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game of thrones, season four finale

Been some weird stuff surrounding this show, personal context only. My wife said today that she’s always been surprised that I like Game of Thrones, because it’s not my kind of show. I know what she means … fantasy is not normally my genre … but it was on HBO, it got good advance notice from critics I trust, so I gave it a try, and once you’re in, quality wins over any genre qualms.

After tonight’s finale, I opened up Twitter (which I’d avoided once the East Coast feed began, because it’s Spoilers Galore at that point) and saw that a friend of mine whose opinion I trust had given Season Four a C+, “up” from a C- for Season Three. Now, we tend to have different tastes in TV shows (she listed as “better shows than GoTPenny Dreadful, Lost Girl, Continuum, and Spartacus … I watch and like one of those four, have watched and respect another, and have never seen two of them), so we don’t often watch the same thing, or even agree all the time. But she’s smart and knows her stuff, plus she’s read the GoT books, so I assume she’s in for the long haul. I asked her if the fact I hadn’t read the books might explain the differences in our evaluations, and she said that was possible. It’s hard for the book readers to talk about certain things in Game of Thrones, though, because they know things we TV-only fans do not. (Looking back at some of the comments she has left here on previous seasons, I can see she’s had reservations for a long time.)

Anyway, I feel I’ve written this a lot, but once a series gets through four seasons, I’ve pretty much said my piece. Mostly it’s just a question of whether the show is still worthy … it’s hard to keep a show going at a high level. So I’ll say that I thought Season Four of Game of Thrones was as good as the others. Are there better shows? Probably, although mostly I’d just say there are several shows I consider among the best, without choosing one over another, and I include Game of Thrones in there. I gave Season One an A, Season Two an A, and I can’t find my grade, but I called GoT one of the top five shows of 2013. I think it’s as good as ever.

You could do a decent overview just by naming characters and talking about what you liked or didn’t like. I like pretty much the same characters everyone else likes: Peter Dinklage as Tyrion, Maisie Williams as Arya, Gwendoline Christie as Brienne. Arya’s travels with The Hound (Rory McCann) were among the best things the season had to offer (and their final scene together in Season Four was brilliantly played). I go back and forth on Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys … Clarke is good, and sometimes I love the power of the dragons, but I’m always a bit creeped out at the way the very-white Khaleesi saves the black masses. There are many other actors I always enjoy when they turn up … Diana Rigg, Charles Dance. Lena Headey probably does a good job, because I hate Cersei. Not sure Kit Harington is a master thespian, but his soulful good looks are very winning in a depressed sort of way.

But here I have to get to the spoilers, so you’ve been warned.

In an early episode this season, Jaime Lannister raped his sister/lover Cersei. Interviews with the people who make the series suggested they didn’t see it as so cut and dried, which is nonsense. In the finale, we got the obvious result of their thinking, as Cersei pledged her love to Jaime. It was so well done that more than one tear was likely shed in the audience. But to really get the impact, you had to forget what Jaime had done earlier … just as the writers apparently did.

It’s not the first time rape has been used this way … think Khal Drogo and Daenerys in Season One. But, even given the necessary brutality of the world of Game of Thrones, this asks us to accept too much.

So maybe I will drop my grade just a bit. Grade for Season Four: A-.

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