After a slow season three, ‘Game of Thrones’ made an explosive return, one that was mired by controversy nonetheless, including an uncomfortable and completely unnecessary rape scene between Jaime and Cersei.
But for ‘GoT’ fans, both old and new, the singular unifying moment of the entire season, nay series, arrived at long last when Joffrey Baratheon sputtered to his death at his own wedding (dubbed the Purple Wedding) after drinking poisoned wine.
By now, fans have learnt to expect death at every turn, but this one in particular was celebrated with rampant glee. Even the camera lingered on his dying face a few minutes too long, as if savouring the moment for as long as it possibly could. But believe it or not, the season was just warming up as the body count steadily rose as each episode went by. Also, if last season saw tragedy after tragedy befall the Starks, the Lannisters are not having a party this time around either.
‘The Lion and the Rose’ (Episode 2)
Theon Greyjoy is paying for his sins as Ramsay Bolton continues to torture him until he finally submits and is turned into Reek. The Lord of Light demands more sacrifices and Melisandre is quick to deliver with more burning bodies, as Stannis Baratheon’s gleeful wife watches. Back in King’s Landing, Tyrion tries to break things off with Shae and send her packing (albeit for her own safety), but Shae will have none of it and is furious. And as discussed above, we can guarantee there’s nothing more satisfying than watching the Young Usurper Joffrey kick the bucket at his own wedding to Margaery Tyrell, thanks to some essential plotting by grand matriarch Olenna Tyrell (the realest MVP there ever was) and Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish (finally coming to some good use). Off-screen, the episode is significant as the last one written by Martin himself for the series.
‘Mockingbird’ (Episode 7)
A big revelation arrives when Petyr Baelish and Lysa Arryn discuss their part in Jon Arryn’s death, an event that essentially put into motion the entire series, from Ned Stark and co moving to King’s Landing and the War of the Five Kings to everything else that followed. Also, Littlefinger then dispenses of Lysa, as he pushes her through the infamous Moon Door, another death that was a long time coming.
‘The Mountain and the Viper’ (Episode 8)
The death toll rises as Oberyn Martell and Ser Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane butt heads at the trial by combat set up for Tyrion, who has been falsely accused in the murder of his nephew, Joffrey. Oberyn, of course, dies as his face gets squashed open in gloriously gory detail. It’s an image that’ll spawn a million memes, alongside Joffrey’s purple face. Meanwhile, in the Vale, Petyr Baelish and Sansa Stark have an important discussion about Lysa Arryn’s murder, as they decide to become allies, for now.
‘The Laws of Gods And Men’ (Episode 6)
Watch this episode if only to see Daenerys slowly come to the realisation that her dragons are growing up fast and steadily spiralling out of her control. And who can forget Tyrion’s courtroom speech? A masterful monologue, Tyrion finally loses it as he unleashes his fury on his family and then the general public for so easily forgetting that he protected King’s Landing from being sacked by Stannis Baratheon’s formidable army not very long ago.
‘The Children’ (Episode 10)
Originally aired on Father’s Day, the final episode of season four ended with an arrow in the heart for Papa Lannister, the trigger being pulled by none other than his least favourite son but our favourite hero, Tyrion, who also kills Shae when he finds her in bed with his own father. There’s also the epic showdown between the Hound and Brienne of Tarth, as they fight over guardianship of Arya Stark, one of the few people in all of Westeros who actually needs any kind of guarding, who trots off to find Jaqen H’ghar and begin her assassin training. As for the other Stark kid, Bran’s long journey comes to an end as he finally meets The Children of the Forest and the Three-Eyed Raven, as he learns the truth about the origin of the White Walkers.