WotW Awards: Best Action Scene Preliminary Round

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Every season, Game of Thrones delivers the action goods with most episodes having an enjoyable sequence, whether it’s a one-on-one duel or a chaotic brawl. And so there’s no lack of nominees for today’s prelim category in the Watchers on the Wall Awards: Best Action Scene.

Unsurprisingly, many of the fan-submitted nominees do come from the same episode, but we’re not voting on an episode here! Choose your five favorite action scenes from the list. You can choose fewer, but you can’t choose more.

At the end of 72 hours (or by Sunday 9/14/14 at 8PM Eastern Time), whichever five action scenes have the most votes will move on to the finals. (Note: in the final rounds, you will only have one vote to cast in each category!)

Thanks again to Greatjon of Slumber for compiling the nominations for the Watchers on the Wall Awards!

67 responses

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    1. Brienne vs the Hound. May be wildly off-book, but it’s a phenomenal fight scene. It starts as many other fights we’ve seen in the show; very traditionally medieval. Then it gets wild, and that’s when it shines. When these two enormous fighters kicked each other in their respective genitals, I knew this was going to be a historic fight. Jokes aside, the Hound forces Brienne to let loose and be more of a beast. It’s also a great end for the Hound.

      Alliser Thorne takes on Tormund Giantsbane. The raw fury of Tormund against the more measured opponent that is Thorne. A great fight followed by an amazing aftermath for Tormund.

      The Mountain vs The Red Viper. Well, duh.

      The Hound & Arya take on Polliver & company at the inn. The scene that precedes the fight is one of the best and most thrilling this entire season, and that is partly why the fight is so great —such a release after so much building tension. The Hound fighting half a dozen people is impressive enough, but what truly makes this one of the best action scenes is how Arya kills Polliver, coldly reciting what he had said to Lommy before killing him.

      Jon Snow vs Styr during the Battle. Styr is a force of nature; if you get in his way, if you let him get near enough to you, he will rip you apart. And he almost does it with Jon, except Kit Harrington is freaking amazing with his sword. Come on, some of his moves are downright supermhuman! Just a jaw-dropping fight.

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    2. Quite easy, these were the five that got my biggest reaction upon first viewing (random order):
      – Brienne vs the Hound
      – The Mountain vs The Red Viper
      – Castle Black courtyard fighting in the Battle, captured with 360 degree long shot
      – Stannis’s troops take out Mance Rayder’s host
      – The Night’s Watch fight off the mammoth and giants’ assault on the Wall

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    3. I went with:

      Brienne vs the Hound
      The Mountain vs The Red Viper
      Stannis’s vs Mance Rayder’s host
      Jon Snow vs Styr during the Battle
      The Night’s Watch vs the mammoth and giants.

      But honestly it could have been any other five.

      For me though the winner will always be The Mountain vs The Red Viper. The level of detail and work that went into that one, the crescendo action and the acting by Pedro was tremendous. You didn’t get just an action scene. You just got well done, all around dramatic one.

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    4. Brienne vs. The Hound was THE fight scene. It was so well done. I want to go and re-watch it now just thinking about it.

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    5. Luka Nieto,

      Come on, some of his moves are downright supermhuman! Just a jaw-dropping fight.

      I agree. I think Kit was fantastic in that fight sequence. If you look at it, it looks like it was sped up. But D&D said it wasn’t and that Kit was moving so fast that it made them do a double take.

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    6. I picked the first 5 listed. Though Edd unleashing the scythe made me laugh and cheer… it was right after the Ygritte scene and just totally broke the sad mood. 🙂

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    7. It’ll take a whole day to cut this down to five choices!

      The 360 shot at Castle Black remains my personal favourite, and I expect to see it holding the WotWA!

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    8. Brienne vs the Hound – I can just imagine how hard it was to choreograph and move in a really rocky dangerous terrain. But CC smith, the actors and stuntmen made it look so effortless.

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    9. You know what, I didn’t vote for Mountain and the Viper. I love that scene, but not for the action aspect to it. Maybe it was the direction, or the long shots due to stunt doubles, or maybe one person skillfully avoiding blows is less exciting to me than two forceful fighters trying to hack and beat on each other. Loved the human drama of the scene, but I think GoT has had better actual action, especially in this season.

