It’s that time of year again. There were a number of memorable moments from this season’s Game of Thrones, but which in particular stood out to you? Our writers have selected a few of their favorites, but we here at HBOWatch leave it up to you to decide: what is this year’s Scene of the Season?
And the NOMINEES are:
Tyrion Lannister’s monumental scene came in the latter half of Season IV. Falsely accused of murdering his nephew, the late King Joffrey Baratheon, enduring a hostile and never-ending feud with his older sister, Queen Regent Cersei Lannister, and being betrayed at the hands of his ex-girlfriend, Shae, Tyrion Lannister was a man pushed over the edge. Who wouldn’t be, given the circumstances?!
“I saved you. I saved this city, and all your worthless lives. I should have let Stannis kill you all.”
Only a man driven with nothing to lose would dare to address the people in the courtroom, his own sister and father, with such conviction. Television audience members were rooted to the spot, hanging on to Tyrion’s every last word. And loving him for it. Imagine what it would have been like in a medieval society to have been born different – with physical deformities – especially when you have been born into a family, whose wealth, power and status made every other family pale in comparison. Life as an imp was not kind to Tyrion. He had to endure years of verbal and emotional abuse from his father and sister. When he grew to adulthood and prominence, he had to endure another monster: the kind that wore a crown on its head: his sociopathic nephew, Joffrey Baratheon.
Years and years of abuse and accusations and heartache took its toll. Unfortunately, for Tyrion Lannister, the occasion of his late nephew’s wedding took a sharp turn for the worse when Joffrey was poisoned and Cersei; deranged and unstable and beyond control, automatically accused her little brother of her son’s murder. Being unjustly accused of killing Joffrey Baratheon, being made to break off his illicit relationship with Shae and otherwise fearing for his life with nobody to come to his aid, left Tyrion down and out.
“I am guilty of being a dwarf… I’ve been on trial for that my entire life.”
Tyrion parlays his raw emotion into one of the most memorable scenes to go down in television history. It takes a strong man to say the things that he said. Not only did he stand up to his lying, evil sister and father while on the stand, he literally put everyone in that courtroom in their place by saying the TRUTH: he didn’t kill Joffrey. But he was not unhappy that Joffrey was dead. All those people, especially his father and sister, were the most ungrateful, selfish and evil people to have ever walked the halls of King’s Landing. Remember, when you’re at the bottom, you have nothing to lose. This is the place that Tyrion was coming from, emotionally. Rock bottom. And just when everything looks hopeless, when all the witnesses have come forth with damning testimony and the shock and betrayal of a former girlfriend is made known, well, you snap. And you just don’t care anymore. It is at that precise moment where Tyrion delivers the most compelling part to his speech for all to hear…which is a one, two sucker punch to the gut:
“I will NOT give my life for Joffrey’s murder and I KNOW I’ll get no justice here, so I will let the gods decide my fate. I DEMAND a trial by combat.”
BOOM goes the dynamite!
– Eleonora Iafano
BRIENNE VS. THE HOUND
– Andrew Roebuck
GRENN HOLDS THE TUNNEL
Season 4 was full of memorable moments: Joffrey’s wedding menu, Brienne’s brutal fight with The Hound, Tywin’s bathroom habits, The Mountain’s ability to make purée out of pretty much anything.
For me, however, the scene of the season was one that did not get a lot of attention. Like Season 2’s “Blackwater,” this year’s “The Watchers on the Wall” takes place entirely in one location. My favorite scene was the one in the tunnel at the base of the Wall. As the Night’s Watch comes under a full-blown assault by an army that dwarfs their meager numbers, Jon Snow commands his friend Grenn and a handful of men to guard the tunnel against an invasion of Wildlings, giants and mammoths. Just as the giants break through the tunnel, Grenn and his men chant their oath and prepare to engage them in combat. At the end of the episode, we learn that all of these men died… but they were able to kill the giants and protect the Wall.
The reason Grenn’s oath is significant is that Game of Thrones is known (incorrectly, I believe) as a series that mocks honor, a series that is cynical about integrity of character. I believe that Game of Thrones mocks fake and ostentatious displays of honor (such as that of Grand Maester Pycelle and Joffrey), but that it also celebrates true honor. Yes, Ned died for doing the honorable thing, but the show doesn’t posit that he should have done something dishonorable. Similarly, the story takes time to contrast the honorable behavior of Brienne and Podrick with the dishonorable behavior of their enemies. Ironically, though the Night’s Watch is known as a depository for all sorts of criminal; dishonest, violent, and depraved individuals, “The Watchers on the Wall” shows us that they have a greater capacity for honor and integrity than the well-to-do, celebrated residents of the Seven Kingdoms.
