The winner of the WiCnet Award for Best Performance As A Youth in Season 4 is Maisie Williams as Arya Stark!
Both second and third places put in strong performances. Despite having a speaking role in only two episodes, Jack Gleeson’s Joffrey Baratheon was at the height of his adolescent power rampage, and it only took a few seconds for him to switch from cruel king to helpless boy at his death. Meanwhile, Sophie Turner’s performance was a key element in turning Sansa Stark into a more active participant in the intrigue surrounding her, culminating in one of the great visuals of the season.
Yet Maisie Williams was always likely to be the winner, with Season 4 of Game Of Thrones, and here’s why:
The complicated relationship between The Hound and the little wolf is one of many fascinating traveling duos across Game Of Thrones, fitting in with Tyrion/Bronn and Jaime/Brienne. The Arya/Sandor pairing benefited from the late acknowledgment by Game Of Thrones that Rory McCann could carry his scenes. After the show elided much many of Clegane’s scenes from the first two books, they brought him forward in a hurry for his character’s new role as a wandering warrior in Seasons 3 and 4. And McCann delivered.
This made Williams better in two ways. First, her Arya Stark has tended to be best with older mentor figures: Syrio, Ned, Yoren, Tywin, and The Hound. Second, the enthusiastic kid paired with the gruff, cynical older man is a bit of a cliché, but the story and the show both subvert that enough to keep it interesting, while maintaining the power behind the archetypes. Arya’s seen more than enough horror to not merely be enthusiastic, and Maisie Williams manifests that darkness. The Hound has a painful vulnerability as well, which Arya prods and McCann exposes.
You can see the girlishness fade into darkness in the climactic scene of Arya’s story. Maisie Williams shows near-total excitement at seeing Gwendonline Christie’s Brienne of Tarth in full armor, but that excitement is always restrained—and slowly turns into total distrust as the conversation turns. The excited child and the betrayed adolescent are both readily apparent in Williams’ acting.
That’s hardly the only great moment for Williams either. Her physical acting has long been one of her chief strengths, and is a huge reason why she’s fit the role of Arya Stark well.
Meanwhile, Williams and McCann were also part of another of the season’s best scenes, the hilarious, tense, and brutal confrontation between The Hound and Polliver’s gang. Maisie Williams shows the ability to switch between comedy and cruelty here, while taking action in-between. That versatility made her the clear choice for Best Performance As A Youth in Season 4 of Game Of Thrones. And I’m tremendously excited to see where she takes Arya Stark on Game Of Thrones, and what Maisie’s career outside of the show.
Results below! And stay tuned for “Best Death” voting, starting tomorrow!