A Murder of Crows: The best – and worst – season yet

And now for something completely different.

Castle Black common hall

Support the what?

The four core members behind Watchers on the Wall may have been embroiled within the Game of Thrones scene for the past several years, but they’ve never all assembled around one great round table in the common hall before to alternatively duel and embrace. It’s high time that all changed – and to also see what kind of ruckus can be kicked up. The television series has no shortage of controversial elements or contentious adaptation choices, after all, and when served with bread and ale, there’s no better culinary experience to be had.

Call it a murder of crows, if you will. And please to join us, if you would.

Marc N. Kleinhenz

Marc N. Kleinhenz:

For our inaugural roundtable, I have just one quick and (deceptively) simple question for you: what was the best – and the worst – season of Game of Thrones thus far?

Axechucker

Axechucker:

Pretty easy for me. From where I stand, each season has gotten better. This is mostly due to the source material; A Storm of Swords is the best book so far, and that has been reflected in the show.

Worst season was the first – and the first was fantastic. But even despite Sean Bean’s strength of presence, it’s obvious the production team was still feeling its way through things. Starting with the prologue, which, while still being damned good, had some pretty big flaws, highlighted by a terrible fade-out transition. There were other clunky things, as well.

White Walkers in "Winter Is Coming"

Who’s clunky-looking?

And though A Game of Thrones was, in my view, better than A Clash of Kings, season two’s production was so much smoother (and “Blackwater” [episode 209] was so much KA-BLOOM-ier), I edge it past season one.

Season three was spectacular, with episode four’s dracarys moment, and, of course, the Red Wedding…

…but I think season four beats it by a hair, with Joffrey’s colorful demise, Oberyn’s strutting (and messy death), Tyrion’s trial and subsequent bloody escape, and “Watchers on the Wall” (409), which was, beat for beat, some of the best television I have ever seen.

Sue the Fury

Sue the Fury:

This is like that expression about pizza – even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. The worst season of Game of Thrones is still a pretty damn good season, but it has several storylines with problems – and that, for me, was season two. Robb’s manufactured love story with Talisa, Jon getting a lot of weak banter with Ygritte instead of his arc with Qhorin, and Dany’s time in Qarth: all were big flops.

The best season is much harder to decide; every season has its incredible high points and one or two episodes that didn’t quite gel for me. Ultimately, though, taking this as an entire season, I’m going with season one.

I’m not as concerned with technical issues as some of my cohorts, and choosing season one isn’t only because it’s the closest to the books. It works because Dany has a complete story, without suffering from the “too few source-chapters for the writers to work with” issue that plagued her in later seasons. We didn’t have characters in a holding pattern with repetitive side-stories. I choose season one because the arc of the entire season just worked, from the White Walkers at the beginning to the birth of the dragons at the end.

Growing pains or not, season one still holds up beautifully.

Hear Marko Roar

Hear Marko Roar:

It depends a lot on the criteria you apply, which is kind of obvious. The production values increased with every new season, with the biggest leap being between seasons one and two. To me, seasons three and four are better than seasons one and two, so we can start with that. From there on, it is harder to pick favourites, though each of the seasons has something going for them.

Season two brought about a major increase in the sheer scale and the epic feel of the show, and the tightest, best-written episode as a whole, “Blackwater.” However, I fully agree with Sue that there are just too many storylines in season two that felt sub-par. With that in mind, the well-structured season one wins out, making the second season the worst one so far – although still a damn good one.

Tyrion in "Blackwater"

The worst…?

There is not much that separates seasons three and four in their race for the best thus far. Season three has my all-time favourite scene – Dany’s dracarys moment in episode 304 (“And Now His Watch Is Ended”). It sends shivers down my spine every time. On the whole, I find season four more appealing, though: the major beats in the story are spread out throughout the season, there are several appealing storylines intertwining (first and foremost in King’s Landing), and we get another masterfully executed battle episode directed by Neil Marshall.

I am with Axey on crowning season four as the best one to date.

107 responses

Jump to (and Always Support) the Bottom

    1. For me it’s Season 4>Season 3>Season 1>Season 2

      Season 2 was the worst because other than a the Battle of Blackwater not much else happened. No Wiesel Soup, botched Quorin Halfhand, Jon getting smacked around by Craster, Qarth terrible filler, subpar House of the Undying, etc. Still enjoyed Season 2. One of my favorite quoted of the entire series is “look to your sins Lord Renly, the night is dark and full of terrors”. Jaqen was also a bright spot in the season.

      Season 4 had the most big moments: Arya kills Polliver, Purple Wedding, Tyrions Trial, “Your sister”(-_-), Trial by Combat, and Battle at the wall, The Hound vs Brienne

      Season 3 was just behind it with Dracarys, Jaime loses hand, Jaime/Brienne bath scene, Lord Beric vs The Hound, Littlefinger’s climb monologue, and the Red Wedding.

      Season 1 was great because Ned provided a unifying plot line we could all follow, Viserys golden crown, first time we see the Stark family together, Syrio Forrel, Bronn vs Ser Vardis, Drogo vs Quotho, Jorah vs Mago, The Hound vs The Mountain, Ned’s death being a game changer.

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    2. I think season two was a *vast* improvement over the first season just in terms of production values.

      Just sayin’.

      =)

      ~M.

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    3. wow It’s great to see so much variation in your opinions. I’ts also really interesting to see the reasoning behind it and how much weight you put on each aspect of the show.

      Personally my favorite in all likelihood will always be season one. Sean Bean as Ned really pulled me into the show, all the story lines were relatively tight and the wolves and dragons were great and the pilot excited me more than any other show in perhaps the last 10 years. However most importantly I hadn’t read the books at that point so everything was a surprise and although I try to treat the show and books separately. Realistically i’ll always compare the show to the book which is why season 4 is probably the worst for me. Two of the biggest moments from the book that I’d been waitimg for In my opinion didn’t transfer well, Oberyn V The Mountain felt wrong & Tyrion’s escape lost most of it’s meaning. Not to mention several additions I didn’t care for Crasters keep diversion, Yara/Asha’s dreadfort adventure and Brienne V The Hound. As well as taking one of my favorite minor characters (Oberyn) and somehow making me dislike him on the show.

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    4. That’s appropiate that you choose Feast For Crows for the title considering it’s the worst book in the series .
      Anyway on topic, best season was season 4 and the worst i’d say season 2 but i enjoyed all of them despite their problems .

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    5. Season 1 remains the most satisfying as an overall season.

      Other seasons contains more impressive / exciting highlights, but as a clear, coherent story which builds momentum superbly with a satisfying ending, Season 1 is way ahead.

      It undeniably helped having Ned Stark as a single character which audiences could unite behind. We saw the story through his eyes, we rooted for him, he was the lynchpin for a programme that could otherwise be quite confusing for the uninitiated. He also provided a moral lynchpin for a world which was dramatically amoral in many respects.

      Personally I think the prologue is superb. I sat down thinking “OK, I’ll give this new series a few minutes and see”, and I have the prologue to thanks for getting me hooked immediately and becoming the massive ASOIAF fan I am today.

      Ultimately a lot of it has to do with the source material of course. And at this point the world was less sprawling, more coherent, with a clear, linear narrative based around one central character. Yes that is the ‘norm’ which Martin then bravely dismantled after that point. But in my opinion it still made for the most satisfying story-telling, and the thought of watching Season 1 still excites me more than any other.

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    6. TaviColen123:
      That’s appropiate that you choose Feast For Crows for the title considering it’s the worst book in the series .

      That’s what I thought this post was gonna be about, since I describe next season to Unsullieds as potentially the best or potentially the worst

      Season 2 was definitely the worst for me, which is strange because I LOVED a clash of kings when I read it after. I find it hard to compare 3 and 4 since one is more subtle and one is BOOM BOOM BOOM. I’m going to go with season 4, just because there’s more Cersei.

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    7. Nice topic mods!!

      I go with 4-1-3-2, and Season 1 gets the nod over Season 3 just barely, and mostly because the last 5 episodes are stronger than the last 5 in Season 3, which contain 2 terrific episodes (Second Sons, Rains of Castamere), a decent closer, the underrated Climb, and the weak Bear and Maiden Fair. Upon rewatches I’ve found that Season 1’s “weak” episodes – Lord Snow, Cripples, Bastards… – aren’t really all that weak, and are in fact pretty good.

