Robb Stark (Richard Madden) lies dead at The Twins, turned on by the Boltons and the Freys at his Uncle Edmure’s wedding. The Red Wedding saw the deaths of his mother Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) and his wife Talisa (Oona Chaplin), along with his Northern forces. Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) was defeated on the Blackwater and Robb Stark has been extinguished in the Riverlands. House Lannister stands tall and King Joffery (Jack Gleeson) boasts, despite the win belonging to his grandfather Lord Tywin (Charles Dance), a man that has the seven kingdoms united in fear. As an incentive for turning their cloaks, the Freys were given Riverrun (still held by The Blackfish) and Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) was given the North.
His bastard Ramsay still holds Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) hostage to torture at his pleasure. Despite his crushing defeat on the Blackwater, Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) continues to thrive with Lady Melisandre (Carice van Houten) at his side, directing his attention at the Wilding threat at The Wall. In the Capital, Joffery (Jack Gleeson) is set to marry Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) and Cersei is wary that her house is becoming dependent on the Tyrells., all while Olenna (Diana Rigg) slides herself and her family into positions of power in King’s Landing. In The Vale, Petyr Baelish is making more of his infamous shady plans. But we all know he serves only Petyr Baelish.
After much talk about Dorne, the Martells have joined the game. Well one at least, Prince Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) has joined the throng with his charms, gallantry and badassery. At the same time in Slaver’s Bay, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) controls three dragons who are growing quickly enough to soon become significant threats in warlike scenarios. Presently, she’s travelling through the cities of Essos liberating slaves. Having liberated Astapor and Yunkai, tales of her activities are spreading fast as free slaves now join her.
In the Riverlands, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) is travelling with The Hound (Rory McCann) and threatening Lannister men for their chicken. South of The Wall, the degenerating Nights Watch are the only thing that stands between the Seven Kingdoms and Mance Rayder’s (Ciaran Hinds) one hundred thousand Wildlings and the the White Walkers. Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Sam Tarly (John Bradley-West) are doing their best to prepare for the looming Wilding assault on Castle Black.
There wasn’t a “Red Wedding” moment to build towards during season four. Though, there are many “did that really just fucking happen?” moments. These are the episodes that were the most honed in, like Tyrion’s trial in “The Laws Of Gods And Men” where Peter Dinklage gives a season-stealing performance and one of the best dramatic monologues for the screen since Kevin Costner in JFK, accompanied by a tear-provoking score (Ramin Djawadi). Season four is the time when Weiss and Benioff truly started going off-book. Post-season three is inspired by George R.R. Martin’s books rather than being a page-for-page adaptation. Despite that, it’s a great television drama in its own right.
After the notorious Red Wedding, Game Of Thrones doesn’t really have a set direction. It continues with independent character or dual-character arcs. There’s no more war, as the Starks are all dead/presumed dead (Arya). Sansa is considered the pureblooded last Stark and she’s the Lannister’s hostage in Kings Landing. With no more players for the Iron Throne, excluding Stannis (thought permanently defeated), the Lannisters think they’re safe. Then there’s characters like Littlefinger who are in for the long game. He’s playing chess with everyone, using them as pawns and often planning eight moves ahead. Despite having no visible challengers, that didn’t stop King Joffery getting poisoned at his own wedding; now known as The Purple Wedding.
It has to be said, I loved to hate Joffery and I was a little sad when he was murdered. His death was satisfying to watchers and readers far and wide. It’s one of those events that show us that nobody is safe and main characters can be killed at any moment, not just in the famous episode nine spot. But things did happen in episode nine. We were at The Wall for the whole episode as the Wildings actioned their assault in “The Battle Of Castle Black” which was cinematic genius if I do say so myself.
Oberyn’s death at the hands of The Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) was brutal, leaving the Oberyn fanbase in tears. It was more brutal than the Red Wedding and it took the acting prowess of Pedro Pascal to really bring it home. It’s even more harrowing when you know the backstory of the Robert’s Rebellion and The Sack Of King’s Landing. The Mountain raped and killed his sister Elia Of Dorne, and her children, on the orders of Tywin Lannister, often referenced as “Tywin Lannister’s Mad Dog.”
This season is certainly Tyrion’s season as we see him go from lord to prisoner and subsequently fugitive. Sansa (Sophie Turner) starts learning from Littlefinger, picking up the nickname “Darth Sansa” when we see her looking like some kind of sithlord in the season finale. “The Children” was also Stannis Baratheon’s return to glory, ambushing Mance Rayder’s army; filled with great cinematography, direction and textbook Westerosi awesomeness. All in all, a sensational season filled with eye-popping performances, a musical score to kill and storylines that leave you dumbstruck.