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No Need to Argue: The 5 Best and 5 Worst Moments from 'Game of Thrones' Season 4

By Cindy Davis | Seriously Random Lists | June 16, 2014 | Comments ()


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As TK notes in his The Children review, Game of Thrones’ fourth season has been tumultuous — full of ups and downs and its great moments offset by missteps. It’s pretty nifty though, that something like the death of that little asshole Joffrey barely registers among the season’s standout moments. The series covered a lot of book ground, which may turn out both boon and bane. For the book readers (no spoilers), a few cards were shuffled to different places in the deck — again, to good and not so good ends — but one of this year’s most spectacularly terrible moments was right in line with George R. R. Martin’s words, and still it crushed. Here, in my particular order, are the highs and lows…the moments we’ll always remember and a few we’d like to forget. *Spoilers ahead!

The Worst:


5. Daenerys Banishes Jorah, The Mountain and the Viper

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I remember being crushed by this moment when reading, and Iain Glen sold his loss and reaction to exile with his acting arsenal’s every facial nuance. It was a twofold terrible blow, both in his banishment and Dany’s ├╝ber stoic manner.


4. The Replacement of Not-So-Great Daario Naharis with an Even-Worse, Utterly Boring NuDaario, Two Swords

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Blue-hair or no, series Daario has never held a candle to book Daario, but at least Ed Skrein had a twinkle in his eye. With no insult toward Michiel Huisman intended, he’s just not right for the part; there’s no chemistry between his Daario and Daenerys.

3. Rape on Top of Rape, Oathkeeper

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So, someone decided that immediately following the episode when Jaime rapes Cersei, there should be another another episode featuring even more rape over at Craster’s Keep? It’s almost like the writers think we don’t know bad guys are really bad unless we see them raping women.


2. Oberyn’s Head-Smashing Defeat and Death, The Mountain and the Viper

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We screamed, we winced, we covered our eyes and shied away. Whether or not you knew it was coming, Oberyn’s manner of death was a (*ahem*) terribly crushing blow.


1. Jaime’s Completely Unnecessary Rape of Cersei, Breaker of Chains

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Incest isn’t enough? Brother and sister having sex over the body of their dead son isn’t enough? Add confusion between an episode director and the writers/showrunners’ intent, and we ended up with a hot mess that made no sense for either story or character, as evidenced by us all trying to pretend it never happened.

The Best


5. A Stark Sisters Tie:

Sansa’s Visible Transformation As She Descended the Castle Stairs, The Mountain and the Viper

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Though plenty of us have seen Sansa’s evolution and growth all along, to see her intelligence on full display as she played her various parts…to revel in the moment she embraced her Maleficent-ian side, was nothing short of spectacular.


Arya Watching the Hound Die, The Children

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Likewise, Arya has risen to her every challenge; never accepted her role or circumstance, learned from every hard lesson handed her, and chosen her own way. She’s held her own against every opponent and at his end, gave the Hound the bitter taste of his own medicine.

4. Tyrion’s “I Wish I Was the Monster You Think” Speech, The Laws of Gods and Men

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There are no words I could write that could speak to Peter Dinklage’s Emmy-worthy speech. Just watch it, again.

3. Tyrion’s Timely Tywin Targeting and Termination, The Children

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Termination while toileting, you can’t be more humiliated than that — well, unless you are Tyrion. Despised by nearly everyone his entire life but most painfully, and by no one with more disregard than his own father. Tywin may have had the last word, but it was the one that sealed his just fate.

2. Arya and Brienne’s Sword Talk, and the Subsequent Brienne vs. the Hound Fight, The Children

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With an unexpected and delightful kindred spirit exchange, Brienne of Tarth and Arya of Winterfell opened one of the season’s best scenes sweetly…and moments later, it devolved into one of its most thrilling, exhilarating, vicious fights. We will watch it again and again. Brilliant performances all around.