      Brienne vs the Hound will probably get my final vote so that was an easy pick. Hound vs Polliver and Company was also great. The 360 shot was awesome, and Jon Snow vs Styr was my favorite one-on-one of that episode. I eventually picked Daario’s killing of the Mereenese champion as my last one, really quick but very well shot and fun to watch, an essential scene in selling the new Daario to viewers.

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    10. Ser who says Ni,

      The 360 shot is my favourite as well. I can only imagine how difficult it was to pull that one off, but they did. Neil Marshall is a fookin’ legend!

      Also voted for:

      Brienne vs The Hound
      The Mountain vs The Red Viper
      Jon vs Styr (Kit showing some impressive skills)
      The Night’s Watch fight off the mammoth and giants’ assault on the Wall

      Tough category, all of them were amazing scenes!

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    11. Season 4 was probably the best season for action that Game of Thrones has had so far. Immense battles, intimate and bloody fights … the show had it all this year. But ultimately, I ended up choosing all one-on-one duels (with one exception).

      Brienne vs. The Hound – I consider it an extremely impressive feat that Season 4 featured perhaps the single most anticipated fight scene in the entire series in the Trial by Combat between Oberyn and the Mountain, and yet this completely new fight scene ended up being every bit as memorable, if not more so. Rory McCann and Gwendoline Christie have both had several fight scenes apiece during their time on the show, but this is certainly their crowning achievement.The swordplay alone would have rendered it worthy of acclaim, but what really took this sequence to the next level was the second act, when the two combatants dropped their weapons and just went at each other with fists, rocks, and teeth. The score was excellent, as well – “Oathkeeper” is probably my favorite track from Season 4. Also, shout out to the scouting team and the location masters for finding that absolutely gorgeous Icelandic plateau on which to stage the fight, and the cinematographers who figured out how to shoot the sequence in such a way that simultaneously provided a sense of both epic scale and fierce intimacy. Tremendous on all counts.

      The Mountain vs. The Red Viper – That being said, the Trial by Combat itself was pretty badass. It’s hard for such a grandiose, high-stakes sequence to live up to the stratospheric expectations that fans placed on it for months, and yet I thought that it lived up to that near-impossible standard quite well. I liked the way that the show played up the combatant’s contrasting styles, with the raw brute force and animalistic rage of the Mountain pitted against Oberyn’s speed, agility, and Wushu-inspired acrobatics. And while I’ve already lauded Pedro Pascal for his performance several times, it’s worth mentioning again that he was fantastic in his character’s defining scene. He showed us Oberyn’s confidence, fury, and resolute sense of purpose – all of which helped him get the most feared killer in the Seven Kingdoms on his back. Then, he let down his guard just a bit too much… and his head exploded. With good reason, viewers’ minds exploded right along with it.

      The Hound and Arya take on Polliver and company at the inn – The long build-up to this sequence, where the Hound and Polliver are trading insults and veiled threats, really helped to set the stage for this grand clash that closed out the first episode of the season. That preamble is a strong contender for the funniest scene of the year, and the fight itself wasn’t without some comedy either – the moment when the Hound seizes control of one of his foes’ daggers and proceeds to impale the poor bastard’s face on it several times definitely inspired some twisted laughter on my part. But of course, it’s the end of the sequence that really gives the scene its power. The moment when Arya finally joins the fray stands out as a critical turning point for her character. When the music changed and she slowly slid that sword into the soldier’s belly, I got chills … because I knew that there was no turning back, either for her or for us.

      Jon Snow vs. Styr during the Battle – The entire battle sequence in “The Watchers on the Wall” was a tremendous accomplishment, but this particular clash stood out for me as a highlight. Kit Harington has become an extremely accomplished stunt fighter during his time on the show. I love the anecdote that Benioff and Weiss shared in a few interviews where recalled how they initially believed that the camera operator had placed a speed ramp on some footage from one of Jon’s fight sequences. They asked him to remove it because they didn’t believe that someone could actually swing a sword that fast – only it turned out that Kit actually was moving that quickly. Yuri Kokolnikov was impressive as well, with own combat proficiency and hulking physique helping to establish Styr as a dangerous, near-unstoppable force. Even though I knew that Jon would ultimately win and survive, the moment when Styr slammed Jon’s face into the anvil caused me to cringe. And the finishing touch, when Jon buries the hammer in the Magnar’s skull, definitely inspired a few cheers in my household.

