UK TV review: Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 4
Paul Greenwood | On 17, May 2016
Warning: This contains spoilers.
OK, now we’re talking. Episode 4 of Season 6 is prime Game of Thrones, offering the triple whammy of strong character work, much needed emotional heft, and a rousing, thunderous finale the likes of which we haven’t seen for quite a few episodes.
The horn at Castle Black sounded at the beginning. Who could it be? Wildlings, white walkers, Ramsay Bolton out on a rampage? But as the cry went out to open the gate, in a masterful reveal, we came face to face with the weary-looking trio of Brienne, Pod and, most importantly, Sansa.
Knowing what we do about how much the show’s makers like to pull the rug from under us, turning victory into a crushed skull in the blink of an eye, there was probably still time for Sansa to slip on the ice and bleed out before her long-estranged half-brother got down the stairs.
The short walk of 20 feet from Jon to Sansa was a deftly directed sequence that eked out every last moment of building joy and sorrow, and it’s a reunion that’s well deserved, for them and us. If memory serves, Jon and Sansa haven’t seen each other since the very beginning of Season 1, which was 2011 in our world – although who knows how long that translates to in GoT years?
Finally, after a good deal of sitting about, this was an episode of people getting places or, at the very least, people going places. So, at last, we got some movement and some heading towards the sorts of meetings and confrontations required to take the drama to the next level.
Interesting things were happening even in the most boring city in the world, Meereen, where there were thematically rich discussions about all of society’s under-represented and mistreated being given a voice, on the back of this continent’s slavery shame and what Tyrion intends to do about it. It showed that, even if it’s being talky, as long as its compelling talk, well directed and intentioned, then Game of Thrones is still the most watchable programme on the telly.
Above all, this was an episode where the women of Westeros (and beyond) came to the fore. That’s always been one of the show’s greatest virtues, its strong female characters, and here, they showed up the mewling menfolk who have been defeated and worn down by their lot.
Yara Greyjoy made sure her emasculated brother, Theon, knows which of them is going to be king of the Iron Islands. Margaery Tyrell, kept prisoner by Jonathan Pryce and Terry Jones and their pious inquisition, implored her brother, Loras, not to give in to their intimidations. And Dany, old fireproof herself, having looked unusually vulnerable for a few weeks, whipped out one of her trademark burny-burny routines and flame-grilled a shed full of khals in a rip-roaring climax that reminded us just how powerful she really is.
Most importantly, for the future of the North at any rate, Jon Snow regained a sense of purpose with the arrival of Sansa. Tired of the fight, he was all for chucking it in, heading off somewhere to grow his hair long again. But Sansa reminded him: “A monster has taken our home and our brother.” If Ramsay Bolton doesn’t have a rusty blade thrust deep into his brainpan before the end of Season 6, I’ll want to know the reason why.
Game of Thrones Season 1 to 6 are available on Sky Box Sets. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW TV, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription. The show is also available on DVD, Blu-ray and pay-per-view VOD. For more, click here.
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