      But Season 4 is where I see D&D growing ever more confident in their own storytelling abilities as they follow the books less and less. This has to happen of course, but they’re doing things that fill in blanks we don’t see on the page – most of First of His Name are all events inferred by the books or that *could* have happened that we don’t see (Tommen’s coronation, Cersei’s 3 conversations), but they’re so well structured it’s such a pleasure to watch and like an extension of Tyrion’s 3 conversations in early Season 2.

      This is super important — they have more blanks to increasingly fill in the next 3 seasons, so it will have to be more about their own writing and structuring of the tale and not just about them coming up with “great conversations” a la Robert & Cersei in Wolf & the Lion. And episodes 5-6-7 of this past year lead me to think they can do that, surely.

      I agree with Sue that Season 1 was probably strongest in giving every character a natural progression that doesn’t exist in Seasons 2-3 (Dany in Season 2, Stannis in Season 3), and it gets locked down by Sean Bean’s greatness in that season as well.

      And the best single episode surely belongs to Season 2’s Blackwater, but I look back at some other episodes late in that season and realize what a slog Dany’s storyline was for several episodes, mostly being redeemed by Valar Morghulis. Episode 2.6 was something I thought to be a gem – it has the great execution of Rodrik Cassel – and then a couple of Dany scenes that stop the damned thing in its tracks. And Season 3’s Myhsa suffers by not having a real ‘ending’ in any major way, either (in retrospect, Season 4’s cold opener would have been a lovely way to close Season 3).

      Season 4 is also notable in that it really doesn’t contain a weak episode a la Dark Wings, Dark Words or The Bear and the Maiden Fair. The weakest is Breaker of Chains, which only gets downgraded to me by the fatal missteps in THAT SCENE THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED. The episode is otherwise pretty good. Oathkeeper has a lot of good stuff too (despite Karl Tanner hamming it up all over the place), and the 6-9 stretch is one of its best (I also agree that Season 1’s Golden Crown through the great rousing finale is pretty amazing, too).

      Season 4 has more highs and fewer lows. It has the strongest premiere (though Winter is Coming is close based on a degree-of-difficulty factor), really takes off with its great 2nd episode, and Mockingbird is such a gem despite it mostly being a series of careful conversations. It’s the best episode they’ve done that doesn’t contain much in the way of big set-piece battles/violent events (well, there’s one, but it’s short, even if Oz is devastated by it).

      Sorry for being so long!!!

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    8. Marc N. Kleinhenz:
      I think season two was a *vast* improvement over the first season just in terms of production values.

      Just sayin’.

      =)

      ~M.

      But a vast deterioration in terms of writing, which in the end was much more important.

      My feelings on seasons 1 and 2 are the exact opposite of Axechucker’s: I like Clash better than Game (in fact, although I love Game, it’s in the running for my least favorite of the five books; it feels very introductory, with many of the main characters still presented almost as character types for the majority of the book; on the other hand, it has a lot of great backstory in Ned’s chapters, and the last two Dany chapters are one of the series’ highlights for me), but season 1, though it had its flaws, was much, much better than season 2. In terms of the gap between the quality of the source material and the quality of the adaptation, season 2 “wins” by really not doing justice to A Clash of Kings. It did have some great moments, and it has one truly great episode and one very good one (What Is Dead May Never Die), but almost all of the storylines were unsatisfying in one way or another, and Dany’s, Robb’s and Jon’s were straight up bad TV (and not just a bad adaptation).

      So, worst season is very easy to pick. But although season 2 is definitely my least favorite, it did have the show’s best episode to date, Blackwater.

      Best season is more difficult to choose. Season 1 was overall the best adaptation of the source material, but it still had problems and disappointing moments, including low production values and particularly annoying cases of sexposition (a problem that would continue, but was IMO less grating in season 4; Littlefinger’s monologue remains probably the worst sexposition scene in the show). Seasons 3 and 4 had much better production values and are adapted from a better and more ambitious book, but they also had a number of writing (and sometimes directing) problems. In the end, I would choose season 4 as best TV season so far (although it had a number of its own problems, no storyline in season 4 was as badly done as the King’s Landing storyline in season 3), but I’m hoping that the best season of the show is still to come.

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    9. The purist in me screams season 1 is the best and the rest are trash… fortunately for me, the purist was plopped down in the corner of my mind a long time ago.

      Overall I have to go with Season 4 being the best so far. There was just soooo many good points. I can also honestly say that season 4 was the first season without any episodes feeling like filler. Every single episode was spot on.

      Season 2 was the worst of the best. Season 1 was awesome and episodes 9 and 10 of Season 1 were fantastic. Season 2 was somewhat slow moving. Also, the changes from the book really began to stick out during this season. (Purist, get back in your corner). Dany in Qarth was somewhat painful and has left a stain on the rest of her story arc.

      All that said the worst Season of GoT is still better than 99% of the best of TV. And the best Season of GoT is the Best of the Best.

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    10. It’s hard for me to pick the worst season as a whole, because there are some parts I hate so much that they block out the parts I loved and vice versa. But I’ll do my best!

      Best: Season One, without a doubt.
      I have no concern for production values unless things look Power Rangers bad, and I have to agree with Sue the Fury‘s reasoning. I fell in love with the world and its characters onscreen, and the season felt well plotted. Most characters had strong arcs that resonated with me: Dany goes from powerless victim to the mother of dragons, Sansa goes from the girl who can’t choose sides against the prince to the one who tells the king to his face that she hopes he dies, Arya starts off playing with swords and rejecting her noble upbringings and ends up being forced to live by the sword and completely deny who she is, Ned starts as the most honorable dude to ever live and ends as the most ‘dishonorable’ ‘traitor’ to ever die, etc.

      Worst: Season Two
      This one’s much harder. My first instinct is to say 4 because the altar scene, Craster’s Keep story line and literally everything that went down with Shae often overshadow all my feelings about the season. But really, the episodes that don’t contain those plots are some of the finest work GOT has done, so I’d say it’s the second best season.
      Season 3 suffers from the same problem (Why did Gendry’s penis have to be leeched? Why didn’t Melisandre just pretend to perform a medical exam?), except that the high points just aren’t as high as 4’s.
      Season 2 thus wins because the weird changes requiring Dany to search aimlessly for her dragons and Robb to fall in love with a sassy nurse weren’t just poor character choices, they also made for boring TV. ‘Blackwater’ is an amazing episode, but it can’t save the rest of the season.

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    11. rudie:
      wow It’s great to see so much variation in your opinions.I’ts also really interesting to see the reasoning behind it and how much weight you put on each aspect of the show.

      Personally my favorite in all likelihood will always be season one. Sean Bean as Ned really pulled me into the show, all the story lines were relatively tight and the wolves and dragons were great and the pilot excited me more than any other show in perhaps the last 10 years. However most importantly I hadn’t read the books at that point so everything was a surprise and although I try to treat the show and books separately. Realistically i’ll always compare the show to the book which is why season 4 is probably the worst for me. Two of the biggest moments from the book that I’d been waitimg for In my opinion didn’t transfer well, Oberyn V The Mountain felt wrong & Tyrion’s escape lost most of it’s meaning. Not to mention several additions I didn’t care for Crasters keep diversion, Yara/Asha’s dreadfort adventure and Brienne V The Hound. As well as taking one of my favorite minor characters (Oberyn) and somehow making me dislike him on the show.

      That’s the first time I’ve heard of someone disliking Oberyn on the show.

      For me it was the exact opposite: Oberyn was a character I never liked as much in the books as most people did, but the TV show really made me love him. Apart from Pedro Pascal’s performance, the show did one of the best ever changes by moving his story about baby Tyrion to the moment when he comes to Tyrion’s cell, where it had a much greater emotional impact and felt a lot more natural (in the book, it felt out of place and almost annoying when he started talking about all that personal stuff during his first meeting with Tyrion). He was also given some great dialogue, particularly with Tywin and Cersei, whereas in the books we always saw him only from Tyrion’s POV.

      It seems that people who started reading after seeing some of the seasons tend to dislike the seasons they saw after reading the books and like those they saw before they read the books. I read the books before I saw any of the seasons, but it will be interesting to see if season 6 or 7 becomes my favorite if it is broadcast before the corresponding book is published.

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    12. That was great to read! Loved reading the opinions.

      Personally I don’t feel capable of ranking the seasons because there’s just too much to take into account for every season, I’ll have to rewatch and let everything sink in some more. Because right now, no season stands out significantly over the other for me.

      Suggestion for future roundtable (though it may have to wait because possible spoilers):

      Should/will LSH be in the show or not?

