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Emmys: 5 Ways 'Game of Thrones' Reigned Supreme This Year

Will the most watched season yet win the series its first Emmy for best drama?

Peter Dinklage Game of Thrones Episodic Season 4 Finale - H 2014
HBO

The grisly battle for the Iron Throne reached new highs in season four, with Game of Thrones amassing 18.6 million viewers for HBO and dethroning The Sopranos as the network’s most watched series ever. Season four also earned the show high marks from the TV Academy, which handed it 19 Emmy nominations, the most of any show this year.

Out of those 19, Game of Thrones already won four Creative Arts Emmys for art direction, costumes, prosthetic makeup, and visual effects on Aug. 16, and will compete for best drama with Downton Abbey, House of Cards, True Detective, incumbent Breaking Bad, and perennial powerhouse Mad Men at Monday’ Emmys. Leading up to its attempt to claim the TV throne, let's revisit the most memorable moments from season four.

5. Tyrion’s Closing Trial Speech

Nominated for best supporting actor Emmys in every season of Game of Thrones and winning in 2011, Peter Dinklage may have given his most riveting performance to date in the sixth episode of season four. Although he almost takes a deal that will sentence him to a lifetime at The Wall instead of death, a last-minute testimony by his former lover Shae (Sibel Kekilli) pushes him over the edge and forces him to admit his guilt – but not to regicide. Watch the video below to see his performance, which director Alik Sakharov told THR was “remarkable.”

 

 

4. Tyrion’s season finale double murder

In a case of genius timing or incredible coincidence, Tyrion gave Tywin (Charles Dance) the worst Father’s Day gift a dad could imagine on the show’s finale, which aired on June 15, Father's Day 2014. After confronting Tywin on the privy, Tyrion gives him an arrow to the stomach, and then to the heart. More troubling was Tyrion’s murder of Shae, who testified against him in the previous episode’s trial. "For us the tragedy is watching these two people trying to kill each other when they love one another," showrunner David Benioff told THR. But Tyrion "was mad as hell and wasn't going to take it anymore," added D.B. Weiss, paraphrasing a quote from Network. Tyrion’s unexpected rampage dominated twitter that night and contributed to the finale’s record breaking 7.1 million viewers.

 

3. Joffrey’s Death at the Purple Wedding

What is it with George R.R. Martin and weddings? The infamous “Red Wedding” of season 3 left few fans unfazed and the Purple Wedding of season 4 was no different; it was the second consecutive wedding on the show to off a major character. But unlike audience reactions to the former, most rejoiced at the sadistic king’s death, including Pitch Perfect’s Anna Kendrick who tweeted “Just watched Game of Thrones and now I’m in a GREAT mood. Who wants shots?!?!?” Director Alex Graves told THR however, that it was difficult to say goodbye to actor Jack Gleeson. He added that the character’s death would have big reverberations in upcoming seasons. But whether fans celebrated or sobbed at the purple wedding, “The Lion and the Rose” was well received, breaking a piracy record for its extensive file sharing. 

 

2. A White Walker turns Craster’s last newborn

How could we not include a scene so surprising that even director Michelle MacLaren was “blown away” when she read it? For the first time in the show, the series stretched the plot significantly beyond what George R.R. Martin has revealed in his five published books.  Until the episode was filmed, not even the cast and crew knew what the white walkers were doing with the babies they took; in an interview with THR MacLaren admitted with a laugh, "I had thought they ate the babies – isn't that horrible?”

 

1. The Red Viper’s gruesome death

Fans may have never been so disappointed in the outcome of a fight since Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky. With Pedro Pascal’s incredible acrobatics and Ramin Djawadi’s Emmy nominated score in the background, it seemed as though Oberyn Martel’s revenge on the Mountain was assured, but Gregor Clegane (Hafthor Julius Bjornsson) eventually prevailed in what is arguably the most savage fight on the HBO drama thus far.  In a Q&A with THR director Alex Graves explained the importance of manipulating audience expectations during the battle, and Bjornsson, who was just crowned Europe’s strongest man in real life, told THR there were no-holds-barred while shooting: “We had to go all in,” he said. And the effect truly was epic – watch the clip below if it’s been an hour since you’ve eaten.

 

If your favorite moment from this season of Game of Thrones didn’t make this list, see THR’s gallery of the other most buzzed about moments. 

For all other Game of Thrones related content click here, and if you're still suffering from episode withdrawal, don’t worry we’ve got you covered