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Review: Game of Thrones Season 4

GOT 11 HOURSNot long ago Jared and I got together with Rebecca Levene and watched the entire fourth series – all ten hours - of Game of Thrones in one long (very long) day. With a bonus eleventh hour; we started by watching the last episode of S3.

This is a real and true record of that day that I made up two weeks later.

Please note that this post contains HUGE SPOILERS for all four series of the television series and the first four books of A Song of Ice and Fire.

10 am: We arrive at Rebecca’s house, crack open a bag of Doritos, play with the cats, and gossip.

10.32 am: Bex asks whether we’re really going to watch the entire ten hours in one day. I begin chanting ‘game of thrones’ while punching the air with my fists.

10.37 am: We decide to begin with the final episode of S3, to remind ourselves where the show left off. We’re all fans of the books and well-steeped in ASoIaF minutiae but can’t remember exactly how S3 concluded.

10.42 am: ‘Mhysa’ (S3 E10): We talk though the boring (eg Sam) bits and then watch, jaws agape, as tiny white Danerys is lifted onto the shoulders of many, many not-white people, all chanting ‘mhysa’ (mother) at her. The camera spirals lovingly away while we wonder whether the GoT production crew were actually trying to create the Platonic ideal of easily gif-able racefail in modern premium television.

11.46 am: Good grief, that episode was 64 minutes long. And there was too little of the Hound, really. Bex’s cat Olli settles in for a long nap on Jared’s lap. I open another bag of Doritos. Bex asks whether we’re really going to watch ten more hours of television. I assure her that we’re not only going to watch ten more hours, but we’re not even going to fast forward through the opening titles ever BECAUSE WHAT IF THEY SHOW SOMEPLACE NEW.

11.50 am: ‘Two Swords’ (S4 E1). OMG THERE’S A COLD OPEN IS THIS A NEW THING (spoiler: no, it’s not; it’s the only cold open of the season.) During that cold open, in which Ned Stark’s sword Ice is reforged into two smaller, lesser swords, I wonder why someone is throwing a spice weasel into the fire. Neither Jared nor Bex can convince me it’s a wolfpelt. NOR CAN YOU SO DON'T EVEN TRY.

11.53 am: Both Bex and Jared ask whether we’re really going to watch ten more hours of television. I make a joke about spice weasels. Bex gets up to make tea.

Game_of_thrones_racefail12.45pm: Arya kills Polliver and reclaims Needle. We begin a long discussion about whether and how the show is going to deal with her inevitable, crippling PTSD.

12.47: I make a joke about spice weasels. Bex gets up to make tea.

1 pm: Lunchtime! Hey, it’s really nice outside! Bex shoos us into the backyard. Jared and Bex have a normal conversation about normal things. I scuttle into the shadows and hiss at the cats. We discover that Bex’s backyard is home to a billion gigantic disgusting slugs.

1.15: Bex asks whether we’re really going to watch nine more hours of television. I make a joke about spice weasels.

1.17: ‘The Lion and the Rose’ (S4 E2) I reveal that I haven’t used Tumblr since Series 4 premiered back in April for fear of spoiling myself for this episode. Despite the fact that  I know what happens because I’ve read the books. I simply don’t want to face a sea of endless gifs of Joffrey’s death before seeing the episode, I explain. Jared rolls his eyes. Bex gets up to make tea.

1.33: We’re all watching the wedding sequence like hawks. We definitely see Olenna Tyrell slip a stone off Sansa’s necklace but, like the characters, become distracted by the entertainments and miss her dropping it into his cup.

1.42: LATERZ, JOFF.

1.44: But did he turn purple enough?

1.45: I attempt to initiate a discussion about the poison. Bex gets up to make tea.

2.20: ‘Breaker of Chains’ (S4 E3) Look, the credits are awesome, okay? Though I miss the sideways Dothraki horsey city-thing. Yes, we have to watch them.

2.23: OH THANK GOD LITTLEFINGER IS BACK we missed you so much, you slimy little creep. (Seriously, he vanished – ahem, went to Harrenhall and then the Aerie) in the middle of last season and LOOK THIS SHOW IS NOT THE SAME WITHOUT HIM OKAY. #littlefinger4eva

2.27:  Have we discussed how fantastic Pedro Pascal is as Oberyn Martell? So fantastic. I make a joke about spice weasels.

Game_of_thrones_littlefinger_poster2.40: So much Sam and Gilly in this episode. Sooooo muuuuuuch.

2.43: One of Bex’s cats tries to curl up on my lap. Jared steals him.