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    13. TaviColen123:
      That’s appropiate that you choose Feast For Crows for the title considering it’s the worst book in the series .

      Don’t you ever get bored of posting that? We get it, you don’t like A Feast of Crows. I think most people got it after the first 15 times you made your feelings clear.

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    14. Sue’s opinion basically reflects my own almost exactly.
      In my opinion higher productions values don’t necessarily make a better story. I personally like the grittier, dirtier feel of the first season. While season 2 had alot of good stuff, I think that is were they made alot of their worst mistakes (adaptationwise). Also, the season 2 Mountain? ooph!
      edit: and Littlefinger jetpacking around Westeros really bothered me.

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    15. My favorite season has to be season 4. It was the one I thought had the better pacing overall, with alot of character development and amazing moments (really episodes 6-10 were beyond amazing). Even the first half was crazy good (Ep. 1,2 and 4 especially). Loved how they juggled the main three storylines and how they built up the North plotline (including the Boltons, NW, WW and Bran). But really, that scene at the Sept though was really uncomfortable.

      Season 3 would be my number two, because of the great character moments and I thought it was the season with the best additions so far (Melisandre and Arya for example). It was also the season I thought was the most “gritty” so far, and I enjoyed how many characters were on the move or traveling through all the season. The only weak storyline I though was Bran (only on first viewing, it got better the second time around and episodes 9 and 10 of him were great). I didn´t enjoyed some of the Theon torture scenes but having watched season 4 I think it made his torture scenes worth it. Another thing is I wished we could have gotten more of were scenes with Mance, at least one or two more given that I thought Ciaran Hinds was AMAZING as Mance.

      Then you have Season 1. This was really does hold up and it gets better on a rewatch, but I thought the first half wasn´t as good as the rest the first time around. Its not that it was bad, just that it takes a while for things to really get going. Another thing I still wish we could’ve seen was at least one battle scene between the Stark forces and the Lannisters (Whispering Wood would’ve been good given the small scale). But heck, with still got amazing things like the Starks, The Wall, Dany’s amazing arc, Robert Baratheon, Syrio Forel, etc.

      And last but not least we have season 2. My main problem with this one is Dany’s story, it just doesn’t feel conected with neither of her arcs from season 1 or 3, or with the other rest of the show. It just feels kind of out of place. I did enjoyed the Spice King, Pyat Pree and all the rest, its just the stealing of the dragons that put me off. Besides I did enjoyed THotU. Then you have Qhorin Halfhand, and this one just bugs me all the time, but at least it was replaced by something enjoyable and kind of funny (Ygritte). But the rest of the season was pretty solid, especially King’s Landing, Theon and Bran, and Stannis vs Renly. And then you have good enough story arcs with Arya and the Stark camp. My only complain with Robb’s story was how Talisa was introduced, I thought her other scenes were good. Besides we got Roose Bolton this season!

      PS: Another thing I noticed on a rewatch were the many “amazing episodes in a row” the series has. The first one being 1×05-1×10, then 2×09-3×05, 3×08-4×02, and 4×06-4×10. That is all my opinion of course but I thought it was pretty neat. The only two kind “meh” episodes I thought were 2×02 (just for the outright unpleaseant sex scenes) and 2×08 (it still had solid scenes, like Harenhall, King’s Landing and all the others, but it was just sooo sloow)

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    16. Deathdreams:
      Sue’s opinion basically reflects my own almost exactly.
      In my opinion higher productions values don’t necessarily make a better story. I personally like the grittier, dirtier feel ofthe first season. While season 2 had alot of good stuff, I think that is were they made alot of their worst mistakes (adaptationwise). Also, the season 2 Mountain? ooph!
      edit: and Littlefinger jetpacking around Westeros really bothered me.

      My main problem with the obviously smaller budget is that they left both of the two biggest battles off screen and that the tournament of the Hand looked like an event attended by 20 people.

      On the other hand, the opening scene of the pilot and the closing scene of the season 1 finale (i.e. the ice beginning and the fire ending of season 1) were perfect, probably the best done big supernatural moments in the series.

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    17. Ross: Other seasons contains more impressive / exciting highlights, but as a clear, coherent story which builds momentum superbly with a satisfying ending, Season 1 is way ahead.

      Just wanted to say that this was probably the best and most concise way to word it. I wholeheartedly agree.

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    18. From best to worst: 3, 4, 1, 2.

      I still LOVE season 2, naturally, I just didn’t think it was as good as season one. Season 3 and 4 were fantastic, they were almost tied for first but the Red Wedding determined the end result there 😀

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    19. Jon getting a lot of weak banter with Ygritte instead of his arc with Qhorin

      Each to their own, but this is very much a book nerd’s perspective as far as I’m concerned. For we unsullied (as I was at the time), Jon and Ygritte was one of the most emotionally absorbing aspects of the entire story, whereas Qhorin was an incidental character who we had trouble telling apart from Jorah Mormont.

      I love all four seasons, but I consider season three the most flawed owing to the pacing issues from about episodes five to eight. I think I’d give the prize to season two, which probably makes me a bit unusual, because it was Tyrion’s best season and had the great Arya-and-Tywin scenes, along with the Theon plot arc that I love so very much. It did also have Qarth, but that was no better in the book.

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    20. I think it fairly obvious that Season 2 was the show’s weakest season — even the writers somewhat admitted that overall, it had a few problems: specifically, they said they found it difficult to shift from a tight narrative mostly focused on Eddard Stark to suddenly, a sprawling ensemble with less clear focus.

      The result was quota-filling of a sort: “let’s just invent Tyrion or Arya scenes for each episode” rather than take 3 episodes “off” for a given character. The irony of course is that…they cut *massive* amounts of the Harrenhal arc from Arya’s book subplot, only to then invent new “shorts” for her unrelated to it?

      Most weren’t that bad, they just weren’t that good. “Disjointed” is the word I’d use.

      But again, even the writers themselves later admitted this wasn’t a good idea, and FIXED it by Season 3: they’d have the courage to just take a full episode or two “off” for Arya or Robb Stark….that way what material they did have always had a “purpose” of some kind.

      Moreover, pretty much all of the worst Talisa stuff happened in Season 2. By Season 3 she had physically less dialogue, or was basically just “arm candy” to stand next to Robb. Or, she wasn’t doing things that differently from what Jeyne did in the books.

      I actually don’t have a problem with the Jon Snow stuff in Season 2 – yeah bits got condensed but taken as it is I didn’t mind.

      The Qarth storyline was also bad but as I’ve said, it wasn’t very strong in the books so I don’t blame them for trying to expand it: the Warlocks DID try to steal the dragons in the books, but stretching this across four episodes was a terrible idea (making Dany repeat “where are my dragons?!” so much that it became an internet meme, only fixed by stealing the Unsullied in Season 3). So it wasn’t that great, but few of us were emotionally attached to Qarth, and frankly, it doesn’t heavily impact later seasons because she physically leaves Qarth (unlike changes to Robb Stark).

      Not to say it was a “bad” season, just disjointed. “What Is Dead May Never Die”, “Garden of Bones”, “The Old Gods and the New”, and “Blackwater” were among the strongest episodes the TV series has ever had. The other episodes were never “bad” outright, but had a mix of strong and weak subplots.

      Season 4 was arguably not quite as strong as Season 3 – slightly – due to the Craster’s Keep filler arc stuff, though in all fairness, I can see that maybe they HAD to do that due to constraints of the TV format – Battle of Castle Black HAD to happen in episode 9 – what would Jon have done for an entire season? The execution of the Craster’s stuff was too rape-filled, though, as even they sort of admitted (filming a long rape montage then even they cut it out).

      I think a problem is that Season 4 had no female writer in it, to check the gratuitous nudity stuff, or go “why isn’t Oberyn also naked along with female prostitutes? Contract clause?”

      But the other problem is that this is simply due to what the source material was in the second half of the third book.

      I DO, OF COURSE, THINK THEY ARE MANIACS FOR CUTTING OUT TYSHA AT THE END, OFFICIALLY RANKING SEASON 4 AT LEAST SLIGHTLY BELOW SEASON 3, OVERALL.

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    21. I’ve enjoyed it all, but these two seasons stand out for me:

      Season 1 – the foundation the whole saga is built on. That first season of GoT knocked my socks off. Like the original Star Wars, I felt like I was witnessing something I had never seen before. I find the first season even more powerful, poignant and significant now, after everything that has happened since.