      Jon Snow vs. Karl at Craster’s Keep – This savage fight scene between Jon Snow and the Fooking Legend of Gin Alley becomes even more impressive when you consider that it filmed in tight quarters and under brutally hot conditions (thanks to the fires and the enclosed space, it was apparently in excess of 90 degrees Fahrenheit on that set). We’d heard Karl Tanner boast about his legendary skills, and several other characters had repeatedly stressed that he was an extremely dangerous man to tangle with. But it wasn’t until Karl pulled out his knives and began expertly flourishing them that it truly dawned on me that Jon was in for the fight of his life –at least up until that point. Thanks to Karl’s speed and a few dastardly tricks, it looked like Jon had met his match until one of Craster’s long-suffering wives intervened. But when Jon got his reprieve, he showed that he’d learned a thing or two about the merits of practicality versus honor and drove his sword straight through the back of Karl’s head and out his mouth. Well played, Lord Snow.

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    12. I like how many of these selections are from Neil Marshall’s epic ep9! Yeah!

      Please, not Daario vs Meereenese champ…just no. It was silly and even included some MontyPythonese to emphasize its camp silliness.

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    13. Jon vs Styr- the playing off of each actor’s physicality, man. Also, kit got hit with a fricking anvil and came up still gorgeous.

      360- watched it over and over again

      Tormund vs Alliser- the sounds Kristofer Hijvu makes when fighting get me hot for that bear-fucker. And again, willing vs castle-trained fighter.

      Arya vs polliver- poetic justice, TWOW material, homegirl got her murder pony, the end

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    14. The Viper and the Mountain was the biggest dissapointed for me this season, and I was so hyped for it from the books 🙁

      My choices: Brienne vs Hound, Sandor and Arya vs Polliver and co., and everything from episode 9.

      Neil Marshall did it again 🙂

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    15. Chose not to pick the Viper vs. the Mountain, and that’s mainly because of how one sided it looked. Gregor Clegane might be dumb but he’s supposed to show some skill with a sword. Instead he used his sword like a caveman with a club… And he had like three openings to slash Oberyn in half while the latter twirled in the air.

      (But I would most definitely pick that for best gore or dramma scene, holy raspberry sauce.)

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    16. I went with the following five, and I went with them for all different reasons:

      The 360-degree shot during the Castle Black fight: Because it does what so many action movies fail to do these days, which is give you an accounting of all of what’s happening across several locations. And it’s all very real and plausible and seamless. Sure, it’s showy, but that’s totally the point. Great stuff.

      The Mountain vs. the Viper: I can see where you’d criticize this one in terms of the usage of stunt doubles. Maybe. But this one is included because of Pedro Pascal’s grand performance – completely and utterly convincing you of Oberyn’s desire for revenge, the way each repetition of the “You raped her…” line grows louder, shifting from him sounding playful to goddamned pissed.

      Jon vs. Styr: This one’s all about the contrast in character here – Jon more technically proficient with the sword, but a more measured and somewhat reluctant fighter, vs. Styr, who is all brute force and wild abandon – he clearly loves being a killer, and it shows. It’s well done, and it exceeds the Tormund/Alliser fight by just a hair’s breadth.

      The fight at the inn: On 3 levels: 1) Choreography – the Hound takes out 5 men (well, 4, really, or 3 1/2, depending on how you look at it, giving whatever credit you want to Arya), but it’s never inconsistent to think “Why aren’t they all attacking at once?” and that’s because the director does a great job in showing how it’s not possible – because the Hound throws a table on Polliver, slices one guy in the back, and then punches the others with his fists, and a punch from the Hound, wearing armor, is going to knock a man down for several seconds if not more. It’s logically very consistent as a fight as to why the Hound is able to overpower several men at once. 2) The camerawork. One of my favorite shots of the year is his roundhouse to Polliver’s jaw – not only is Polliver blasted in the face, the camera itself lists to the side, almost as if he knocked down the cameraman too, and 3) Arya’s response, taking out the 4th guy with a vase and the sword, and then the slow killing of Polliver, which is just a great fan-service revenge moment. (Oh, and #4, because the Hound gets his fucking chicken.) It’s so great, start to finish.

