The Big 20 – SPOILERS AHEAD, MATEY!
The latest season of Game of Thrones is over but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about it endlessly until Season Five rolls around sometime early next year. Over the past couple of months, the highs and lows have been extreme alike in one of the best GoT seasons to date. Show runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss seem to be gradually regrasping the command of George R.R. Martin’s source novels that they displayed so impressively back in the original season. But Season 4 wasn’t the only season of Game of Thrones that included some inspired moments. We decided to look back at some of the most memorable sequences and occasions in the rich four-year history of the show.
The Mountain vs The Hound | S1
“Has anyone ever told you the story of the Mountain and the Hound?”
Though Ser Gregor Clegana aka ‘The Mountain’ would develop the irritating habit of completely changing his appearance over the course of the first four seasons of Game of Thrones, the one thing that remained constant about the behemoth of a man was that he is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous fighters in Westeros. Clegane is a minor but fascinating character in George R.R. Martin’s source novels. This scene managed to convey just what a horrifying psychopath The Mountain is as well as detail the back story between him and his younger brother Sandor aka ‘The Hound’ by pitting them together at the The Hand’s Tourney way back towards the beginning of Season 1. And though Zack Snyder’s upcoming Batman v Superman will probably eventually disproved this theory, watching two warriors duke it out at the top of their game is always entertaining.
Bronn’s Dirty Tactics in the Vale | S1
“The Eyrie. They say it’s impregnable.”
“Give me ten good men and some climbing spikes. I’ll impregnate the bitch.”
Bronn is a far more prominent character in the show than he ever was in the novels and his relationship with Tyrion, established during this fight with Ser Vardis in the Eyrie, is the reason why. Bronn exemplifies why no one is safe in Westeros – because if you ever think about fighting with honour you’ll most likely end up plunging to your death one way or the other.
Viserys’ Headache | S1
“A crown for A King!”
The death of Viserys was significant for a number of reasons. Firstly, it (naturally) cut ties between siblings Daenerys and Viserys once and for all – a big step for the young Khaleesi considering she’d been manipulated by her older brother essentially her entire life. Secondly, it proved that Viserys was completely ignorant about being the last ‘Dragon’, because as Daenerys notices, fire can’t kill a dragon. The death also regrettably meant that Viserys was no longer part of the show, a tragedy considering he is still one of the best Game of Thrones villains to date.
The Introduction of Tywin Lannister | S1
” I need you to become a man you’re always meant to be. Not next year, not tomorrow… now.”
Tywin Lannister arrived on the scene relatively late in the first Season of Game of Thrones but his presence had been nonetheless felt long before he ever counselled Jaime while gutting that deer. It’s a small but vital moment between the two men, highlighting the differences between father and son while establishing Tywin as a force to be reckoned with. Tywin’s influence ultimately ended up being arguably unmatched right up until his recent death and his domination will most likely be felt long into the coming seasons. Which incidentally, will be Winter.
Ned Stark Dying | S1
“So long as I am your king, treason shall never go unpunished.”
The death of Ned Stark not only set nearly all the subsequent events in motion but also established the cutthroat attitude of Martin, Benioff and Weiss’ regarding their characters. The ninth episode of Season 1 taught us that if Ned Stark can bite the dust in such a horrible way then nobody is safe. This was later reiterated when Martin, Benioff and Weiss rubbed a mountain of salt into the wound by massacring even more members of the Stark family but Ned’s death is the one that continues to hurt the most.
The Birth of Dragons | S1
“I am Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, of the blood of Old Valyeria. I am the dragon’s daughter, and I swear to you that those who would harm you will die screaming. “
There hasn’t been a cliffhanger to complete a season of Game of Thrones quite like the original and the best – although there arguably should have been at the end of Season 4, if you catch our drift. Literally overnight the Khaleesi went from a poorly widow, abandoned by her khalasar with naught but a monstrous infant to show for it to the mother of dragons, immune to fire. Unfortunately, this has also resulted in season after season of Daenerys slowly consolidating her position and waiting for her dragons to mature, which has been an arduous process for both her and the audience alike.
Theon Greyjoy beheads Ser Rodrick | S2
“Gods help you Theon Greyjoy. Now you are truly lost.”
Theon Greyjoy’s internal conflict was one of the few elements that really worked about Season 2, even though it’s never really detailed in the source novel at all. Greyjoy’s turmoil regarding his developed love and respect for the Stark’s versus his natural desire to please his own family is perhaps the only reason the character still manages to garner sympathy even after sacking Winterfell and beheading his childhood trainer Ser Rodrik Cassell. But for Theon himself, this was the point of no return.
The Battle of Blackwater | S2
“I’ve always hated the bells. They ring for horror. A dead king, a city under siege…”
The Battle of Blackwater would eventually be surpassed in terms of sheer spectacle by Mance Rayder’s assault on the Wall in Episode 9 of Season 4 but back in the day it didn’t get much better than Tyrion unleashing his Wildfire on Stannis Baratheon and his expansive fleet. The battle would cement ties between Tywin Lannister and the Tyrell family, exemplify the extremes Cersei will go to in order to protect her children and effectively knocked Stannis right back to square one. In hindsight, if Stannis had succeeded in the assault we may never have had to sit through Ser Davos learning how to read, so we’re not entirely sure how we feel about this one.
Drogon Burns the Slave Master Kraznys Alive | S3
Daenerys Targaryen has remained infamously passive since the birth of her three dragons but the brutal torching of Slave Master Kraznys gave us a harsh, albeit brief, reminder of the violence that Daenerys is willing to resort to on her campaign for the Iron Throne. Unfortunately, as soon as it was all over the Khaleesi reverted to her ongoing state of arrested development.
