Editorial Reviews

The First Episodes of Game of Thrones Season 4 Do Not Disappoint

Arya: "Who are you texting?"
Arya: "Who are you texting?"

Arya: “Who are you texting?”

The Rains of Castamere has played inside of my head for the past three and a half weeks, having spent the better part of the end of February catching up on homework (Seasons 1, 2, and 3) and March in an edit bay, with a single monitor dedicated to looping Game of Thrones Season 4’s “Two Swords,” “The Lion and the Rose,” and “Breaker of Chains.” The melody resonates in these episodes, serving as a reflection on our current point in the overall story and position in the development of particular characters, as they find a place in this world building so violently toward Winter. These are an organized handful of thoughts generalizing the palette of emotion we’re meant to experience in our history’s story of the television show Game of Thrones as it enters its fourth season, under heavy anticipation to translate what George has written beyond the events of Season 3’s painful conclusions, to screen.

The show has continued to improve from season to season on several technical levels (and in many visual attributes), but there is a noticeable confidence in the approach to certain scenes, clearly visible/audible/feelable(?) that the ones behind what is being created at that very moment are equally if not more excited to see this finally being created for the lot of us to see. The Game of Thrones directorial debut of show’s co-creator DB Weiss in the first of the three, was outstanding. Increased levels of polish to the show’s already shining (armor) quality of work can be seen immediately, directly following that particular episode’s opening scene, with the smoothest transition into a title sequence made on this planet. His approach to sequences that are rudimentary in visual representations of a story set in this era of technology feel very fresh. Fresh to the show even, expanding the scope, done very well. The expansion of this world (and the approach to familiar places with more dollar bills in the equation) will undoubtedly bring new obligatory and beautiful frames of vast and detailed geography, but even more so than it ever has before, the show does a highfive-worthy job with making it feel supplemental to the danger (or etc) in the current setting.

On Thursday, Fury posted a collection of thoughts from a small selection of critics, weighing in on (the show as a whole, in some cases) the events in what we’ve been able to see thus far in Season 4, only to the degree in which has been approved, of course. To me, it would be a terrible waste to divulge oriented (or disoriented) details that may give confirmation of events to come, with a very large portion of this website’s active community having done their own scholarly pursuits in the world of Ice and Fire. The buzzing excitement of a viewer when characters who have been established over a span of hours and years finally reach one another, sharing in exchanges put into being by the ghosts of seasons past, there are few words. The careful detail put into these three episodes, highlighted by subtle artistry in George’s own words (throughout episode 2), give much weight to the decisions and actions of both established and new characters, and in the ways they interact with one another. A character like Jamie, who has suffered considerable pain and loss (separated from his family for a lengthy run of the show) finally returns to familiar faces, the kinds of faces with much to talk about, that can bring about the type of conversation we’ve been unable to share in as an audience since the first season. And that is only a piece of the small victories we’ll share in this new season.

It feels very seamless. Much more seamless than it has before, and I’ve considered this show to be the most well made of its class in television since the first 15 minute preview HBO provided us all of those years ago. Small things, the decision to capture a certain row in a certain style, or the weight of the camera’s motion as it speeds along a dense wooded scene — with it all, the pounding reminder of drama from an already excellent soundtrack, and the melodies that welcome Season 4’s new characters. Game of Thrones will continue to raise the bar in so many different ways with the coming of this new season, now only two days until it all begins. A looped version of The Rains of Castamere has played inside of my headphones for the past several minutes. Everything is quiet now, which probably means it’s time for me leave this collection of words behind and prepare to join the rest of you this Sunday evening, to finally see the ruddy thing in fullscreen, minus one row of immovable serial numbers.

185 Comments

  • Sounds great! Looking forward to it.

    BTW, isn’t about time you got a Thrones related pseudonym Zack?

  • What? Are they changing the opening format of the show …”can be seen immediately, directly following that particular episode’s opening scene, with the smoothest transition into a title sequence made on this planet.” I translate to mean D&D’s opening episode of season 4 …

  • didn’t they have a cold open in 301? and im sure they had one in the pilot. cant wait for sunday (or monday in my case). thank you zack!
    tysnow,

  • tysnow:
    What? Are they changing the opening format of the show …”can be seen immediately, directly following that particular episode’s opening scene, with the smoothest transition into a title sequence made on this planet.” I translate to mean D&D’s opening episode of season 4 …

    It means that the episode has a cold opening prior to the title sequence?

  • tysnow,

    Season 3s opening episode started the same way. We see Sam running away from a wight before being saved by Ghost and Mormont. Then comes the famous game of thrones opening music

  • Good to see a post from you Zack, I loved this line

    when characters who have been established over a span of hours and years finally reach one another, sharing in exchanges put into being by the ghosts of seasons past

    That’s the thing I’m most excited about tbh! Jaime with Tywin, Tyrion, Cersei, Joffrey and Tommen. More Lannister family dinners please. And Jon and Team Dragonstone too, when reading that in the books I was like “is this really happening? are these characters together? oh my god!!!!”

  • Thanks for the clarification. Well if it starts in K.L. it might entail someone on a balcony of the RK, then the camera pans, zooms out and the Keep transforms into the Show Title keep.

  • The New York Times are shitting themselves. They’re wondering how they can get away with giving this season a bad review without looking like the incompetent hacks that they are.

  • Zack,

    Lucky bastard! Did you see the 3 S4 episodes on DVD, Bluray or via a secret web feed? If DVD/Bluray, what do you get to do with the disc afterwards? Does it self-destruct after a few days?

  • Watching this marathon is really making it sink in how truly awful season 3 was compared to 1 and 2. Material, writing, everything. Redeeming episodes being 4, 6 and 9. Really hope they step it up for 4.

  • wizardeyes,
    While the review is pretty terrible all around, this made me laugh:

    The only American actor playing a significant role in the series, Mr. Dinklage is simultaneously more magisterial than his British and European counterparts and more restrained; his baleful eyes contain the emotion that’s otherwise conveyed in soap opera terms.

