Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

The Game is afoot!

Season 4 of HBO series doesn't disappoint, delivering all the sword-swinging, fire-breathing mayhem fans have come to expect

  • Print
Game of Thrones season four doesn't disappoint, TV critic Brad Oswald writes.

COURTESY OF HBO Enlarge Image

Game of Thrones season four doesn't disappoint, TV critic Brad Oswald writes.

There are dark and dangerous days ahead for the House Lannister.

And that's about as close to a Game of Thrones spoiler as you're going to get from this column, because I'm well aware that tipping off any actual storyline details prior to Sunday's fourth-season première (HBO Canada; check listings for time) would make me about as popular as a Westeros wedding planner.

(True story: While I was previewing a few episodes of the new season on my desktop computer the other day, another Free Press staffer in a nearby cubicle built a sightline-blocking barrier out of an office chair and a garbage can in order to shield his eyes from any suspense-stealing spoilers that might show up on my screen.)

Game of Thrones fans love their gasp-inducing surprises. And if the first three instalments of the new campaign are any indication, Season 4 is going to give them all they can handle.

When the series returned last year for its third season, a fair amount of time was spent setting the stage for the carnage and bloodshed that would arrive in the second half's episodes. But when things got moving, they really got moving; without question, the now-infamous Red Wedding episode became one of the most talked-about onscreen events of the past TV year.

As the new season begins, Game of Thrones -- which, by the way, continues to have the best opening-titles sequence ever -- is fully into the aftermath of the slaughter and is beginning to consider the anything-but-small issue of consequences. The Lannisters continue to celebrate the end of war (a bit premature, perhaps?), and an uneasy sense of occasion is building as teenage King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) prepares to wed Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) in a union that has massive strategic implications.

Elsewhere, in every direction, forces are amassing and attitudes are far from joyous. If there's one grim certainty to Game of Thrones, it's that conflict and violence are coming. Soon.

The internal politics of the Lannister clan are sufficiently complex and compelling to be a TV series on their own, but this tightly woven narrative thread is just one of dozens that continue to be serviced beautifully as Game of Thrones moves into what its producers describe as the series' midpoint season (the plan, according to creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, is for a seven-season run).

As always, the action in Game of Thrones moves quickly from place to place to place as multiple storylines unfold. What's amazing, however, is that nothing feels rushed; viewers feel fully immersed in every scene, and the credit for that belongs to the fact that meticulous attention is paid to every detail on every creative level.

The sets, cinematography and digital special effects are breathtaking, so there's a feeling of immense spectacle to the story. But because the dialogue is so sharp and clever and the performances by the huge cast -- from major characters right down to the most fleetingly glimpsed background players -- are so great, there's also a great sense of intimacy and personal connection within the big-picture explorations.

One gets the sense that no parent in the Game of Thrones universe ever offered his or her child that old "sticks and stones..." bit of advice, because the way they're wielded in this series, words are often just as cutting as sword blades or axes.

If you haven't been following Game of Thrones but you're looking to join the fun now, the advice here is that binge-watching the first three seasons is pretty much an essential crash course if you're hoping to fully appreciate the intricacies of Season 4. In narrative terms, this is a very fast-moving train that carries a whole lot of passengers in cramped quarters, so jumping aboard so long after the journey has begun might prove to be a confounding disappointment.

But if once you're in, it's quite a ride. Despite everything that has happened in its immeasurably ambitious first three seasons, Game of Thrones feels very much like a drama that is only just beginning to hit its stride.

What will the series' fourth season bring? You'll get no further hints here, beyond the warning that no one is safe, as evidenced by the four-word slogan attached to all the new season's promotional material and preview episodes:

"All Men Must Die."

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @BradOswald

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 5, 2014 G1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Christmas Cheer Board hamper kickoff

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Goslings with some size head for cover Wednesday afternoon on Commerce Drive in Tuxedo Business Park - See Bryksa 30 Goose Challenge- Day 12- May 16, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Korea Veterans Association stained glass window at Deer Lodge Centre. Dedication with Minister of Veterans Affairs Dr. Rey Pagtakhan. March 12, 2003.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should Canada send heavy military equipment to Ukraine?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google