2.53: Everyone keeps talking about Mance Rayder but instead of spending some quality time with Ciaran Hinds, we instead get a random and very rapey subplot about some Night’s Watch deserters who’ve taken over Craster’s Keep. On the one hand: this isn’t in the books! On the other: zomg so much rape.

2.57: Jamie rapes Cersei next to the corpse of their dead son. We all had heard that this already-infamous, not-in-the-book scene was on its way, but we weren’t at all prepared for it. We make disgusted noises. Bex gets up to make tea. 

3.00: Oh, God. The interminable Reek thing. It  begins.

3.15: Okay, fine, the Daario-fights-the-Meereen-champion scene borrows a lot – a lot – from Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it’s still totally awesome. We briefly forget about the whole Jamie-raping-Cersei thing.

3.20: - ‘Are we really going to watch eight more hours of this?’

‘SPICE WEASELS!’

3.21: Bex insists we take a break and go pay our respects to the many humongous slugs in her garden get some sun. Jared complies readily. I sulk.

3.30: ‘Oathkeeper’ (S4 E4): ‘Yes we have to watch the opening credits.’

3.32: Did Littlefinger tell Sansa he set up Joffery’s murder this early in the books? Doesn’t that instead become clear at the end of Storm of Swords? Why are they revealing it now? How are people who haven’t read the books reacting to this information? These changes are really cool.

3.45: Whatever. Brienne! We love you, Brienne. Wow, we could watch the adventures of Brienne and Podrick ALL DAY LONG. Fortunately, we will be.

3.47: I make a joke about spice weasels. Bex gets up to make tea.

3.58: Jared and I get into a slap-fight. Bex gets up to make tea.

4.00: Bran et al. get caught by the rapey traitors out at Craster’s Keep. They also have John Snow’s dire wolf in a cage. How? Why? Whatever. Rapey rape rape. There is so much rape in this fucking show. Jesus Christ. Everyone, go read this great essay ‘Rape of Thrones’ and then come back and talk to me about it because seriously, I love this show but I hate hate hate the way they use rape. And women’s bodies in general, of course, but the gross slavering insistence on rape and the threat of rape in every fucking episode is absolutely beyond disgusting.

Spice_Weasel4.07: [insert weak joke about spice weasels here]

4.25: The episode ends on a weird note as we learn where baby White Walkers come from.

4.30: Bex gets up to make tea. Jared steals the cat I’ve been patting.

4.35: ‘First of His Name’ (S4 E5): We’ve been watching for five hours now. Number of cups of tea consumed: 87. Number of spice weasel jokes made: 34. Number of gigantic garden slugs: infinite.

4.40: Aww, Tommen. They did a good job casting Tommen; he looks kind of like a-- well, a nicer Joffery.

5.17: This episode is all about the buddy comedy, isn’t it? Brienne and Podrick, Arya and the Hound; Lysa and Sansa… oh, wait, that’s not remotely funny. Sometimes I feel like we should start a reverse ‘it gets better’ campaign for all the younger characters in ASoIaF. My first video, ‘Sansa Stark: It Gets Worse,’ will go live on YouTube next week. (Sorry, Sansa; it gets way worse. And also very weird.)

5.30: Bran and Jon pass like ships in the night outside rapey Craster's Keep. Whenever Kit Harrington is on screen, Bex and Jared and I shout, in unison: shut your mouth!

5.32: Despite our noisy protestations, Kit Harrington continues to act with his mouth hanging open.  Bex gets up to make tea.

5.40: ‘The Laws of Gods and Men’ (S4 E6): A new location, Braavos, (finally) pops up in the opening credits. I am insufferably smug about my insistence that we watch the opening sequence every single time. Bex gets up to make tea.

5.52: In real life, the gorgeous weather  we'd been enjoying (ahem: 'enjoying') all day vanishes in a cloud of, uh, clouds. Nevertheless, Bex continues to gaze longingly out the window. I pull the curtains to force her to focus on the task at hand: spice weasels. She gets up to make a cup of tea.

6.02: A crack of thunder scares the cats. I monologue about how lucky we are to be inside on such a gloomy day, watching a favorite show with good friends. Jared falls asleep. A single tear slips down Bex’s cheek.

6.15: One of Danerys’ dragons eats a really cute goat, to our dismay. We note that no one on the show ever calls her ‘Dany.’

