Game of Thrones: The Top 5 Most Shocking Moments so Far
In light of the latest episode of TV powerhouse ‘Game of Thrones’, fans have been reminded that George R R Martin may literally be Satan himself. Not for the first time, and certainly not for the last, the series has pulled off a shocking turn of events that has left fans shaken to the core, and speculating intensely as to just what heart-breaking twist is coming next in the epic HBO show. With this in mind, I present the top 5 most shocking events within Game of Thrones:
5. Ned Stark Loses his Head
In at number 5 is the beheading of fan favourite Eddard ‘Ned’ Stark. Admittedly, the character had been in peril for several episodes and was played by Sean Bean, who is renowned for being a walking spoiler, but his death still took viewers by surprise. Ned was arguably the main character in the show, and Sean Bean was certainly the biggest name of the cast list at the time. With these factors in mind it seemed incredulous that he would be dismissed in the very first series, so it naturally made sense for Ned to be sent to the Wall, as the Lannisters claimed his character would be.
Fans were already looking forward to the reunion with everyone’s favourite bastard Jon Snow when Joffrey, in a typical outburst of dickishness, ordered his execution. Eddard Stark was the stereotypical good character in a TV show, being honourable to the point of stupidity in his actions. His death wasn’t in the script for how a TV show is supposed to go; it just wasn’t right. Eddard’s sudden execution after he was supposedly spared sent fans reeling. Sadly, this has proved to be just a taste of the misery that is the life of a fan of Game of Thrones, as we shall see as we delve further into this list.
4. Theon is Parted from “his Favourite Toy”
“Reek Reek, it rhymes with meek.” The complete breakdown of the once proud Theon Greyjoy has been one of my favourite parts of the show so far. To take a character so universally despised for his destruction of Winterfell and create a genuine sense of sympathy for the pathetic creature he has been reduced to takes some doing, but George R R Martin and the show-writers have managed it. The transformation of Theon Greyjoy into the miserable wreck that is now Reek has yielded one of the more jaw-dropping moments in Game of Thrones: the removal of his “favourite toy.”
After being tortured by the Bolton’s, it appeared that Theon would be granted a respite from his misery in the form of two rather attractive prostitutes. Fans are aware that during his days at Winterfell, Theon was known as much for his prowess with women as he was for being a bit of a dick. So we know just how tempting this scenario must have been for his character. The audience was with him as he dared to hope that his luck was finally in. However, as is often the case with Game of Thrones, this was not to be, and what followed definitely merits its place in any list of the most shocking events from the show. Ramsay castrates him.
This event is so utterly shocking, not just because it came as Theon was beginning to feel positive about his chances, but the sheer suddenness in which this feeling is turned on its head. The most horrifying thing that can happen to any man, carried out with glee in the blink of an eye, left many male viewers shook to the core. It gained a greater shock-factor as to remove someone’s manhood represents exactly that: the complete breakdown of what primarily makes a man a man. It signified not just the total physical demise of Theon at the hands of his captors, but the complete mental breakdown of his character, into the shivering wreck that is Reek. Throw in the young Greyjoy’s reputation as a renowned playboy, and you have a recipe for one of the most chilling moments in the show so far.
3. The Purple Wedding:
There are few certainties in the Westeros. Alliances crumble and fall, threats to the Iron Throne emerge and fall away whilst as we are well aware by now, all men must die. But the one universal fact of The Seven Kingdoms is that Joffrey is a prick. His dickishness is a legend that will be told across the ages in Westerosi history. His general delight at tormenting those around him made him one of the most despised characters in any TV show ever, to the point where George R R Martin wrote an email to Jack Gleeson (who plays Joffrey) congratulating him on his magnificent portrayal of the character because everyone hated him. So in many ways, viewers were already rubbing their hands in glee and looking forward to his seemingly inevitable demise. Sure enough, just as George taketh away, George occasionally giveth, and fans were treated to Joffrey departing this world for the next, early into the current season of the series. Before his demise, fans of the show would have predicted an outburst of joy at the news of his death akin to that of Thatcher’s in the north of England.
However, when his death did arrive, it came in a completely unanticipated way, with far reaching consequences. Firstly, it came in the midst of his own wedding, which after the events of the Red Wedding, was almost too obvious to be expected. Game of Thrones has a history of twists and turns, so the repetition was out of synch with the series’ usual MO, leaving viewers slightly surprised at the background for his death. However, the real shock came as a result of the manner of his death, as the King was poisoned, departing this world turning a shade of purple and clutching at his own throat, helplessly looking to his mother to save him.
Then the kicker came as, in one final dickish move, he casts the blame firmly at the diminutive feet of fan-favourite Tyrion Lannister. This is where the shock factor of his death really came into the show, as not only did the King die in a mysterious circumstances, but his death placed another fan favourite well in the way of danger, as we have seen in the episodes that have followed. With Tyrion’s fate seemingly sealed as of the latest episode, Joffrey’s death proved to be a shocking one, as it came unexpectedly, and the resulting joy for the fans was short lived as it sent another favourite character heading for the chopping block. Whilst Tyrion is still alive for now, the Purple Wedding has definitely proved one of the most shocking scenes in the show to date.