1. Oberyn Telling of First Meeting Baby Tyrion, and His “I Will Be Your Champion” Speech, Mockingbird

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Watching the faces of both Pedro Pascal and Peter Dinklage during this pivotal scene is practically indescribable. How can words capture Oberyn’s incredulity at seeing “just a baby,” cruelly tortured by his own sister; at Tyrion’s pain, hearing the story that only confirms his family’s lifelong disdain. Nothing can fully express the triumph Tyrion must have felt in his heart that moment when the Red Viper agreed to fight for justice — to be Tyrion’s champion.


Cindy Davis, (Twitter)







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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Maddy

    This is kind of a weird mix of bad because it was heartbreaking and just straight up badly done.

    I would put Sansa's testimony at Littlfinger's trial up there as one of the best. I have rewatched that scene an embarrassing number of times.

    That monologue at Crasters with rape in the background was definitely the worst though.

  • Uriah_Creep

    I didn't want to write this during the season, but I'm rather glad the show is over for now. I don't get HBO, and while I intend to watch Game of Thrones eventually on Blu-ray, it's a rather large time commitment and I'm in no rush. Right now, we're catching up on True Detective and Fargo, and of course Orange Is the New Black is waiting. Meanwhile, Pajiba has been devoting precious resources to the show that I've mostly had to skip. So goodbye for now, you crazy, rapey, incestuous medieval people.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Well shit. I was still holding out hope that The Hound was still alive (in the books) since they never really found his body. I love that character.

  • Maddy

    He's not dead. I don't believe any deaths until you actually see them die (and even then). I still believe.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Are you caught up on the show? How are they handling his character? I saw him as sort of a tragic hero in the book, alcoholism and all. He deserved better than an anonymous death.

  • Maddy

    Yep. He's not definitively dead on the show either despite what the director says (who doesn't know anything IMO)

  • Cassie Veve

    It's like looking at this list makes you realize (if you hadn't already) that not much has happened this season... And the whole Tywin death thing on Father's Day?! Was that a surprise to anyone?

  • John W

    Good list.

    I like the look on Brienne's face as she's preparing to fight the Hound:

    The "Let's see if you're the badass everyone says you are," look.

  • Ben

    In regards to the Crastor's Keep scene. I understand that Pajiba is like the flag bearer of the Anti-rape crusade. Which isn't a bad thing. But I am unsure of how else they portray that scenario. Perhaps have the Crastors wives as servants, or using them as furniture I don't know. No one is comfortable with rape scenes which shows that we have a sense of humanity but if I recall correctly Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire don't take place in Middle Earth where the handsome hero's wear white and the bad guys wear black and are ugly. It's a nasty, cruel universe where sometimes nasty horrible people take advantage of those who are unable to defend themselves.

    Now don't get me wrong, the Jaimie/Cersei was over the line and not needed in the story (and twisted from the book) so I can understand the outrage and confusion directed towards that scene. But the Crastors Keep scene was meant to show us how far the Fallen Crows had gone, and the fact that it made uncomfortable is evidence that it worked.

    Added point, I was more troubled by them taking that infant out and leaving it in the Northern snow vs what was happening at the Keep.

  • Maddy

    Heres my question though? Did we really need to see them being raped in the background to understand what was going on? Looking at their bruised faces was enough. I think the audience is smart enough to understand what happens to women in those kind of situations.

  • Art3mis

    I agree that Crastor's Keep is a totally different issue from the Jaime/Cersei scene. But I did find it kind of gratuitous. I think the problem is not that this show acknowledges that rape occurs or even that it sometimes shows it, but that it never misses an opportunity to throw some rape in, often in greater detail/length than necessary, even when a more restrained take could be equally powerful. I didn't need to see a long scene of a woman being raped in the background of what's-his'-dude's speech in Crastor's Keep to understand that these guys were indeed raping Crastor's women and treating them abominably.

  • Maddy

    But how else would you know that these are bad people? I bet everyone forgot that they killed Mormont

  • Scorptilicus

    That Worst list is a little strange, seeing as two are the "worst" because of the genuine, painful emotions the story caused while the other three are more anger and frustration at the show itself for unpopular choices it made. Seems like you could pick one or the other.

  • Al Borland's Beard

    I don't think being killed on the toilet would be that humiliating. Now, being killed while marathoning an ABC Family series (Any of them, really) on the other hand...