      Season 4 – Shakespeare meets Scandal. Watching everything you thought you knew about the GoT story blown apart was compelling. You no longer viewed anyone through rose-colored glasses, after seeing the consequences of their actions and decisions from the previous seasons. The pacing, production values, acting, etc. were excellent. Also, the show established itself as its own entity, as it deviated from the books. Once again, I felt like I was witnessing something I had never seen before.

      I liked seasons 2 and 3, but certain scenes and parts stood out more than others. Seasons 1 and 4 felt like a cohesive whole.

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    22. I think my different perspective from most others on season two had a lot to do with me a) being unsullied, and b) binge-watching it in one hit so that I had little sense of good or bad episodes.

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    23. TaviColen123,

      Okay, I’m not the best at putting my thought’s to paper but here goes. Oberyn V The Mountain suffered for style over substance IMO the use of Wushu and a stunt double resulted in lots of quick cuts and very little use of the mountian as he had multiple chances to kill Oberyn while he was dancing about. Again no sheild/helmet which i’ll let slide as it’s a common problem. Oberyn getting another spear without the mountain charging him whilst he’s unarmed because the mountain fights fairly all of a sudden. Not to mention Oberyn blatantly calling Tywin out mid battle. Ultimately my biggest fault was it wasn’t the long drawn out fight I’d pictured and they went solely for the shock Value IMO.
      Thats for one point if you’d like me to cover the others I’ll post them but I’d rather avoid posting walls of text and starting arguments.

      As for disliking Oberyn on the show a lot of it stems for his first few scenes, I disliked the Introduction of the character and Dorne as well. Oberyn on the show lacked the subtlety i liked in the books and didn’t just go round stating he disliked Lannisters. I don’t know maybe I just didn’t warm to the character however It’s not to say i totally disliked him, the scene in the cell was one of the best scenes of the season. Also I haven’t disliked all the changes/additions they have made It’s just that It was my worst season so i was listing the reasons why.

      Annara Snow,

      Yeah I know a lot of people loved Oberyn on the show and he’s undoubtedly been a hit just something didn’t sit right with me. I agree about the Cell scene it was one of my favorite scenes of the season. It’s strange, I’d have thought those that had read the books years ago would be more critical but maybe it’s just that it’s fresh in my mind.

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    24. The Dragon Demands: But again, even the writers themselves later admitted this wasn’t a good idea, and FIXED it by Season 3: they’d have the courage to just take a full episode or two “off” for Arya or Robb Stark….that way what material they did have always had a “purpose” of some kind.

      Well said. I think this improved even more in Season 4. Season 3 still had 6 episodes of Theon Greyjoy. It could have been 4. Season 4 had 3 episodes, and they’re all necessary and memorable (Reek shaves Ramsay while hearing Robb is dead, the Yara rescue and “Do you love me, Reek?”, and the Moat Cailin-Theon-flips-out-and-goes-all-flibbertigibbity and “let’s go home, Reek.” Perfect use of the character.)

      Arya/Hound didn’t appear in more than 6-7 episodes either: 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, and 10.

      Brienne, if I recall: 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 10.

      Stannis/Davos, if I recall: 2, 3, 7, 10, right?

      They’re getting much better at that. Early Season 2 and even early Season 3 had a lot of “let’s check in with everybody” moments. That tends to happen in premieres and finales, so it’s somewhat acceptable, but they’ve really gotten better on this and become more confident. Blackwater, Second Sons, Rains of Castamere, and Lion and Rose all succeed in part because of a heavy, intense concentration on one plot.

      The Dragon Demands: Moreover, pretty much all of the worst Talisa stuff happened in Season 2. By Season 3 she had physically less dialogue, or was basically just “arm candy” to stand next to Robb. Or, she wasn’t doing things that differently from what Jeyne did in the books.

      What’s most important to me about Talisa – and I really didn’t mind her story at all, and wholeheartedly reject the idea that what Robb was doing in the books was more “noble” when it’s a selfish, ill-considered choice in both cases – is that she’s inextricably linked to Roose Bolton, having been introduced within minutes of each other, and one interrupts conversations the other is having with Robb in several occasions in subsequent episodes.

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    25. Best: probably season 4, though 1 and 2 aren’t far behind. Season 4’s production values made for probably the best looking TV show I’ve ever seen, and every episode had an exciting development in it. There was still some disappointment (which is to be expected since I read the books and imagined things would have happened a bit differently). The roundest, most fulfilling season is season 1 but it’s a slow burner (it only starts heating up in episode 5), while seasons 2 and 4 are almost instantly captivating. 2 was filled with some and maybe even most of the worst deviations the show has ever done, but having watched it as an Unsullied I confess I loved it a lot, a tad better than season 1. I probably enjoyed it more than I enjoyed season 4, but (again) I was still Unsullied then and the book is just miles better. Season 4 had the benefit of less storylines and never for a moment stood in place- there was always something happening somewhere. The worst episode of the season in my opinion (which wasn’t at all bad) happened to be the one which reminded me the most of season 3, and that’s Episode 5 (First of His Name).

      Worst: season 3, though if I would have read the books before season 2 rather than after I’m sure season 2 would have been my least favorite. In my opinion, season 3 was the slowest, most unfulfilling season of the show. Some of the show’s best moments were crammed in it, but also a lot of “filler” (and believe me I hate that word) and in this case, the “filler” (unlike season 4) was a bunch of King’s Landing scenes that lead to nothing, more Jon-Ygritte rom com moments, Osha and Meera bitch fights that came instead of the Reeds’ amazing ACOK scenes, “Loras is so gay he likes fashion” scenes and Pod banging whores for free. I don’t hate these things, and I have a lot of love for Jaime’s arc and Dany’s and the Res Wedding’s execution… But it felt to me like the writers were purposefully holding off on material from the books in order to make season 4 better. Instead of progress, characters were stuck in place twiddling thumbs for most of the season. King’s Landing’s arc led nowhere. Sansa and Tyrion’s wedding was pretty much the only development there and I hardly call that a good climax to their arc. I always said the Purple Wedding should have been in the finale, or the first battle at Castle Black where Ygritte dies. Either way, it felt like a lot was missing from season 4 and many storylines missed their potential in my opinion (like the fact that there was literally nothing from the battle at the fist and like Coldhands being cut and like the Black Gate being a normal gate and like the Jon storyline that felt like it was neglected of its climax, the list can go on). The season just wasn’t as interesting or exciting as the other three, and while the deviations were mild they only worsened the feeling that the show was wasting time. In any case, season 3 was still a great season overall, and I bet I would have hated season 2.

      I think season 5 has the potential to dethrone 4, but it’s not nearly as likely as it was last year for season 4. They are changing a lot, some changes will be great while others will suck. There’s no avoiding it. I just hope that we get more of the former than the latter. Less cuts please. Give me Manderly and Young Griff and a Jeyne Poole replacement and Euron, that’s all I’m asking for!

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    26. There’s something about season 3 that was special, at least to me. Daenerys’ best material was her Astapor/Yunkai storyline, Red Wedding, 3×08 – ”Second Sons”, Jaime and Brienne, The Brotherhood, the Climbing of the Wall, Sam the Slayer. The storylines were all given justice, I think. Excluding the Bear Pit, God that scene was shitty.

      The worst? Hmm..I would like to say season 1 but that’s beacause I’ve watched it too many times. So I’d probably say season 2: Talisa (…), Quarth, burning of Winterfell, Jon.

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    27. TaviColen123:
      Annara Snow,

      I can post whatever i want considering this is a free country,oh i get it you are still upset for exposing you ,don’t you worry,it will pass.

      For exposing me? Sorry, I’ve got no idea what you’re talking about.

      Anyway, did anyone say you didn’t have the right to post 1000 times that you hate AFFC? I was just wondering what the point is. But if it gives you pleasure, carry on…

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    28. Duval,

      I like the sound of that. We need some Yara news ASAP. If the game is set in/around Deepwood Motte, and is supposedly tied directly to the show, is that a good sign for the Deepwood scene to make it to the show?

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    29. Annara Snow,

      Yeah sure it hasn’t anything to do with the fact that i called you out on you constantly bulging your opinions onto others on this site and others and refusing to listen to other’s arguments and thinking your opinion is the only one that matters,i’m sure it has nothing to do with that,your random reply to myself is just pure coincidence :-7

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    30. Hey Tavi and Annara, we’ve pretty much reached the logical conclusion of these back-and-forth things here. Maybe let’s move on? It’s not doing anyone any good.

