The final credits roll on yet another season of Game of Thrones as the end/beginning of weeks becomes dreary again. With the dust settled and all the slaughter done, was Season 4 good? Spoiler-free!
Yes. Yes it was. But that's just a general comment and here on Thumbkey we like nitpicking and dissecting. Peeling back layers to reveal the core. There were high times and low times and I am not speaking as a begrudged fan who "lost" one of his favourite characters. Having read the books I can view the show without the feeling of sitting on red-hot coal while waiting (nay, expecting...) the next crushing calamity to hit me on the head. The main characteristic of Season 4 of GOT was pace. Incredible pace in order to cover enough ground from not just one but practically three books! And it made perfect sense because Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons take place simultaneously. The reason, of course, is the immense amount of characters we follow through the story.
From the get-go we start running through the narrative at a comfortable pace, taking in new characters like the dashing Oberyn Martell (the highlight of the season for some folks) and getting to know others somewhat better. Yes, Ramsey Snow, I mean you. As a parenthesis, since I just mentioned that bloodthirsty bastard, this is part of what makes this story great. It puts the definition of good and evil to the test. There are many brilliant characters but a kind heart amongst them is a rarity. There are agendas everywhere which helps us, the viewers, to choose the one we'd like to cheer for and identify with.
The aforementioned speed and pace, however, was not always used well. For instance, after sprinting through the story for the majority of the season, episodes 8 and 9 were not just worlds apart in terms of pacing but universes! Episode 8 had us "flying" through Westeros (and not only) to catch up with as much story and characters as possible before the 6 minute finale which was talked about in great length online. Then episode 9 had us planted in one spot for the entire running time, dropping the pace to a complete stand-still. Thankfully, Neil Marshall returned after "Blackwater" to deliver another exhilarating and action-packed episode in the manner that only he knows. So no complaining there apart from how out of the blue episode 8 was. A true editing mess if I have ever seen one.
Now, and this is understandable again, not everything unfolds as it does in the books. The main events are all there. Early on in the season we were given some justice only to be served some fan-service in later episodes (number 9 has a great example of fan-service) which I am not all happy with. But that's just personal preference. Some encounters were completely altered which removed a lot of the bleak coldness of the story, the way R.R wrote it. And I watch/read this story to feel everything. All the jokes, all the deaths, the sorrow and the joy. Altering one of those encounters that carry emotional gravity through their non-existence is what forced the character/s to go through the notions and feelings alone. Self-reflect if you like, instead of spoon feeding us an encounter just so we can that ONE line that has simply gotten popular for the sake of fan service alone.
Another chapter for discussion is the amount of nudity and gore. They were both just perfect, so moving on...
The finale was a bit of a surprise to me as a reader since the blending of three books left a lot of space for surprises. Not particularly for events that happened but for ones that didn't! The last episode was directed by Alex Graves, the same director from episode 8 (and 2...and 3) with the story, once again, flying back and forward. This time though he had the comfort of leaning back on the fact that this was IT, the last episode for the season which made the encounters he delivered through his lens have a lot more weight than the jumbled mess of episode 8. No floating around or conversations that could have been altered/shortened/avoided.
Was I happy with this season? Heck yes. Of course, I am a sucker for everything from A Song of Ice and Fire and I felt the choking knot of emotion hit my throat as yet one more season closed with a majestic choral rendition of the main theme as one of the best (if not THE best) character arcs took an important step. And now we wait... not for the new season, heck no! I am dying to receive casting news since there will be some amazing and VERY important new characters arriving next season. Characters that will shape the road to the end, and we don't even know how since next season will probably wrap up all the books that have already been released leaving ALL of us in the dark.
- Frixos Masouras 2014