  • Art3mis

    Switched at Birth and Pretty Little Liars are both awesome. You take that back, sir.

  • stella

    I love Pretty Little liars. Its so delightfully bonkers.

  • Troy Johnson

    The first two seasons of Switched At Birth were surprisingly decent, but the third season descended into typical teen soap opera territory.

  • Valhallaback Girl

    You were way nicer. High five all the same.

  • Valhallaback Girl

    You take that back, you monster! Bunheads was positively wonderful and I'd gladly be killed on the Thomas Crapper binge watching that

  • foolsage

    Bunheads was superb. I will hear no badmouthing of Bunheads. RIP Michelle, Fanny, Boo, Sasha, Ginny, and Mel.

  • Al Borland's Beard

    To be honest, my only experience with ABC Family comes from the previews they show before movies at AMC so I don't really know what I'm talking about.

  • Lee

    "It's time for little Robin to leave the nest."

    Worst moment of S4

  • Maddy

    I KNOW. Littlefinger you are not smart. Stop with the puns.

  • jM

    Imagine if instead of the Craster's Keep diversion (or so much of it), we got a couple more scenes with Mance Raydar (Ciaran Hinds). Scenes that show the desperation and determination of the Wildings. Maybe a little about the White Walkers attacking them on the edges, really creating a rooting interest on both sides for the battle to come. Now, that kind of buildup would have helped put Watchers on the Wall on the same level as Blackwater. But no, what we got was rape drapery, several "let's ignore Jon's intel again and watch him pout about it" scenes, and repetitive Wildling attacks.

  • Maddy

    That would have been great. I cannot believe we didn't see Mance until episode 10. I'm biased because I'm a big fan of the free folk but they should have done a better job of establishing their motivations before the battle.

  • Yes. And also establishing that if they got through the wall all of Westeros is DOOMED. Winter is coming, there isn't enough food to go around, and the wildlings are fierce and nigh but unstoppable. In the show they're motivations are hazy (until Mance spells things out at the last minute) and visually they looked like an unruly bunch of boyscouts at a camp out. The fact that they could be bested within seconds did little to convey the magnitude of their numbers or ferocity.

    So I'm with you - missed opportunity to establish them as a credible threat and also as sympathetic foes.

  • lingli

    And I also think that the fact that they "choose" their leader, unlike the rest of Westeros, is really interesting and I wish they'd made a bit more of that, because (especially to our modern understanding) that's the complete opposite of savages. They call Mance "the King Beyond the Wall" but he doesn't claim leadership of the Wildlings on the same basis that Stannis or Dany claim the Iron Throne (which makes me wonder about the absence of his wife and next season). I loved the scene when he said to Stannis, "We do not kneel."

  • Maddy

    I did love Mance and 'we do not kneel' FINALLY. All I could think was THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN AWESOME BEFORE NOW.

  • lingli

    It would! And especially because it wasn't bombastic or arrogant, it was just, "this is the way it is, lad". Wonderful. I hope we get a lot more of Mance.

  • Very well said.

    For a series that prides itself on 'balance' and giving characters on all sides at least some motivation that we can relate to or understand, the wildlings are too often treated as a faceless mass of boogeymen, just itching to destroy the 'civilised' South for what's sometimes made to look like no reason at all. Never mind that they live beyond a bigger-than-imagination wall of ice in a frozen wasteland surrounded by ice zombies; never mind the history of oppression they've apparently had to deal with; no, just keep showing them as mindless savages pillaging and murdering their way South purely on some base, brutal instinct. Giving Mance Rayder more screen time to give voice to their concerns and to humanise them a little bit is the least they, and the viewers of the show, deserve.

  • Maddy

    I know. It's infuriating. I can't believe they made the Thenns cannibals. It was like we were in a sci fi movie.

  • A seriously shameful waste of Ciaran Hinds. Good lord, I love that man.

  • DarthCorleone

    Yeah, good point. I thought Hinds was great in that scene last night; it made me wish we had seen more of him.