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    31. Best season by far: season one

      Sure, production wise it wasn’t as flashy as the newer seasons, but it outdoes all the other seasons by a mile on what I consider the most important aspect of a TV-show, namely the writing.

      The first season had everything. It brought my favorite characters and scenes from the books to life, while making smart adaptation choices (e.g. no ToJ, my favourite scene from AGOT, but they wouldn’t have been able to do it justice there) and inventing great new scenes (e.g. Introducing Tywin skinning the stag).

      Worst season: Season 4

      For me worst season is between 3 or 4. Both managed to bungle up several key scenes from the books (both directing and writing wise), but season 3 at the very least did two moments more than justice (Jaime in the bathtub and Daenerys sacking Astapor).

      And were a lot of season 3’s failed adaptation choices were at the very least good to begin with (e.g. Gendry taking Edric’s place was a great idea, the execution with the cock leech was horrible), season 4’s changes were aggresively stupid to begin with (e.g. Craster’s keep)

      [As an aside imo: Best season is the first, best episode is Blackwater, best scene is a tie between Dany sacking Astapor and Jaime’s baththub confession, best original scene between Yoren’s tale about Willem and Tywin skinning a stag]

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    32. Sue: pretty sure the adage you meant to reference is about sex, not pizza. You’ve never had bad pizza? You’re lucky.

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    33. Best – Season 1, when D&D controlled every storyline, and didn’t think about a way to make every scene a twist or a gigantic blockbuster-type orgy. It was well written, even for scenes absent from the books (boy that dialogue btw Robert and Cersei), and even if lacking scale (due to budget cuts), it was pretty damn beautiful.

      Worst – Even if it was very enjoyable and beautiful (maybe the most beautiful of the four seasons), Season 4, because complete story lines were botched (Jon, Stannis and Yara). Of course there were more big moments than in any of the previous three, but there were shot with the idea of surprising the audience, even if it meant going faster to impress or cutting some informations that deepened the characters. Tywin assassination made me furious, because it was good guy vs bad guy, same with Jon. We know this far more complicated than that. And what a ridiculous, pretentious episode 10, where everything had to be packed up in one hour, just because it would leave the audience in shock. And what is even more unnerving, it’s that they made this trial and the marriage so damn perfect. How can they be so good and so bad at the same time ?

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    34. Annara Snow,

      Annara Snow: That’s the first time I’ve heard of someone disliking Oberyn on the show.

      For me it was the exact opposite: Oberyn was a character I never liked as much in the books as most people did, but the TV show really made me love him. Apart from Pedro Pascal’s performance, the show did one of the best ever changes by moving his story about baby Tyrion to the moment when he comes to Tyrion’s cell, where it had a much greater emotional impact and felt a lot more natural (in the book, it felt out of place and almost annoying when he started talking about all that personal stuff during his first meeting with Tyrion). He was also given some great dialogue, particularly with Tywin and Cersei, whereas in the books we always saw him only from Tyrion’s POV.

      Personally, I loved Pedro’s portrayal of the character. Like you, I never cared for Oby in the books, but Pedro did a great job. However, they completely screwed up the only really important scene of Oberyn and that was his fight against the Mountain.

      It still baffles me, they have such a great actor to play Oberyn and they refuse to use him. The books had a great intimate fight scene, which did a great job at fiddling with your emotions and gradually swelled to an enormously tragic conclusion. An actor of Pedro’s caliber could have done wonderful things with it.

      In the show we got some boring and unrealistic Wushu spinmoves by a stuntdouble, while some huge guy was awkwardly waving a sword in the stuntdoubles general direction. And the editing, atrocious! There were even more cuts than the Darth Maul fight in the Phantom Menace for Pete’s sake. And to top it all off they had that stupid head explosion, as if someone had been watching scanners the night before they had to shoot the climax.

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    35. TaviColen123,

      Well seeing as it I’ll at least be another year before it’s released and it could focus on what’s already been told in aDwD in the first season, it’ll probably be at least two years before they’ll enter spoiler territory. If it isnt a completely new story anyway.

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    36. I love every season and every episode of Game of Thrones, so this is nitpicking at its finest. But in descending order, I would rank the seasons as follows: Season 4, Season 3, Season 1, and finally Season 2.

      Season 4: In my opinion, the most recent season was the strongest and most consistent that the show has done. In fact, if I were to rank every episode that Game of Thrones has produced thus far from 1-40, there isn’t a single episode from Season 4 that I would put in the lower part of that list. Of course, it had the advantage of covering some of the strongest book material, particularly with respect to King’s Landing. However, pretty much every character had at least one excellent and memorable moment, and I thought that the deviations from the books’ storylines – whether they were original developments for the show or potential sneak peeks at revelations from yet-to-be-published material – pretty much universally worked. Furthermore, when there were characters that were working through a thinner section of their story (Bran, Theon, and Stannis come to mind) the writers were both smart and judicious in pacing out their storylines so that they only appeared when necessary and in giving them interesting things to do whenever they were on screen.

      One of the reasons that I thought that this season was so successful was that it started fast and kept up the relentless pace pretty much from beginning to end. Season 1, 2, and 3 had the relative disadvantage of needing to build up to major, series-shaking events. This generally meant that the first two or three episodes of each season, while still excellent, were often slower and quieter than episodes that followed – culminating, of course, with the now infamous “Episode 9”. Season 4 was able to shake up the formula by placing one of the series’ most celebrated moments – Joffrey’s death – in Episode 2, and as a result, every single episode felt like a major event (Episodes 4 and 5 were perhaps the closest thing that this season had to a quiet stretch, and they were still jam-packed). It all built up to a three-episode climax in “The Mountain and the Viper”, “The Watchers on the Wall”, and “The Children” that I would put up against any three-episode run from any point in the series – and that doesn’t even include “Mockingbird”, which is perhaps my favorite “set-up” episode of the series and contains my single favorite scene of the season – Oberyn’s conversation with Tyrion in his cell. Yes, this season generated more controversies among book readers (That Scene, the White Walker revelation “spoiling” TWOW, Tysha-gate, and the absence of the ASOS epilogue) than any other. But aside from the general rancor they inspired, none of those controversies bothered me in the slightest, so I have no problems with naming Season 4 as my favorite season of the show.

      Season 3: Season 3 stands out as having two clear peaks – “And Now His Watch Is Ended” and “Kissed by Fire” are two of the strongest back-to-back episodes that the show has ever done, and “The Rains of Castamere” contains what may be the most enduring sequence of the entire series to date. Jaime and Brienne’s entire storyline was fantastic, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau stands tall as the season’s clear MVP in my mind. Not everyone loved Jon Snow and Ygritte’s story, but I consider it a highlight. Season 3 was also easily the best for Daenerys, with her sacking of Astapor perhaps the best moment that she’s had so far. And of course, there was the Red Wedding, which lived up to all of my expectations. All in all, the success of Season 3 is even more impressive when you consider that it was probably the lightest in terms of King’s Landing material – it was certainly the least prominent that Tyrion has ever been on the show (which fits with his marginalization from the power structure at this point in the story).

      The lowlights, if you can call them that, of Season 3 are largely a consequence of A Storm of Swords being split into two seasons, which left certain characters (hello Bran and Stannis) with insufficient material to fill 10 episodes. The aspect of the season that probably drew the most criticism was Theon’s transformation into Reek, which happened off-screen in the books but took six episodes in the show. I was fine with it because I knew where it was going, but I know that many of the Unsullied critics that I read lost all patience with what they dubbed “The Passion of the Greyjoy”. This was an unfortunate consequence of the decision to conceal Ramsay Snow’s identity in order to maintain the relative surprise of the Boltons’ treachery.

      Season 1: Season 1 had the advantage of being the most focused, with Ned Stark as the central character and most characters concentrated in just a few locations. Tyrion and Daenerys both have clear and compelling arcs – which helped them become the two breakout characters with mainstream audiences. I also think that the show did about as well as it could do with the first four episodes, which carry the immense burden of needing to introduce this vast and complex world to an unfamiliar audience. The story really kicks into high gear with Episode 5, and from there it doesn’t let up all the way through to the finale. Ned Stark’s execution – also known as the moment that took this series into another stratosphere – was perfectly adapted. And while I’ve watched the final scene with Daenerys and her dragons more times than I can count, I still get chills every single damn time.

