Every week we are going to have an episode review of Game of Thrones Season Four which will include SPOILERS for seasons One through to the last episode screened of Season Four. 

THE WALL – It has to be said, this season has got better and better during the latter half. And the strength of the penultimate episode – the Watchers on the Wall – was reinforced by the forsaking of what had made some of the season feel bitty and narratively lax. It finally stopped hopping from Slaver’s Bay to Westeros to wherever Arya and the Hound are supposed to be and just focussed on one story: Jon Snow and the battle to defend Castle Black from the Wilding hordes.  

Directed by Neil Marshall – who was also responsible for Season 2’s Blackwater epic – the episode is far grander and more spectacular than television really has any right to be. It recalled The Two Towers, but without any need for condescension. The action is well orchestrated and at times visually stunning. There is a brilliant wandering onesie through the raging battle – though the protracted one shot take is now becoming – post-Cuaron – a staple of HBO. True Detective first blew the doors off with one and one suspects that directors are rubbing their hands and working out ways to jimmy a seven minute no cut sequence into the next episode of Orange is the New Black

If there is any criticism, it remains that of always regarding this storyline: the characters are dull. Jon Snow finally got to do some fighting and Samwell Tarly was allowed to rectify one of his more crass mistakes. Although the latter did provide some unintentional humor. ‘I’ll never leave you’ – ‘where you going?’ ‘I didn’t mean I’d stay in the same room’. The genuine emotional moments also felt a bit empty. Instead of gut-wrenching, we had to pause the death of several named characters as we rewound our memory a season to remember why this was moving. Oh yeah, the cavern. 

But this is churlish in the extreme. The show was action packed fantasy at its best and the fact that I’m even bringing up character and stuff is evidence of how high the show has raised the standard. One more episode to go and how I wish there were more.

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