  • Maddy

    I don't know. He's very different to how I pictured Mance but he is definitely charismatic.

  • DarthCorleone

    Yeah, I agree with that. He's almost nothing like book Mance at all, but I still think Hinds has made a compelling character out of him, differences and all.

  • SottoVoce

    He's hard to ignore in any role.

    [Edited to fix typo.]

  • Salieri2

    Have you seen Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day? He's opposite Frances McDormand, and it's a lovely little film.

  • SottoVoce

    No, but thanks for the recommendation; I'll check it out.

  • Art3mis

    I think this list is weighted too heavily to the end of the season. I'd definitely put the whole purple wedding sequence (or at least the death scene) in the top five, while I'd have Yara runs from dogs in the bottom five.

  • foolsage

    Or "Yara and her ironborn watch as Ramsay strolls over and slowly unlocks the hounds' cages". Ergh. That still drives me crazy in retrospect.

  • Liroo

    Oh excuse me, let me find my hound key. Meanwhile if you could keep those fancy swords still that'd be just capital.

    I hated that scene. His hands are literally busy, you could easily lop off his head.

  • jM

    SHE HAD AN AXE. IN HER HAND. Which she's ROUTINELY chucking at mofos in the books. IT'S HER WHOLE DEAL! She wouldn't even have needed to get closer to him! I just... aughhh......

  • Maddy

    I know. I think it was poorly edited but it was bad.

  • The Ironborn: born with iron in their blood but lead in their fucking brains.

  • Asha.

    Sorry, it's a thing. And yeah, the Ironborn must have some serious dog hair allergies....

  • foolsage

    Heh, I hear you. I was referring to the show version, but yeah. That name didn't need to be changed. Pointless pandering at its finest.

  • emmalita

    Until you listed the actor change, I had completely forgotten about Daario.

  • jM

    One of the reasons I prefer the new actor is because he's easier to ignore. I honestly don't give a shit about Daario as a character.

  • Maddy

    I don't care about him in the books or the show. All he is supposed to be is a piece of ass for Dany and that's what he is. He was never some amazing character.

  • SottoVoce

    I wonder if that's supposed to be the same crossbow Joffrey used to kill the whore.

  • Maddy

    Oh shit. I don't think so though.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I had assumed it was, but I couldn't figure out what the decoration on the front of it was when they zoomed in on it. Though I'm not sure why it would be in The Hand's chambers.

  • SottoVoce

    The central one looks like a tiny gold lion's head to me, but it's not the sharpest image. It's what made me wonder if it was a Lannister bow and, thus, possibly the one Joffrey used. As TK confirmed, it's a different weapon.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Joffrey probably would've had a stag on his. I love the detail though, and I love that readers here picked up on these things.

  • SottoVoce

    As someone who hasn't read the books, I very much enjoy the insights the readers have.

  • TK

    Nope, it's not the same one. I just rewatched both scenes.

    Would've been pretty cool if it was, but alas no.

  • SottoVoce

    Thanks!

  • manting

    its not in the books, but then he doesnt kill a whore in the books either. I think on the show he uses his "triple" crossbow that throws 3 bolts at once whereas Tyrion uses a regular crossbow, albeit one with a Lannister Lion on it in gold.

  • Maddy

    He was supposed to hit him ... Lower down. Oh well. At least we got Tywin in the privy. We better get his rotting corpse next season.

  • manting

    Tommen better almost chunder. Sorry, caught some Men at Work on the radio today.

  • Monica

    oooOOOOOoooo!

    Edited to add: Aww too bad, that'd be a nice throwback.

  • SottoVoce

    Yes, it would've been.

  • Dave

    Jaime and Cersei have a safe word, Cersei didn't say it. It's in the appendices to... Something.

  • Kim Stephens

    Me too, man. That scene last night between them just made that rape even more nonsensical from a character point. Cersei would never put up with that shit.

  • Maddy

    That was such BS. It's so obvious they botched that scene in ep 3 (which isn't an excuse so don't even try me)

  • TK

    Yup, since then it seems like the plan has been "hell with it, let's just pretend it never happened and maybe people will forget."

