Game of Thrones Season 4 Blu-ray Review

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At this late stage in the game (har), we’ve come to expect the best from the box sets of each season of Game of Thrones. Season 4 doesn’t disappoint in this regard. I won’t say my expectations were exceeded – because I knew exactly what to expect – but they were certainly met. The more attentive of us will already have seen the majority of the bonus features via leaks on YouTube, but it was still nice to watch them on a big screen in crisp Blu-ray quality.

Speaking of quality, the video- and audiophiles are in for a treat. This is a great looking show anyway, but the uncompressed 1080p visuals on the Blu-ray are sublime. Visually, three standout sections for me were the Purple Wedding, Oberyn’s “I will be your champion” scene with Tyrion, and the entirety of “The Watchers on the Wall”. The PW is so colourful and vibrant, the set design being deservingly flaunted to its extremity. The scene between Oberyn and Tyrion proves that no corners were cut on the visual side of getting the episodes onto disc. There are absolutely no crushed blacks in the scene, and the lighting really shines (great verb use there) throughout their conversation. I was unlucky enough to be living on the opposite side of the world during the IMAX showings of “The Watchers on the Wall”, but I’ll gladly take the Blu-ray as a replacement. The whole episode is an hour well spent at the best of times, and doubly so in such pristine quality.

On the sound side of things, the set holds up just as well. As always, each episode is delivered with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, and it lends itself extremely well to the show. Sound plays such a strong, characteristic role in Thrones, and the quality on display here only augments that fact. The mixing is near perfect, with dialogue always remaining clear and audible, foley effects seamlessly interweaving with on-set sounds, and Ramin Djawadi’s score flawlessly gracing setpieces both intimate and dynamic.

Once again, the Histories and Lore section is a standout feature, offering in-depth yet concise insights into areas of note the show is often unable to convey in its limited screentime. Concepts and character motivations are expounded upon, and the art is absolutely gorgeous.

We’ve already shared most of the other extras on the site and they’ve been discussed to death, so I’ll spare the dead horse a beating. I will mention that I found the deleted scenes to be lacking. The Daenerys/Missandei one has some shoddy CGI, and the Bronn/Shae one – while shedding extra light on the situation and containing nice sentiments from the sellsword – doesn’t really warrant a place as one of only two deleted scenes. I will say this in their favour, though: the scenes are edited properly, in that we can see exactly where they would have existed in their respective episodes. Soundtrack cues are also present. On the concept of including deleted or extended scenes? Well, we know from the pre-season trailers that completely different takes/scenes exist… I’d prefer to see some of those.

Bluray spine

Onto the packaging. Firstly we have the outer sleeve, as usual. There’s also an inner sleeve on which “Valar Morghulis” is printed on the front, and an image of the Iron Throne on the back. Inside this is the usual fold-out case containing the discs and a few information slips. Thankfully, the entire package is black, rebirthing the trend broken by Season 3. Strangely, the packaging is slightly narrower than the previous seasons’. The difference is miniscule, but it was immediately noticeable to me. I’ve attached an image above so you can see for yourself how the spine stacks up against the previous box sets and other Blu-rays.

As a sidenote: what a marvellously-paced season. That only became apparent to me as I watched the whole ten episodes over the weekend. There was never a sense of having to “get an episode out of the way” in order to move on to the next, better one. Of course, there are certain scenes and aspects which we all have gripes with, but as a solid, ten-hour unit? Excellent stuff.

For a comprehensive list of everything that’s included in the set, check out Marko’s post here.

