Game of Thrones season 4, episode 5, TV review: 'An enthralling watch of epic proportions'

A thrilling episode of cinematic proportions, carried by the female characters

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The Independent Culture

After last week’s dire instalment, "The First of His Name" was a fantastic and compelling watch that felt like an epic film.

There was so much to love in this episode. Not only were most of the story strands successfully re-visited but the amount of character development and depth was remarkable – and all in the space of an hour.

Interestingly, it was the women of Game of Thrones who carried this episode. The show is known for its strong female characters but "The First of His Name" put them into sharp focus.

Cersei in particular was fleshed out. Rather than just a purely evil creature, she is far more complex than we could have imagined.

Her confession to Margaery about Joffrey’s monstrous nature was shocking. Up until now she has remained silent on the matter. Her admission was an excellent piece of development for the character; she is a mother first and foremost and all of her motivations are spurred by maternal instinct.

Then there was Daenerys in the Slaver’s Bay. Since the end of season one she has not grown substantially as a character. Dany has remained a novice when it comes to reigning.

But finally, she realised that in order to rule the Seven Kingdoms, she must first learn how to be a monarch. Most of her liberation across Essos has seemed amateurish and without real purpose until now. The epiphany has given a new lease of life to Dany’s strand that has been sorely missing.

The greatest praise, however, is reserved for Sansa and Sophie Turner. The eldest Stark daughter has always lacked the grit of her siblings and Turner has played the role woodenly.

But this week, Turner showed a new side to her acting ability. When given the chance, she can demonstrate more than just a hollow fear. The scene between Lysa and Sansa was fantastically executed, as the tone segued from gentle pleasantries over lemon cakes to all out accusations and fear.

The only criticism of this episode were the scenes at Craster’s Keep, which added nothing to the plot, apart from giving Bran and co something to do. It was a welcome relief when Karl Tanner got a sword put through the back of his head. The evil brother of The Night’s Watch was far too much of a pantomime villain for Game of Thrones, while the sword fight between himself and Jon Snow felt a bit too much like something from Pirates of the Caribbean.

Season Four promised us bigger twists this year and it is now delivering. We discovered in this episode that it was in fact Little Finger who convinced Lysa to poison her husband Jon Arryn – who saw that one coming? Perhaps the person we should all be watching is Little Finger rather than the Lannisters or Stannis. The lowborn brothel keeper seems to be the one making all the moves and manipulating everyone.

Overall, this was a fine instalment. We are now half way through season four and there are still plenty of jaw-dropping moments to come. Bring on episode six.

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