Saluting the dead of Game Of Thrones season 4

Feature Michael Noble 20 Jun 2014 - 07:00

Game Of Thrones' fourth season was a typically bloodthirsty affair. Michael pays a spoiler-filled tribute to the newly fallen...

As you might expect, this contains season four spoilers.

Earlier this month it was announced that an employee of Facebook had donated $20,000 to the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary in return for George R.R. Martin including him in the next A Song Of Ice And Fire novel, and then killing him with extreme brutality. In the novel, that is.  

That lucky Dave Goldblatt’s cameo should end in his bloody death is hardly surprising, given the frequency and violence with which characters of Martin’s creation meet their doom. Indeed, such is Westeros’ mortality rate that it’s difficult to keep up and, at the end of any given series of Game Of Thrones, it can be tricky to remember which characters have found themselves staring helplessly at the pointy end. And so, as we mourn the end of season four, we make like the Oscars and offer you a sombre reminder of all those we lost this year. Cue plaintive piano…

Joffrey Baratheon

If ever there was a popular candidate for a tap on the shoulder from The Stranger, then it was Westeros’ pathologically brattish boy-king Joffrey Baratheon, a young man whose reputation for absolutist brutality incurred the ire of people on and off screen. It was almost heartbreaking to see (and not just because his poisoned choking frustrated a great many people who would have happily seen him torn apart by wolves) but in his final moments, wept over by his agonised mother, he was still a young man whose upbringing and rapid ascent meant that he never stood a chance. 

Lysa Arryn

Perhaps the defining characteristic of pre-modern societies is their lack of well-funded social services infrastructures. Which is a good enough explanation as any for understanding how the oddly dysfunctional relationship between Lysa and her son Robin had continued for so long in the way that it had. Well, that and their home in an utterly impregnable mountain fortress. In the end, it was a combination of both features that did for poor Lysa. Her genuine love for her son resembled that of Cersei for her children and, like her fellow widow, provided scant comfort to her sense of paranoia. As we all know, just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean that they’re not after you and that goes double if ‘they’ are a master exploiter like Petyr Baelish. The bizarre bridegroom disposed of Lysa before her wedding ring had time to absorb the warmth of her finger, making her plunge through the Moon Door a fatal misunderstanding of her environment and her new husband, who, to his falling bride’s surprise, didn’t love her at all. Only Cat.

Oberyn Martell

Coming over like a priapic cross between Inigo Montoya and Puss in Boots out of Shrek, Oberyn ‘The Red Viper’ Martell was one of the most immediately likeable and charismatic of season four’s newcomers, indeed of the show in its entirety. Arriving ostensibly for the diplomatic purpose of representing the royal House Martell at Joffrey’s wedding, Oberyn had the higher (and darker) purpose of seeking revenge on Tywin Lannister and his enforcer Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane, at whose feet the Dornishman lay the blame for the killing of his sister and her children. 

The sort of man who never missed an opportunity to double-up, he seized his moment by standing as Tyrion’s champion and facing the Mountain in single combat. If he won, he’d humiliate and annoy Tywin, earn public confirmation of their crimes and kill the man that murdered his sister. If he lost, he’d redecorate part of Kings Landing with blood and viscera. Despite giving a solid performance in the ring, out-performing his colossal opponent with style and verve, Oberyn’s desire to punish the Mountain and the Hand left him open to a vicious final assault that ended when Clegane bust his head open like a ripe melon. A show-off to the end, Oberyn at least secured probably the most gruesomely memorable death that Game Of Thrones has yet provided. We’re still struggling to forget it at any rate. 

Grenn and Pyp

We first met Grenn and Pyp as raw, unwilling recruits to the Night’s Watch back in the first season. Unwanted back home and ill-prepared for the demands of the Wall, they suffered and grumbled as Ser Alliser Thorne drilled them and Dolorous Edd Tolett regaled them with bitterly cynical stories from his put-upon life. Despite this, under the combined influence of Jon Snow and Sam Tarly, the pair of them found depth enough to bond with their sworn brothers and were able to die bravely, (or as bravely as they could manage) as men of the Night’s Watch, honouring their vows to the letter. 

Pyp acted like any reasonable man in combat, with extreme terror. He nevertheless managed to take out at least one willing before succumbing to Ygritte’s trusty arrow. Grenn’s last stand facing an angry giant was the stuff of fairytales, even if the outcome wasn’t. The giant was stopped, but there was no Happy Ever After for the brave, bearded bloke that led the fight against him. Grenn, Pyp, they lived together, they served together, they mocked Sam together And now, together, their watch is ended. 

