The final episode of Game Of Thrones Season 4 airs on Foxtel in just a few hours’ time. Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have promised it’s the best finale to date. To prime yourself, here are the greatest 25 moments from Season 4 so far. (Naturally, you can also use this article as a crib sheet to bluff your way through Season 4 discussions down the pub.)
[Warning: Contains Season 4 spoilers. Obviously.]
Drogon turns (Episode 4.1)
Daenerys’ trio of scaly children were conspicuously absent through most of Season 4 (dragon CGI isn’t cheap after all). But when they did show up, the imagery was spectacular. One of the most ominous moments came in the very first episode, where Drogon bristled and snapped at its mother for interrupting a meal of roast goat. It seems that the Mother of Dragons might soon have a tween rebellion on her hands.
Roast crow (Episode 4.1)
As if Jon Snow didn’t have enough to worry about with White Walkers, mutinous black brothers and a spurned wildling lover on the loose, the show decided to throw in a tribe of rampaging Thenn cannibals. (Geek tidbit: In the books, the Thenns aren’t cannibals. Even though it’s an invented race in a fictional world, this still seems culturally insensitive.)
Arya gets her needle back (Episode 4.1)
Arya’s chillingly casual dispatching of the Lannister soldier Polliver made us want to punch the air and retch at the same time. Although the revenge-killing was completely justifiable, it was executed with a gloating malevolence that was close to evil. It seems a dark road lies ahead for everyone’s favourite wolf cub.
The cruelty of Meereen laid bare (Episode 4.2)
We all know that slavery is bad, but Game Of Thrones Season 4 really rammed the point home during the siege at Slaver’s Bay. In a display of defiance against Daenerys’ ban on slavery, the masters of Meereen crucified 168 slave children along the road to their city; their hands nailed in place to point the way.
Bran hallucinates spoilers (Episode 4.2)
Bran’s Weirwood-fueled visions while travelling north of the Wall included some intriguing spoilers; including confirmation that dragons would arrive in Westeros and what looked like an abandoned Iron Throne.
The Purple Wedding (Episode 4.2)
It was the character death every fan had been praying to the Many Faced God for since season one. Joffrey’s nuptial poisoning was pure poetic justice after the events at the Red Wedding. Most viewers would have preferred to see Joff get offed by a Stark, but at least his death-rattles were sufficiently gruesome.
No means no (Episode 4.3)
Jaime forcing himself on Cersei — in front of the corpse of their child, no less — was by far the most controversial moment in the history of the show. Critics were rightly outraged by this unnecessary deviation from the books; particularly in light of Jaime’s refound honor and quest for redemption. Some even felt that the scene trivalised rape (indeed, the next episode acted like it had never happened). While we hesitate to call this a “greatest” moment, it was certainly one of the most talked about.
Ser Pounce! (Episode 4.4)
No further explanation necessary.
HBO has a saucy reputation for shoe-horning gratuitous soft-porn and nudity into sophisticated drama. If you like this sort of thing, Game Of Thrones Season 4 didn’t disappoint. Most of the titillation came courtesy of bisexual Dornish prince Oberyn Martell, his paramour Ellaria Sand and a bevy of brothel workers; both male and female. Oo-er! Etc.
The Night King Cometh (Episode 4.4)
For casual viewers, this scene was a mildly creepy interlude that reminded them about the existence of the White Walkers. For book readers, it was a massive deal. In those scant few minutes, the show revealed more about these otherworldly antagonists than all five books combined; including their leader and how they are created. It was a sobering reminder to veteran GoT fans that the show is capable of spoiling the source material. Things are only going to get worse in Season 5.
The adventures of Brienne and Pod (Various)
Game of Thrones is famous for pairing unlikely characters together on Westeros road trips. Despite stiff competition from Arya and the Hound, our favourite buddy duo this season would have to be Brienne and Pod. Their quest to locate Sansa Stark has provided most of Season 4’s quiet and comedic moments; from the best way to skin a rabbit to the welcome return of Hot Pie. Sure, their travels might feel incidental to the larger plot — but that’s kind of the point.
