The HBO series, Game of Thrones will end this year with season 8, but no matter how epic a finale showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff deliver, it will have a hard time topping Game of Thrones at its best: season 4.
With just weeks to go before Game of Thrones season 8 premieres, the excitement surrounding the series' return couldn't be higher. When HBO finally released a full trailer, it was immediately dissected for any clues it might offer about the forthcoming season. In the lead up to the premiere, fan theories and speculation are going strong, with predictions of everyone from Jon Snow to no one sitting the Iron Throne in the end. Just how Game of Thrones will end its epic story remains the biggest mystery (even George R.R. Martin doesn't know!), but no matter what happens, it's sure to be watched by millions the world over.
And yet, even with all the excitement over Game of Thrones final season, it's hard to ignore that the series hasn't been as strong in recent seasons. Game of Thrones season 4 really was the peak for the hit HBO series, delivering a phenomenal string of episodes that continue to impact the characters and overall narrative. Here's why Game of Thrones season 4 is still the best year of the show.
- This Page: Tyrion's Trial & Oberyn Martell's Role
- Page 2: Littlefinger Revealed & Adventures in the Riverlands
- Page 3: Daenerys' Momentum & The Watchers on the Wall
Game of Thrones Season 4 Adapted Less Than A Single Book
When it began, Game of Thrones was adapting one book from George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series per season. Game of Thrones season 1 covered the events in book one, A Game of Thrones, and season 2 covered the events of book two, A Clash of Kings. For Game of Thrones season 3, however, the HBO series chose to only adapt the first two-thirds of the third novel, A Storm of Swords, leaving roughly the final third of the book for season 4 to cover. This decision is one of the smartest Game of Thrones has ever made, adapting the lengthy novel across two seasons.
Following that most shocking penultimate episode - the infamous Red Wedding in season 3, episode 9, "The Rains of Castamere" - season 4 starts incredibly strong because it's continuing to adapt what are still the climactic events from Storm. Breaking up the third book in this way gives Game of Thrones season 4 a heightened sense of urgency without ever feeling rushed, allowing the material enough room to breath since season 4 still has 10 episodes with which to work. Additionally, some elements from books four and five, A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons, are used to round out the season.
Joffrey’s Death To Tyrion’s Escape Is The Best Game of Thrones Story
Speaking of climactic events, season 4 really kicks it off in episode 2, "The Lion and the Rose" with Joffrey's gruesome death. That murder leads to what is by far the best story Game of Thrones ever tells, with a whodunit mystery and Tyrion's trial driving much of the action in King's Landing. This particular plot has it all: intrigue, political fallout, family drama, crimes of passion, and more.
For the Lannisters, Joffrey's wedding to Margaery should have sealed the deal on their triumph, but instead it's the start of their downfall. Tyrion's trial rips the Lannister family apart, pitting sibling against sibling and child against father. In the end, Tyrion's gone, Cersei's mad, Jaime is deeply conflicted, and Tywin is dead. Without Tywin's steady hand, King's Landing falls into political chaos, creating a power vacuum that's later exploited by the likes of the High Sparrow and Euron Greyjoy, but in the end and most of all by Cersei - consumed by her grief and hatred and left all alone.
Best New Character Introduction: Oberyn Martel
Game of Thrones introduces new characters and then disposes of them all the time, but few have left an impression quite like Oberyn Martell. The Dornish Prince arrives on the scene in Game of Thrones season 4 and immediately breathes new life into King's Landing with his charm, confidence, and sexually progressive lifestyle. He openly challenges the Lannisters and makes no secret of his desire for revenge, laying the blame for the death of his sister, Elia, and her children at Tywin's feet. Oberyn brings a new perspective on both past and current events, and his very presence hints at the storytelling potential of a new locale, Dorne (which sadly, Game of Thrones season 5 will absolutely squander).
By far, Oberyn plays his biggest role at Tyrion's trial. As his champion, Oberyn can both prove Tyrion's innocence and get revenge for his family. He's an excellent fighter, perfectly matching his agility and speed against the Mountain's strength, but in a twist of fate (and thanks in large part to his own hubris), he fails. Oberyn's death is another of the HBO series' most shocking moments and another cruel reminder that Game of Thrones almost never has happy endings.
Page 2 of 3: Littlefinger Revealed & Adventures in the Riverlands