  • Totally agree with NYT’s hate on oberyn. Hate dorne. So irrelevant. Ugh. hell be dead in 7 episodes

  • wizardeyes,

    I’m not even going to read this, waste of time… But I really don’t get the NYT when it comes to GOT. The one review I did read (the one for season 1) was just awful. From a objective standpoint that is. It was just lazy, ill-founded criticism.

  • Ozymandias,

    It will be, there I have counted five unlisted top tier high profile reviews which has not been listed. And Sepinwall seems to write one too. 97 might happen if NYT gives a 60-70.
    It might happen. And it seems we are just a small percent under 96, so it is even likely. I am sure there are some positive ones to be released the next few days. Im just hoping, because that would place GoT right between The wire and Breaking Bads fourth seasons.

  • cosca,

    I really dont know why people fangirl over 3 and 5 … like what is it that people got out of those I thought they were so boring

  • wizardeyes,

    I’m usually a dedicated reader of the New York Times for news and sports, but their annual reviews of Game of Thrones are some of the most flagrantly ridiculous examples of unintentional comedy in “entertainment journalism”. Every year, they drag in a new critic to offer up a new spin on the same tired template. The critic spends half of his or her allotted column space whining about how fantasy isn’t a genre that serious-minded people should deign to pay attention to, and the other half passive-aggressively disparging one of the best ensemble casts on television. It ends up reading like a Mad Libs game, “How To Write a Snide and Contrarian Review of a Popular and Acclaimed Television Program”. What a bunch of pretentious hacks.

  • Greenjones,

    They’re the Freys of the real world.

    Shan,

    Dude Oberyn is one of the best characters of the entire series. There’s not a dull moment when he’s around. And no he won’t be around for that long but he’ll make a big impression. He burned too bright for this world… and how do you know Dorne is irrelevant? You don’t know how its going to end.

  • wizardeyes,

    Ive just never… like I know oberyn is a fan favorite but there has never been an ounce in my body that felt any appreciation for oberyn. Him yelling at the mountain is cool I guess but I see him far more as a plot device than a character.

    And of course I dont! Well have to see how it plays out ;)

  • Jeff O’Connor,

    I thought that when it first aired but as I rewatch I realize that its totally different from 1 and 2.. I guess that difference can either be good or bad depending on your view!

  • Jeff O’Connor,

    Yeah. I love all the seasons, but Dany in Qarth was like a different show. Felt like I was watching a Star Trek spinoff, and easily the low point of the series.

  • Why do you guys think the NYT reviews regarding GOT are so poor? Like seriously, anyone who reads their reviews before watching the show might just not waste their time.

  • Obeyrn was a good character but I was never a super fan. But I think he will translate really well on the show, the actor seems to know what he wanted to do with the character and it sounds like he’ll be really likeable and bad ass. He’ll probably be one of those characters that will give me a new perspective on the character when I get to rereading the books, like Osha or Bronn. I’m basing this on the synopsis my friend who attended the screening told me and the preview scenes online

  • For me, the best episodes and best seasons were:

    Season 1: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
    Season 3: 4, 5, 8, 9
    Season 2: 3, 6, 9

  • For me…

    Season 3: 3, 4, 5, 8, 9
    Season 1: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
    Season 2: 3, 4, 6, 9, 10

  • Season 3’s pacing really does stand out. It’s got much more filler (enjoyable as it was) and all the buildup of ASOS without the payoff.

    Really won’t have that problem with Season 4 since…it is all the payoff of ASOS. Plus, a more compact story and sprinkling in AFFC/ADWD.

  • For once Zack is sullied an the book readers are the unsullied ones. I didn’t see this twist coming!

  • Jeff O’Connor,

    We’re very similar. The main difference is I’ve never been a huge fan of the episode 10s. Season 1s was very good (but not a favourite), Season 2’s concluded Jon and Danycs arcs poorly in comparison to the books and Season 3’s was nothing special and had Dany crowdsurfing. Season 4’s finale will be astounding in comparison.

  • Josla:
    Why do you guys think the NYT reviews regarding GOT are so poor? Like seriously, anyone who reads their reviews before watching the show might just not waste their time.

    I didn’t think the NYT review was that bad. It actually had a fair number of compliments about Arya & the Hound, Tyrion, and the “production team”. There was typical NYC snark (which seemed almost forced, as if they knew their readers were expecting negativity) but it did offer some unique perspectives not found in other “objective” reviews.

  • cosca,
    Season 3 was great. Season 2 was the weakest but all of them were good. I don’t know how anyone can be a GoT fan and think S3E5 is boring, it’s one of the show’s best episodes.

  • JamesL,

    It is funny when you realize that no one disparages Game of Thrones more than someone who is actually a Game of Thrones fan. Except for maybe the NYT.

  • I just finished a rewatch of the entire series and season 2 is still behind season 3. Season 1 was a bit better than season 3, though the production quality is noticeably weakest in season 1. To call season 3 “truly aweful” compared to the other 2 is ridiculous. ‘Blackwater’ and ‘What Is Dead May Never Die’ are the only season 2 episodes as good as the top 5 of season 3.

  • The NY Times doesn’t suck a dick just because everyone else does. That review actually is quite spot on in certain aspects. And they are clearly reviewing it based on quality of the storytelling/writing which honestly is not this shows strong points. Almost every season opener, save S1, has been below par and used primarily to get reacquainted with the actors and storylines. It also seems like there is no bias from knowledge or love of the books, as other, more positive reviews, may contain.

    Anywho. I’ve been drinking.

  • Season 3 was the best imo, obviously nothing can be compared with season 1… it was a completely different game then.