Daenerys squirms (Episode 4.5)
Daenerys’ plodding Meereenese plot line is widely considered to be this season’s low point. However, it did contain some intriguing ruminations on the nature of justice. After taking Meereen by storm, Daenerys crucified 168 nobles for their earlier crucifixion of 168 slave children. It seemed like a fair punishment at the time; an eye for an eye and all that. However, it later transpired that at least one of the masters sentenced to death had been strongly opposed to the crucifixion of the children and tried to stop the atrocity. The Mother of Dragons learned that ruling is hard and nothing is ever black and white.
Braavos money shot (Episode 4.6)
Okay, so nothing particularly interesting has happened in Braavos yet (unless you’re a bank manager, maybe.) Still, that establishing shot was amazing.
Shae’s betrayal (Episode 4.6)
Shae’s falsified confession during the trial of Tyrion Lannister served up one of the season’s saddest moments — and for once it didn’t involve anyone dying. Faced with the betrayal of his former lover, Tyrion finally broke down in court after enduring a lifetime of senseless prejudice. It was a heartbreaking moment thanks to both Peter Dinklage’s acting and Bryan Cogman’s stellar screenplay.
Tyrion finds his champion (Episode 4.7)
Just when all hope seemed lost for poor Tyrion, along came the vengeance-seeking Prince Martell. With a dramatic sweep of his torch, he promised to represent him at the trial by combat, delivering this season’s most cheer-worthy moment. Of course, we all know how it turned out now, but at least we got to feel hopeful for a bit.
Lysa gets Moon Doored
In a series filled with shock character deaths, this one felt telegraphed from a mile away. Still, watching Lysa’s ignoble exit through the Moon Door was still pretty satisfying and helped to cement Littlefinger’s position as the new chief villain, now that Joffey isn’t around.
Grey Worm Cops An Eyeful (Episode 4.8)
Has there ever been a romantic subplot between a eunuch and a former slave girl in the history of television? We’re willing to bet “no”.
Laughing in the face of adversity (Episode 4.8)
After barely escaping the Red Wedding with their lives, the Hound and Arya Stark traveled halfway across Westeros to meet up with her aunt Lysa Arryn, only to discover that she had died a scant three days before their arrival. Arya’s reaction; a mirthless, unhinged cackle, was priceless.
The judgement of Jorah (Episode 4.8)
For the past four seasons, Jorah Mormont had been Daenerys’ most trusted advisor, despite starting out as a spy working for her enemies in King’s Landing. Towards the end of Season 4, the past finally caught up with him and he was summarily banished on pain of death. Don’t wake the dragon, dude.
Tyrion talks about bugs for three hours (Episode 4.8)
After hyping up Tyrion’s trial by combat for an entire fortnight, the show decided to delay the climactic scene for a monologue about a dim-witted Lannister cousin squashing beetles. A lot of fans absolutely hated this scene, but it remains one of the most talked about moments of the entire season. Its significance has been debated and poured over by fans ever since; theories range from a metaphor about the futility of life to an allegory about Game of Thrones as a whole (i.e. — the beetles are characters and the author is the Lannister cousin.)
The Red Viper gets popped (Episode 4.8)
Ellaria Sand’s face was mirrored by countless viewers at home. If Game of Thrones has taught us anything, it’s that justice and victory are never assured.
Sam moves in for the kill (Episode 4.9)
After two season’s of secretly pining after the wildling Gilly, Samwell Tarly finally made his move and sealed the deal with a kiss. Romantics around the world sighed dreamily.
Here Be Giants! (Episode 4.9)
There were plenty of showstopping moments during season 4’s pivotal Battle of Castle Black, but in terms of sheer spectacle, it’s hard to look past bow-and-arrow wielding giants — literally and figuratively.
And mammoths! (Episode 4.9)
Despite not doing much, the mammoths were pretty great too.
Blood and snow (Episode 4.9)
It was bound to happen from the first moment they crossed swords, but that didn’t make it any easier. During a rare moment of slow-mo in the show, Jon Snow bid a bittersweet farewell to his wildling sweetheart Ygritte. They should have stayed in the cave.