GOT TEA6.20: Asha Greyjoy YES I KNOW THEY RENAMED HER FOR THE SHOW AND I DO UNDERSTAND WHY BUT I STILL THINK OF HER AS ASHA tries to rescue Reek. Erm, Theon. Alfie Allen is really pretty good as Theon. We discuss the recent news that the show tried to get Lily Allen to play Asha. We daydream about a world in which the entire Greyjoy clan is played by Allens. Because, seriously. Keith Allen as Balon Greyjoy. Just sit there and suck on that for a while.

6.24: The conversation turns to Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Bolton. Who knew that creepy Simon from Misfits would be so good as creepy Ramsay… oh, wait. Anyway, he’s pretty good. It’s still a boring subplot.

6.30: Tyrion’s trial. Man, Peter Dinklage is so good. Like, that is all there is to say about that. Scene stolen.

6.40: ‘Do we really have to watch the entire series today?’

YES OMG ONLY FOUR HOURS LEFT WHY WOULD WE STOP NOW WE’RE NEARLY THERE!!111!1!!!’

6.41: Bex gets up to make tea.

6.52: The rain lets up. We go outside. A second infinity of gigantic slugs has materialized in the garden. We recoil in horror and withdraw.

6.55: ‘Mockingbird’ (S4 E7): YES CREDITS WATCH WE MUST

7.15: Three spirits will visit Tyrion in one night: Jamie Lannister as the ghost of vengeance past-because-some-asshole-chopped-off-my-sword-hand, Bronn as the ghost of vengeance-screw-that-I’m-going-to-marry-a-rich-lady and Oberyn Martell as the ghost of vengeance-holy-shit-yeah-ima-kill-Gregor-Clegane-dead-dead-dead-I’ll-totally-be-your-champion.

7.20: We all know what’s coming but IT IS STILL SO CREEPY.

7.22: Sansa slaps Robin Arryn. Yay! Little brat deserves it.

7.24: Littlefinger agrees that Robin deserved a slap, and proves it to Sansa. WITH HIS MOUTHPARTS. Unfortunately for Sansa, Lysa sees Littlefinger kissing her niece and, uh, storms off. NOT FOR THE RIGHT REASON, THOUGH.

7.25: Well, Sansa, at least on the show he’s only your brothel-owning, king-killing, father-betraying, boner-for-you-having uncle who’s in love with your dead mother and married to her lunatic sister. In the books he’s also pretending to be your father.

Lena-headey-stoneheart7.30: Back to Arya and the Hound. Oh, the larks! The very dead larks. Stabby stab stab.

7.40: And more stuff that’s not in the books: the return of beloved character Hot Pie!

7.45: Goodbye, Lysa. (This was really shocking in the book. Was it shocking here, non-book-readers?)

7.46: Uh, wait, that scene was at the end of Storm of Swords. What’s going to happen next? Three episodes of Zombie Catlyn?

7.50: Bex gets up to make a cup of tea. I run around yelling ‘spice weasels!’ at the cats. Jared curls up in a corner, puts his face to the wall, and begins to weep.

8.00. ‘The Mountain and the Viper’ (S4 E8): [sung to the theme tune] Game. Thrones. Game of Thrones-thrones. Game of Throooooonnnnnessssss.

8.10: There’s this whole subplot Bex, Jared and I have ignored or talked through up till now, about how Sam put Gilly and the baby in a whorehouse somewhere and everyone (that is, no one except Sam and Gilly) was very upset about it. Now that subplot pays off (ahem, ‘pays off’) when the Wildings come to town and tear up the whorehouse. Ygritte spares Gilly who escapes to rejoin Sam. Weak cheer from the five Sam/Gilly shippers out there.

8.20: Jorah is outed as having been a spy for now-years-dead Robert Baratheon. I’d forgotten that Danerys & co. didn’t know about that. Jorah rides away sadly. Bex cheers. Jared folds an empty Doritos bag into a hat and tries to put it on a cat

8.25: We discuss Bex’s irrational loathing of Ian Glen and her habit of snarling through his screen-time. She has done so since we first watched Game of Thrones series 1 together, lo these many years ago. To be totally honest, he does only have a single way of inflecting his lines. And inflects all his lines thus.

8.30: Fighty fight fight! Stompy rarr twirly twirl twirl you killed my father prepare to die.

8.40: OMG SO GROSS (splat)

Game_of_thrones_gross_deaths8.50: Littlefinger, you just got played. WAIT THAT’S NOT IN THE BOOK (it is an improvement over what is in Feast for Crows, though, and I love FfC)

8.52: Introduction of Dark Sansa. Internet retroactively explodes. Bex gets up to make tea.