    Season 3 was slow around 6 and 7, sure, but Season 2 was far too crammed. They just skip over the War of Five Kings. What is Robb doing? Where is he? They don’t even say he’s in the Westerlands or why, they speak as if he’s facing Tywin directly and then only give him scenes with Talisa. Renly and Stannis was rushed but that’s understandable, they only told us the Kracken’s plan but that’s understandable. Theon taking Winterfell was well rushed… they just showed Dagmer being like… “you could not take the fishing villages” and then show Theon waltzing into Bran’s bedroom… like really?
    On top of the that, Jon and the Halfhand… rushed and altered. Dany in Qarth was awful between 2×04 and 2×10. Jaime killing Alton to add drama to 6 and 7? I’d rather have the slow, emotional pace of season 3.

    Favourite episodes:
    Season 1: 1, then 6-10
    Season 2: 6, 9, 10
    Season 3: 4, 5, 9

  • Tyrion Pimpslap,

    Agreed. “What is Dead May Never Die” is often overlooked but is actually one of the best episodes of the show imo. Tyrion, Varys, Theon and Yoren absolutely kill it in that episode (with only Yoren’s killing being literal).

    As for the budget, Joffrey’s wedding this season is going to be amusing to contrast with the joust back in Season 1. To think that joust happened before they even started the war!

  • Shan,

    Oberyn screaming “Elia” was fun… but I think he’s so much more badass when he offers to crown Myrcella and take Sansa and Tyrion to Dorne… just because he can

  • House Mormont,

    Season 3 was the best imo, obviously nothing can be compared with season 1… it was a completely different game then.

    How was it a completely different game? Because it stuck closer to the book?

  • For those ranking their favorite episodes…

    tower of the hand current viewer rankings:
    s1: 8 (9.33), 9, 10, 6, 7, 5, 4, 1, 2, 3 (8.24)
    s2: 9 (9.38), 10, 5, 3, 7, 6, 4, 1, 8, 2 (7.53)
    s3: 9 (9.28), 4, 5, 8, 3, 10, 1, 7, 2, 6 (7.65)

    I don’t necessarily agree with these numbers garnered from many viewers. As an example, for season 3 as a whole I thought ep. 4 was the best overall episode, but accept the RW taking the season spot.
    Highest score is “Blackwater” and lowest is “The Night Lands”

  • cosca,

    No… you mistake me for a purist… I watched all three seasons as an unsullied at first, and then again as a sullied, so I have a balanced opinion.

    Season 1 was different because it followed a main character, and especially in the early season, there are only a few locations, so a lot happens with them in each episode, and the episodes are more self contained, as opposed to after season 1, where you visit so many storylines and characters, that they flow a lot better over a season than an episode.
    Plus, to me Season 1 is like before World War I, which is equally as interesting as the war, but a completely different game. Plots, intrigue and tension everywhere, and then one spark at the end, causing it to evolve into something else.

  • cosca,

    no you’re still misunderstanding me. When I say it can’t be compared because it’s a different game I mean that it would be pointless to compare them because they’re so different

  • Lol at calling the NYT’s hacks. It’s OK for people to have differing opinions.

    For those interested, Elio just posted an impression video of the first 3 eps on Youtube. I’m surprised how much they liked the eps, its not a total hate fest.

  • Rygar,

    No, the problem with the New York Times, and the reason why they have such a bad reputation with GOT fans, is that they have a lousy attitude about fantasy and seem to think they’re above the show. (They’re also seeing not just the season opener, they get screeners of the first few episodes. They may say they’re reviewing one ep, but they know where a storyline is going and can judge that.) I remember at least one of the reviews from the NY Times had obnoxious sexist remarks too. So basically, they just aggravate the fandom.

    And the Times has a habit of annoying people in general. Hating the NY Times isn’t rare.

  • David Benioff and D.B. Weiss both directed the first episode. The only reason one of them is listed is due to DGA restraints. They both directed ep. 3 of season 3 too, even though only David Benioff was listed.

  • How much things have changed in the 7 years since I started following the genesis of this series!

    It is amusing how many people have now jumped on the “Game Of Thrones” bandwagon, when only a few short years ago a lot of people scoffed and dismissed the show outright as some kind of novelty, a nerd driven curiosity.

    Fast forward four years and now every asshole, shitheel and fucktard is gushing over GoT, and professes his admiration for the show, their critique and insight…of course the amount of trolls and douchebags has also increased…as witnessed on this here site from time to time, especially since Winter Phil has left.

    This all leads to a sensory overload, too many unsolicited opinions, reviews, criticisms…I for one will do what many others have done, myself included, for the past few weeks…diminish, pull back and not pay attention to the noise…at the end of the day, as a fan, the only thing that really matters is this coming Sunday when Season Four of “Game Of Thrones” premieres…everything else is nothing more than sewer runoff…

  • Season 1 was the best for me, because when it started I knew nothing about ASOIAF. That summer after it ended I read all 5 books. I was totally hooked. I just wish I could go back to being unsullied. I find it more enjoyable to go in fresh than to sit there nitpicking and marking a checklist during each episode.

  • It’s weird when people think the show is slow. A lot more happens in GoT than most shows. Maybe some people are in a state of always waiting for the big epic events?

    It’s tough to rank the seasons because of all the separate storylines. So far Theon and Bran were best in season 2. Season one was the best for Jon and Dany. For Arya, Jaime/Brienne and Cat/Robb season 3 was the best. The King’s Landing/Tyrion storylines were great throughout.

    Overall, I would have say season 2 was the weakest (but still great). That’s mostly because the Qarth scenes were weak and the Qhorin stuff was disappointing. In terms of writing, season 1 and 3 are tied, but 3 might get the slight edge for the best season because the production values weren’t as good in season one.

    I’m thinking season 4 will be the best yet. The only aspect that has me a little worried is Theon.

  • Hard Truths,

    Nope, go find their “review” of the first season. It was clear they did not even watch the show and where just attacking the fantasy genre. That is why people hate them Maybe try to learn some facts before you act all superior.

  • I really enjoyed season 2 (back when I was Unsullied), I even thought it was better than season 1. Then after I read the books, every time I watch season 2 I find myself nitpicking about how bad Jon and Dany’s arcs were.

  • The “show is slow” remarks are just a bit reviewers have latched onto as a way to somehow negatively qualify something that is usually just called epic level story telling.