      The Littlefinger brothel scene aside, I consider the whole “sexposition” backlash that dogged Season 1 as it was airing to be largely overblown. So the biggest mark I have against Season 1 are probably the decreased production values – which, while still excellent relative to the vast majority of the TV landscape, are clearly noticeable upon re-watch. It’s hard to hold this against the show too much, however, as it’s certainly a consequence of the show’s lower budget at a time when no one had any idea that Game of Thrones would become the massively successful worldwide phenomenon that it is today.

      Season 2: I still think Season 2 is a pretty strong season of TV – it really only suffers in comparison to the other seasons of the show. This is largely because so much of the A Clash of Kings is focused on the lead-up to the Battle of the Blackwater, and the other storylines are, for better or for worse, placed on the backburner. Of course, the payoff was ultimately worth it as “Blackwater” remains one of the best – if not the best – episodes that the show has ever produced. Tyrion taking the reins as the central character in King’s Landing helps that storyline easily stand out as a highlight, and I consider Arya’s scenes with Tywin in Harrenhal to be among the best changes that the show has done – even if some people miss “Weasel Soup” and other aspects of the Harrenhal storyline from the books. But the lead-up to Blackwater does drag slightly – if Joffrey held his crossbow to my head and demanded that I single out my least favorite episode of the series, I would probably choose “The Prince of Winterfell”, even though I think that episode still has a few excellent redeeming moments.

      In Axechucker‘s post on Favorite and Least Favorite changes, I touched on how and why the show’s approach to Qhorin Halfhand and the House of the Undying stand out as two of my least favorite changes, even if I completely understand why the show handled them in the way that it did. Daenerys’s time in Qarth is widely considered to be a low point for the show, but it’s also largely acknowledged to be a consequence of her weak and scant material in A Clash of Kings, and of her one interesting chapter in that book – The House of the Undying – basically being unfilmable. Other aspects of Season 2 that have drawn a significant amount of criticism – such as the Robb and Talisa romance – largely worked for me, even if I wouldn’t consider them to be among the show’s strongest moments.

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    37. I think the various seasons all had their merits and otherwise. I was unsullied for the first two series and part of the third so I didn’t have as many issues with Season 2 as people who had already read the book. As a watcher of the show I got the point that the Halfhand was sacrificing himself so Jon could go under cover. The two things that jarred in that season for me were Talisa cheeking Robb (and I did think their love story was soppy) and Jaime killing his cousin. Now I never thought Jaime was a goody-goody but I wasn’t convinced he’d kill a relative. The thing about Talisa that didn’t ring true was that a young woman with no apparent protection would “mouth off” at a king the way she spoke to Robb. I couldn’t believe a medieval woman would speak thus; but then they didn’t have real dragons in the middle ages either. If the show had done the book version of the House of the Undying might it not have been “spoilery” (or have I just invented that word)? I didn’t mind the last episode of Season 4, even the skeletal zombies, though I was surprised at a couple of omissions which I won’t mention because I haven’t mastered spoilers yet.

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    38. In order from best to least best 4, 1, 3, 2

      The only majorly weak thing in 4 was the sept rape with Yara’s meh scene and the Army of Darkness wights being minor issues. The season had some great deaths and I love that the action got spread around. Plus the Hound and Brienne fight was awesome.

      Season 1 did have clear arcs and some great actors that got killed off. But it did have the lower production quality and the infamous LF brothel sexposition. It also necessarily had slow introductory moments.

      Season 3 had some of the greatest scenes but could be a smidge slow in between.

      Season 2 had the problem arcs that others mentioned. I agree that the need to squeeze every character into every episode weakened it. GRRM is a confident enough writer to let storylines drop for a bit when nothing is happening. I’m glad D&D have developed that same confidence. Of course, season 2 had Blackwater and the fantastic Bran/Theon/Winterfell arc . So I can’t call it the worst!

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    39. One thing that us book readers forget at times is that the “narrative cul-de-sacs” as people like to say aren’t cul-de-sacs to the show-only folks. So Jon’s trip to Craster’s Keep may have been academic to us what was going to happen, but it establishes Jon’s bona fides as a leader and more importantly gives Bran more control over his own destiny, which he largely lacks in the books. And in the books, that’s fine, but in the show, you want characters to be in charge of their lives. So his realization in 3.10 that Jojen is right, and he needs to both separate from his brother and go north, adds to his character’s maturity. His willingness in 4.5 to give up on calling for Jon and continue north is painful, but again, important.

      And plus I’ll take all criticisms of that scene, including Karl’s hamminess, just because we got to see Jojen say “I saw you die. I saw your body burn, and the snow cover your ashes.” Most bad-ass line there is this side of The Hound.

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    40. Thanks mods, for doing this! Fun to read, and think back.

      WeirwoodTreeHugger,

      I agree with your season 4 gripes, and would add just two more…….. Tyrion’s escape had issues, and NO LS!

      Season 2, for me was the strangest overall. I understand cutting things… but all of the strange additions are what boggle my mind. That said, I liked Arya’s altered story, as well as Theon’s, culminating in Ser Rodrick’s death (which has brought tears, for me).
      Blackwater had some really great dialog, and fitting character moments, but the action and scale is still not so convincing for me. Margaery, Stannis, and the Red Priestess were great additions season 2.

      I like season’s 3 and 4, and see them almost as one. I guess that’s the nature of splitting a single book (more or less). Some low moments, some funny moments, some great action. I will agree with Greatjon? or whomever above, said that they are getting better with their “filler” scenes. They are more coherent, clever, subtle. Thank you Cogman?

      I am also recognizing, and loving, the character development across all seasons…. they seem to have put that intention out there early on. For instance, Sam has really evolved. Jon has evolved. Sansa, Arya, Theon, and even Tyrion have evolved, from season 1 to present.

      Season 1 kicked ass. Season 2, less so, but still cool. 3 and 4, they are back, kicking ass.

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    41. Seasons 3> season 1> season 4 > season 2. I haven’t read all the comments but halfway that sequence is pretty unique

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    42. TaviColen123:
      Annara Snow,

      Yeah sure it hasn’t anything to do with the fact that i called you out on you constantly bulging your opinions onto others on this site and others and refusing to listen to other’s arguments and thinking your opinion is the only one that matters,i’m sure it has nothing to do with that,your random reply to myself is just pure coincidence :-7

      Sorry to disappoint you, since you obviously care a lot about this, but whatever personal attacks againat me you previously posted (I’ll take your word for it), I either have never read, or have completely forgotten. All I’ve noticed about you is that you always talk about Feast, whatever the topic of a thread is.

      (BTW, the word “expose” doesn’t mean what you think it means.)

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    43. Annara Snow,

      Oh enlight me then,what does it mean ?

      @Patchy Face I’m sorry,but i’m not the type to shut up when i’m constantly provoked by someone,she randomly decided to pick on something i posted just because she loves to argue and i responded,pretty simple,just because it devolved into something else,well that’s the internet for you this stuff happens all the time .

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    44. What a great idea for a roundtable discussion.

      I was Unsullied for the first 3 seasons. I had told myself I was not going to read the books until the series was over. The Red Wedding killed that resolve, and I ran out and bought all 5 books. So, many of the problems those who had already read the books were not a problem for me on my first viewing of seasons 1-3.

      While I did have some problems on the re-watch, after having read the source material, the only thing which really bothered me was Talisa. The love story was written in a bit of a cheesy way, and while I don’t mind D&D utilizing their invention to make the Red Wedding that much more gut wrenching (I think they made Talisa how they did specifically so they could kill her off in the Red Wedding, without it having repercussions anywhere else), it doesn’t stop it from still being problematic for me.

      I’d say Season 4 has been the best, yes, even though it was my first season watching as a “Sullied.” I’d say seasons 1 and 3 are tied for next best, and I don’t know how to untie them in my mind (season 1 made me fall in love with the world, and season 3 made me decide I couldn’t wait any longer to read the books). That leaves season 2 as my least favorite, although, imo, it is still better than most of what I’ve seen on television over the years.

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    45. TaviColen123:
      Annara Snow,

      Oh enlight me then,what does it mean ?

      Oh, sure. “Expose (someone)” – to reveal something hidden and shameful about someone that they have been hiding. Say, expose someone for having committed a fraud and stolen from the company, cheated on the exam, faked their identity, lied about their professional credentials, etc.

      Ranting against someone does not constitute “exposing” them.

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    46. From best to worst: 4, 1, 3, 2

      Because I was one of the Unsullied when watching S1, it was a completely different viewing experience. I wasn’t comparing it to the books as I watched…it was a overwhelming feeling of wanting to know more immediately.