9.00: NOOOO WE CAN’T STOP NOOOOOOW

9.15: ‘The Watchers on the Wall’ (S4 E9) YAY 9TH EPISODE BATTLE-PORN AHOY

10.15: MAMMOTHS! [In which I spare you a solid hour’s worth of furious MST3K-esque yelling as Bex, Jared and I explain to the  screen just how incredibly poorly the Battle of Castle Black is being run. We pause once in a while to direct our ire instead at Samwell. We feel really bad about the thing with the giant in the tunnel. We don’t care at all when Ygritte finally bites it, but to note that Kit Harrington can’t even close his mouth in grief. Jared occasionally notes what an awesome director Neil Marshall is. Bex gets up to make tea.]

10.20: ‘-- You’re going to miss the last train back unless you leave RIGHT NOW.’

‘NO WE ONLY HAVE ONE EPISODE TO GO WE’RE NOT LEAVING’

10.20: Bex gets up to make tea.

10.30: ‘The Children’ (S4 E10): FUCK YEAH THIS IS IT.

10.30: We watch the opening credits.

10.30: Bex somehow manages not to strangle me. I begin to suspect her near-constant tea making is some sort of elaborate coping mechanism.

10.30: Jared’s mouth is now permanently stuck in Kit Harrington’s signature gawp.

10.30: SPICE WEASEL.

10.40: Yay! Mance Rayder! Also we find out what happened to the giant in the tunnel. SPOILER ALERT it wasn’t pretty.

10.40: We were really invested in that giant, okay?

10.47: Speaking of plots we’ve ignored or talked through: Bran’s vision-quest for the three-eyed raven. Hodor Hodor Hodor. Something about the wights and the children of the forest and fireballs and prophecies and sigh, shit just got epic fantasy up in here.

10.53: Just when Danerys was getting to be completely insufferable she discovers that one of her dragons ate a child. Whoops! (For the record, Danerys is 99% insufferable anyway.) At this point in the evening we’re all willing to accept the sacrifice of one child to wipe that beatific smirk off her face. Sorry, bereaved native.

11.01: Brienne and Podrick versus Arya and the Hound! A hundred thousand fan ficcers scream in delight, and then are suddenly silenced.

Danerys11.15: Uh, Qyburn is turning the Mountain into a zombie?

11.20: Tywin gets an earful of The Troof from Cersei. He doesn’t seem too concerned about the fact that his twin children have been stupping each other for like two decades and his grandchildren are all really horrifically inbred. In his mind Tyrion’s still worse. Tywin Lannister! Brilliant strategist; terrible father.

11.25: Varys frees Tyrion! There’s a team-up that’d be fun to explore. Too bad that’s not what happens in the books, eh? HO HO HO.

11.27: Tyrion, one of the few characters on the show who is really, truly smart, makes the dumb decision to go pay daddy a visit instead of just fucking leaving King's Landing already. He  finds Shae in Tywin’s bed, which, oops. Bye, Shae.

11.30: Ah, there’s Tywin, on the shitter. Doesn’t Tyrion shoot him in the balls in the book? Why’d they change that, of all things?

11.33: And so Tyrion sails away in a box to find out where whores go. Where do whores go, you guys?

11.34: WAIT VARYS IS GOING WITH HIM that’s not in this book this is awesome THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING.GOT the hound isn't really dead right

11.37: Goodbye, the Hound. OR IS IT.

11.40: Arya heads off to Braavos, a hopeful (murderous) gleam in her eye. Sorry, Arya; it gets worse. THE END.

11.45: We did it. We watched 11 hours of Game of Thrones. They changed some stuff! Most of the changes were strong and interesting! Some of them were rapey! There was no zombie Catlyn! We’re all very excited about S5 because it’s clearly going to depart radically from Feast for Crows and Dance with Dragons. Which, let’s be honest, is okay. Tyrion is going to have a (hopefully) improved journey south; Sansa’s discovered that thing called agency and it looks like she’s going to make the most of it; Varys is going to be off having adventures… and we might have zombie Mountain and zombie Catlyn both. Or they might cut the Lady Stoneheart plot entirely (PLEASE)! Either way, bring on 2015!

11.46: Bex gets up to make a cup of tea; promises never to speak to me again.

11.48: SPICE WEASELS.

Eleven hours of Game of Thrones by the numbers

  • Garden slugs: five hundred and sixty-six BILLION BILLION and all gigantic and slimy.
  • Cups of tea: 719.
  • Spice weasels: 93.
  • Murderous glances at me: 45.
  • Sleepy kitties: 2.
  • Offers to do it all again next year: 0. Although I'm confident one is forthcoming, right Bex? Bex?

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