The only thing better than doing something you love is doing something you love with like-minded people. We love watching sports with other fans, and we love to watch our most beloved movies with people who will quote every line right along with us. So naturally, when Cineplex brought the Season Four finale of HBO’s beloved <em>Game of Thrones</em> to the big screen, fans of all kinds flocked to the theatre. With lines out the door at the Conestoga Mall theatre, the crowds were bubbling with excitement as they prepared to watch what turned out to be the best season finale <em>Game of Thrones</em> has ever seen. As a fan of the book series, and by my guess, not the only one in the theatre, I knew what was coming. I’d imagined it and reimagined it in every way possible, delighting at the events I knew were about to unfold. I am happy to say, HBO did not disappoint. Although I still lament about the loss in symbolism of Shae’s death (strangled with the chain of hands that symbolizes the Hand of the King), and the absence of the line “Lord Tywin Lannister, in the end, did not shit gold,” the episode was just about everything I could have hoped for. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the screen-writers and executive producers, pulled together story lines with incredible skill. The invented confrontation between Brienne of Tarth and The Hound resulted in some beautiful moments: The Hound’s choice to protect Arya despite her lack of value, Brienne’s boar-headed replies to questions that would have won Arya over, Pod’s relentless comedic relief, and one hell of a fight scene in the end. I would have adored this episode in any setting. In fact, I have watched it twice since the night it premiered and enjoyed it immensely both times. But, watching it in the company of 100 other hardcore fans made it all the better. Before the episode even started, one audience member stood up and asked for the audience’s help in winning a bet. Apparently his friend had bet him $20 that he couldn’t get 100 people to sing along to the Game of Thrones theme song. What better way to get hyped for the episode than to mumble your way through a wordless theme song in the most tone deaf manner possible? Enjoy your $20 my friend, and don’t spend it all in one place. Along with this, there were multiple shouts of “HODOR” before and after the episode, shouts of delight as we watched Arya die of laughter in the recap of previous episodes, and thunderous applause when Tyrion shot his father. Never before have I seen an audience so enthralled with the events unfurling on screen. Not once did I see someone pull out their phone, attempt to talk to the person next to them, or even attempt to go to the washroom. Isn’t that how it should be? If only crowds were always so entirely captivated. This episode was full of game changers, starting from the very first scene with Stannis coming to rescue The Night’s Watch. It took a dark turn for many characters: Arya walking away from The Hound filled me with pure vindictive pleasure. It even pushed characters who we were beginning to see as stationary in completely new directions (Varys). Of course, with all this the episode still maintained some of the show’s most defining elements. The foreshadowing was, as always, subtle and on point (hint: one of Cersei’s threats will soon become reality). The spritely one-liners that give you a laugh amongst all the heartbreak. And as always, we were all left wondering “where is this going?” As for where it is going, I wouldn’t worry about next season moving as slowly as this one. Some of the biggest plot twists in the series so far are drawing ever closer. But before you get too busy guessing at what they are, remember: in the world of George R.R. Martin, no one is safe.
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