  • ebevan91,

    Same, although mostly just Jon’s. I don’t dislike the Qarth arc, it just happens to be the weakest out of three nifty seasons for Daenerys IMO. Jon, on the other hand, definitely has a bit of a rough patch in Season 2, especially once I read the books afterward…

  • Ahhh all these green boys who watched the show before reading the books. :P

    Just watched the Elio and Linda video. Whilst their comments were mostly reasonable I get really tired of their negativity. Especially coming from Linda as she’s barely finished reading the books anyway.

  • So I have an off-topic as hell question, but I suppose this talk about fantasy reactions could be argued as loosely tied? I would like to ask you, dear WiC posters, if you have any thoughts on The Wheel of Time which might help me decide if I ought to give it a shot over the summer.

    I’ve heard mostly good things, but also some extreme misgivings over how incredibly slow it apparently gets? And yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s far higher fantasy than ASOIAF out the gate or something, right? That’s okay if so: I love LOTR and Dragon Age.

  • Why does the HBOlatino channel in my area get Two Swords two hours before HBOe? I better brush up on my Spanish!

  • I really don’t think Victarion and Crows Eye will be merged. They are opposites in a way. Besides, I’m really looking forward to seeing the Victarion personality on the screen. Maybe Damphair and Victarion could be amalgamated? Y’know, a type of warrior-priest? Also this way Crows Eye really did ruin his brother (the sound of rusted hinges on the door when he was young [rape?] and then later in life the wife he had to kill cause she F*’d Euron)
    I’m naming him Damppharion (trademarked) (copyrighted) (patented)
    Remember, the priest who performs Theon’s “baptism” is not specifically named as Aeron Greyjoy at any time. I think.

  • House Mormont:
    WeirwoodTreeHugger,

    agree with all of that, what’s got you worried about Theon? I’d say the worst is over, Roose, Ramsay & Reek will be a fascinating dynamic

    Just that there’s going to be a lot of filler. Much of the ADWD material was either done in season 3 or seems to be being saved for season 5 since there’s no Wyman Manderly, fArya, or Barbary Dustin yet. I’m just wondering what will be covered this season other than Ramsay’s predilection for hunting and Roose joining them. I’m not assuming it will be bad or anything. It’s just an unknown.

  • Jeff O’Connor:
    So I have an off-topic as hell question, but I suppose this talk about fantasy reactions could be argued as loosely tied? I would like to ask you, dear WiC posters, if you have any thoughts on The Wheel of Time which might help me decide if I ought to give it a shot over the summer.

    I’ve heard mostly good things, but also some extreme misgivings over how incredibly slow it apparently gets? And yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s far higher fantasy than ASOIAF out the gate or something, right? That’s okay if so: I love LOTR and Dragon Age.

    I wouldn’t bother if I were you. The first 3, 4 books are very good, but then the series becomes a murky, predictable, juvenile mess (at least, IMO). Not to mention that TWoT is looong as hell (14 books in all, most of them almost as long as GRRM’s).

    I almost gave up on the whole thing when I got to book 11, but some friends suggested that I read the last 3 books, since I had come such a long way. I did and I couldn’t honestly say that I would’ve missed out on anything if I hadn’t.

    Nothing next to TLotR, much less ASoIaF, IMO.

  • WeirwoodTreeHugger,

    well there is Yara, so that’ll probably heat it up big style late mid-season, besides, Theon and the Boltons are more Brienne level characters than Arya level characters, they don’t get that much screentime so I doubt it’ll be boring

    Jeff O’Connor,

    I’ve not read Wheel of Time, but having just started Malazan and almost regretting it since it’s 10 books long, I’d probably advice against Wheel of Time since it’s fourteen books long and the reviews seem to go very downhill until Sanderson steps in

  • That last bit on the NY times’ review saying how the only american actor wins over the international ones sounded just petty lol

  • WeirwoodTreeHugger: Just that there’s going to be a lot of filler.Much of the ADWD material was either done in season 3 or seems to be being saved for season 5 since there’s no Wyman Manderly, fArya, or Barbary Dustin yet.I’m just wondering what will be covered this season other than Ramsay’s predilection for hunting and Roose joining them.I’m not assuming it will be bad or anything.It’s just an unknown.

    Reek infiltrating Moat Cailin! Bitches hunting runaway whores! Yara vs Ramsay! And like you stated…Roose and Ramsay scenes should be excruciatingly good.

  • At least the NYT’s score for GoT in Metacritic has gone upwards: 40 for Season 2, 50 for Season 3 and 60 for Season 4…

  • Virtus,

    Still. They are condescending scumsucking loathsome weasels.

    “All the news that’s fit to print.” HA! We should recall Bronn’s words regarding Joffrey…

  • Count me as someone who’s actually looking forward to Yara leading a raid on the Dreadfort. That clip in the latest trailer looked pretty cool.

  • Family, Duty, Hodor,

    Especially coming from Linda as she’s barely finished reading the books anyway.

    It is pretty hilarious. She’s a hardcore book purist…who hasn’t read the last half of the most climactic instalment in the series. She was criticising the look of the Oberyn-Gregor fight on twitter, but she hasn’t even read that part yet!

  • gewa76,

    I’m avoiding clips/reviews/spoilers, anything really, so I’m not sure what the clip you’re talking about “looks like”, but I am also really looking forward to this. For some reason I have been envisioning it like the Ser Rodrick/Theon/Bolton massacre outside of winterfell from the books…. Family hostage and all…

  • Ser Pounce:
    Valyrian eyes,

    You have a problem with ‘Merican actors well sounds like you need to be introduced to freedom. Not a bad review overall.

    I don’t have a problem with american actors or americans at all; all i meant was that what the reviewer said sounded rather like he was saying only Peter is good while everyone else is school-level acting, which is just not true. And I thought “casually” emphasizing he’s the only american actor sounded petty.

  • cosca,

    That person sounds like a big meanie. But really though its pretty stupid to criticize a moment in the books that you haven’t even read LOL.