To conclude, I’ve collected a few tidbits of information from the audio commentaries which may be of interest to Watchers on the Wall regulars:

  • While shooting Ep. 402, the cast kept breaking down into fits of uncontrollable laughter every time Jack Gleeson exclaimed “This pie is dry.”
  • The cut material from Craster’s keep in Ep. 404 is as follows: Rather than opening the scene on the smash cut to Mormont’s skull, the shot originally followed a mutineer through the door of the keep and towards the kitchen area. A mutineer would then vomit towards the camera and all over the food that was being prepared. That’s it.
  • There was a lot more material shot for the *cough*Night’s King*cough* scene that didn’t make the final cut.
  • Sophie Turner hates lemoncakes!
  • In the premiere it’s mentioned by D&D that Oberyn brushing the candle flame was an excellent directorial choice, all while Pedro sits by and listens very quietly… then a few episodes later, Sophie, completely oblivious to the truth, informs viewers that Pedro told the cast he came up with that idea himself.
  • Extra material involving Yara and Ramsay in the Dreadfort courtyard was cut from Ep. 406, but the planned battle sequence was never filmed.
  • Bryan Cogman clarifies that Yara wasn’t afraid of the dogs; the scene represents Yara making the choice to leave in order to keep the Greyjoy line alive.
  • New Season 5 writer Dave Hill was the one who proposed the idea of Jaime offering to renounce his white cloak in exchange for Tyrion’s life.
  • There may be no Stark Kids Singalong this time around, but Aidan Gillen and Kate Dickie give us an… interesting cover of “You’re the One That I Want” from Grease.
  • The background actors from Extras NI are continually given the highest praise from many of the cast and crew.
  • Originally an unnamed archer was to kill Ygritte, but late in the process it was suggested Olly do it instead.

The box set officially releases on February 17th.

62 responses

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    1. Mine got delivered today, which was a suprise since im not used to sunday delivery in the UK. I was slightly dissapointed at first that the box was smaller than the previous three but it doesnt really bother me anymore

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    2. I don’t have a Tv nor a Bluray set. Once I steal them I’m going to steal the first four seasons the north has Never seen .

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    3. Should get mine tomorrow, but first I have to complete a rewatch of seasons 1 – 3 before getting stuck into it 🙂

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    4. I’m from Argentina and always buy the US version because it doesn’t have the blu ray line in the top. I wonder if this version also will be slightly narrower.
      Since Richard Madden is not in the show anymore, they should add another main cast member for the front covers. That’s the reason why the box is a bit smaller this season.
      Personally, I think Maisie Williams or Pedro Pascal would be the better options for this box.

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    5. I don’t like how the box is thinner. Why is it so hard to keep the packaging the same for an entire series? Also why did they remove the DVD’s and make it 4 blu ray discs instead of 5? They are getting cheap on the product, which is stupid because these have traditionally been some of the best selling blu-rays.

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    6. Yay! I’m thankful that “Valar Morghulis” is on the inner sleeve. Would have preferred that as the season slogan (since it was quite relevant throughout the season and since it was also the season-ending phrase). It should have been on the outer cover, rather than the gender-specific translated wording. 😛

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    7. Next you’ll be telling me that GRRM doesn’t like oxtail soup, summer greens tossed with pecans, grapes, red fennel, and crumbled cheese, hot crab pie, spiced squash, and quails drowned in butter.

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    8. As a sidenote: what a marvellously-paced season. That only became apparent to me as I watched the whole ten episodes over the weekend.

      I got the same sense from our annual binge-watch, which was the first time we binge-watched Season 4. This season did the best job yet of telling the story, and it’s a really good exercise in setting up both plot and story-elements, and then bringing them all together in the last three episodes.

      I actually had been a little worried because, technically, they were telling the same story as told in Season 3, but picking up about 2/3rds of the way through the tale. However, several of the adapted elements in the first few episodes re-set up the story and over-arching plot well, so that it has a definite “beginning, middle, end” structure of its own.

      The final episode in particular (which was powerful enough on it’s own) really packs a wallop when you’ve just watched the prior 9 over the last few days.

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    9. So they didn’t intend to make a complete joke out the Yara/Ramsay rescue/retreat scene…. good to know!

      Also, I’m a little confused on the info regarding Pascal and the candle flame? Has this become some kind of controversy?

      I’m not typically one to bitch about the little things, but it would be cool if they figured out a consistent packaging. Not gonna stop my from buying a copy, but…. cmon man!