      Overall, the worst of GOT is still better than most of everything else. Theon in WF and Blackwater were the highlights of S2. Arya’s storyline was excellent, in spite of the changes from the book.

      It will be interesting to come back once S5 is complete and re-rank the seasons.

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    47. Anyone who says season 1 is the worst isn’t fit to work for a Game of Thrones fan site. It’s a perfect adaptation and still by far the best season so far.

      1>3>2>4

      Season 4 is the worst because it showed how burned out D & D have become. That scene where Asha attempted to break out Theon was an utter disgrace and don’t get me started on Jaime raping Cersei.

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    48. I agree with Axechucker, the series just gets better and better (so it’s 4>3>2>1)
      I read the books after season 2 ended and I was afraid I wouldn’t enjoy the show as much as I used to when I was Unsullied. But, thankfully, I was wrong. As the showrunners become more confident, their storytelling gets better and the episodes just flow better. After reading the first book, I was surprised by how closely the first season followed it and I think the show suffered from it.

      So the fourth season is my favorite and I can’t see how they can top it. But then again, I say that after every season. I’m quite pleased with the last two books and don’t see them as inferior when compared to the first three (especially when taken as a whole) so I’m optimistic about the future of the show.

      I hope you’ll have a similar roundtable about the books. For me it’s ASOS>AFFC>AGOT>ADWD>ACOK. But I’m currently on my first re-read so that might change.

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    49. I’m with Sue here.

      Best – Season 1
      Worst – Season 2

      And, in order from best to worst: 1, 3, 4, 2

      Of course, there’s still so much I love about season 2, but it just felt so crammed and had some pretty terrible plotlines, as has been discussed above.

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    50. Annara Snow,

      Completely agree about pushing Oberyn’s story about first seeing Tyrion to the cell scene. I think GRRM has a weakness for having characters go into monologues kinda randomly, and it doesn’t really read like anything that someone would actually say in that conversation. It felt more appropriate the way the show did it.

      Just on the topic of that cell scene, I was recently rereading the trial portion of Storm of Swords, and realized that Oberyn agreeing to be Tyrion’s champion comes before the second portion of the trial, when Shae testifies. That was another seemingly small change that made such a big impact for me. In the show it seems like Tyrion was willing to accept Tywin’s plea bargain, but Shae’s testimony pushed him to ask for the trial by combat. In the books that was the plan before he even heard the testimony. Makes that moment so much more powerful on the show, at least for me.

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    51. For me it varies depending on the criteria.
      Based on how much I enjoyed the individual episode in the season:
      4>3>1>2
      Based on how well the episodes worked together to create a cohesive season:
      1>2>4>3
      Based on how much I enjoyed them as pieces of the overall series arc:
      1>3>2>4

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    52. Season One will I think always be a personal favorite, no matter how good future seasons are. I just love Ned Stark, Viserys, and Robert too much. Putting aside my bias, though, I also think Season One was the season where the storylines and characters connected the most, and not just when most of them were at Winterfell. Tyrion was a big part of Jon Snow’s early material, and his capture had an effect on what happened to Ned in King’s Landing. Even Daenerys, the most removed storyline, was affected by actions taken by Robert. Once Season Two started the storylines mostly stayed separate, and now we’re lucky if Daenerys is mentioned at a small council meeting.

      Season Four I think was the best executed and the most consistently good. Almost every episode had an awesome sequence that would have been a long time coming in most of the other seasons.

      Season Three has some of the best episodes, but also has more than a couple bad ones, probably the most uneven season.

      I have to agree with most people here about Season Two. Had some good things, but there were major problems with whole storylines this season, and it took forever to really get going. It’s easily the worst for me.

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    53. I agree with Sue. Season 1 was practically a carbon copy of the book 1 with some added extra scenes that were really great. I don’t see how it could be considered the worst considering it did an amazing job of hooking everyone in.

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    54. Marc N. Kleinhenz,

      I think this kind of captures my opinions. The first four episodes of season 1 felt like a lesser show. That said, Baelor was the most perfectly-directed episode to date.

      As far as rating, I don’t really have a super strong opinion. I’d probably say 3 was the best season and 1 was the worst, but I’m not sure about 2 and 4. 3-4-2-1 I guess.

      Also, 3 ended with the removal of my least favorite plotline and the show’s most boring characters, so that helped a lot.

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    55. Al Swearengen,

      I know this is the internet and all, but do we have to do the “anyone who does not agree with me is awful” thing- in a thread inviting people to share their opinions?

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    56. Honestly, if you still think after all this time that Season 1 is the best season of this show, then I don’t know what to say.

      Season 1 is the most faithful adaptation of the source material. Season 1’s material is BY FAR, the easiest to adapt based on its limited scope and self-contained story. If that’s all it takes for you to label it “the best”, then have at it.

      The show has evolved so much from those simplistic days. I feel sorry for those who simply cling to the idea that there’s some kind of superiority in the one season that took the least amount of chances and had so little of an identity of its own because that’s what’s comfortable. It’s such a boring and predictable choice and really indicates that you have little interest in this as a living and breathing television show as opposed to “pictures for GRRM’s words”.

      This isn’t Westeros.org people. I thought you were better than this.

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    57. Hodor Targaryen,

      ^^This. S1 is the most consistent and even all around. The others all suffer in some way–S3: Theon torture, etc; S4: Craster’s, Yara, etc; S2: “Where are my dragons?” over and over. Not sure I agree at all with those who say that the writing is improving. It improved between 2 & 3, but 3 & 4 suffer from many of the same coherence and character vs action problems. I cross my fingers that it improves for the coming season.
      Great idea! I love seeing everyone’s opinions and their cordial explanations.

      Patchy Face:
      Greatjon of Slumber,

      Sorry dude – looks like the back and forth continues – thought we moved past that when we took the Black to stand Watch. Oh well.

      ^^This too, unfortunately. :'(

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    58. King Tommen,

      How about we don’t shit all over people for preferring a different season than you?

      Actually I’m going to direct this at everyone, and then start deleting rude posts.

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    59. Sue the Fury:
      King Tommen,

      How about we don’t shit all over people for preferring a different season than you?

      Actually I’m going to direct this at everyone, and then start deleting rude posts.

      I believe there were a couple posts above that were way more “rude” than mine that were advocating for Season 1 being the best so I’m not sure why mine is being singled out.

      How’s this? It is my opinion, and my opinion alone, that those people who state that Season 1 is the best season are basing this on its adherence to the source material and it’s simplistic self-contained story and not on what makes television powerful and great. That is only my opinion and others are free to disagree. However, if you don’t agree, I am free to judge you based on this. Better?

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    60. Fat ‘n’ Balda: Sue: pretty sure the adage you meant to reference is about sex, not pizza. You’ve never had bad pizza? You’re lucky.

      There is most certainly such a thing as bad sex. Haven’t you been watching GoT? (I’ve heard the expression use both sex and pizza. I decided to go with the more tactful version.)

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    61. Loved Season 4. The only things I really cringed at in this show so far was the Yara botched rescue scene, and the mismanaging of the Halfhand arc. I couldn’t care less about the books anymore, since Feast and Dance were bloated trainwrecks, but I am looking forward to seeing them receive the editing they desperately needed in the first place in Season 5 of Game of Thrones.

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    62. I’m a quarter of a way through a rewatch right now (started 1 episode/week right after S4 ended, so I should finish the full series just about in time for S5 to start), so season 1 is very fresh in my mind. Despite the “off-screening” of battles, it still holds up really well for me, particularly episodes 5-10.

      As a whole, I think S2 is probably the weakest, (Night’s Watch and Essos story lines in particular seemed a bit weak to me in S2), but there were also some parts I really liked:
      1) Arya/Yoren/Hotpie/Gendry/Lommy scenes (Yoren in particular was a character who never really caught my interest much in the books, but was great in the show).
      2) Arya/Jaqen was also very good, though I was a bit sad to miss a nice hot bowl of soup. Arya/Tywin was cool though, and made up for the souplessness.
      3) Kings landing in general was very good in S2: Tyrion as the Hand, the riots, and of course Blackwater.
      4) Theon in Winterfell was also great.

      Favorite season is a much harder choice. I think I’ll have to say S4, but I’m also a bit biased because I saw S4E1 a bit early at the Epic Fan Experience, and watching the Arya/Hound/Polliver scene in a huge stadium with thousands of people was truly an Epic experience. Also, we finally got to see Braavos in S4, which is one of my favorite places (definitely looking forward to more in S5).