      Brienne vs. the Hound: For the unknown factor – none of us knew this was coming, and as many have said, it easily turned into a highlight of the season (is the Hound the Season 4 MVP? He’s damned close, if he’s not), but it fits with the desire to get characters together for dramatic moments that we didn’t expect. And for the brute force factor – is Brienne stronger than the Hound? No, probably not. But she’s quicker, so it makes sense that she’d be able to level him with about 10 blows with a rock (which will add nicely to the strength of her fists). This is a knockdown, drag-out fight that’s also to me entirely consistent. It’s also a logical conclusion to both of their efforts to protect a Stark child, and it’s beautifully shot, on that hill and everything too. Holy crap, it’s awesome.

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    17. I guess I’m one of the few who’s not a big Brienne vs. Hound fan. Aside from the dynamics of the fight itself, it seemed pointless because it only resulted in the Hound’s uncertain death and left Arya on her own without protection, which was certainly not what Big B had in mind. Big old fight, nobody won.

      Meh..
      Here be picks:

      Edd unleashes the scythe.
      The Black Watch vs. mammoths and giants.
      Jon Snow vs. Styr
      Castle Black courtyard battle with long shot.
      Arya and the Hound take the Inn.

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    18. honeysaurus,

      Because the fight itself wasn’t all that great when compared to the other ones this season (regardless of the epic ending). The Hound in the bar, the Hound versus Brienne, Stannis’s charge, the 360 degree Castke Black shot and Jon versus Karl were all better in my opinion.

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    19. His Door Solar Rack,

      THE fight scene was the Hound in the bar. It was damned perfect. Easily the best fight scene in the entire show- and it’s a testament to D&D’s surprisingly good directing skills. It’s a bit disappointing that they aren’t directing again this season but I guess they got a bit overloaded in season 4 and wanted to avoid that.

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    20. Hodor Targaryen,

      Yep, this.

      I think one of the main flaws in the Viper vs the Hound fight scene was that there was no music throughout (only in the end, really) and there was no sense of a rising tension. It felt like watching Oberyn repeating cool action moves for three minutes before something actually happened. I guess if I was Unsullied I might have been more in the moment since I wouldn’t know what to expect from it. But as an objective Sullied viewer, the fight itself just wasn’t all that great. The acting and the epic finale are what sold the scene.

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    21. I’d say the fight at the inn was my favorite.
      Brienne vs the Hound second.
      After that it’s hard to choose. Episode 9 had a lot of great choices, and Stannis’s attack was great as well.

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    22. I voted for:

      – Brienne vs The Hound
      – The Mountain vs The Red Viper
      – The Hound & Arya take on Polliver & company at the inn
      – The Night’s Watch fight off the mammoth and giants’ assault on the Wall
      – Castle Black courtyard fighting in the Battle, captured with 360 degree long shot

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    23. AGirlHasSaid,

      You know what, what you said made me like the Hound/Brienne fight even MORE, though that obviously wasn’t your intention. A brutal, violent conflict with tragic consequences where neither side gets what they want…that’s like the show’s central theme.

      I kinds get what you’re getting at, that the fight didn’t really resolve the conflict between the two characters. Sometimes fights get kinda thrown in and don’t seem to have much consequence. But this fight was not only well executed, it was a great climax for bith Stark protectors, and had huge consequences…just not the consequences that either of the fighters wanted.

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    24. For sheer panoramic vistas, scale and the badassery of the entrance scene which in my mind rivals those first few seconds when Darth Vader first appears in “Star Wars”, I’ll take Stannis and his attack on Mance Rayder and his people! As I said, when it’s all finally said and done and Stannis and Davos Seaworth make their entrance…the music, the imagery..that is the shiznit!