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    10. It was posted online in its entirity two weeks ago already…
      I should be receiving my ‘legal’ version tomorrow hopefully.

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    11. Sister Kisser,

      About the Pedro thing:

      In the premiere D&D just say that it was a great spur-of-the-moment directorial choice to have Pedro do that. Pedro himself adds no comment.

      Then in episode 5, Maisie and Sophie are joking about Pedro, and Sophie mentions that Pedro sarcastically bragged to everyone about how great his decision to pass his hand through the candle flame was.

      I just found the two conflicting accounts pretty funny.

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    12. Cian,

      I see. Thanks for clearing that up… Sophie’s sarcasm is the element I wasn’t understanding. I seem to remember an interview or something awhile back where Pascal or somebody was asked about this move, and I feel like it was credited to Pascal doing it on the fly. Maybe this is indeed an inside joke from the set that has made it’s way to the press or fandom, or maybe I’m just smoking somethin…..
      Regardless, thanks for the response!

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    13. The Dreadfort scene really did seem compromised. I suppose that’s GOT’s version of American Sniper’s fake baby.

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    14. Can’t wait to watch the Blu-ray.

      1080p really makes a difference and GoT is such a beautifully shot show.

      IMO shows like House of Cards, Shameless and Homeland are all good shows but not really worth the money it takes to see them in 1080p.

      GoT is a whole different story, every scene is so beautiful and detailed, its well worth the price to see it in 1080p.

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    15. Arthur: IMO shows like House of Cards, Shameless and Homeland are all good shows but not really worth the money it takes to see them in 1080p.

      In general, Fantasy, SciFi and Historical dramas tend to benefit more from high res than do “current” stories. Seeing another world in high def always lends something to the atmosphere. Seeing the modern world in high def just takes opening your eyes.

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    16. Bryan Cogman clarifies that Yara wasn’t afraid of the dogs; the scene represents Yara making the choice to leave in order to keep the Greyjoy line alive.

      Keeping the Grejoy line alive may be tough for Theon (Reek) without a…well, umm… you know.

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    17. OrtMeyer,

      I think that they already have committed to two more years after this one. It would take a lot more than an off season to hurt the audience at this point.

      (And, yes, I know that Crows got a lot of criticism when it came out as a book, which might make it a good candidate for providing that “off” season: but a lot of what we know about the adaptations actually addresses many of those criticisms.)

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    18. Wimsey:
      OrtMeyer,

      I think that they already have committed to two more years after this one.It would take a lot more than an off season to hurt the audience at this point.

      (And, yes, I know that Crows got a lot of criticism when it came out as a book, which might make it a good candidate for providing that “off” season: but a lot of what we know about the adaptations actually addresses many of those criticisms.)

      Wait what, you think there will be 8 seasons? They’ve said time and time that 7 is the last and I would think it’d cost too much to renegotiate for an 8th. But I’d like to be proven wrong.

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    19. I’m fairly certain that D&D said after the season aired that Olly being the one to take out Ygritte was also Dave Hill’s idea so it looks like they had a couple good reasons to promote him to the writing team for Season 5.

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    20. Twilite,

      Because

      I can’t see what role she will play after this season, especially if Myrcella is killed off. The other two snakes may take up positions in KL but she has nothing to do unless she goes to Oldtown in place of Alleras…if we see Oldtown at all. Too many Sand Snakes who do nothing. Kill some of them off!

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    21. Twilite,
      TheTouchOfFrost,

      AFFC/ADWD is only a setup in term of the Sand Snakes; GRRM said their real story will start in TWOW —he said we’ll see a lot of them. So Nym and Tyene will certainly go to King’s Landing in the show. As for Obara, yeah, she obviously won’t go into that little side quest, so either she goes with her sisters or she gets gotten rid of. Still, I don’t agree with the “hopefully” part. I really want to read more of her, and I’m eager to see all the Sand Snakes in the show.