  • Sister 3,

    How is it “acting superior” to say that it is OK for someone to have a different opinion than the one I, and most of the GOT fandom do? And yes I have read the NYT review every season; to accuse them of writing a review without actually watching the show is ridiculous. I do not agree with everything the NYT has said about GOT over the years, but some of their complaints are certainly reasonable. GOT is definitely my favorite show currently on TV, and probably my favorite show of all-time, but I can still admit it has some faults.

    Anyways, regarding the favorite season question, I think season 1 is the best (and season 3 is far better than season 2). Looks like I am in the minority though, as season 3 is dominating cosca’s poll at the moment.

  • I think writer might have seen the ghosts of girlfriends’ past in the nearer past. mostly after matthew mcconaughey winning oscar. ;)

  • Jeff O’Connor,

    I read the first 2 books and thought they were really bad. And people say it’s going downhill… First book was a bad copy of LOTR, as are most of the characters. Oh, and don’t get me started on those. The female characters are meant as strong but instead come off as very bitchy, whiny “boys are stupid” characters. Which isn’t even that unreasonable as those boys really are stupid, and acting as if they’re 10 not 20. The books are also overly descriptive and boring imo.

    But well, that’s me, and I’m sure there’s enough people who’ve enjoyed them.

  • Damn…

    I have been checking the HBO Shop everyday now and there still isn’t any House Martell or Red Viper T-Shirts or anything to buy… =(

  • Hard Truths,

    Come on… Let’s be honest here. The “review” of season 1 from the NYT was really more of an insult to fantasy fans. It had as good as nothing to do with criticism, let alone with professional criticism, which has an analytic part and tries to be as objective as possible.

  • Shan:
    Watching this marathon is really making it sink in how truly awful season 3 was compared to 1 and 2. Material, writing, everything. Redeeming episodes being 4, 6 and 9. Really hope they step it up for 4.

    Huh, for me it pretty clearly goes 3, 1, 2. Yes, even after a marathon rewatch. Opinions, assholes, and all that.

  • ‘an unpromising new subplot involving a visiting nobleman who blames the Lannisters for the rape and murder of his sister.’ … Just want to punch him in the face, how can they write such bullsh*t?

  • Re: NYT “review”
    Shallow, pretentious, self-important people with short attention spans and little imagination, sympathy or empathy. Describes most folk who poo-poo sf/fantasy as a legitimate literary genre.

  • To be fair, the Oberyn plot in fact accomplishes absolutely nothing, except maybe facilitate the creation of the Qyborg and make the sandsnakes really loathe the Lannisters. Erverything else had already been set in motion long before he ever went to King’s Landing.
    Things would have certainly have got interesting if he had lived though.

  • cosca,

    Don’t tell anyone on AFOIAF that I said this cause I tend to respect them on their turf, but I despise Linda.

  • These same ppl complaining about a certain character and their arc are the same people what gonna be going nuts over how awesome the character is and the things that happen this season.
    That’s just how ppl r they love to complain about everything and their never satisfied. Oh and their opinions r more spot on and right than the ones of the guy who wrote the book and the guys he entrusted to adapt the it into a tv show have been doing a great job.
    I’ve read all the books and am a super fan but its these purists on here I can’t stand who go too far with their criticisms and overly harsh critique and complaints about things

    This show is great and amazing just accept it stop being so snobby

  • Greenjones,

    She’s a horrible person, it’s completely understandable. Some of the things she’s written in response to people who write fan fiction, as well as her stuff about Cersei’s marriage to Robert, and the clusterfuck that is her amazon review of ADWD, genuinely makes me question her sanity.

  • The NYT reviews are a joke.

    S3: “And then people start to talk. And talk. And walk from here to there so that they can do some more talking. ”

    S4: “In the early weeks of this HBO hit’s fourth season, which begins on Sunday, people mostly talk for an hour”

    Every year, they complain about the show having too much talking. I mean, WTF? Isn’t a professional critic supposed to give his reader more insight than just “bwaaah.. too much talking.. where are the explosions???”.

  • cosca,

    Exactly. And meanwhile she acts completely sane and personable in the video reviews and on Thronecast. It’s like two different people. Also in the latest video where she says she’s “always been” an Oberyn fangirl and meanwhile she only recently read that part of the book. Wtf is that all about?

  • Family, Duty, Hodor,

    Season 3’s finale was a let down, because none of the 3rd book payoffs was there. But I think season’s 1 & 2 finales were pretty good, specially Fire and Blood. There are two awesome scenes there, the “King in the North” aclamation, and the birth of the Dragons.

  • pntrlqst,

    Nope, she really hadn’t read most of the last half of ASOS, from the RW to the end, by her own admission. She couldn’t handle the violence or something.

  • Im not exactly sure if this is news, but its my first time reading it; Rotten Tomatoes has summarys for the first 3 episodes of S4 and they are quite different from the summarys previously released..

    1
    Two Swords
    In the Season 4 premiere, Tyrion welcomes a surprise guest to King’s Landing for the royal wedding, but fears he’s come to the Red Keep for something else. Meanwhile, Jon warns his skeptical Night’s Watch superiors about an impending attack; Jaime struggles to regain his status at home; Arya encounters a face from her past; and Daario Naharis discusses strategy with Daenerys on the journey to the slave city Meereen.
    2
    Air date: Apr 13, 2014
    The Lion and the Rose
    A who’s who of honored guests turns out for Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding in King’s Landing, but the king’s taste in entertainment rubs many of them the wrong way. Meanwhile, Bronn gives a lesson to an unlikely pupil; Bran’s vision helps map out his journey; Stannis loses patience with Davos; and Ramsay takes a perverse delight in his new pet.
    3
    Air date: Apr 20, 2014
    Breaker of Chains
    In the frenzied aftermath of the royal wedding, Tyrion gets a visit from a loyal subject, but wonders if anyone in his family will help him out of his current predicament. Meanwhile, Tywin offers to work for the common good with a presumed enemy; Sam takes stock of the personnel at Castle Black; the Hound gives another life lesson to Arya; and Daenerys makes a decision outside the walls of Meereen.

