The red carpets were rolled out, screeners were sent, and now the critics’ reviews for the fourth season of Game of Thrones are turning up…and the results are very, very positive.
Here are some of the highlights of what critics had to say about the new season:
- Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter: “The first three episodes are predictably spot-on – action-packed, terrific scenes full of searing dialogue bumping up against others where volumes are spoken with facial features or silence. The consistent excellence in Game of Thrones is truly something to behold.”
- James Poniewozik of Time: “It’s one tale, going into its 31st hour. So it should not be surprising to say that this season (judging by the first three episodes) is as good as the season that just preceded it, which in turn was the strongest of the series to date. But that’s not to say that themes don’t ebb and flow over the series, and in this new season thus far that theme seems to be cruelty and its consequences (or lack thereof).”
- Brian Lowry of Variety: “As has become almost a pattern, the fourth season begins somewhat slowly – juggling a dizzying assortment of existing characters, while introducing new ones – punctuated by major events, serving notice nobody lives forever. Even when the pace drags, George R.R. Martin’s creation is consistently as big and brawny as television gets.”
- Andy Greenwald of Grantland: “After watching Sunday’s premiere — no spoilers to follow, I swear on the Sept — I was reminded of how the real pleasures of Game of Thrones derive not from the swords but from the people swinging them. To me, the early episodes of the season always evoke the first day of summer camp — not just because it’s muddy and the rich blond kids are acting like bullies, but because they provide a wonderful chance to catch up on old friends.”
- Sonia Saraiya of The A.V. Club (experts review): “George R.R. Martin himself wrote the screenplay for the second episode [...], and it’s easily one of the best hours of the show to date—a tight, beautiful episode that resonates after it’s over.” Saraiya notes that there are “some troubling missteps” in the first few episodes with the show’s penchant for sexposition still apparent, but that “Game Of Thrones was and is an astonishing achievement.”
- Andrew Romano of The Daily Beast: “It is—and continues to be in Season 4—a total storytelling masterclass. Sometimes you want to ponder whether time is a flat circle. Sometimes you want to wonder why a good man went bad. And sometimes you just want to feel a perfectly-told tale click into place—and let it take you wherever it may. That’s Games of Thrones. It’s pure pleasure to watch.
- Louisa Mellor of Den of Geek: “The newcomers are broadly drawn, admittedly, but subtlety and nuance has never been Game Of Thrones’ purview. Sex, violence, intrigue and world-building is where it continues to flourish. (Incidentally, the new face of Daario Naharis, Michael Huisman, fits in seamlessly and is a vast improvement on last season’s Tyroshi lothario.)”
- Theresa Delucci of Tor: (Major spoilers for S4E1 “Two Swords” in this linked review) “Let’s just put it out there: Oberyn has one of the best introduction scenes in this show’s history. He’s built up in the beginning of the episode before we even see him and when we finally do meet this fabled hot-headed playboy prince of Dorne, he delivers.”
- Ed Cumming of The Telegraph: “Arya (Maisie Williams) and the Hound (Rory McCann) [...] still make a brilliant duo. Their first appearance began with humour and ended with some of the most brutal action yet. If series four can maintain the pitch they reached, we are in for a bloody treat.”
- Willa Paskin of Slate: “It’s the particular power of Game of Thrones that as these characters descend further into the muck and the grime, the besmirching totality of violence, we’re still pulling for so many of them. Game of Thrones teaches us to look for even a hint of light in the darkness.” She notes however, that GoT “only occasionally puts together a satisfying standalone episode, and that in the season premiere, “we are shuffled from character to character, given not enough of some, too much of others.”
- Don Kaplan of the NY Daily News: After summarizing the action of the season opener, Kaplan says, “All of this unfolds at a snail’s pace — at least in this first episode — and for some, that may be a bit of a let-down after last season’s violent conclusion. But that’s fine. This is a series that has already proven its mettle, and “Thrones” can afford to move its chess pieces around before the heads that matter begin to roll.”
- Chris Cabin of Slant: “In its fourth season, Game of Thrones finally strides with the purpose and fearlessness of a great battle-tested behemoth through the sprawling, violent landscapes of Westeros. Where season three still showed some signs of the indecisive editing and troubled pacing that plagued the series from the start, the latest season moves with a thrilling decisiveness in both the cutting of the episodes and the adapting of George R.R. Martin’s gargantuan tomes.”
Every review has different degrees of spoilers, so please heed the various spoiler warnings given at the linked sites!
Ours is the Fury: Very encouraging results so far! As usual, some think the first episode is a little slow, but it sounds like that’s less of an issue this year. Can’t wait to see for myself. Just three days now!