Past the Popcorn provides South King Media with exclusive reviews of Theatrical and Home Video entertainment. We aim to dig just a little deeper than the surface of what we watch.

Season 4 of Game of Thrones is the best season of them all. It’s perfect. It’s the culmination of “Act 1” of Thrones that began with Jon joining the Night’s Watch, Daenerys’ pining for a throne, Bran seeing visions of a raven, Sansa being a prisoner of the Lannisters, and Tyrion being the unofficial center of the series. The world-building of the series also reaches amazing highs as we dive deeper into different subgroups of people that inhabit Essos and Westeros.

S4 starts out with a bang with the the assassination of the most hated Thrones character of them all: King Joffrey. And who else but Tyrion, fan favorite since Day 1, would get the blame? His imprisonment, trial, and subsequent trial-by-combat still remain his most trying hours of the series. In perhaps the most iconic duel of them all, his champion, the swagging prince Oberyn Martell takes on the Lannister champion, The Mountain, the largest man in Westeros. The world held its breath for as the fate of Tyrion lay in this duel, the results of which took shocked everyone by how quickly things turned for the winning side, and once again Tyrion faced the executioner’s block.

After the sacking of Astapor and the liberation of Meereen, Daenerys now sets her sights on the biggest of the Slaver Cities, Meereen. After she takes the city she must now face her first test as a ruler, not as a conqueror. Though she may not sit on the Iron Throne of Westeros, she wants to prove to herself and to everyone that she can indeed be good at ruling, and her cause is to ensure before she leaves for Westeros she can forever rid Slaver’s Bay of its namesake.

It’s in the S4 wrap-up where this series cemented itself as a new species of cinema hybrid for TV. The penultimate episode “Watchers on the Wall” was an outstanding giant action set piece. As the Wilding army of thousands attacks the Wall from the South and the North, the meager 100-man Night’s Watch must defend itself against the oncoming horde. The fact that it reminded me of the siege of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers is a testament to the brilliant art direction and vision of the creators of this series to show us something unprecedented for a TV series. The S2 finale in the Battle of Blackwater Bay was indeed impressive, but here they considerably up the ante by a mile.

The final episode, “The Children,” still remains one of the top 10 episodes of this 73-episode series as Tyrion kills his father and escapes Westeros, Stannis Baratheon regains his power, Bran finally finds the Three Eyed Raven, and Arya finally becomes the arbitrator of her own density.

Grade A+.

As if you didn’t know, Season Four of Game of Thrones is available with your HBO Go subscription. You can also stream it from your favorite service.

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