      Anyway. I’m pretty sure GRRM is only speaking generally —as in “D&D have and will probably continue to kill more main characters than I do.” I don’t think he means anything specific by it. Still, as for the other possible deaths:

      Meryn Trant is 100% gone. There is no doubt about that; he’ll take the place of Raff the Sweetling as the man who, while guarding the Crown envoy to Braavos, gets killed by Arya in TWOW’s “Mercy”.

      As for the others, I can see Sweerobin kicking the bucket, as well as Bronn (though I will weep if it happens.) Myrcella? Not so much.

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    22. TheTouchOfFrost,

      My guesses are Bronn, Robin Arryn, Meryn Trant, Grey Worm… and possibly Olenna, Loras, Barristan, Missandei, and Obara… And maybe Davos…?

      I highly doubt it will be ALL of those characters though.

      If I’m remembering correctly, Martin has said this about the last couple seasons as well, and it’s never been anyone that huge…

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    23. Big Mac,

      Imagine if all of them did die, tho. That would be a bloodbath unlike anything the show has ever seen. Anyway: Bronn, Robin, Meryn, Grey Worm, those I can see. The others, not so much.

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    24. Luka Nieto,

      Big Mac,

      It was also a set up for Euron, Victarion and the Griffs but look how that’s panning out! The Sand Snakes are very expendable at the moment and I won’t miss them in the slightest. Still don’t understand the love for them, they’re pretty forgettable and only seem to have being angry women with weapons going for them. Kill them off and focus on more interesting characters.
      Grey Worm is a good call though. Not sure what he’s got to offer going forward. Selmy should last another season I think. One of if not the greatest knights of all time needs to do a lot more than babysit Dany before he shuffles off the mortal coil.

      Hexonx,

      Some people think Elvis is still alive.

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    25. TheTouchOfFrost,

      The difference is that D&D included the Sand Snakes, and not them… your opinion is clouding your speculation, which should be based on D&D’s likely adaptation decisions. Based on the fact they are introducing the Sand Snakes over the Greyjoy uncles and Arianne, no, I don’t think they’ll kill them just to be done with them. How does that make any sense? Just because you don’t personally like them, you think D&D will make that decision? D&D obviously do like them, or else they wouldn’t have included the three of them.

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    26. Luka Nieto:
      Big Mac,

      Imagine if all of them did die, tho. That would be a bloodbath unlike anything the show has ever seen. Anyway: Bronn, Robin, Meryn, Grey Worm, those I can see. The others, not so much.

      I’m going to throw in Jorah, Ramsay and Myranda for good measure.

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    27. Luka Nieto,

      Could it be that you do like them so are similarily letting that cloud your judgement? D&D have included other characters too that don’t seem to have gone anywhere (BWB, Quaithe,etc). If we don’t have the Griff plot either then, again, I don’t see what purpose is having them all is? I don’t like them as characters so hope they don’t feature as much. To say they will or won’t become important is speculation at this point.

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    28. TheTouchOfFrost,

      Speculation? GRRM himself said as much. Also, Quiathe had a cameo in an episode or two. The Sand Snakes are being presented as as a new part of the main —though not starring— cast. Not a very good comparison. And I don’t see what they have to do with the Griffs. In fact, Arianne’s intersection with the cut YG in TWOW is probably one of the many reason Arianne’s been cut. Meanwhile, the Sand Snakes are being introduced and expanded in terms of screen-time compared to the books, instead of cut. So, I don’t think I’m the one here who is speculating based on his preferences.

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    29. Hexonx:
      OrtMeyer,

      Where did you get 8 out of that?The two seasons after this upcoming season would be 6 & 7.

      Well they already renewed the show for season 6, so I assumed he meant they’d be fine with two more renewals.

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    30. Rygar,

      So was this a thing? I mean, was this talked about? I may have missed it as I checked out for a bit. Sofie saying that Pascal “sarcastically” credited himself with it isn’t exactly screaming “liar”, unless of course his claim was made more seriously elsewhere and this is DnD’s way of putting him in his place…
      Just find it funny that it’s noted. It was a cool character moment, certainly one that HBO used to advertise with.