  • Forget what?

  • Maddy

    And all those people who were like 'it's so unfair to criticise them for it, they're making a pertinent point' HAHAHAHA. Called it.

  • manting

    The Brienne vs Hound fight was not one of the best moments but one of the most ridiculous. Brienne to this point has never killed anyone and only fought in tourneys. The Hound is a killer so seasoned there should be a style of steak named after him (steak ala Clegane - lots of salt and pepper and served bloody) and yet Brienne manages to fight just as dirty as he does. Didnt we learn from the Jon vs Mr Rapey Rape fight at Craester's Keep that people who learn to fight from knights dont know how to fight dirty? I call shennanigans on this fight, for while I love Brienne only 2 or 3 fighters in all of Westeros stand a chance against the Hound in single combat, and she is not one of them.

  • Maddy

    I actually loved it but I've just had to accept that book Brienne is totally different. Which annoys me because I love book Brienne. But she is aged up and much more hardened and a stereotypical warrior. I'd like to think its a conscious choice more than them not understanding her character. I still want to get her backstory in the show.

  • Art3mis

    Maybe that's true in the books (I don't really remember), but in the show Brienne has definitely killed people. If I remember correctly, there were a couple of guards who ran in after the shadow killed Renly as well as the guys who come across her and Jaime on the road when she's cutting down the women hanging from the tree. She also fought Jaime and a bear, and while she didn't kill either of them, those weren't exactly tournament fights.

  • luthien26

    You're right, Brienne killed a couple of guards on the way out of Renly's tent following the assassination.

  • TK

    This. She kills several times in the show.

    Also, rewatch the tourney scene (talking to @manting:disqus , not you Art3mis). Part of the reason she beats Loras is because she fights dirty. She punches him, hits him from behind, and wins by tackling him to the ground and pulling a knife. It's exactly her fighting style and exactly why she beat Clegane. Not only that, but she told Arya how she grew up getting her ass kicked until her father taught her how to fight. AND she's not a knight, but has spent a lifetime being derided by them.

    You think those things add up to someone who doesn't know how to hold their own? Brienne is on my list of top three GoT characters with whom you should not fuck.

  • JustOP

    The Hound went hand to hand with his brother and is pretty much his equal. His brother, the Mountain, was only barely beaten by the Red Viper. Everything you described about Briennes fighting style is on par with The Hounds - and he has the additional advantage of being a man and having considerable weight difference.

    Brienne is a good warrior. The Hound is on par with the GoT universes best swordsmen. She won because he was already injured.

  • DarthBrookes

    Also, he fell off a fucking cliff. I don't know if any of you have played Soul Calibur, but the number of times I've been beaten with a lucky "ring out" I tell ya...

  • foolsage

    I strongly agree with your sentiments. Brienne, in the show, is a serious badass. She's been shown to be one of the top three sword-wielders in Westeros (three-way tie between Ned Stark, Jaime Lannister, and Brienne of Tarth, because Ned and Jaime were evenly matched, as were Jaime and Brienne).

    However, my list of GoT characters with whom fuckery is never advised would likely be topped by Arya, Littlefinger, and Oberyn. All three are hardened killers who are happy to enact vengeance through poison or indirect means. But that's a tangent.

  • manting

    So ahead of the Hound, the Mountain, Ser Barristan, Stannis, Tywin (not saying hes a great fighter but certainly not a man to trifle with), Bronn, Walder Frey, Roose Bolton and others?

    Ok so on the show she has killed at best a handful of people; the Hound has killed Futbol stadiums of people, he has killed more people than greyscale and bellycrabs combined. He gives elaborate speeches about the people he has killed and picks fights with the most dangerous people around him for no apparent reason (Bronn before the battle of the Blackwater and his brother during the Hand's Tourney). He has been in several wars and a plethora of battles/pinatas. He was a member of the Kingsguard, the sworn shield to the heir apparent, and a total murder machine. While I love Brienne (and the actress playing her nails it) she would stand zero chance against the Hound just like 99% of the knights and warriors of Westeros.

  • Valhallaback Girl

    And yet, The Hound is dead.

