Did anyone else flinch, grimace or hide their eyes with increasing fervour as the third series of Game of Thrones edged towards its climax?
Well, we might only be one episode in, but it seems that was nothing compared to what they’ve got in store for us in season four.
And it all feels a little premature. I still feel scarred by Red Wedding. I can still see Talisa Stark’s bloodied and pregnant stomach, Catelyn’s pained expression, Robb’s slow and painful demise.
The episode itself made me wonder whether I’m watching the wrong show. (Maybe it’s time I bailed on Westeros and started watching repeats of Lark Rise to Candleford instead.) But I’ve persisted.
Of course I understand that death and destruction come part and parcel with HBO’s glossy and addictive adaptation of George RR Martin’s novels. The very first episode when Jaime Lannister pushed little Bran Stark out of the window was something of a clue.
But as the story progresses, the blood and guts are taking up more and more screen time.
And as we move into the much-anticipated fourth series it seems as though Game of Thrones isn’t allowing us any respite. Instead of one hugely gory and bloodthirsty episode – traditionally number nine – we are being promised that there will be numerous episodes as big and bold as that gruesome wedding breakfast.
“Things really get going much more quickly,” the show’s creators have said. “It’s not building towards one specific climatic event. There are more climatic events in season four than there have ever been before.”
But if that means no let up on the violence, and incessant shots of slit throats, butchered prostitutes and characters choking on their own blood, then I’m not entirely sure that’s good news.
I need the build up. I know it’s been almost a year in real-time, but I’m still not ready for another Red Wedding.
I need a few opening episodes that meander along. I need to balance the darkness with some light relief. Some of Tyrion’s quick wit. More of Daenerys Targaryen shamelessly flirting with Daario Naharis. A couple of pints with Bronn. A few Hodors.
And less bloodied eye sockets, please.
Game of Throne series 4 is on Mondays at 9:00pm on Sky Atlantic.
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