Monday, June 16, 2014

Recapping GAME OF THRONES Season 4

June 17, 2014

S04E01: "Two Swords"

After all these months of waiting, we are all so excited to watch this initial episode of this new season. Nothing really big happens yet as this episode tells about the frustrating events that occur after Stannis defeat at Blackwater and Rob Stark's death at the Red Wedding. Of course, as in past episodes, there there is violence, wry humor and frontal nudity.

Tyrion Lannister frustrated as his child bride Sansa avoids him, and his ex-lover Shae tries to seduce him. Jamie Lannister frustrated as he was rebuffed by Cersei and insulted by Joffrey. Cersei Lannister is frustrated because she is about to marry a "pillow biter". 

Danaerys frustrated by the mummies that line the road to her destination, Meereen. Jon Snow is frustrated by the his meeting with the Night Watch elders. Margaery Tyrell and Lady Olenna are frustrated by the poor quality of Kings Landing jewelry. Arya Stark is frustrated because she does not have a horse of her own.

We meet Oberyn, a prince with an axe to grind against the Lannisters. an He is an interesting new character as we expect him to give the people of Kings Landing a hard time this season. We meet a new group of Wildlings who actually threaten Ygritte and her group. 

We meet a new actor who plays Daario. Strange they did not at least give him the same hairstyle as the previous Daario. We are frustrated by his lame attempts at romance with Danaerys. Wildflowers, really? Haha! (3/5)

S04E02: "The Lion and the Rose" 

This episode will again go down in the GoT annals as one of the most shocking endings this show had ever had. You really have to see it to believe it because it came from out of nowhere. And this time it happens in only the SECOND episode of the season. After we see that ending, the other earlier events in the episode suddenly become forgettable. 

We get to meet again the insidiously insane bastard Ramsay Snow and how he had "tamed" Theon Greyjoy, now a pitiful creature called Reek. We see Bran Stark and more of his bizarre visions. We see Melissandre insinuating herself more into Stannis' whole family with her "Lord of Light" fanaticism.

But this episode is mostly about the Royal Wedding between King Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell. We will witness extreme degrees of cruelty and humiliation and underhandedness during the "festivities". The totally unexpected way the feast ends will leave you flabbergasted. What this event implies will definitely make you want to watch the rest of the season. Ingenious plotting indeed! (5/5)

S04E03: "Breaker of Chains" 

There were many events that were tackled in this episode. We are updated about Arya and the Hound, about Stannis and Daavos, about Sam and Gilly, about Oberyn and Ellaria, about Sansa and Ser Dontos. We finally get to see Petyr 'Littlefinger' Baelish and learn of his big role in recent events. 

We see Tyrion in chains awaiting trial, and Podrick professing his loyalty. We see the Lannister patriarch Tywin teach the incoming regent Tommen about kingly leadership. We see the wildness of the Wildlings and the cannibalistic terror they sow. We see Danaerys reach the city of Mereen, and Daario stepping up as her champion.

However, this episode will be most remembered for one particularly unexpected scene of sexual violence. We have been witnessing Jamie Lannister seemingly on his way to heroic reform. In this episode, going way out of his character's arc, Jamie had a rough "encounter" with his sister Cersei. Was this rape? Or was it consensual? I guess we will all have to wait for the coming episodes to know the answer. (2/5)

S04E04: "The Oathkeeper"

Danaerys liberates the slaves from the city of Mereen, and metes crucifixion justice on their harsh masters. Lady Olenna's sneaky talents are revealed, in murders, as well as ensnaring a husband. Margaery Tyrell pays a secret night visit to her pre-teen future husband. Sansa Stark surprisingly able to stand her own against the slimy Littlefinger, for now at least.

Jamie Lannister seems to be back to his good boy mode. He pays a visit to Tyrion in prison. He sends Brienne off to her quest with his sword, which she names "The Oathkeeper." Cersei is as bitchy to him as ever. I guess that was not rape we saw last week since it was never mentioned again.

Jon Snow meets a new friend Locke. This guy has worked for Roose Bolton and was the one who cut off Jamie's hand. Wonder where his association with Jon will lead?

A big part of the episode dealt with those rowdy mutineers from the Night Watch. They rape Craster's daughters. They capture Bran Stark and his posse. They leave the last Craster infant son out in the snow for the White Walkers.

For two episodes now, things had been a relatively slow and quiet. There had been more talk than action. They better get something going already as the excited viewers can get bored. Too bad there was no update on Arya and the Hound. There should not be an episode without the ever-sharp Tywin Lannister like this one. Can't wait for Tyrion's trial to start already. (2/5)

S04E05: "First of His Name"

Tommen Baratheon gets crowned as the new king, while his mother Cersei and future bride (?) Margaery Tyrell chat with dripping sarcasm. Danaerys decides to be a Queen in Slaver's Bay. Arya gets whupped by the Hound for her fancy but impractical swordplay. Podrick can't cook nor fight, but Brienne seemed impressed with his loyalty. Cersei talks to Oberyn about her daughter.

When Littlefinger brings Sansa to the Vale of Arryn, we see the creepy regent Lysa again, but good thing her pre-teen son Robin was not breastfeeding on her this time. We learn just how deeply Littlefinger skillfully managed to murder not only one king, but two (and maybe more). We also learn that poor Sansa is bound to be locked into yet another doomed marriage.

Back at Craster's Keep, Meera narrowly escapes being raped by Tanner when the Night Watch comes in for the rescue. Brandon was able to escape from the clutches of Locke by using his powers to possess Hodor, but decides to go on with their own weird quest instead of reuniting with Jon Snow. But Jon does get reunited with his precious dire wolf Ghost. 