  • If we’re at ranking the seasons, I’ll go ahead and pitch in my opinion:
    Season 2>Season 1>Season 3

    Season 3 wasn’t the weakest because it had the weakest episodes (it didn’t, that was season 2), it wasn’t the weakest because there was any visible drop in quality or acting (there wasn’t), but overall I felt like season 3 was worse than the sum of its parts (where season 2 was better than them). It felt like a collection of awkwardly paced plots, most of which offered no climax (King’s Landing that took up the biggest chunk of screentime, for instance). It felt like they were desperately trying to hold off as many great scenes as they could and now there is an overload of them in season 4 (which should make it the best so far).

    The acting was top notch in season 3, and those little moments of two characters in a room were equally satisfying as Dany taking Astapor… But then when that’s pretty much all you see for 90% of the season, when so much time is wasted on storylines that don’t move at all and when the season finale does little to actually make you excited for the season to come (it was the worst finale to date and I don’t think any finale will dethrone it ever). Then there was the complete avoiding of action (from the Fist of the First Men and on to a number of opportunities) which season 4 seems to turn on its head. Why not show the battle at the Fist if season 4 has a number of bigger scenes throughout? I just don’t get it. It was poorly structured in my opinion.

    Season 2 was the best (on the flip side) because of just how well it was structured and how exciting it was throughout. I was still an Unsullied when I first watched it, and it took season 1. There was clearly more sloppiness in season 2 than season 1, and after reading the books seeing it again made me judge it more harshly (considering just how much good material was cut or altered) but it was still really good. I can’t deny that, just because I’m a Sullied now doesn’t mean I need to change my reviews and rankings.

    If we could all separate the books from the show a bit better, I’m sure season 2 would have gotten much more appreciation.

  • Turncloak,

    Utter bullshit. “Peter Dinklage is better than everyone else combined cause he’s American, Kingslanding is boring” how do these two sentences even make sense side by side (let alone on there own)? And Oberyn looking boring- I have yet to see the episodes, but everyone else is saying he had “one of the best introduction scenes ever”. Also, the whole expecting-huge-battle-scenes-throughout-the-every-episode-of-the-season thing is getting tiresome. It’s as if they can’t appreciate a story when there’s no flashy explosions and blood and violence. They should go watch a Michael Bay movie instead. A pathetic attempt at a review, really.

  • Hand of the Kingslayer,

    I disagree that King’s Landing had no climax, because it felt to me that the Sansa – Tyrion wedding was quite clearly the climax for that story line. Most of the scheming for the season in KL was based around Sansa and who she should wed, and that was the culmination of it.

  • zod:
    The NYT reviews are a joke. …
    Every year, they complain about the show having too much talking. I mean, WTF? Isn’t a professional critic supposed to give his reader more insight than just “bwaaah.. too much talking.. where are the explosions???”.

    Funny – but isn’t there an awful lot of talking in ‘respectable’ shows like House of Cards? I don’t recall that show as being full of ‘action’ such as explosions and battle sequences, let alone dragons and so on. But then, HoC is a modern political show that is appropriate for the NY Time critics to watch and enjoy, meaning that of course it is perfectly acceptable for ‘drama’ to occur simply through the interactions of characters, the political machinations, and so on. But you cannot possibly have that sort of talking drama and politics occur in a ‘fantasy’ series!! Oh no, no no – that would never do.

  • Ah yes, NYT review. I don’t know if anyone remembers, but they are so moronic and clueless that in their review of the pilot back in 2011 they managed to conclude that Tyrion is just another fantasy dwarf. Like Gimli I suppose. And then they posited that no normal woman would watch this garbage and that’s the reason there’s boobs and nudity in the show – that’s apparently how you draw in young and naive girls.

    That “review” is among the most embarrassing pieces of TV journalism I’ve ever read.

  • cosca,

    And what a climactic event that wedding was – the sneering Joffrey.. Tyrion and Sansa being awkward.. Olenna cracking witty jokes.

    Ned’s beheading, Blackwater, and the S4 KL climax (Tyrion’s escape) all pale in comparison to the season-long intrigue of who should wed Sansa. Especially since the resolution of that is going to be relevant for 2 whole episodes this season.

  • King DBC,

    I second this. She (and many other GOT actors) deserve to bounce off of Thrones with other good movies and shows.

    KG,

    So much hype! IS THERE GOLD IN THE VILLAGE OR WAS IT CUT?!!?!? Don’t answer that.

  • cosca:
    Tatters,

    Alan Sepinwall has said on twitter that he won’t be writing a review this season.

    He won’t be writing an advance review for Season 4, but he will be doing the individual episode reviews. And from this year onwards, comments will disabled on his GoT reviews.

  • Im gonna throw in my opinion just for fun

    Season 1, Season 3 then Season 2

    Season 1 IMO was by far the best, every episode felt like a finale in that there was always something happening, was one of the best seasons of a show ever that i truly think will be hard to ever top (even season 4), its right up there with the 1st season of Sopranos and true detective. Also, it was the closest to the book to date, im in no way a purist, but they have a great story on their hands, why make unnecessary changes?

    (my love for this season may also be that i was unsullied, at the time, and after Neds execution i was at Chapters the next day)

    Season 3 was another great season, some great moments (Dany taking Astapor, Rickard Karstark Execution, the cave Scene, Nights watch mutinee, the climb on the wall, Brienne & the bear, Sansas Wedding, Sam the Slayer & of course the Red Wedding) Personally, i didnt find it slow at all as some scenes silence and a slow burn speak volumes. my biggest problem with this season was the lackluster finale & the omission of Coldhands, who im fairly certain wont be in the show at all :(

    Season 2 was my least favourite, for a number of reasons, again, im no purist, but cutting half of Jon Snow & Catelyn Starks scenes to make Room for Ros crying about the baby and littlefinger spying on people like a pervert, that is NOT OKAY with me, AT ALL.. Some changes i really enjoyed however (Tywin & Arya)

    Also, Season 2 had the shortest episodes, when i watch them on blu ray just a few days ago, alot of them were 51-52 minutes without the previously on, and some were even 49-50, with all the content left out of that book, those episodes should have been 56, 57, 58 minutes, it would have been time well spent building characters who were butchered (Dontos Hollard, Qhorin Halfhald). My last complaint about this season was the House of the Undying, which for the most part was underwhelming.