Jaime in the Bathtub | S3
“My name…..is Jaime.”
Jaime Lannister got off on the wrong foot with audiences by attempting to murder a young boy in the very first episode. On the other hand, if you consider how sluggish Bran’s entire plotline has ultimately ended up then Jaime was arguably trying to do us all a solid. Reasonably soon after the attempted murder it was quickly established that the entirety of the Seven Kingdoms loathed Jaime for breaking his oath and murdering Aerys Targaryen – the Mad King. Jaime is certainly a flawed man but most of his misdoings – including the pushing of Bran out the window – stem from his uncontrollable love of his sister Cersei. Jaime’s confessions to Brienne in the bath finally allowed him to share his own side of the murder of Aerys Targaryen, which in the end turned out to be quite reasonable.
Catelyn’s Talks About Jon Snow to Taleesa | S3
“And he lived. And I couldn’t keep my promise. And everything that’s happened since then, all this horror that’s come to my family… it’s all because I couldn’t love a motherless child.”
Another low key but important moment in Season 3 was Catelyn Stark admittance to Taleesa that she wished death upon Jon Snow as a boy. It was a rare opportunity for empathy toward a fairly contentious character and gave us insight into not only the conflict that Catelyn felt regarding Jon Snow but the guilt she had been harbouring at everything that has occurred to her family since.
Varys’ Box Wizard | S3
“Hello, my old friend.”
Varys remains one of the most enigmatic figures in Westeros chiefly because it’s still never entirely clear just who he stands behind. One thing that is completely evident however, is that Varys hasn’t had a particularly happy life. In this brief scene, Varys divulged the story of his castration at the hands of a twisted wizard before confessing that he was actually keeping that same wizard locked in a box in his room. Considering his natural underhanded nature, this is about as aggressive as Varys gets.
Melisandre meets Arya | S3
“I see a darkness in you.”
Another character of uncertain principle, Melisandre’s confidence may be her undoing. In Season 3 she travelled to intercept the Brotherhood Without Banners to exchange gold with them for the bastard son of Robert Baratheon, Gendry. True to her nature, Arya questioned the transaction and came face to face with Melisandre. What is particularly curious about the meeting is that it was the first time in the entire series that the Red Witch seemed unnerved by anybody. Maybe Melisandre saw her own eyes staring back.
The Red Wedding | S3
“The Lannisters send their regards.”
The Red Wedding was reportedly the event that inspired Weiss and Benioff to pursue Martin’s novels as a television series, so monumental is the impact it has on Westeros and its inhabitants. The wedding certainly didn’t disappoint in terms of shock value although the massacre did effectively kill an entire plotline along with some of Game of Thrones‘ more compelling characters. Perhaps only time will tell whether the momentum of the series has been unalterably hindered by the deaths of Robb and Catelyn and the abrupt end to the War of Five Kings.
The Death of Joffrey | S4
“He did this….he poisoned me son!”
While the hasty manner in which Joffrey died might have unsatisfied some, there’s surely no denying the simple fact that his death had been a long time coming. Effectively handing over the unhampered rule of Westeros to Tywin Lannister, the demise of Joffrey outed Tyrion from the Lannister family once and for all, regardless of his innocence. It also freed the ever suffering Sansa from his cruelty and gave her enough time to be swept away from King’s Landing in secret by Littlefinger.
Tyrion At The Trial | S4
“Watching your vicious bastard die gave me more relief that a thousand lying whores.”
There aren’t many moments of victory for the sympathetic characters of Game of Thrones, so occasions such as Tyrion’s outburst in his inexcusably one-sided trial end up as surrogates for genuine triumph. Essentially voicing what we’d all been thinking since Season 1, Tyrion finally decided to stick it to the entirety of King’s Landing. Perhaps foreseeably, his words feel on deaf ears, but they were spoken nonetheless. ReelGood hopes Shae felt like a real idiot from this moment up until Tyrion strangled her to death.
Arya Kills Rorge | S4
“He on your little list?”
“He can be.”
Arya’s evolution into an ice-cold killer has been slightly overplayed by Weiss and Benioff in this most recent season but it’s nevertheless one of the more compelling narrative arcs in the series. Arya had murdered before she stabbed Rorge in the heart but the other deaths felt like stepping stones on the path to the person she was becoming. By the time she caught Rorge’s name before promptly killing him, Arya has already arrived at the destination of her eventual integrity.
The Mountain Vs The Red Viper | S4
“YOU RAPED HER! YOU MURDERED HER! YOU KILLED HER CHILDREN!”
For us, the grief is still too near. Never stand over someone in Westeros unless you’re completely sure they’re dead.
The Assault on the Wall | S4
“And now my Watch begins….”
“The Watchers on the Wall” is the only episode of Game of Thrones ever to occupy just one location. Narrative wasn’t imperative during the assault on the Wall but the visual spectacle of the battle was next to none. Director Neil Marshall littered the episode with some of the most impressive shots on television this side of the raid in True Detective and certainly threw down the gauntlet in terms of film-level production values.
The Death of Tywin | S4
“I’ve always been your son.”
It’s not clear how Westeros will proceed now that the most powerful man in the kingdom has been shot in the guts with a crossbow whilst taking a shit. The death of Tywin Lannister was bittersweet considering that while Tyrion got revenge of sorts of the man who tormented him his entire life, the act also made him a murderer. The Lannisters are unravelling; their positions of power in King’s Landing are there to be taken.