Grenn, like Ned before him, died because he was honorable. It’s an act both tragic and triumphant. Unlike Ned, Grenn and his friends were not known throughout the realm, and no one will remember them. Also unlike Ned, Grenn and his friends succeeded: they defended the Wall. Men like Ned and Grenn recognize that their world is full of dishonorable men, men who succeed precisely because they lack integrity. But the takeaway for viewers, I hope, is that even in a world full of dishonor, those who have integrity do the right thing because it is right. All men must die; it is how you lived that matters.
“I WILL BE YOUR CHAMPION…”
I like battles and duels and unexpected deaths just as much as any Game of Thrones fan. But what sets this show apart, in my opinion, is its writing. I know many book purists will want to crucify me for a statement like that, but there’s no denying that any episode written by Weiss and Benioff is bound to be impactful, emotional and plot revealing. These two are some of the best writers in television, and Oberyn confiding in Tyrion shows why.
Coming off the high of his courtroom eruption, Tyrion is at wits’ end, rotting in the dungeons of the Red Keep. His brother is useless with a sword, and Bronn is unwilling to risk his life for him a second time. Tyrion is out of options. All he can do is wait and think of his inevitable death at the hands of The Mountain. Then, as the episode draws to a close, enters Oberyn Martell.
“We met, you and I. Many years ago…”
These two have always made a powerful duo onscreen. Their personalities and wit keep them on the same wavelength. Oberyn recounts the story of how he and Tyrion first met, how Cersei has wished for his death since the moment he was born. It’s a gut-wrenching story, as the camera holds on Tyrion’s face and we see the suppressed agony in his expression. It’s one of those moments that makes the audience truly empathize with Tyrion, increasing our emotional investment in his character. Not only that, but the scene is also very revealing in terms of plot and character. We see the many faces of Oberyn Martell – his witty banter, his cruel mockery, his sympathy, and lastly, his anger. The scene takes a crucial plot turn when Oberyn declares himself as Tyrion’s champion.
To all you aspiring writers out there (including myself), take notes. This is the Scene of the Season because it’s the perfect example of how a scene should be executed. Aesthetically, the pacing is flawless. Weiss and Benioff start with political gossip to build the tension, then the story pulls at our emotional core (cue music), and lastly the plot-twisting revelation that flips the entire tone of the scene, for both the characters and the audience. You’ll see this formula time and time again on Game of Thrones. You know why? Because it works every time. If you’re a fan of quality writing and strong acting, then this is the scene for you.
– David Pergolini
THE RED VIPER VS. THE MOUNTAIN
The Viper vs. The Mountain was without a doubt the defining moment of Season 4. It’s a scene that’s not only perfectly choreographed, but its very existence defies that of the hero’s journey. Before the battle, everyone I talked to automatically assumed it was Oberyn’s victory, no problem. Oberyn is given way more character buildup in the show in comparison to the books, which led us all to believe he was going to be a huge character. In our minds, if Oberyn died, Tryion died, and no one expected Tyrion to die so it almost gave us a cushion of security.
We were wrong, like in so many other instances in Game Of Thrones. Oberyn doesn’t win; he dies, and in one of the show’s most brutal moments to date. This scene has moved people so much that there are versions on YouTube edited so that Oberyn wins – everyone is in denial. The audacity and the brutality make it assuredly the Scene of the Season.
– Andrew Roebuck
I don’t think there was a single tear shed when Joffrey met his demise. Well, Cersei cried, but that’s it. When he took the throne, the realm and especially Sansa Stark got to see the extent of cruelty within his heart. We got to know from the very beginning that Joffrey was an evil little beast, who would one day rule with an iron, sadistic fist. In the first season, his lying cost Mycah (the butcher boy) his life, and he made Sansa stare at her dead father’s head on a spike. In the second season, he tormented Sansa on a continual basis. Yeah, he’s a jerk. So when the time came to say goodbye, we were all ready for it.
It began with a beautiful wedding. The day was spared no expense by the Lannisters; featuring numerous singers and acts. One such act was composed of little people, acting out the war and the bravery of lions. Joffrey uses this as a particular advantage to mock his uncle Tyrion and we all had to watch and cringe as the adorable Peter Dinklage was berated. But then, a simple bite of pie and sip of wine, and the wicked king of Westeros is gone! Hooray!
To me, this is the scene of the season because of Joffrey’s role. He initiated the War of the Five Kings when he beheaded Ned Stark (R.I.P.). His death brings the power of the Lannister house full circle. While they still hold the keys to the kingdoms, this is when their hold over the realm begins to weaken. With Tywin’s death by the end of the season, the Lannister control over Westeros is being held by a thread. Their alliances become ultra critical and marriages with the Tyrell house are immediately in place. The next season will be a pivotal power shift for the lions of Westeros, and we’ll hopefully get to see Cersei try to helm it all. Long live King Tommen!
– Alexandra Mitchell