Game Of Thrones season 4 episode 5 review: First Of His Name

Review Ron Hogan 5 May 2014 - 07:47

With great stories and performances, Game Of Thrones season 4 appears to be getting better by the episode. Here's Ron's review...

This review contains spoilers.

4.5 First Of His Name

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have done an absolutely amazing job of adapting the A Song Of Ice And Fire universe into a television series, and full credit to HBO for letting them do all the things they want to do with their show universe. Every week I sit down to watch the new episode, and at some point or another I glance at the clock and realize that 45 minutes of my life has disappeared into Westeros. The show just moves so smoothly, transitioning gracefully between characters and settings, from the other side of the Wall to Essos and back to King's Landing, that it seems like no time has passed.

It seems that no matter who is on screen this season, the episode is going to be good. A few minutes of Daenerys is very satisfying. Arya and the Hound hanging out by the fire can yield a wonderful example of physical acting. Brienne and Pod may be the most satisfying pairing the show's had since Tyrion and Bronn (who are still awesome together). Aside from the notable exception of the controversial Jamie/Cersei scene from a couple of episodes ago, there hasn't been much this season that hasn't worked. Theon isn't getting tortured, Dany has found her dragons and a purpose for living, and a lot of the criticisms the show has faced over the year have seemingly been toned down in favor of some great writing, acting, direction, and cinematography.

One of the most eye-opening things about Game Of Thrones has been the performances. It's a show that's employed basically every actor in Great Britain who isn't on Doctor Who or Sherlock (and some who are, in Mark Gatiss) but some of the best performances have been from characters played not by known actors like Aidan Gillen or Charles Dance, but from relatively unknown kids like Jack Gleeson, Sophie Turner, and, in this case, Maisie Williams. There's a pretty famous viral video in which younger Maisie Williams shows off her hip-hop dancing skills in a pair of comically baggy pants, so it's clear that she has some impressive control of her instrument. However, there's a little moment this week, in which Arya practices her water dancing by a waterfall while the Hound watches and mocks. Her footwork is very impressive, as is her swordplay, and even if the Hound mocks Arya's slender sword and the relative merits of Braavosi combat, it's a really impressive feat to watch.

It's also really well shot. Michelle MacLaren knows how to handle her actors and she gets great performances out of pretty much everyone in the ensemble cast this week, but she also does it with a sense of style. Bran's hallucination of the weirwood is a thing of beauty, and it looks as weird and impressive as you could hope for. There's a beautiful series of tracking shots leading Cersei and Oberyn down the path at the gardens. The composition of Tommen's coronation is also very impressive, because it's a huge cast but you're still able to pick out the important characters in the crowd.

The whole episode is full of clever character moments, not just for Arya and the Hound, but for pretty much everyone on the show. Jon Snow proves himself to be a real leader for the men of the Night's Watch. Bran gets to turn a potential kidnapping into a cause for celebration by warging into Hodor and rescuing himself via brutal neck-snapping. Cersei and Margaery have another interesting conversation concerning the future of the kingdom (and Lena Headey is great both in this scene, in a confrontation with her father concerning the Lannister wealth, and in a later scene with Prince Oberyn). The royal coronation, in spite of its business and the clutter of the crowd scene, gives characters like Tywin or Maester Pycelle a chance to have little moments, like the way Pycelle is the first person to clap for the new king and the most simpering suck-up on the small council during the meet-and-greet.

However, I think the biggest events were for so-called Littlefinger himself, Petyr Baelish, and his creepy new family with the returning Lysa Tully (Kate Dickie) and his new “nephew” Robin Arryn (Lino Facioli), as well as his fake niece Sansa Stark. Talk about a family that makes the Lannisters look normal. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss give Lysa, Sansa, Robin, and Petyr a great deal to work with here, and Lysa's return appearance is very welcome, and very disturbing, from the way she 'announces' her wedding to Littlefinger to her paranoia and threatening behaviour towards Sansa, her own niece, concerning her protectiveness towards her husband the erstwhile Lord of the Vale. Nice to see that Lysa hasn't gotten any less crazy than the last time we saw her.

With a huge cast of characters, the folks behind the scenes aren't afraid to get rid of a major character; indeed, Game Of Thrones feasts off that sort of action. Even if you go without seeing a character for a few episodes (or a few years in the case of Lysa), the show has clever enough visual shorthand—and presumably, a clever enough viewership—to remember just who Lysa is by having her cuddle her son creepily on the throne. Lysa having been gone for ages doesn't take away from the power of her big reveals, even if it does finally solve the show's original mystery from the first season.