Ygritte

As the human face of the northern insurgency, Ygritte carried a lot of responsibility. Not only did she bear the not entirely unpleasant burden of relieving the naive Jon Snow of his virginity, she also gave us an insight into the lives and motivations of the Free Folk, when most of our other examples were straightforward tough guys like Tormund Giantsbane. Good name, by the way. 

A tough and seasoned warrior herself, Ygritte was also recognisably flawed and human. Her relationship with the brooding Lord Snow never lost its ambiguity, and, by prompting her to let him survive the three arrows she loosed into him, suggest that she doomed herself for love, no matter how cynical and world-weary her protestations. Jon’s touching cremation of her body was done for pragmatic reasons (even he didn’t want to see her again, not like that anyway) but with apparent genuine affection suggesting that things could have been so different, had it not been for a certain 800 foot slab of stone and ice. 

Tywin Lannister

 

Tywin Lannister was, from the  very beginning of the saga, one of the most competent and powerful leaders in the whole messy shebang. As time passed and bodies strategically piled up, Tywin amassed more and more power-by-proxy, and to the very end, saw much more of the bigger picture than those who surrounded him. A ruler in deed if not in name, Tywin was, like Elvis, never actually a king and, like Elvis, he died on the bog. It was an appropriately ignominious end for a man who had a worldwide reputation for ‘shitting gold’, but who, it was suggested, was rather less well off than he’d have the world believe. Still, as a patrician badass ruthless enough to have his own theme song, Tywin’s passing leaves a sizeable power vacuum at the heart of the realm. 

Shae

Shae’s troubled relationship with Tyrion was doomed from the start. A man with as many enemies as the Imp must take care of his loved ones, even if it means pretending to hate them. Tyrion’s gambit was a disaster and it is likely (though other interpretations are available) that this is what drove Shae to betray him in public and in private. The erstwhile couple’s shock upon seeing one another in Tywin’s chamber fell to violence and the youngest Lannister strangles her with the chain he gave her, still, in his own sad way, loving her, or his memory of her to the last.  

Jojen Reed

Jojen Reed, a young Crannogman and heir to House Reed Greywater Watch was one of the show’s more overtly mystical characters. Blessed with clairvoyant 'greensight’ he appeared as Bran Stark’s literal and figurative guide, aiding the crippled boy in following the three-eyed crow to meet his destiny north of the Wall. Quiet, but firmly insistent when he needed to be, his end at the bony hands of some very Harryhausenesque skeleton warriors was heartbreaking, or at least it would have been, had young Jojen not faced it with the wise equanimity that we came to expect from him. Handing Bran over to the Children of the Forest meant that his mission had been a successful one and that he could face his end in peace. And that, I think, is good enough for anyone.

Sandor Clegane

He was a warrior in a world of warfare; he despaired in an environment robbed of hope; he remained an outsider in a kingdom where trust can be fatal. For many reasons, Sandor Clegane was the most Game Of Thrones character of the lot. His attitude of snippy aggression was born of an understanding that the world is a dangerous and violent place and that the only safe response is to reply in kind. A man who, were he to be offered redemption, would spit in its face, nevertheless found a kind of reconciliation in his care for the orphaned Stark girls. His protection of Sansa was well-meant and while he saw in Arya a rather lucrative meal ticket, their shared tromp about the country fostered something that almost came to resemble love. Ultimately though, he never lost the bitterness that was seared into his very face by his own brother and when the time came to plea for mercy, he was unable to do so. His attempt to goad Arya into delivering the coup de grace misfired as all he had to fall back on were the very memories of violence that reminded her of who is was when they met. In the end, she left him to suffer and - as far as we know - die in an act of deliberate cruelty, which is something, for all his savagery, the Hound never did.  

Sadly, in a world as bloody as Westeros, there’s never quite enough time to remember every single corpse. All the lesser stiffs, Locke, Rast, Karl Tanner, Polliver, Styr, Ser Dontos Hollard, that Samuel Beckett-esque chap mercy-killed by the Hound and a bunch of the Mountain’s hapless ‘practice’ peasants, we salute you. Valar Morghulis, one and all. 

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Tywin's tragedy runs deeper than that. He always saw the bigger picture, did everything in the name of his House, his legacy, his family, and even used his family as pawns to that effect. In the end, Cersei spits all over his legacy to his face, revealing that this man does not understand love and could not see it if it slapped him in the face (maybe because he lost his wife so many years ago; maybe it was as he stood in the ocean and opted not to drown a newborn Tyrion that he found his new mission in life). Then the most powerful man in Westeros is caught off guard on the bog in his night gown. And as Tyrion shoots him, he says 'you're not my son', but Tyrion replies he certainly is. Meaning, "this is exactly what you turned me into, what you turned your family into".... Now with Tywin gone, I don't think his Lannister legacy will last long.

