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The 8 Ball 6.17.14: Top 8 Game of Thrones Season Four Moments
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 06.17.2014

Welcome, one and all, to the 8 Ball in the Movie Zone! I'm your host Jeremy Thomas and as always, we will be tackling a topic and providing you the top eight selections of that particular category. Keep in mind that this list is meant to be my personal opinion and not a definitive list. You're free to disagree; you can even say my list is wrong, but stating that an opinion is "wrong" is just silly. With that in mind, let's get right in to it!

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Top 8 Game of Thrones Season Four Moments

Welcome back to the 411 Movie Zone 8 Ball, ladies and gentlemen! I hope all of the fathers out there had a great Father's Day on Sunday. Game of Thrones finished up its fourth season this weekend and it did so in a grand fashion. As 411's official recapper and reviewer for the show for this past season, I feel that the show kept the quality of the storytelling high despite some potentially tricky elements and I'm certainly excited to see where it goes next year. With Westeros heavy on my mind, I thought this week we would look at the best moments of the past season.

Caveat: For this list I was looking for scenes, incidents, moments or the like that not only were high quality, but really changed the course of the storyline. Nearly all of the show was very well-acted but didn't quite have the impact of other scenes; I wanted more of a holistic approach. Also, I think it's obvious but important to note that there are Season Four spoilers here, all the way through the finale. There, you have been warned.

Just Missing The Cut

Bronn Admits to Tyrion That He's Sold Out
Arya Busts Out in Laughter Learning Lysa Is Dead
Jon Sticks Karl Right Through the Mouth
Daenerys Addresses the Slaves of Meereen
Tywin Asks Tommen "What Makes a Good King?"

#8: Arya Decides Against Mercy For the Hound

There is a lot of death on this list, but one of the best and most significant moments this season comes from when someone chooses not to kill. Arya Stark has been a girl with a nice, long list of names on her kill list ever since the end of season one. And yet she's never had the opportunity to kill any of them personally. She's killed of course, and she's had people killed through Jaqen, but she hadn't yet taken a life of anyone on her list (unless you count Rorge, who wasn't ever officially part of it). Sandor was her first true opportunity to scratch a major name off of her list with her own sword, and yet she chooses not to. The reasoning is simple: killing him would be a mercy and it's a truer vengeance to let him die slowly. Arya has long been a fan favorite for her tomboyish nature and plucky attitude, but she's remained a slave to her own childhood and the machinations of those around her. When she chooses not to kill the Hound and walks away, this is the moment when Arya officially grows up and leaves her childhood behind her. It's a major turning point for the character and is fantastically acted by Maisie Williams, who has this disturbingly detached expression on her face while Sandor begs. It's made me far more interested in seeing where she goes from here than I might have expected.

#7: Sansa Starts to Play the Game

Where Arya growing up and taking control of her life was expected at some point, Sansa Stark has always seemed more like someone who would be swept away in the tide of blood cutting across the Seven Kingdoms. As much as I love Sophie Turner's work on the show and feel like it's very underrated, Sansa has been a victim since the moment of Ned Stark's death and hasn't shown any signs of knowing how to get out of it. In "The Mountain and the Viper" Sansa finally turns things around and takes everything she's learned about manipulation from King's Landing to get on top of her situation. She had every opportunity to condemn Littlefinger to death by naming him as Lysa Arryn's murderer, but instead she gives a believable performance in pretending to be traumatized by Lysa's actions and naming the death as an accident on Lysa's part. The way this scene was shot is fantastic, with Littlefinger barely in view in the background as Sansa tells her story to the Vale council and then, when she hugs Lady Waynwood, gives the man a cold, calculating gaze. She knows that she needs Baelish to survive and she knows how to manipulate him, meaning that things are definitely looking up for her. That final scene where she comes down the staircase in her feathered black dress shows that both Stark girls may just live through this yet.

#6: Ygritte Takes an Arrow to the Knee Back

Oh, poor Ygritte. I don't think anyone expected that our favorite redheaded Wildling was going to survive this season, but still you hope. I daresay that Rose Leslie made the character far more interesting than someone else might have; not that Ygritte isn't a fascinating character as written but Leslie gave her the fire that she deserved. I loved the way she interpreted the role and how strongly she sold the idea that this Wildling refused to back down from anyone who got in her way. And yet Jon Snow was always going to be her downfall. She's not quite collateral damage; after all, she was part of Mance Ryder's Wildling army and would have come into conflict with the Night's Watch at some point anyway. But what she went through and the emotional torment she suffered was a side effect of Jon's undercover mission. She's a force to be reckoned with during the battle of the Wall, killing several Night's Watchmen before she came face to face with Jon. And the way it played out on the screen really sold the emotional connection between the characters. At least, it did until young Olly puts an arrow through Ygritte and ends her life. Ygritte's death had impact, in that it drives Jon into his decision to go after Mance, but it had less of an overall influence than, say, the deaths of Tywin or Joffrey. Still, she was a great character and it's unfortunate to see her go; her death scene was very well-done and she was given the proper send-off as well.

#5: Lysa Cops to Killing Jon Arryn

Before she got her chance to "fly," as young Robin likes to say, Lysa had an opportunity to give audiences a reveal that shook the very foundations of the series. The plot of the series has been driven from the very first moments by the death of Jon Arryn, which has always been assumed to have been at the hands of the Lannisters after he discovered the truth about Joffrey. But in "First of His Name" when Baelish and Sansa arrive at the Aerie, we find out that assumption is actually wrong; in truth, Jon was poisoning by his wife's own hand at Littlefinger's request. This was not only played out brilliantly by Aidan Gillen and Kate Dickie, but changes everything. Not only do we now view the characters in a very different way, but going back and rewatching the past three seasons brings an entirely new perspective. Think of the way Baelish led Ned Stark onward toward revelations about Jon's death, and the way Lysa tried to have Tyrion thrown through the Moon Door for Jon's death. The plots are suddenly so much clearer and so deviously clever that rewatching the series becomes almost a new experience again. It's definitely a moment that results in a tectonic shift in perceptions as a viewer.