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    63. Patchy Face,
      WeirwoodTreeHugger,

      You two have it right. s1 was the most narratively-coherent but s4 gets the edge from me because a) it didn’t have any dud episodes and it had the most 10/10 great episodes of any season and b) it delivered spectacle week-to-week with excellent production standards. s1 is a little too televisual in retrospect and doesn’t reflect the scale of the books’ world enough.

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    64. The best and the worst season?

      Technically it becomes better with each passing season.

      Storywise? That’s really tough. Mostly because I don’t believe in things like that, especially when they are all part of the same story. The seasons don’t have a beginning(season 1 being an exception) and end. With Game of Thrones all the seasons are connected with each other and really feels like one big epic movie when I’m rewatching it from the beginning. IMO everything that happens in a season(or even an episode) is pulled out of context.

      But having said all that, I do believe in favorites and my favorite season is (for nostalgic reasons) season 1. It’s the season that got me hooked and fall in love with the story and characters. The scenes in the first few episodes are also getting more powerful with each season as we know more about what happens.
      The courtyard scene where we meet the Starks and everything is still fine and the family hasn’t been completely torn yet.
      The goodbye scenes are so sad now. Arya ramming the knife on the table in episode 3(already seeing a shift in character).
      Dany still being a timid girl. Jaime being a slick smug a-hole.
      All these scenes are so different and more powerful now on rewatch.

      And season 2 probably the least due to execution regarding Qarth. WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS???!!!!! Don’t blame Emilia for that but the director. Probably would have been stronger if she said nothing at all.

      That’s my 2 cents.

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    65. #4
      Season 2
      Let’s start at the bottom, I think two is an amazing season of television, with Blackwater serving as an amazing climax. What it is, though, is the most uneven season of the show. While episodes like “A Man Without Honor” and “The Old Gods and the New”, not to mention “Blackwater” showcase brilliant drama and high production values, the first half of the season and episode eight are notorious for having very little story momentum, and it includes “The Night Lands”, my pick for weakest episode of the show.
      Best episode: Blackwater
      WEakest episodes: The Night Lands

      #3
      Season 4
      On an episode by episode basis season 4 is by far the most eventful and plot focused. So why is it so low on the list? One word: character. Tyrion and Sansa both have amazing arcs this season, and everyone else… well, things happen to them. Season 4 at times feels more like a series of events than a unified story. So while this may have the highest average grade of episodes, due to spreading out its wealth of big moments, it just feels less like a unified story arc. Also, episodes 3-5 were a pretty significant lull.
      Best episode: The Lion and the Rose
      Weakest episode: Breaker of Chains

      #2
      Season 1
      The season that started it all, and the one that felt most consistently and coherently like one story. Ned Stark’s arc is fantastic, Tyrion has some of his greatest scenes, the shocks felt more shocking because we didn’t know to expect them to come, and though it has fewer “Big” moments than the later seasons, the ones they have are arguably even stronger for it. I believe in terms of pure filmmaking that Ned’s execution is easily the second most well directed scene of the entire series, and it is a groundbreaking and horrifying moment which they have only been able to equal one more time.
      Best episode: Baelor
      Weakest episode: Lord Snow

      #1
      Season 3
      Yup. This for me is easily the show at its strongest. Aside from “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”, which according to the commentaries seemed to be a product of poor cross-editing with its following episode, this season contained the perfect mix of the large-scale episodic television of season 4 with the more coherent, story and character based arc of season 1. That mix led us to have both Daenerys’ episode 4 victory over Astapor, along with the Red wedding, AND Jaime’s arc, which started with a shocking moment and then relied on quiet character interactions and Nicolaj Coster-Waldau’s fantastic acting to tell one of the best stories the show has told yet. The perfect mix of plot and character, I believe Season 3 is the peak of the show so far.

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    66. 3-1-4-2

      I found every season to be good in its own right, and that each had its strengths and its weakness, although some more than others. I tend to prefer a strong, coherent narrative with meaningful thematic undertones over anything else, so I suppose that’s what I largely base my rankings on. Also I should mention I’m a little bit of a book purist.

      I think most of us agree that season 2 was the weakest season, primarily because it seemed disjointed and many of the narratives suffered. The writing was just underwhelming at times. What bothered me the most was the Jeyne to Talisa transformation, I much preferred Robb’s giant fuck up as being due to honor as opposed to love. I didn’t feel that Talisa complemented his character arc very well, and her character was not strong enough to stand by itself. Then, of course, there is the entire “where are my dragons?!” fiasco and for some reason I have intense distaste for the pre-Blackwater Hound and Bronn scene, I think that an extension of the Hound and Sansa scene (involving her singing) would have been a much better use of screentime.

      Seasons 3, 1, and 4 are pretty close, but I had to place season 4 last because sometimes I just found it unnecessarily flashy and I really do not understand why they included that cringe-worthy (in my opinion) beetle scene instead of Tysha, and the lack of fallout between Tyrion and Jaime, which I think is extremely important for Tyrion’s character development. I als o did not appreciate Littlefinger’s handling of his killing of Lysa, which I found very out of character, but I suppose his character was sacrificed in part for Sansa’s, who definitely benefited from it. Some changes from the books and show on the part of the showrunners were handled well, such as Brienne vs. the Hound, although others left me lacking confidence regarding their ability to construct a compelling narrative when moving further away from the source material.

      For the record, I really didn’t like how rushed Stannis’ end-of-season 3 decision to go to the North and save the Watch played out. I feel that Stannis and Davos both suffered for it, they made it seem like Melisandre suddenly decided that they should do it when prompted, so Stannis agreed without much rumination. Other than that, I remember it as being pretty awesome, as was season 1.

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    67. Nymeria Warrior Queen,

      I was reading the comments while thinking of my answers then came across yours, which is almost word for word everything that would have been in mine!

      4 (1+3) 2

      I was worried about watching season 4 as sullied and was sure I wouldn’t experience the same enjoyment. It wasn’t exactly the same enjoyment, but it was certainly a different kind. It’s hard to say if season 4 would still have been my favourite had I remained unsullied. Little unexpected moments like hot pie turning up and Brienne meeting Arya and the hound gave me so much joy! Not all deviations are enjoyable but for the most part, I don’t want to watch a show where I know everything that is going to happen. S4 also contains my favourite episode so far – The watchers on the wall.

      Season 2 is still great, I enjoyed Arya’ s journey and Tyrion’ s Arc alot but for me the whole Talissa thing has been the worst thing about the show to date, it just didn’t seem right.

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    68. I tend to take each season of the show as I do the books. While they each have standalone traits, characteristics, specific environments and threads, personally I see them as parts of a whole.
      Many might disagree, but I love all the novels, and really appreciate “A Feast For Crows” and “A Dance Of Dragons” despite the sometimes harsh, and I think unwarranted criticism! I was quite fascinated with how the world of “A Song Of Ice And Fire” expands and grows in those two books, giving us I would even say, a reprieve from the same characters, locations and storylines, by introducing new and interesting ones, therefore enriching the overall narrative. And showing the breadth of Martin’s vision as well as the rich and intricate tapestry of his world and the mythos he built around it!

      I see each season in many respects the same way. Each season introduces the next, which in turn grows and expands upon the previous, gaining traction and momentum and thus propelling the series forward!

      Remember that when all is said and done, D&D have repeatedly stated that they want this show to be one continuous experience from start to finish, that when you start at hour one and reach hour seventy or eighty (we should only hope so) you have the feeling that you have seen the longest movie ever made…that there is a common, underlying foundation amongst all seasons, from beginning to end!

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    69. 1 – 4 – 2 – 3

      I haven’t re-watched any of the seasons lately, so they aren’t fresh in my mind and I’m just judging based on my memory of how much I enjoyed each one on the initial watch-through.

      Season one is definitely being helped by the excitement factor of starting the series, but as others have said it also has the best cohesive, satisfying story line as a season, and in my opinion it also had the best dramatic big moments. In the later seasons, a lot of the Major Drama felt a little cheesed to me.

      Season three was just too slow up until the last two episodes. Most of the story lines didn’t really seem to go anywhere throughout the bulk of the season; most (all?) of the main characters were just kind of meandering where the situation took them. And the Red Wedding was a POWERFUL moment of television, but I can’t exactly say it was enjoyable.

      Seasons two and four are almost tied for me. I really liked season two, and season four hammed it up a bit much, but in the end I think season four was the better of the two.

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