Read Ron's review of the previous episode, Oathkeeper, here

US Correspondent Ron Hogan didn't even notice Tyrion wasn't involved in this week's episode at all, except for being a topic of conversation. Still, Lysa is back and crazier than ever. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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"One does not simply warg into Hodor"
Its time has come.

Bran warging into Hodor = Brandor?

Does that mean his vocabulary will increase by one word? :)

I would say every episode this season has been top class :) Game of Thrones, in my view, has firmly established itself as one of the best shows ever, and this may very well be its greatest season!

It's good to see this review was done without having to resort to back-to-back spoilers, but the review itself was still pretty unrevelationary. :/

Hod, or...?

You've had that one in your back pocket for ages, haven't you ? Nice.

I only wish it was mine :)
It's been doing the rounds on the internet since season 1, which I felt was a bit premature...

Best since season 1 so far. And yep, unless the quality drops off a cliff, Game of Thrones is well on the way to being up there with The Sopranos/The Wire etc as the greatest ever shows.

*Meap* *Meap*

After last week I thought the whole extra
bit with Bran at Craster’s was really to give him more screen time, because he
barely shows up in the book. Now I know it was all to give Hodor a chance to do
what he did. That was… so awesome!

If they plan on giving us more little
detours like this one… BRING IT ON!

HODOR!

Wouldn't they have to be married? lolll

So does this episode kill the Syrio Forel debate once and for all?

Genuinely sad when Locke died. You can never have enough Noah Taylor...

Nah, it only tells us that Arya believes him to be dead, which we knew already

I thought The Hound mentioning that he had no sword or armour (along with the example of Arya trying to stab him) was a subtle attempt to say he could not have possibly survived against several armed and armoured men.
GRRM has said it's heavily implied in the books that he was killed just some people can't seem to let it lie - maybe this scene was further implication of his death

good episode. wish they stick to the book's storyline

;-)

My hunch is that Syrio changed his face to become the assassin...

Quite a few emotional outbursts from me while watching this episode. I laughed when Brienne asked Pod what he thought would happen if he left and he replied, "They'd probably say I was a poor squire." I screamed at The Hound when he dared to slag off the late great Syrio Forel. I cried when Bran decided not to reunite with his brother Snow and I shouted Hodor when Hodor broke the kidnappers neck.
I feel one of the problems with fantasy is that it can be hard to care about characters that you don't relate to but what Game of Thrones does so well is that it forces you to care about the characters. Hell, I even have sympathy for Cersei and that takes great skill.

That would be cool. Also, isn't there another who can his face and who the identity of a court jester or something at one point, in an epilogue I believe, giving him access to a throne room and a king to kill? Would that be Jaquen/Sirio?

What's a... book?

I may be wrong, but I think it's slang for those old black and white TVs.

Did anyone else notice how small Ghost was? Like a regular white dog.

Jaqen changed his face into a Maester to get into the Citadel, its not feasible for Syrio to be Jaqen, which is why I am thinking that the Arya/Hound scene in this episode was trying to end that rumour once and for all

You are an excellent writer and you always make good points but I just do not see how this season is doing anything right. Very disappointed in this season overall.

I thought that scene suggested the opposite. The Hound was pointing out how ridiculous it would have been for Syrio to die. All he needed to do was disarm one man and he would have won.

Are we sure it's Jaquen?

Hugely engaging. I can probably offer no more succinct a comment than the fact that I was genuinely amazed when the credits rolled - I could not believe an hour had passed.

Great hour of tele, but my single favourite scene from the books (that genuinely caused my jaw to drop at the time) wasn't really done justice as far as I'm concerned.

I thought John's flashy through-the-head killing thrust of Karl was extremely unprofessional. You never go for the bulls eye when a solid single 20 gets it done. Then allowing the corpse to drop on the woman who just saved Snow's life? Clearly needs to up his coup-de-grace game.

Hang on, is this something from the books or have I wiped my memory of something in the show?? I am only just finishing the first book, while the thread is for the tv viewers, not for spoilers from the books. Apologies if I have just missed something in the show, but if not please stop posting book spoilers.

I find the direwolves constantly change in size in this show. Presumably because it's not an easy visual effect to pull off...

But he had nothing to disarm them with, did he?

Good lawd!

Brodor!

Ghost was the runt of the litter. Thus he will be smaller.