      I must also commend the Jon versus Styr scene. I think that after the schooling he got from Karl “the foooookin legend…”, our boy finally grew and dropped a pair of nuts we always knew, or suspected, he had. I think it keeps in line with Jon’s overall growth and maturation in Season Four, plus he learned that fighting dirty might just save your life…and the fact that you can never kill enough cannibals!

      The 360 scene is one of my favourites also, not just how it played in the episode, but just as a marker of Neil Marshall’s and the entire crew and cast’s skill and dedication! It freaking awesome. Marshall has a scaled down and more limited version of that shot in one of the movies of his I enjoy most, “Centurion”…when the Roman fort is attacked…you’ll see a pre-super stardom Michael Fassbender and Ser Davos Seaworth himself Liam Cunnigham!

      Great pre-award nominees list! Hard to choose the top crop from all those!

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    25. I find myself caring less who wins this than for some of the other categories. Fight scenes simply have less of an impact on me than the drama scenes. For that reason, of course, I hope it’ll be Oberyn versus The Mountain that wins this.

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    26. Two fights get my vote simply before they’re great and not really expected: Tormund vs. Alliser and the Hound vs. Brienne. Oberyn vs. the Mountain was also great, but very much expected.

      For good measure, I added a fourth vote for the 360 degree shot in Castle Black. That was an amazing production feat.

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    27. Thorne v Tormund – Best fight scene of the season IMO. Great use of the environment good mid/long range shots not to many cuts. the variation in the style of fighters as well only helps make the scene stand out.

      The INN – The hounds brute strength/drunken rage and better armor saves the day for him with Arya finally getting to do some more killing.

      360 degree shot – Easily one of the best shots in the series to date, I can only imagine how much work went into getting the take.

      edit
      I’ll add in Brienne v the Hound – Whilst I genrally dislike the addition of the fight into the story it was well done by both actors and a good action scene excluding the sword grab.

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    28. Yep,

      The 360
      Brienne Vs Hound
      Mountain Vs Viper
      were no-brainers, but there were so many options for the last two…

      Went for Arya and the Hound at the Inn, and Jon Vs Karl, because apart from being incredibly tense, visceral scenes, they marked turning points for Arya (first “proper” kill) and Jon (putting honourable fighting aside in favour of winning/staying alive).
      Bloody tough choices!

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    29. Hodor Targaryen:
      AGirlHasSaid,

      You know what, what you said made me like the Hound/Brienne fight even MORE, though that obviously wasn’t your intention. A brutal, violent conflict with tragic consequences where neither side gets what they want…that’s like the show’s central theme.

      I kinds get what you’re getting at, that the fight didn’t really resolve the conflict between the two characters. Sometimes fights get kinda thrown in and don’t seem to have much consequence. But this fight was not only well executed, it was a great climax for bith Stark protectors, and had huge consequences…just not the consequences that either of the fighters wanted.

      I get what you’re saying about the theme of the show and I agree that the Brianna and Hound slugfest is a good example of an original conflict not being resolved and then opening the door to all sorts of unexpected consequences in its wake. (I’m unsullied, so you may be aware of more of them.)

      Not pleased that what I said made you like it more though 😉

      I actually thought that the Hound’s neck wound was going to make him very sick because the writers seemed to be leading us in that direction . That still would have provided Arya with an opportunity to leave him to die a painful death without killing him, thus taking him off her list and going on her way.

      The other thing is, it just wasn’t cathartic (to me, anyway) especially in contrast to all those great battles at the Wall which were so exciting and left you going YESSS!!, I ate half a bag of Doritos without even realizing it.

      Oh crap, I guess I just didn’t like the scene.

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    30. Favorite one: Castle Black courtyard fighting in the Battle, captured with 360 degree long shot
      The Mountain vs The Red Viper
      The Hound & Arya take on Polliver & company at the inn
      Jon Snow vs Styr during the Battle
      Edd unleashes the Scythe during the Battle of Castle Black

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    31. OT:

      Did anyone else see that Michele Fairely is going to be a guest star on the upcoming season of…
      wait for it…
      Resurection?

      Tee-hee. 😉

      Back on topic: Gotta go with the Hound and Arya and the chickens.

