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Game of Thrones - The Complete Fourth Season (Steelbook Edition)

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Jun 7, 2016
Game of Thrones - The Complete Fourth Season (Steelbook Edition)

The extras-packed "Game of Thrones: The Complete Season Four" Steelbook Edition" continues the intrigue of the series, and the satisfaction of deluxe hi-def treatment for the lavishly produced series.

If Season Three was all about building to a wedding gone wrong, Season Four flips the script and starts off with a wedding that unexpectedly leads right to a funeral -- and then follows focuses on the fallout. AS a result, this year feels a little more meandering and scattershot. But that's not necessarily a negative: The storyline remains knotty and complex, with the action shifting between the various scattered survivors of the Stark family, as well as assorted contenders for the throne.

A swaggering new character enters the mix in the person of the oversexed Dornish prince Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal), a man who blames the Lannisters for the death of his younger sister. He's got a hard-on for vengeance as well as everything live, lovely, and human that he encounters. Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), forever the damsel in distress, is framed for a political assassination and flees King's Landing; the same killing brings blame and disgrace to Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), who faces the prospect of a (no doubt rigged) trial. Petyr Baelish - a.k.a. Little Finger ("Queer As Folk" alum Aiden Gillen) - sees to Sansa's safe passage himself, his unquenchable love for Sansa's now-slain mother evidently now being transferred to Sansa.

It's a different sort of love story between Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and her protector, the hulking swordsman known as The Hound (Rory McCann), and it comes galloping to a shocking close this season. As for Theon Greyjoy - now known as Reek (Alfie Allen) - he's still captive to the sadistic madman Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon), but Ramsay's predilection for grotesque torments co-exists with military competence and he earns his father's gratitude... and his father's name, shedding the "bastard name" Snow to become Ramsay Bolton.

As for that other Snow - Jon Snow (Kit Harington) - he's back with his Night's Watch brothers at The Wall, where his undercover intelligence-gather actions among the Wildings has created controversy. The immediate problems The Night's Watch face are twofold: An attack planned by former Night's Watch brother Mance Rayder (CiarĂ¡n Hinds) - now the leader of the Wildings - threatens from without; the presence of a young woman and her infant (rescued and now protected by Sam [John Bradley]) creates frictions within. As ever, the slow coming of winter, and an inevitable return of the dreaded White Walkers, is an even more terrifying eventuality looming above everything.

Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), meantime, has ventured beyond The Wall to desolate territory where the White Walkers roam. His quest: A magical tree where a three-eyed raven awaits him.

Still more story strands twine about this fraught season, as Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) (and her eye-pleasing squire, Podrick [Daniel Portman]) continue their quest to find the Stark sisters (they half succeed... sort of), while Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) wheels and deals with the realm's money men in the city of Braavos, while Stannis' consort Melisandre (Carice van Houten) - a powerful witch in the service of a deity called the "Lord of Light" - indulges in the favorite pastime of zealots everywhere: She burns people alive. In another city, Meereen, now roiled with the fallout of its slaves having been forcibly freed, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) - the Mother of Dragons - learns the hard way that being queen is a tough profession. At least she has a handsome soldier ("The Wire"'s Michiel Huisman) to take her mind off her troubles. And the dragons? Well, let's just say that as they mature, it looks as though they are breaking bad...

The Season Four Blu-ray set is, incredibly, just as packed with extras as the previous three Steelbook editions -- a tribute to the imaginative powers (and enormous work ethic) of author George R.R. Martin, the dedication of the show's producers, and the avid devotion of the legions of fans who have made the books and the series a global phenomenon. In addition to a Season 3 Recap, the ever-useful In-Episode Guide, Audio commentaries, deleted scenes, and the Season Four gag reel, there's a featurette dedicated to New Characters & Locations; another explores the role of various illegitimate sons and daughters, and how they are named in various kingdoms ("Snow" in Winterfell, but "Sand," "Gardener," "Hill," "Stone," and the like elsewhere); an epic look at an epic battle (hordes! Giants! Woolly mammoths?); an amusing "memorial panel" in which the actors who portray various characters who die this season (and there are plenty of them) discuss their characters and their demises - don't watch this featurette first because if you do, the season will be spoiled in a major way.

That's far from all! Incredibly, there's lots more in the "Histories & Lore" category, including closer looks at House Martell and House Baelish, a word on series details like Valyrian steel, intriguing professions such as "Sellswords" and "Hedge Knights," and more. Lots more.

The set's language options let you watch the episodes in the English, French, Spanish, German, and Italian. And let's not forget another selling point: The collectible sigil magnet which, in this case, is the coat of arms of The Wall. It looks pretty impressive on the fridge.


"Game of Thrones - The Complete Fourth Season" (Steelbook Edition)
Blu-ray
$78.98
http://store.hbo.com/game-of-thrones-the-complete-fourth-season-steelbook-blu-ray-digital-hd/detail.php?p=1000377&v=hbo_shows_game-of-thrones_media_dvd

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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