And now for something completely different.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.