Game of Thrones Season 4 Review Part 2

Game Of Thrones Season 4 Episode 10 The Children 4Welcome to Part 2 (read Part 1 here) of my very detailed Game of Thrones Season 4 review! Let’s continue on.
*There are no spoilers from material in the books that hasn’t been referenced on the show yet, but I do make note of differences between the two in what has transpired onscreen*

Arya (and the Hound): The mix of Arya and Maisie Williams seems to bring out the best in her older, male scene partners and Rory McCann is no exception. I wish more time was given to the Hound in the first two seasons (especially with Sansa in Season 2), but thankfully his meeting with Arya changed all that. Beginning with last season, I believe Rory McCann has stepped up to the plate more than any other actor on the show. The Hound has done bad things, but he’s not a bad person necessarily. This is a man literally and figuratively scarred by his family, which has made him the protector (first of Joffrey, then Sansa, and finally Arya) that he never had. And Arya’s many mentors have given her invaluable advice, but I find her time with the Hound to be the most important. He’s constantly been beaten down but always gotten up. He may lack the nobility of Ned, the spark of Syrio, the loyalty of Yoren, or the mysteriousness of Jaqen H’ghar, but he’s real and doesn’t bullshit. Arya, in her own way, was just as idealistic as Sansa. Her sister is more adept at playing the political game which makes Littlefinger her perfect tutor. Arya needed Sandor in the same way to break down her own preconceptions. It’s sad and it sucks to see this happen to a young girl, and yet in Westeros it does. Maisie Williams continues to amaze me in her maturity, honesty, and depth. Arya is going further and further down the rabbit hole but with Williams at the helm, you’ll always root for her. I’m going to miss this duo especially because it’s one the show got so right. And I wish Rory McCann would have been submitted for an Emmy because he was beyond brilliant this season.

Sansa (and Littlefinger): If you’ve read my TVequals bio, you’ll know I’m a staunch Sansa Stark supporter. I have been from day 1. It’s probably because I’m a dreamer like her and love fairytales. There’s also nothing wrong with that. Homegirl got major flack in the previous seasons because she was considered passive (especially compared to Arya). Counterargument: Arya would have had her head chopped off within a week if she had been in Sansa’s position in King’s Landing. Sansa had food and a roof over her head, but she never had a mentor looking out for her in the way Arya did with Syrio, Yoren, and Jaqen. I’m not counting Littlefinger as a mentor that truly cares because you know he wants to get in her pants, use her to move up the social ladder, and live vicariously with her as he wanted to with Catelyn. In the way that Arya had to physically survive, Sansa had to emotionally survive. She had to keep her mouth shut or say the right things. And all while doing this she watched people play the game. She saw good people die (like her father) and bad people (like Joffrey). She watched the Lannisters and Tyrells move against one another. Now she has the best teacher of all in Littlefinger and the one that she can exploit the most due to his feelings about her. I still think Sansa is a dreamer but one who is more conscientious of her surroundings. And she got a new dress!! This makes me beyond happy. Sophie Turner is absolutely radiant, and the kimono-like clothing she’s had for the past 3 seasons hid a lot of that. Aidan Gillen still has the crazy accent, but his work this season was much stronger than that of Seasons 2 and 3. The show has passed Sansa’s book material so I have no idea what to expect next. Looks like a tour of the Vale with Robin (RIP bat-shit crazy Lysa) is in order!

Brienne: Brienne could have come across quite poorly and cliché on screen but has been exemplary as played by Gwendoline Christie. There’s a sadness to her that makes me ache; this sense of knowing she can’t be the feminine woman that everyone expects a highborn lady to be. I thoroughly enjoyed her work with Daniel Portman as Pod too. In the way that Brienne told Jaime what’s what, Pod seems to do the same with her. Pod is given even less thought by people than Brienne which makes him the perfect person to be her squire. Oh, and that fight with the Hound was awesome. There isn’t one between them in the books so I have no idea who’d win on the page. On the show though, in the circumstances they were in, I totally buy Brienne besting him. Damn that whole sequence was intense. A key aspect from the books is probably not going to enter to the show which makes me wonder what Brienne and Pod will be up to in Season 5. My guess is she’ll head toward the Vale still looking for Sansa.

Reek/Theon: Poor Theon. Every time I think Sansa has it bad, I think of Theon and just hang my head. Alfie Allen was a revelation in Season 2, and his baptism in “What is Dead May Never Die” is one of my top moments of the series. Unfortunately I was not a fan of his arc last season. The character is gone for two books, and I understand the showrunners not wanting Allen to be gone for two seasons of the show. That being said, there was too much of Theon and Ramsay in Season 3. The characters could have been in very short scenes in three episodes last season and the same point would have been made that Ramsay is messed up. It’s where I wish the show would have followed the horror movie trope of showing less in the beginning to create fear. Thankfully this season had less torture (excluding the too long dog hunt of the one girl) and more Ramsay and Theon actually having a plotline. Theon’s capture of Moat Cailin gave Allen great material to work with along with Yara attempting to rescue him. Most of Allen’s best moments were also wordless: learning of Robb’s death, his denial of Yara, and his coaxing of the Iron Born in handing Moat Cailin over to him. Some of the best material in A Dance with Dragons are the Theon chapters, and I’m looking forward to it.

