Grace Dent on TV: Game of Thrones has jumped the shark

The sexually motivated killing of a woman in the opening of episode two was simply 'a bit much', but this is still the some of the finest television ever made

Predictably I must lavish an entire Saturday TV column on my very favourite TV show, Game of Thrones, which I will furthermore concoct for the benefit of viewers who have watched up to series four episode two. If you’re not quite there yet, run away from the spoilers to come in the manner of Samwell Tarly spotting a White Walker.

Alternatively, if you’ve read all of the George RR Martin books, just lurk about mumbling, “Have you read the books? But, but HAVE you read the books? I’ve read all of the books and I know what happens and anything you tell me about the TV show is much better in the books, which I have read. All of them.”

Having the plot of Game of Thrones spoiled by the book brigade is almost as annoying as American HBO audiences watching 24 hours before the Sky Atlantic transmission and then chucking news of Joffrey’i s death around Twitter like a Flea Bottom piss pot leaving an upstairs slum window.

The safest thing for the ardent GoT fan is to simply confine oneself to one’s airing cupboard for the full season, communicating with no one.

Still, since the slackers and Johnny-come-latelies are no longer reading, I must confess I worry that season four is where the show jumps the shark, or in this case perhaps, “leaps the dragon”.

The opening episode of series one was a gentle plod of exposition and new recruits with plots like Sansa Stark’s ongoing depression being dull enough for the viewer (me) to quietly place an Ocado order online and redo my nail polish.

Daenerys Targaryen has now become rather adept at leadership and there is only so much of her commanding people nobly and everyone agreeing she’s right we can watch.

I miss the Dothrakis, Khal Drogo and those parties they had where people stayed up all night drinking and laughing and murdering each other and inevitably someone ate a horse’s heart.

Perhaps the lull in my affections is simply a kickback, a natural reshaking of the pack after season three’s Red Wedding horror where a stack of major players were wiped out. The Starks, for all their faults, were the good guys. Winterfell or the notion of the family getting through this awful war and returning to be a happy-ish family again was one of the ideas that kept us going when, say, Joffrey decided to kill a prostitute slowly with a crossbow or Melisandre the Red Witch burned people for insolence and then burned the people who complained about the burning.

Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones

If you’re a non- Game of Thrones fan reading this out of sheer curiosity, it’s quite impossible to sum up the impact of the Red Wedding, other than to compare it to watching Coronation Street one night and suddenly Rita Sullivan having her throat slashed and Norris being decapitated and Liz McDonald being stabbed 17 times in the stomach and then someone cutting the head off Chesney’s dog Schmeichel and sewing it on to Norris’s corpse.

Which might have been fine if you’d sat down to watch a horror movie, but you were just watching “an episode of a show you liked” and now you need beta-blockers and two days’ compassionate sick leave from work.

So where to now? I am teetering on the edge of caring about Bran in the forest with that precocious brat from Love Actually – or even Samwell and his lumpen girlfriend who isn’t even his girlfriend and the baby. No, I’ll pass. I’m a big fan of Castle Black and “the crows” but since Jon Snow has turned traitor and we know they are hopelessly outnumbered against the coming enemy, they feel like a load of ex-rapists in the cold waiting to die.

We have the tale of Stannis Baratheon and the Red Witch, which is a bit like a very long version of when David St Hubbins in This Is Spinal Tap meets second wife Jeanine and she gets him into Eastern mythology and yoga.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Also, Shae, you have been warned vehemently in about 77 separate scenes that you will be executed if your romance with Tyrion is discovered. The whole “Come to bed, lover, do you not love me anymore?” act is, at best, foolhardy.

Littlefinger, to my mind, is welcome to take Sansa on that boat wherever he wants. She was always the worst Stark. But more than this – because I mean all these words today but will most likely change my mind tomorrow, then back once more tomorrow, as the characters are rich and the acting superb – I thought the sexually motivated killing of a woman in the opening of episode two was simply “a bit much”. Ramsay Snow became a bore by midway through series three. He’s a sadist, we get it.

Still, this is probably some of the finest television ever made. The Hound and Arya’s cross-country killing spree is endlessly brilliant. I am ever enamoured with Cersei, queen of the bitchy, withering one-liner; with the social rehabilitation of poor, noble one-handed Jaime Lannister, whom we have all forgiven for paralysing a child; with the daily admin of Tyrion, accompanied by Bronn, wearing the expression of a man who only signed up for hired killing and is now a knight.

And I’m deeply smitten with Prince Oberyn Martell, who is now here representing the Dornish people, who – if they were a political party – would be running on the ticket of “vengeance and the right to hardcore bisexual orgies’”. So anyway, spoiler alert: someone killed Joffrey. The little scamp (there are no fitting, printable words available) had it coming. My thoughts are with his family at what must be a difficult time. If you sup with the devil, spoon size is imperative.

Read more: Game of Thrones s4, e2 - review
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