The Hound is not dead!

I'm with you on this Sparkyman. Granted it didn't look good for The Hound in either the book (its been a few years since I've read the book tho!) or the show, but you never see him die. Here's hoping The Hound and his Whelp will meet again.

Bit graphic with Oberyn there, DoG.

It's interesting that the Starks have been on a downward spiral since the end of series one and the Lannisters seemed to be almost untouchable in the first three seasons, but now series four, The Starks, although they aren't together, are learning how to adapt to the harsher climate, whereas the Lannisters seem to be either being picked off by their enemies or imploding from within.

the Hound isn't dead

Overall I might put Viserys Targaryen's death in season one over Oberyn Martell's in terms of gruesome brutality.

Hey, DoG. Seeing as nobody working here seems to have noticed all of the uproar posted on your Facebook page, could maybe a member of staff here change/delete the link posted there? You're normally so good with spoilers but a big picture of a mortally wounded "The Hound" probably isn't the best way of keeping the link spoiler-free.

Don't forget Rorge and Biter (Jaqen H'ghar's former prisoners). They were killed by The Hound and Arya Stark.

I don't think we've seen the last of the Hound. I've only read a couple of the books so I've no idea what's ahead, but I do like the way that the show plays a bit fast and loose with what's happened in the books.

Winter Is indeed Coming!

The North remembers. Although it had nothing to do with the outcome.

It'll be interesting to see what they do with Brienne now as her quest has taken a somewhat different turn from the books.
Although she will be in Star Wars so how much she'll be in series 5 I don't know.

I really didn't need to see the picture of Oberyn, it was disturbing enough the first time around! Of all the deaths in the show so far, his was the most upsetting, partly because it was so horrifically graphic, and partly because he was just an awesome character.

He's mostly dead.

Poor old Pyp and Grenn :(, Men of the Watch til the end indeed.

Will she be playing a female Wookie?

/I kid

He's feeling better...

Of these the one I'm going to miss most is undoubtedly Tywin. I liked him in the books but Charles Dance made him unforgettable and such a joy to watch. I think this is the first exit on the show thus far I actually feel bad about even though I knew it was coming. I mean don't get me wrong: the Red Wedding was awful and all and it definitely broke me up when I read it but ultimately it didn't change much about the whole story and tone. With Tywin I think I'm actually going to miss seeing Charles Dance every week. I know he only had a small role in season 1 but ever since season 2 he's been a regular with numerous appearences per season and his performance was so magnetic I think I'm actually going to mis his not being there anymore. Also I might very wel miss Ygritte. Except for when they cast Val for season 5 cause she totally beats Ygritte as the best Wildling lady imo.

The Hound may be dead, but I'd think twice about Sandor Clegane...

OK, so that is at least 6 of the more interesting characters in the show offed in one year, unfortunately I can't think of any interesting characters added this year.....maybe Prince Oberyn?........oh wait, he died!

I think Prince Oberyns death was the most brutal but Tywins the most game changing...

It's difficult to root for or get attached to any characters now, because they just keep getting killed off. : /

All I know is I want all the Bolton's dead.
I hope the Hound lives though his wounds.
Even so the unlucky person that finds him and did nurse him back to health would more then likely be beat and robbed by him when he got well.

Yeah I quickly skipped past that. It took me days to get those images out of my head. I guest fairly early on in the fight what the result would be but never that it would end like that.

*BOOK SPOILERS CONCERNING THE FUTURE OF THE HOUND*

It is announced in A Feast for Crows that The Hound is dead when Brienne is looking for Sansa and comes across a monastery where some monks had buried The Hound after they'd found him dead. However, this is the show, and considering how they've killed off a fair few characters who aren't even dead in the books yet (Pyp, Grenn and Jojen- R.I.P), I'd say that it is possible that they will keep The Hound alive (I doubt it though).

Cheers Ryan, I listen to the books driving around so may have missed it. I may be in denial though, he is such a cool character. I think it would have been better if Brienne had seen him off on the TV show, far more dramatic. So I'm clinging to the hope that the runners may resurrect him for the TV show.

Does Ayre believe she has to be even more ruthless to survive in this harsh world? She claims she would last longer than the Hound, is this moment when she had a choice between mercy and cold ruthless revenge the turning point? Is she now the worst kind of killer.

There is nothing to indicate this as it's just a theory and it's not in the books but is Tyrion on Ayre's death list?

Not as gory.

---SPOILERS---
It is announced in A Feast For Crows that The Hound is dead... and then immediately hinted that he is not. Go back and read that passage again, and pay close attention to the precise words used by the septon... and then notice the tall, hooded gravedigger with the limp...

Hell, he was winning but got careless because of his rage. He was beardmad I tell you, beardmad!

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