The Top 10 Best Moments of Game of Thrones Season 4 So Far

May 29, 2014
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Based on George R. R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice novels, HBO's fantasy epic series Game of Thrones is currently in its fourth season. I've been covering each episode of this season so far, which has been a blast, but since HBO decided to take a Memorial Day break this week, I thought I'd go back and do a quick recap of what I think are this season's best moments so far. Here we go.

by Cody Ray Shafer

10

Brienne and Podrick

(Episode 4: "Oathkeeper")

In his ever-growing transition to likeability, Jaime Lannister bestows his former captor and new BFF Brienne of Tarth with a fancy new set of armor, a shiny new sword, and most curiously, his dwarf brother's former manservant. Podrick isn't nearly as road-weary as Brienne, but he's eager, and the pairing is a comic parallel of the increasingly bleak road trip story of Arya and the Hound. Of course, the duo serves as an important plot point as well. By sending Podrick off on a quest with Brienne, Jaime freed him of the moral dilemma he would have to face if he was asked to testify at Tyrion's trial. Of course, it turns out that Pod is considerably more helpful than anyone planned.

9

Littlefinger's Big Reveal

(Episode 5: "First of His Name")

This moment isn't nearly as shocking or exciting as most everything else on this list when viewed in the episode's context, but the implications of Petyr Baelish's influence over Lysa reaching as far back as season one is even more important than it seems. Littlefinger's manipulations instigated the entire chain of events that led to the War of the Five Kings by convincing his future bride to murder her husband, Jon Arryn, The Hand of the King under Robert Baratheon. The revelation was delivered so carefully and without fanfare it was almost missed, but the reality of this character's power is as unnerving as any dangerous swordsman.

8

Daenerys Frees Meereen

(Episode 3: "Breaker of Chains")

Daenerys Targaryen's arc in season 3 focused on her acquisition of a massive army. In the process, she discovered her passion for freeing large slave populations. Her latest conquest in Meereen was the most dramatic, when she launched an assumed attack that instead rained broken chains down on the slave city. This is also the turning point in Daenerys' mission. When she crucifies the slavers in Meereen, she starts to straddle the line between benevolent liberator and merciless warrior. She continues to wrestle with the implications of her quest for justice, as it brings her more and more power.

7

Arya and the Hound's Bar Brawl

(Episode 1: "Two Swords")

My personal favorite Westeros duo kick off this season with Arya reclaiming her sword, "Needle," and The Hound cutting down a band of robbers over some chickens. Nearly every moment of these two has been excellent this season, exploring everything from existential wallowing to comic relief to a bizarre blossoming friendship to a homicidal apprenticeship.

6

The White Walkers

(Episode 5: "First of His Name")

In what is reportedly the first instance of HBO jumping ahead of George R. R. Martin, we get a frightening glimpse into the White Walkers' world at the end of "First of His Name." After taking the male child that Craster's wives continued to offer as sacrifice, the White Walkers take him to a mysterious circle, with mysterious figures. All we see is a mysterious cold-dead finger touch the baby's cheek, and his face turns a chilling frozen blue. What does any of this mean? It's one instance where even smug book-readers can't chime in with anything other than "winter is coming."

5

Bran Wargs into Hodor

(Episode 5: "First of His Name")

It looks like "First of His Name" might have been one of the most eventful episodes this season-and that's saying something. I'll chalk it up to a climactic structure that peaked in the fifth episode, though, after the slow momentum of episodes three and four. "First of His Name" featured the showdown at Craster's Keep and possibly the most significant development in Bran Stark's plot yet. After being kidnapped and with Hodor chained up like an animal, Bran magicks his way into the giant's mind and frees him in a bloodbath. Magic in Game of Thrones is real but rare, giving it some much needed depth and sincerity. We are left wondering what this power means for Bran as a character, as well as a slew of moral questions regarding Hodor's free will.

4

Jon Snow Takes on the Mutineers

(Episode 5: "First of His Name")

The action climax of this episode comes with Jon Snow's knife fight with Karl Tanner (known to most of the internet as Willem Defaux) which is just so needlessly bloody and violent. It's the stuff that Game of Thrones was made for. Of course, it's slightly bittersweet as Jon and Bran come within yards of each other without Jon ever realizing. Alas, they both have bigger quests to conquer than a Stark reunion.

3

Lysa Flies

(Episode 7: "Mockingbird")

It's Chekhov's Moondoor. [link to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chekhov's_gun] Littlefinger plays Sansa Stark and her aunt Lysa against each other, and it doesn't work out too well for poor, crazy, Lysa. For a second, I thought for sure we would see Sansa fall to her death at the hands of Lysa after she caught her new husband kissing her in the garden. Of course, that turned out to be his plan exactly (still, creepy) as Littlefinger mercilessly broke Lysa's heart, and presumably, every bone in her body.

2

Tyrion's Speech

(Episode 6: "The Laws of Gods and Men")

In a scene that will certainly make it onto Peter Dinklage's Emmy reel, Tyrion Lannister closed out his farce of trial with an epic monologue. He declared his innocence, while he accused society-well, mostly his father-of putting him on a lifelong trial for the crime of "being a dwarf." It's moving, but also rage-fueled and cathartic. Tyrion is a flawed human, but in Game of Thrones terms he's nearly a saint. His persecution typically takes a backseat to the rest of the political drama, but this scene brings it front and center, and doesn't disappoint.

1

Joffrey's Death

(Episode 2: "The Lion and the Rose")

Season 4 pulled out the big guns pretty early. In its second episode, the sadistic boy-king Joffrey was poisoned, on his wedding day no less. The rest of the season has been dealing with the aftermath of regicide. Cersei accused her brother Tyrion of the murder, and his case wasn't helped by the fact that his wife and supposed co-conspirator Sansa disappeared immediately. Of course, we learned over the next few episodes that Littlefinger orchestrated the assassination, with a little help from Olenna Tyrell, by way of a necklace around Sansa's neck. Sansa was oblivious to the plot-plausible deniability I suppose-but Littlefinger arranged for her to get out of King's Landing just to be safe. Joffrey's demise was celebrated among fans, but it has left a gaping hole in the show's narrative. A good villain is hard to replace, and it will be a long time before we hate anyone as much as we hated Joffrey.

Honorable Mention: Prince Oberyn

Prince Oberyn was introduced early on this season, and his presence brings even more sly coolness to Westeros. He seduces both men and women, ruthlessly knifes his enemies, and yes somehow comes off as the most honest and humane character of the series. When he nonchalantly lounges during a small council meeting, it's as if he's the only one aware of the fragile façade the political climate of Westeros really is. Of course, we know that he has really come to King's Landing to avenge the death of his sister and her children at the hands of The Mountain, who acted on orders from Tywin Lannister. Now that Cersei has named The Mountain as her champion in Tyrion's trial by combat, and Oberyn has stepped up to face the challenger on Tyrion's behalf, I'm pretty confident Oberyn's best moment is yet to come.

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