WILSON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm really not a big fan of the deviations from the book. It's one thing to expand on certain storylines, such as with Arya and Clegane, but the stuff with Bran going to Crasters doesn't do anything for me. Plus, it's not like he did much while he was there anyway.

But overall, I love the show.

She's such a saucy minx. Renley was certainly VERY gay wasn't he, to have been unable to consumate with HER.

Thought it was a weak ending for a powerful character. So the whole off-piste Bran-and-co-go-to-Craster's had no ongoing plot value at all? Thought Locke - who had replaced Vargo Hoat, one of the books most arresting characters - was bound for a bigger turn than that.

For so gritty and unflinching a show, the combat at Craster's last night was a big dropped ball. How many perfect spinning kill shots are we expected to believe the good guys could pull off in mortal combat on a dark, icy yard? And what mounted man-at-arms in history rode off on some wet work without packing a helm? The fight choreographers need to do some ARMA - or some such - homework in a real hurry because they are seriously letting the team down.

i enjoyed last nights episode but this has been the worst season of game of thrones thus far, i feel that the further away from the books they stray the more uneven and flawed the writing becomes

Don't worry, nothing posted here is much of a spoiler at all.

Wow, people say this every season. I remember reading so much hate for season 3 when it was airing... Wait until a season is over before judging it, otherwise one is basically comparing 10 episodes with 5 (this happens even when one doesn't think they're doing it due to hindsight on some scenes). Based on the first 5 episodes, for me, this has been the best season by far.

Wait, what? I just realized it says that I posed it. I didn't :o

What the frig ? I did not post this image...

Is this you?

Another week, another great episode. True they are deviating from the books but, ever since season 2 where I questioned this and felt pretty foolish by the end of the season when I realised that the deviations not only made sense but improved the story overall, I'm happy to go with the flow having total faith in the production team. I'm still not a fan of the new Daario but am more keen to see what the show does with Dany's story, which was so amazing last season but has now stalled a bit. And as a mark of how good the cast is - did anyone notice/miss that Peter Dinklage wasn't in any scenes this week? Not that I want this to become a regular trend .........

Hodran?

no hate just pointing out that the show has dropped the ball quite spectacularly a number of times this season, it's almost as though any time the writers have to produce something new we end up with boring filler, or worse, completely unnecessary scenes which make no sense or serve any logical purpose in moving the narrative forward

Wilson!

The only thing I can think of this season which was (arguably) not a very good scene was the Jaime-Cersei one. Other than that, everything has been going forward at a pace that was not there last season. I think you've forgotten just how little happened in the beginning of previous seasons, which had episodes like S1E3, S2E2, S2E4, S2E5, S3E1, S3E2. This season hasn't had a single episode that wasn't focused and hasn't been building up towards something bigger.

As for filler, I think you're referring to Craster's Keep- that was a necessary development that gave Jon and Bran something to do. It made sense so that the wildlings wouldn't learn any new information, it made the audience more invested in Bran, Jojen, etc, and it also helped make Jon a better leader. I think those were some very important developments. An important aspect of it that I think many missed was that here, Bran made a voluntary choice to go north, whereas before, it seemed like he was just being pushed along. It was entertaining character development- what's not to like.

I think you should watch again. That was not a regular dog size.

I don't think it's spoiler. It's a small paragraph in the epilogue of Book 2 I think.

Neither did I...

I've had dogs that size. Jon was kneeling and Ghost was looking straight at him. Anyway it's probably just me, or a a FX glitch.

Which scene?

the jaime/cersei rape was unnecessary and completely bewildering considering that alex graves somehow believes that he depicted a consenting sex scene, dany's taking of meereen felt rushed and had no impact, the deserters at craster's seemed like an excuse to show some more rape and fairly boring action, and shoehorning bran into the mix was so obviously forced, getting rid of locke also felt disappointing as the character was beginning to carry real menace

despite all this i still enjoy the show a great deal but just feel as though the production and writing is no longer as tight as in the earlier series

it's as though the makers of the show now believe viewers won't be able to cope if an episode doesn't contain some sort of action sequence, and is treating the audience like we're a bunch of slack jawed popcorn munchers down at the multiplex watching the latest hollywood drivel

The Jon Arryn reveal... they've cut the scene from the book up, so there's still more to come (which should be good)... but I totally love it all together in the book!

I wonder if they'll introduce Coldhands in the next episode (if they intend to include him at all.) If they do my money is on it being Benjin Stark.

I thought so too from the books but it keeps up the mystery. Harder to do in a visual medium. I think it will come the penultimate or last ep.

They confirmed that there is no Coldhands this season.

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