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    32. I am surprised no one picked Jaime and Cersei at Joffs funeral as an option for this award. That was some of the hottest action this season.

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    33. Ashara D,

      Saw Michelle in the trailers, she looks terrific. Now I’m tempted to watch Resurrection just for Michelle, even though I have no idea what’s going on, ha. LS fans have some good alternatives with this and Michelle’s recent appearance in 24: Live Another Day.

      Mine is the Furry,

      jentario,

      Obvious controversy aside, that was a fight scene, wasn’t it? The incestuous aspect of the Cersei/Jaime relationship is a sick form of control and power play by both sides. I think these two have actually been at war since they were kids, but the twist is Jaime doesn’t realize this. . .yet.

      On topic, my picks:
      Brienne vs. the Hound
      Mountain vs. the Viper
      Bran warging into Hodor
      Jon vs. Karl Tanner
      Arya & the Hound at the inn

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    34. Mine is the Furry: The Hound and Arya take on Polliver and company at the inn – The long build-up to this sequence, where the Hound and Polliver are trading insults and veiled threats, really helped to set the stage for this grand clash that closed out the first episode of the season. That preamble is a strong contender for the funniest scene of the year, and the fight itself wasn’t without some comedy either – the moment when the Hound seizes control of one of his foes’ daggers and proceeds to impale the poor bastard’s face on it several times definitely inspired some twisted laughter on my part. But of course, it’s the end of the sequence that really gives the scene its power. The moment when Arya finally joins the fray stands out as a critical turning point for her character. When the music changed and she slowly slid that sword into the soldier’s belly, I got chills … because I knew that there was no turning back, either for her or for us.

      I thought this had the best dialog of any scene during the season.
      “Someone is.” Is worthy of Dirty Harry!
      To my surprise D&D , who directed this scene, must have payed attention to ol Sam Peckinpah, the action is well composed , executed and compact for only the second episode they have directed!

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    35. Tyrion Pimpslap:
      Hound and Arya at the Inn
      Castle Black 360 shot
      Jon vs Styr
      Hound vs Brienne
      Tormund vs Ser Alliser

      This exactly.

      The two scenes that had me most vested (and by “vested” I mean stomach-churning anxiety over the outcome) was Brienne v. The Hound and Alliser v. Tormund. So worried that the Hound would die conclusively on camera and kill all my future hopes for that character that I could barely watch. The same was true of Alliser and Tormund, I couldn’t know for sure if either of those characters would entirely survive. Not knowing the outcome along with the choreography and bad ass moments, makes a great fight scene for me. Plus, Alliser is such a jerk that I love to hate him but damn, that speech followed by the fight with Tormund was just so bad ass!

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    36. Brienne vs The Hound is the winner for me. A dream fight with characters we care about.
      The choreography and directing wasn’t perfect but it was INTENSE.

      The fight at the Inn is a close second, once again a terrific fight w/ The Hound.
      Basically all his fights are the best (vs The Mountain in S1, vs Beric in S3)
      I’m going to miss Rory, such a great actor

      Oberyn vs The Mountain was underwhelming as fuck dude. I was so disappointed with this one. Thor Bjornsson was boring. (F you Conan Stevens) Pedro Pascal and his charisma saved it. Didn’t like the ending, so cheesy. No interest to watch it again, such a shame because it was THE single most anticipated moment of the Season, for me.
      Because of this scene, I will not have high expectations for an action scene again.

      Jon vs Styr is a short but very good fight, the 360 and all the stuff in 409 was great. Sadly this episode lack a real ending.

      Jon vs Karl, good one, cool one on one mini boss duel.

      Bran, Jojen, Meera & Hodor vs Wights : I actually thought it was decent. I liked it.

      Daario vs Champion of Meereen : nothing special but it was cool

      First assault of the wildings was fun. The one on Episode 8 was short but nice. (love the soundtrack)

      Stannis! Stannis! Stannis!….oh wait !
      Mance’s army was weak and it had no epic feel at all but it was alright for a TV show I guess. (still disappointed because of high hopes and stuff)
      but the scene after with Mance, Jon, Stannis & Davos was amazingg

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