Davos, Stannis, and Melisandre: If there is one character on the show that I’ve seen more complaints over, it’s Stannis Baratheon. Many book fans complain that his character has been ruined. Non-book readers don’t like his character because it seems like he has a stick up his ass (which he does, but he’s so much more than just that). Here’s the problem: Stannis doesn’t do much in A Storm of Swords until he meets up with Jon, and that just happened in the last episode. This means he spent two seasons doing very little. It’s a fine line to walk for the showrunners because adding too much material could take away from the other characters. The problem then becomes we get less of his nuances that the books give us. Because of that Stannis can come across as one-note to non-book readers. I think Stephen Dillane has done a fine job so far, but I’ve read the books and understand aspects to his character that have not been mentioned on the show. My hope is that Stannis being at the Wall now with Jon will give the character the added screen time he needs to fill in the gaps because he’s quite fascinating. Liam Cunningham continues to excel as Davos. Since Stannis is such a stubborn and somewhat dull hard ass, he needs a charismatic, good person as his number one. Like Brienne and Sam, I think Davos is one of the few, truly honest people in Westeros. And Cunningham is so earnest in his performance that anytime spent with this storyline onscreen never feels wasted. Similar to Stannis, Melisandre’s character will improve being at the Wall now and interacting with Jon. My favorite shot from the finale was the two of them seeing each other for the first time through the flames.

Jon, Sam, and the Wall: I’m going to be honest, Jon’s arc has been underwhelming the past three seasons. The storyline at the Wall was my favorite of Season 1 and had some of the best character dialogues. But then Season 2 happened, and it felt like he became an afterthought. His fight with Qhorin Halfhand lacked the weight it should have, and the scenes last season with Mance Rayder fell flat. The moments with Ygritte worked because Rose Leslie turned in such a bravado performance. Same with Kristofer Hivju as Tormund. And while I loved seeing Jon kick some ass against Karl and the mutineers, that whole undertaking still brought him back to the Wall basically as the same person that left the Wildlings. I think the main problem the past two seasons is the show was building up to the Battle at the Wall, and yet so much happens after that. Jon is the only character whose material from A Storm of Swords has not finished onscreen. This seems to have created a holding pattern for his character most of this season which caused the showrunners to give him the detour to Craster’s Keep to occupy time. It wasn’t bad material per se, but I would have enjoyed more dialogues between Jon/Aemon, Jon/Allister, and Jon/Pyp/Grenn/Sam instead to have more character beats. This would have been especially helpful since Pyp and Grenn ended up dying in the battle. I can’t complain about the last two episodes though. Kit Harington was back to his Season 1 greatness, John Bradley was phenomenal as Sam, and Ciaran Hinds finally had some stuff to sink his teeth into as Mance in episode 10. I would personally have ended episode 9 with Stannis coming to the rescue, but it still packed its punch in “The Children.” Jon’s arc is full from now on so I hope the Wall storyline becomes a favorite of mine again.

Bran: Holy crap, “The Children” was insane in terms of Bran and company! Book readers are fearing spoilers now. Bran was only in four episodes this season, and that’s all he needed. The one letdown was the Children of the Forest themselves. I’m not sure the last time they were mentioned in the show. For this reason, Leaf’s (aka the name of the Child in the books) appearance felt a bit anticlimactic. GRRM mentions the Children over and over again in the books and how they’re a myth and have been gone for ages. This makes their saving of Bran and company all the more surprising. It’s of course a drawback to having only 10 hours per season. Only so much time can be given to each storyline. I also wish the design looked a bit more animalistic instead of a kid in makeup. They have a fairy/druid/nymph feel in the books that truly makes them stand apart from humans. I personally thought the skeleton fight was awesome (probably because I’m a huge Jason and the Argonauts fan), but I could have done without the fireballs. That power is not mentioned in the books and also doesn’t make sense to me in terms of the show too. If the Children have the ability to volley fire, couldn’t they take out a whole bunch of Wights? Granted, I don’t know how many Children are left, but I feel like they could stand at a distance and send those fire suckers out as an attack. Bloodraven, aka the three-eyed crow, had an interesting design and feel. There’s something almost sinister to him on the page though, and I’m curious if the show will allude to that. Bran’s work with Bloodraven is also a chance for the show to shed light on past events through flashbacks. I’m so hoping we get some of those. Finally, RIP Jojen. You will be missed Thomas Brodie-Sangster and still always be the kid from Love Actually.

BONUS- The White Walkers: The biggest WTF moment for me this season was seeing the White Walker Fortress of Solitude. And I wish it hadn’t been shown. I’ve always thought the White Walkers worked better as an unseen menace that the audience saw the effects of (again going back to the horror movie trope here). I also didn’t care for Sam seeing the army of them in Season 2. My two favorite WW moments have been the opening of the pilot and Sam’s killing of one last season. Why? Because we as the audience saw so little of them. I’d have been happy not getting a good glimpse of them until the final season. The other reason is I’m not too keen on their design. Even my idea of them from the books is not 100% clear. They’re so otherworldly, alien, yet almost angelic in their stature. I guess if I had to settle on a look it would be an elf from Lord of the Rings but with a body like ice or translucent. Oh well, they are what they are! And what they heck will they do next season??

Alright… that’s a wrap! It’s the first time I’ve written about Game of Thrones so thanks for bearing with me! I hate having to wait until next April for a new season, but casting speculations and filming starting back next month will be just as exciting to follow!!

*Valar Dohaeris*