casting, perfect setting and perfect drama – all of Thrones is highlighted in this moment.
Agree with the list? Think there’s a glaring omission or something which has no place being on any ‘Top Ten’ list? Or simply want to talk about the show? Get involved and let us know in the comments section below.