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    31. I don’t know how many folks get the bonus disc edition but for info it contains the behind the scenes features:

      Planning a Royal Wedding
      Silk, Leather & Chain Mail ( costumes & costume design, natch )
      Shock and Awe: The Visual Effects of Season 4

      Haven’t played them and probably only a few minutes each but a little extra for diehard fans 🙂

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    32. Luka Nieto,

      But GRRM isn’t writing the show! Pretty sure he thinks Arianne ( A POV character), The Griffs, and the Greyjoy uncles are important to the books going forward but they obviously aren’t a priority to the show. I get that you like them but at the moment in the books they are a complete non-event and in the show I can’t see how they’re going to be anything more than supporting cast members. Could quite easily see them being the new BWB. Useful to tell a story for a season and then not used again. I honestly don’t see the need for three characters whom do pretty much the same thing. We shall see I guess but let it be clear, I’ll be rooting for them to be killed off and killed off quickly!

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    33. All_Men_Must_Hodor,

      I think Theon may have already ensured that he has an heir, despite his recent “loss”.

      I recall his having a series of tumbles with a certain sea captains daughter en route to Pyke, where he informed her that she’s probably already pregnant as he’s “done her” often enough and that it would be “a great honour” for her to bear his child (big of him!).

      We shall have to wait and see though.

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    34. I will be holding out for the House Martell cover from Best Buy to go along with my Stark, Lannister and Targaryen covers.

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    35. Well, I’m disappointed.

      For some reason, Canada is only offering the Tyrell & Martell packaging. I’d had my heart set on a Lannister box (almost got it last year).

      The Tyrell one looks cool, but I’m not a fan of their House. The Martell one is nice, and I’d probably be happy with it, except I HATE the white lettering. Why did they make the text white? It looks cheap and lame.

      I think I’m going to ask my friend in the US to pick up a Lannister set for me.

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    36. Greg du Pille:
      All_Men_Must_Hodor,

      I think Theon may have already ensured that he has an heir, despite his recent “loss”.

      I recall his having a series of tumbles with a certain sea captains daughter en route to Pyke, where he informed her that she’s probably already pregnant as he’s “done her” often enough and that it would be “a great honour” for her to bear his child (big of him!).

      We shall have to wait and see though.

      I mentioned that many moons ago on another thread – in fact it may have been on the site that shall not be named when it was still a good site – and somebody replied that even if the captain’s daughter was pregnant the baby would be illegitimate and given the way that bastards are treated in Westeros (except in Dorne) such baby would not have a claim to be an heir (unless there’s a way I don’t know about it could be legitimised).

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    37. Dame of Mercia,

      Well a king could legitimize him. Though I don’t think another child ruler is what we need at this point. Better with Asha/Yara.

      By the way for those of you who’ve got the DVDs. How good are the commentaries? I found them a bit lacking last year. Not as good as the ones in season 1 and 2.

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    38. Sofia,

      Overall, they’re a lot better this year. Aidan Gillen and Kate Dickie in Mockingbird are a highlight, as are Kit, Rose and John in The Watchers on the Wall.

      I found the commentary for The Children by Dinklage, Headey and Nikolaj to be very bad. A contributing factor is more than likely that all three of them were in different countries at the time of recording. Can’t beat that same-room chemistry.

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    39. Hey folks,

      Hope ya’ll might be able to help me out a little. So I live in the UK and managed to snag a new, sealed version of season 4 on blu-ray from Ebay for £26. It just arrived this morning and I naturally ripped open the envelope, only to find myself a bit surprised by the packaging.

      Now, three previous season I own all come in quite chunky boxes, the one you’re probably all familiar with. I love ’em for that, as I like my boxsets to have good packaging. But season 4 has come as just a standard blu-ray case with a cardboard outer sleeve.

      The age rating on the box has the letters OFLC, which I believe is the Australian board, if memory is serving me. Anybody got any ideas? I mean, it’s just packing and it should play fine, but part of me is debating selling it on and grabbing a regular version.

      Cheers

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