    That being said, can someone please put me in a deep sleep until S4 Begins, i know its tomorrow but im impatient :)

  • cosca:
    Greenjones,

    She’s a horrible person, it’s completely understandable. Some of the things she’s written in response to people who write fan fiction, as well as her stuff about Cersei’s marriage to Robert, and the clusterfuck that is her amazon review of ADWD, genuinely makes me question her sanity.

    She hasn’t even read ASOS yet and she reviews ADWD??

    Also, has anyone wondered if Oberyn might actually survive the duel with Gregor and have a role in ADWD’s Dorne storylines? The actor seems to be very popular, also on the set.

  • Shan:
    Watching this marathon is really making it sink in how truly awful season 3 was compared to 1 and 2. Material, writing, everything. Redeeming episodes being 4, 6 and 9. Really hope they step it up for 4.

    Exactly this. And it has nothing to do with S1 being most “true” to the book. S1 was able to tell the most full and straightforward story out of each season so far and at a decent pace considering the limit of only ten episodes.

  • So, what are our thoughts on this year’s (mostly) negative review from the New York Times? I found it surprising demure and lacking in mysoginy & contempt, as compared to its previous 3 reviews.

  • Rygar,

    Yeh, I mean, who doesn’t agree that all the non-american actors are vastly inferior? It’s not like Dianna Rig, Charles Dance or Nikolaj have ever been considered anything but sub-par.

  • Would have honestly loved the first episode if not for one scene.
    Couldn’t stomach watching after that.
    (suspect me and Greg from the previous thread share that one)

  • Jeff O’Connor,
    You should definetly check out Memory, Sorrow and Thorne by Tad Williams. Its typical fantasy story but its done sooo well (its AWESOME) GRRM has called Tad a god and thanks him for inspiring ASoIaF!! There a people who say the book is boring until you read 150 pages or so of the first one but I didn’t had any problems with it.
    If you like Dragon Age I think you’ll like this book series, it has the same vibe! I just started reading the third one

  • Ser Pounce:
    Valyrian eyes,

    You have a problem with ‘Merican actors well sounds like you need to be introduced to freedom. Not a bad review overall.

    Actually, in the UK we get a lot of American TV programmes, with the balance being mostly home grown, though there are some Irish, Scandinavian and Australian ones too. We would not watch much TV if we had problems with American actors.Obviously having not seen the new series yet, I cannot comment on how accurate the NYT review is. To me, it did sound as if the reviewer was saying the non-American actors were not as good as Peter Dinklage. My opinion is that Mr Dinklage is a very good actor but I think many other members of the cast are good also. I thought Pedro Pascal was American too, though born in Chile. I watched a few WatchMojo.com (American made) videos on YouTube – they usually do 10 of the best or 10 of the worst of whatever. They seem to have a down on English (or English sounding) films and actors – according to them Gandhi was one of the films which shouldn’t have won an Oscar and Joffrey Baratheon was the most annoying brat on TV (I kid you not – they said he was more aggravating that the kid on Once Upon a Time). Jack Gleeson is Irish but plays Joffrey with an English accent, so they probably thought he was English in real life and therefore fair game. I have decided not to look at WatchModo.com anymore.

  • For some reason can’t edit the above, should have been WatchMojo.com not WatchModo ……..

  • zod:
    The NYT reviews are a joke.

    S3: “And then people start to talk. And talk. And walk from here to there so that they can do some more talking. ”

    S4: “In the early weeks of this HBO hit’s fourth season, which begins on Sunday, people mostly talk for an hour”

    Every year, they complain about the show having too much talking. I mean, WTF? Isn’t a professional critic supposed to give his reader more insight than just “bwaaah.. too much talking.. where are the explosions???”.

    Other shows where people mostly just talk: Breaking Bad, Hannibal, The Sopranos. Yep, this guy really has a point. I hate Game of Thrones now.

  • cosca,

    I still say it should be “The Zack of Kings Landing”

    Which for non-readers is a reference to the sack of Kings Landing, when Tywin invaded the capital at the end of Robert’s Rebellion

  • zod,

    I guess you know NYT critics are really reaching for something negative to say about this show when their biggist “issue” is something along the lines, like you clearly pointed out, of “Omg there is to much dialog in this show!”

    Clearly the badassery of having major POV characters cross paths and verbally duel with each other is beyond NYT understanding.

    For most of us, these conversations will be just as entertaining as a sword fight. I know this fact went totally over this NYT critic’s head.

    I can’t wait for the talking to start tomorrow!

    Please D&D give us A LOT of major POV characters talking, unlike the NYT we will understand the tension and significance of these conversations.

    After all, D&D writes the dialog for people who actual enjoy the show to witness… Not some smug asshole critic at the NYT who looks down on anything with fantasy elements because they consider themselves intellectually superior.

  • Rabid Grunt,

    Not sure that was the meaning. The review said that he has a subtle mastery of his character from what I recall. Those three you mentioned are hardly subtle. They own their characters in full fledged in your face mode. However I disagree that there aren’t other actors who are just as reserved yet act superbly, namely Sophie.

    I’m not saying the Times doesn’t have flaws or isn’t grating. However, most Episode ones with this series are a bore with the reintroduction of old and introduction of new characters while reminding us of the storylines limiting the forward momentum of the plot.

    As far as excessive discourse, yes that is a bit snarky. The show Must do this. Otherwise we would have 20 15 episodes seasons in order to adapt these books. But the Times sees it that way. A bit more open mindedness and attention span would be helpful.