#4: Tyrion Gets His Revenge on Tywin

Here is the third death--and the second from the finale--which happens a character takes control of their lives and their fate. (Okay, second and a half; we don't know that Sandor's dead.) Tyrion is granted freedom from the execution hanging over his head and makes to flee so he can escape to the Free Cities with Varys' help, but he can't go just yet. He needs closure--whatever that entails--and that brings him to his father's chambers, where he finds Shae in Tywin's bed. That scene is brutal and effective, but it is what comes after where Tyrion really strikes out on his own. With Shae's lifeless head hanging down next to his own, he spies a crossbow on the wall and takes it. The whole thing is so deliberate that you just have to know that Tyrion has no intention of letting Tywin leave unscathed. You don't bring a reloader and two if you're going to just scare someone. So he goes to Tywin in the privy and gives him a chance. There was no guarantee there that he was going to kill Tywin, I think; he just needed to understand. But Tywin underestimates his son and with two crossbow bolts, Tyrion takes his father's life and begins a new one for himself. It could well be the beginning of a dark path for Tyrion and it significantly kills off the last member of the younger generation's parentage, at least among the main cast. This is the kind of thing that will have to reverberate strongly from here and at the very least it means a very different life for Tyrion.

#3: Oberyn and The Mountain's Duel

When it comes to fights during the fourth season, I think it's very safe to say that none were more discussed than the one between Oberyn Martell and Gregor Clegane in the episode named after them, "The Mountain and the Viper." Pedro Pascal helped make Oberyn an instant fan favorite among fans of the show; here was a man who was not only charismatic and charming, but he also was a major monkeywrench in the plans of the Lannisters, who were seemingly unopposed at the start of the fourth season. He was a man with a very specific path of vengeance in mind and he sliced his way through a lot of King's Landing's intrigue in order to get to the truth. In the end it was Tyrion and Cersei who ultimately gave him his chance to get some answers, with Tyrion's demand of a trial by combat and Cersei's choice of the Mountain as champion. There was so much hinging on this fight: Oberyn's answers, Tyrion's life and, it could be the argued, the very welfare of House Lannister as a whole. Alex Graves impressively chose to shoot this in wide angles, rather than try and go for the crutch of quick-cut action. This let us see Oberyn's athleticism and the Mountain's strength. And like many of Game of Thrones' fights, it was more than just action; it was character development. We learn so much out of the course of this battle, not the least of which is the truth about the Mountain's crimes against Oberyn's family. Nothing is done here solely because it's cool; it all plays into character choice, right down to Oberyn's need for answers causing his own death. It's going to be very hard for the show to ever top this particular battle in terms of not only quality, but overall impact on the series.

#2: Tyrion Explodes at His Trial

While the Mountain vs. the Viper may have been the end result, this was my favorite single moment of Tyrion's trial. Peter Dinklage was largely leashed for the fourth season of the show. As much as I enjoyed his scenes in jail, the interplay between him and Joffrey in the first couple of episodes and the rest, it was his trial (or farce of a trial) where the actor finally got a chance to show us why he's an Emmy winner for Tyrion and probably deserves another one. Tyrion has been forced to endure so much throughout the last few seasons that it's hard to believe he endured it all with dignity. He even sat through the trial, where his supposed friends and known enemies were trotted in to lay down false testimony that would condemn him, without too much snark. But it was too much when Shae showed up. You could see it on Dinklage's face; you knew this wasn't going to be good. As Shae twisted their love story into something dirty and foul, the rage began to build before he finally cut in and delivered one of the better monologues on this show's history. It's great to see a character like this just unload all the frustration and anger he's felt and Dinklage was shocking in the force of his anger. It's the single-best performance moment on the show over the last season, without question.

#1: The Purple Wedding

C'mon, what else could it be? For four years now, we've been waiting for the death of Joffrey Baratheon. It seemed almost like it might never come, as protected as he was by people who were disgusted by him yet bound in duty. And Jack Gleeson deserves every accolade he can get for making the character so hateable. He tore into it and never shied away from how loathsome the little monster was. I wrote a piece earlier this year suggesting that the death might have come too soon, and it received--shall we say--a strong reaction. I'm man enough to admit when I'm wrong and I was here. Joffrey's death may have come too quickly before establishing a new true villain, but there's absolutely no doubt that narratively it hit the right spot as it allowed the plot for the rest of the season to spin out from it. It's a great fan service moment in depicting the death of a character we've been frothing at the mouth to see go, and it fits perfectly into the narrative as well. It's definitely the strongest single event of the fourth season, and perhaps the series as a whole. The moral of the story: don't get married in Westeros.

Disguise of the Episode

Current Series/Season: Season One (2001 - 2002)
Episodes Watched: 16
Last Serial Completed: The Prophecy - Sydney is tested by the DSR to discover her mysterious link to a chilling 500-year-old picture and prophecy foretold in a Rambaldi manuscript. Meanwhile, after uncovering the identity of the rogue group leader, "The Man," Sloane learns through fellow Alliance of Twelve member Edward Poole that a close friend may be in cahoots with the enemy.
Episodes Remaining: 89

And that will do it for us this week! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Until then, have a good week and don't forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! JT out.


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