2. The Red Wedding
This is the big one, and is a strong contender for the number one spot of shocking events in the series, narrowly missing out. The complete destruction of the Starks as a house of note provided viewers with their first true taste of just how heart wrenchingly upsetting Game of Thrones can be, and the Young Wolf being brought to his knees in such a brutal fashion is definitely one of the most outrageous events within the show. Where does one even start when explaining the extent to which the Red Wedding rocked the Game of Thrones fan-base?
Firstly, it led to the death of Robb and Catelyn Stark as well as their army – thus brutally ending the most serious threat to Lannister rule in Westeros and leading to the utter destruction of the characters who were perceived to be the main focus of the show. Robb was becoming a fan favourite. For him to be cut down so violently, betrayed by his own allies at his uncle’s wedding was too much for most viewers. The pain in his eyes as Roose Bolton drove the sword into his heart, and the screams of his mother before her own throat was slit, sent social media into a frenzy of grief due the shock of what had just unfolded. Fans just could not believe it. Readers of the books had been eagerly anticipating this episode since the very first season aired, knowing the viewer backlash it would provoke. But when it finally happened, the experience was bittersweet.Even though the viewers reacted just as readers hoped, the shock was not diminished by knowing what was coming. The hurt of the Red Wedding was only amplified by the visualisation of it. Robb’s unborn child being murdered in the womb of his new wife was an unexpected addition to show, and the graphic depiction of it definitely added to the disgust and disbelief of viewers.
In essence, the Red Wedding represented the most brutal and unpredictable massacre the show has seen to date: a case of a wholly unjust act. The timing, the perpetrators and the victims, coupled with how it came seemingly out of nowhere all serve to make the Red Wedding the one of the most shocking events in the Game of Thrones universe to date. But what could top this? Which action could possibly be more haunting than the Red Wedding? Step forth…
1. The Mountain and the Viper
Number one on the list goes out to the climatic events of the last episode ‘The Mountain and the Viper.’ When Prince Oberyn geared up to fight Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane there was much at stake. Oberyn was fighting for the innocent Tyrion’s life, and on a personal note, for revenge for the Mountain murdering and raping his sister Elia as well as her infant child. Against seemingly insurmountable odds, Oberyn actually managed to seriously wound Gregor as he tried to extract a confession from the gigantic warrior and had for all intents and purposes won the duel. Tyrion’s life was to be saved, and the new fan-favourite Oberyn would get to grace our television screens for just a little while longer. But sadly, his hubris and lust for revenge got the best of him, and he strayed just a little bit too close to the Mountain’s huge fists, with the rest being history.
Again, a lot of the shock comes from the unexpected nature of this twist. In one second, Oberyn is on top and winning the fight confidently. In the the next he lies dead on the ground, sentencing Tyrion to death as a consequence. But that hardly qualifies the death of The Viper to be the most shocking moment in Game of Thrones so far, as arguably most of the moments in this list contain that same quality. The true shocking nature of it comes from the manner of his death. All throughout the season, Oberyn has been cool, calm and supremely confident. He shows scorn for the establishment, and has no qualms about standing up to Tywin, going as far as to accuse him of ordering the Mountain to murder his sister. He refuses to be phased by popular opinion during the trial of Tyrion, and volunteers to be his champion after delivering one of the most touching monologues of the season.
Pedro Pascal brought to life a character who had been likeable in the book, but more for the promise of big things to come and the fact that he represented Tyrion’s chance for survival. The nuances and swagger that Pascal brought to the show was incredible: He was Oberyn Martell. The confidence of his character was perfectly shown through his assertion that “today is not the day I die” as he entered the fight, and the fluid manner in which he fought during the trial.
This only meant that his death was more shocking for viewers. After one step too close to the Mountain, he was caught by a flailing punch that knocked half the teeth from his head, before Gregor was on top of him. Viewers watched in disgust as the Mountain pushed his eyes back into their sockets, all whilst confessing to the murder and rape of Elia before Oberyn’s skull was crushed under the weight of those mighty fists, sending his blood and brains across the courtyard. It was single handedly the goriest death I have witnessed in Game of Thrones and shook every viewer to the core. To see the most confident and collected character so helpless and out of control as he writhed in pain and screamed his life away left was something else, beyond even Game of Thrones.
And then it was over. The credits rolled to the sound of complete silence, letting the horror sink in. The unprecedented gore, the suddenness and the complete juxtaposition of Oberyn’s death from how he lived all shook the viewers to the core. Days afterward, the screams of the dying Red Viper still ring out in the heads of viewers, and will stay with them for some time yet. In terms of shocking moments in the show it definitely has to be the top scene for me. Oberyn’s death is the latest in a long line of astonishing and harrowing twists within the show and it certainly won’t be the last. As Ramsay Snow reminds Reek: “if you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.” The same goes for Game of Thrones.
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