This season of Game of Thrones gave us more great moments than any one of its predecessors; but in the midst of being overwhelmed by the grandeur and cruelty of the Red Wedding, the bath scene or the Sack of Astapor, it is often easy to forget the smaller stuff. Let’s take a look at some awesome moments that took up less screen time, but caused no less pumping of blood and crying of tears.
6. ‘I cannot tell you how touched I am by your concern for my welfare.’
In this glorious tête-à-tête that always leaves my fellow Sansa fans and fellow Sansa/Littlefinger shippers whooping and screaming in delight, Sansa lies beautifully and perfectly that she no longer wishes to accompany Littlefinger to the Vale because she’d feel terrible if anything happened to him. Not only do we feel prodigiously proud of little Sansa for her first and entirely instinctive recourse to the Game in order to get what she wants; we are also fearfully conscious of the clipped anger in Littlefinger’s voice and the dangerous look of betrayal in his eyes that she, in her still-lamentable innocence, doesn’t seem to notice at all. The scene positively boils over with sexual tension, and is a superb, if mildly creepy precursor to Sansa’s ‘education’ at the Eyrie, an episode that represents some of the most important development and suppression of her character that one finds in the entire saga.
5. ‘It’s a rare enough thing. A man who lives up to his reputation.’
I’ve already written an entire post about this scene, so I will not repeat myself, but leaving it out would be simply criminal. In this brilliantly-acted exchange, we are granted the double satisfaction of seeing Lord Tywin actually having to make an effort to ram a point home and of Lady Olenna being defeated despite her sharp wits and equally sharp tongue. The chemistry between the two characters is volcanic, tense and sparkling with intellectual pleasure on both sides, and makes one think that if Tywin had not been so deeply in love with his dead wife, these two would have been a perfect match.
4. ‘I won’t ever hurt you.’
An awkward but adorable scene between Tyrion and Sansa on their wedding morning in which Tyrion tries, multiple times, to talk to his bride-to-be without getting a stone wall of courtesy in response; his smart mouth transforming some of his loveliest statements into total disasters (‘you won’t be a prisoner after today, you’ll be my wife…I suppose that’s a different kind of prison.’). But eventually, after trying everything from ‘you do look glorious’ to ‘I just wanted to say that I know how you feel,’ it is this lovely line, ‘I won’t ever hurt you,’ that hits home, and the expression on Sansa’s face when he says it defies description. The most beautiful thing, of course, is the smile Tyrion manages to get out of her on the subject of wine; and if we didn’t know what a catastrophe the rest of the day was going to be, one would almost say Sansa was marrying someone she loves.
3. ‘Goodbye, Ser Jaime.’
An entire relationship expressed in three words, Brienne’s first use of Jaime’s name when addressing him directly is a moving recognition of a sister soul as both characters realise what we’ve known all along: that despite their differences and their bickering, they’re cut from the same cloth. The exchange of this knowledge is almost entirely silent and based in intense facial expression and command of voice that is all the more moving for the absence of pretence and bullshit, as well as a kind of honesty and emotional vulnerability that is terrifying, beautiful and awkward to watch in two characters so accustomed to armouring themselves; Brienne in silence, Jaime in sarcasm.
2. ‘Could you bring back a man without a head? Not six times. Just once.’
Maisie Williams acts the shit out of her adult co-stars in this searing reminder that for all her blood-stained brilliance and ruthlessness, Arya is an eleven-year-old girl who misses her father. The Hound’s winning his trial against Lord Beric has had the equivalent of convincing her, in a matter of seconds, that justice no longer exists, and she’s reminded once again of her own smallness and her inability to do much about it. The numbness and the depression that this causes in her character is a landmark moment second only to the Red Wedding, and Williams plays this brilliantly in the exhausted emotionlessness of Arya’s face. The steadiness of her voice, however, and her persistent courage in the scene, show us that while she may be numb, she isn’t broken; a stunning tribute to Arya’s emotional and psychological strength.
1. ‘And everything that’s happened since then, all this horror that’s come to my family, was all because I couldn’t love a motherless child.’
Catelyn opens up to Talisa about her cruel treatment of Jon Snow in the best scene ever written for the character and Michelle Fairley’s finest moment in all three seasons. In Fairley’s beautifully expressive face and voice we see the iron sense of honour that makes Cat who she is, and the deep, black guilt she feels at being unable to give to Jon the love that she has given so freely to all her children. This goes against her naturally caring and maternal nature, revealing how intolerable Jon’s existence is to her in spite of how guilty she feels about it. Cat is a character that is synonymous with loss and survival, with grief and bitterness, and to see them converge into one, powerful scene is breath-taking.