No Tyrion, No Jamie. No dragons, Tywin and Oberyn in disappointingly subdued scenes. Best revelatory scenes tonight were those at the Vale, but that Lysa is really a weirdo of the highest order. (3/5)

S04E06: "The Laws of Gods and Men"

Loyal Ser Davos manages to convince the condescending men of the Iron Bank to fund the campaign of Stannis Baratheon for the Iron Throne. Daenerys gets to flex her solomonic wisdom as she decides on her subjects' requests. Theon Greyjoy is a totally broken creature under the whims on ruthless Ramsey Snow.

But the main highlight of this episode is the trial of Tyrion Lannister. It was a total demolition job, as Pycelle, Varys and Cersei all take turns with their vile lying testimonies. Tywin has plans of simply sending off Tywin to exile in the Night Watch, and remove Jamie from the Kingsguard in order to be free to carry on the Lannister name. However, upon hearing the bitter betrayal of Shae on the stand, Tyrion flared up, confronts his father, and demands for a trial by combat.

This must be the only episode of GoT where there was not a single member of the Stark family shown. Seeing a Dragon appear is always a good moment for this series. Peter Dinklage lays claim again on the Emmy with this impassioned performance as the Imp in this episode. I wonder who will be Tyrion's champion in the trial by combat? (4/5)

S04E07: "Mockingbird"

This is a great eventful episode where we were brought throughout Westeros to see something about most of the significant characters in the series. We can certainly feel the accelerating build up to big events in the last three episodes this season.

We see various relationships goes another level: Arya and the Hound, Daenerys and Daario, Melissandre and Selyse. All in different ways, of course.

We see the chance encounter of Brienne and Podrick with "Hot Pie". Now they know that Arya is still alive.

We see Tyrion languishing as the people who he expected to be his champion turn him down. But in the end, he gets his biggest surprise by a declaration from a most unexpected person, Oberyn. We also get a bloody glimpse of Cersei's brutal gigantic champion, Ser Gregor (aka The Mountain).

The sleazy Petyr Baelish reveals his true intentions for Sansa Stark. But the biggest surprise was delivered at the end when another character meets her crazy end through the Moon Door. (4/5)

S04E08: "The Mountain and the Viper"

As the title clearly states, this episode was all about that much-awaited fight to the death between Ser Gregor Clegane and Ser Oberyn Martell to decide the fate of Tyrion Lannister. This was another one of those classic Game of Thrones shocking death endings. It was bloody and crushing fight, the brutal ending of which will make you look away. 

Aside from that big fight though, many other significant events occurred.

The leader of the Unsullied Grey Worm gets mesmerized by the beauty of translator Missandrei (and who wouldn't after her alluring bathing scene?!). I guess he is up for a promotion now that Daenerys has discovered the truth about Ser Jorah Mormont and exiled him despite his eventual loyalty and (unrequited) love for her.

Reek seems to have miraculously recovered straight speech to play Theon Greyjoy to help the despicable Ramsay Snow in his quest to control the whole North. In return, Roose Bolton formally recognizes his son Ramsay and gives him his family name to replace the Snow (which indicates a bastard birth).

Sansa Stark actually stands up and lies for Petyr Baelish when the death of Lysa Arryn was being investigated. She actually sports a different, more confident look in her last scene in this episode. Meanwhile outside, Sandor and Arya finally reach the gates of the Vale.

Oh, there are scenes with Ygritte sparing Gilly and her baby when the Wildlings attacked their area, and scenes with the Nights Watch assessing their shortcomings. But these scenes did not seem significant with all these other big events happening elsewhere in Westeros. (5/5)

S04E09: The Watchers on the Wall

An entire episode dedicated to the battle between the Night Watch and the Wildlings in Castle Black. Said to be the most expensive GoT episode because of its special effects -- with giants, mammoth, wolf, and more gory deaths. 

There were only four people whose names I knew in this episode. One of them died, and it was not really a big surprise which one. This was a generally underwhelming episode for me as the Night Watch storyline is not exactly a favorite of mine. It came alive only for me in the last fifteen minutes or so. (2/5)

S04E10: "The Children"

This is the only episode the writers of Game of Thrones have submitted for Emmy consideration in the Writing category. This was even before the episode aired today. Now that is confidence in what they have got!

Up north, Stannis Baratheon overruns the camp of the Wildlings, just when Jon Snow was there to strike a deal with Mance Rayder. In Meereen, Daenerys was forced to chain her dragons underground. Meanwhile, Bran Stark finally meets his three-eyed raven in the form of an old man.

In Kings Landing, Tywin Lannister was having a bad day. Not only did Cersei confirm that all the incest rumors between her and Jamie are true, but Tyrion had even bigger issues to discuss with him with the help of a crossbow. (However finally, Tyrion had to put his trust on the slimy Varys who smuggles him onto a ship hidden in a box.)

When they cross paths, Brienne and the Hound fight to see who has Arya's best interests in mind. Arya though would not go with the victor. Instead, she embarks fearlessly sails into the unknown on her own, as this season closes.

There were so many exciting well-shot scenes like the attack of Stannis' army, the battle of Bran & Co. with the skeletons, and the fight between Brienne and the Hound. Ultimately, it would be the confrontation scene between Tyrion and his father in the toilet (of all places!) which would be remembered the most. Peter Dinklage and Charles Dance are indeed the two best actors in this series.

This finale had a lot of loose ends to tie but actually it just made the plots get murkier as more and more developments are set up for next season, which is not for another 9 months away. (5/5)

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