  • Enfield,

    Westeros dot org can be the most hipster place on earth, when it comes to this. I swear two thirds of the shows detractors on that site, only do so because they just have that gene that forces them to be critical for the sake of being so. They’re complaints are usually so trivial and and stupid

  • TFT,

    If Pedro’s performance is as great as the critics are saying and fans adore him, I can see Pedro being cast as Prince Doran too. I personally have no problem with that happening.

  • cosca,

    I say wait until this season is done, before doing that. Because having read the books, I’m pretty confident THIS one is going to win

  • Rygar,

    I dont see how the premiere stops forward momentum. Tell me about those scenes, really which ones do that?
    Exposition is good.

  • Do you guys know why GRRM wears a turtle broach on his hat and Lapel ? Because he is as slow as a turtle when it comes to his writing ways . Enough said …

  • GG: So, what are our thoughts on this year’s (mostly) negative review from the New York Times? I found it surprising demure and lacking in mysoginy & contempt, as compared to its previous 3 reviews.

    Yes, I would mostly agree with that. It was a shrugworthy review, but it wasn’t nearly as annoying as the previous ones.

  • tysnow,

    Completely different character, completely different age, completely different everything. Doran and Oberyn are literally polar opposites in every way. What they did with Tommen they could only do because the Lannister kid from season 3 was as minor a role as it gets in this show. I want them to cast an unknown for Doran though (like Pedro was basically).

  • Meraxes:
    Jeff O’Connor,
    You should definetly check out Memory, Sorrow and Thorne by Tad Williams. Its typical fantasy story but its done sooo well (its AWESOME) GRRM has called Tad a god and thanks him for inspiring ASoIaF!! There a people who say the book is boring until you read 150 pages or so of the first one but I didn’t had any problems with it.
    If you like Dragon Age I think you’ll like this book series, it has the same vibe! I just started reading the third one

    Heh, I actually *love* Tad Williams for the Otherland series. That’s the only thing of his I’ve had the pleasure of reading thus far but I adored the heck outta it. I had no idea GRRM had sung his praises, but those two are probably the authors of my current two favorite fantasy series, so… you just made my day! I’ll definitely push your suggestion forward in the queue.

  • Greenjones,

    Agreed

    I’m a book reader as well as Linda, but MAN does she rub me the wrong way. She treats the books like they’re HER intellectual property. So offended by almost every change made for the show. Even when it’s obvious why they were done

    I feel like some people are robbing themselves of a the chance to enjoy something truly once in a lifetime-like special, with this show. Because they can’t get out of their own stubborn way for the most inexplicable reasons

  • The Otherland series is great, the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series was pretty good too as far as I can remember (I read it many years ago) but I finished the Shadowmarch series some months ago and words cannot describe how bad it sucked.

    Take all the complaints people have ever voiced about GRRMs books regarding pointless boring meanderings, plots and fillers, multiply them by about three and this time assume they are actually justified and you have an idea what reading Shadowmarch is like.

    Never before have I struggled so much to finish a series. The ending was pretty impressive and the series could have good if it had been shortened to maybe 60%, but as it is it’s wayyy too long.

  • BlackTalon,

    That’s really unfortunate to read. Those are also on my queue… every time I step inside a book store and see them on a shelf I almost pick them up.

    Ah well, I’ll give ‘em a whirl eventually. I’ll probably do the same with Wheel of Time… eventually.

    Otherland accompanied me while I traveled the country for a couple of years from 2007-2009, so its excellence in my head may be somewhat distorted by the ever-changing surroundings, but regardless I adore it. And, well, by association felt a lot like Paul Jonas for a while!

  • Ser Davos Seaworth,

    Calm… deep breaths…

    I do agree though, you just have to not let it bother you. Who gives a shit what NYT thinks? We know they’re wrong – Oberyn is gonna be in some of the best scenes of the season. I find that alot of people write off GoT because they don’t understand it. NYT obviously don’t understand and don’t follow the story very well.

  • Jeff O’Connor,
    I’ll probably read Otherland some day then! MSaT are the first books by Tad Williams I’m reading and I LOVE them! A few days ago I read that he is going to publish new books set in Osten Ard (the world of MSaT)!!! Don’t know any details beyond that though

  • Jeff O’Connor:
    BlackTalon,

    Ah well, I’ll give ‘em a whirl eventually.

    Well, if you do you best start writing a list with the name of every god that is mentioned in the book. I didn’t because when the names started appearing at first I thought the religious stuff was just there to flesh out the background.

    Big mistake, about a third of the later books (at least it felt like a third …) is about which god did what to which other god and fathered which demi-god with immortal humans and was betrayed by which other god from what enemy god camp and was avenged by which of his god descendants.

    I swear it gets as complicated as a couple of Westeros Great House family trees. Oh, and every god has a different name in each of the three languages spoken in the book. Great fun.

  • Rygar: Exactly this.And it has nothing to do with S1 being most “true” to the book.S1 was able to tell the most full and straightforward story out of each season so far and at a decent pace considering the limit of only ten episodes.

    Well, S1 was ” truer” to the books, compared to follow up seasons, but you are indeed correct about the straightforward approach and pace. I wouldn’t rule out a return to this or some inclusion for upcoming seasons. Martin really overloaded material in the source material. I hope Benioff & Weiss strike a balance for S4…… well, S5 at least.

  • I think in the end, we all just have to realize that the NYT (and other “sophisticated” platforms like it) will never take fantasy or sci-fy seriously. What truly matters is what real, passionate fans of the show are saying about season four. Those are the reviews we should trust.

  • NYT is extremely parochial in its concerns, and much of their writers’ ignorance really comes out in their international coverage. I can’t count the number of times they’ve had spelling or meaning-related mistakes and omissions.

    As a former New York resident, I only check them for NY or NJ relevant matters, and even that only a few times a year.

    With their internet policies, they’ve pushed themselves even further into irrelevance.

    Their GoT critique is just another drop in this bucket of provincialism.