    Soooooo.... This is awkward. And moot. Mookward?

  • Maddy

    THE HOUND IS NOT DEAD.

  • Laszlo

    This ain't a fucking video game, you can't grind to godly level by killing a lots of people. Sure, he can be skilled, but I don't think it's possible to get so skilled that not even other skilled people can so much as touch him. He's still just human, he can make a mistake that fucks it all up, he has weaknesses, the other person can get lucky, it's not as simple as "the one with the higher powerlevel wins".

  • Lee

    You can't really turn this in to a comic hero style "who would win in a fight" discussion. That's not how this universe works. As GRRM is so fond of reminding us; no one is safe and anyone can be killed by any one (or thing).

  • He was also wounded in the shoulder and kept having problems with it. The show made a point of referencing it in nearly every scene since he was bitten. The Hound was not at the top of his game and Brienne was.

  • Kristin

    THIS. The Hound was supposed to die of that wound -- one would imagine it was stinging like a mofo.

  • TK

    I'm not arguing that the Hound isn't a badass. In fact, I'm not even arguing that he isn't more of a badass. I'm just arguing against your claim that she shouldn't have been able to hold her own against him.

    I think the Hound lost for three reasons: 1) Brienne's skill as a warrior, 2) The Hound being weakened by Biter's wound, and 3) He underestimated her.

  • Maddy

    Agreed. It was a cool fight scene. I don't get the book reader rage over this - there war far more egregious things to rage about. But that just comes down to personal preference. I'm not someone who cares that much about the Hound being a 'badass'. No ones fighting skills are the same as then should be in the book.

  • ferryman

    And he wasn't drunk. He's better when he's drunk. And the sun was in his eyes too!

  • DarthCorleone

    Also, she pummeled him in the groin. That can be quite painful.

  • Sirilicious

    I think your mention is the first in here, but maybe the most important one. It's no coincidence that when he lays dying, we see his black, rotting shoulder. I wish she could have done it regardless, but i am afraid he would have been too formidable if not for the infected bite.

  • Art3mis

    I was just in the middle of typing pretty much this exactly. He was hurt, and he massively underestimated her. Plus Brienne is all about keeping her oaths, and I think "shit, I finally found one of Catelyn's daughters" gave her an extra boost here.

  • Like to see her fight this Fing bear

    http://uproxx.files.wordpress....

  • Buck off

    Stop it! Stop it! It hurts my childhood.

  • manting

    whats in the suitcae? Is it his magical muberbag? For some reason I get a "Se7en" vibe from that picture.

  • Art3mis

    I am laughing out loud at work. Well played, sir.

  • THAT WAS NOT A REGULATION BEAR!!! HIS LICENSE HAD LAPSED YEARS AGO!

  • Enrique del Castillo

    You missed the completely awful Yara scene. I listened to Bryan Cogman trying to defend it on A Cast of Kings and it was kind of sad that they actually thought it was a good idea

  • So, I understand the need to establish Theon's transformation to Reek, and because of the show set-up, having Asha (sorry, refuse to call her "Yara") make a failed rescue attempt was necessary to show how far he was gone.

    But dude. Seriously. Ironborn. Anyone ever heard of Victarion Mother-Effing Greyjoy? Dude had a hand rotting off and refused to back down. But the Ironborn were put off by Creepy Eyes Ramsay and a couple of dogs?

  • Enrique del Castillo

    I appreciate the intent Cogman had, but the final result was a clumsy scene that just makes Asha less of a badass as she should be (Brienne and Arya are not enough, we can always enjoy more badass female characters)

    Also, Victarion better be in the next season, burnt hand and silly kraken helmet included.

  • Maddy

    It was bad. It seemed like lack of budget was an issue there.

  • Andrew J

    This article was weird cause your worst moments ranged for stuff that was bad writer (the rape, I'm talking about the rape scenes) and stuff that sucked for characters we liked. It's wired to mix them. Because the Jaime/cersei rape scene was off putting and terrible in terms of writing, the head crushing scene while sad was fucking awesome! As the other scenes on your list that didn't include rape were

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