Confronting Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, The First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, and the Rhoyner and the First Men, Khalessi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons may be a foreboding task, and an absolute mouthful to boot, but Asher Forrester has just the right amount of gall to broach the tent of such a figurehead. This confrontation propels Telltale’s series further into the wider events of the Game of Throne’s universe, culminating in a plenitude of action scenes for not only the lone brother across the Narrow Sea, but for those back in Westeros as well. Rodrik, Asher and Gared’s plots are ramping up into something very special indeed, while Mira’s story is sadly confined once again to a mediocre thread that confuses, despite its colourful setting and a few standout characters.
Asher’s mission is complicated immensely by the episode’s opening scenes, as he must free the city of Mereen from a life of slavery for the aforementioned Daenerys. While the larger world that backs up the books and TV show is brought into considerable focus here, the plot never loses sight of what is most important: the Forrester family members and their close bonds with others. Tension brews quickly between Asher and his merc buddy Beskha at the thought of entering such a vile and monstrous locale. A brief scuffle breaks out between the pair the until her previous life as a tortured slave is revealed. Beskha is then involved in some truly pained moments after this declaration, showing that torment has bred beneath her tough exterior, allowing her character to develop through empathetic scenes for both you and Asher alike. These quiet riffs do not last long however, as the team conclude their chapter with some great stealth and action that is tense, exciting and surprisingly smooth despite the usual jerkiness of Telltale’s engine.
Continuing the trend of action and advancement, Rodrik’s strength is recuperating marvellously back at Ironwrath, spurring on his mission towards the reclamation of his home and honour. Pushed to breaking point by the loathsome Whitehills, Rodrik and his supporters are given a newfound spark of assertiveness in these chapters. Their strength is highlighted on multiple occasions, bringing about moments that are refreshingly positive, especially considering that these scenes have taken dark turns in past episodes. With a few well-placed decisions, the good guys are now winning their war against tyranny and progressing their narrative marvellously with force. The story in place amongst the Rodrik’s ilk is always one of great interaction, due to the sympathy that their down-trodden situation evokes and because of the anxiety-laden choices scattered throughout. Wanting the Forresters to succeed usually overrides all logical sense, but this time, when Rodrik asserts himself and smashes the vile Gryff in the face with his walking stick, you know that the correct path has been chosen. Celebratory moments abound in this portion of episode four, creating a number of chapters that are both deeply immersive and satisfying.
Gared’s story also makes some headway as he begins his search beyond the Wall for the mysterious North Grove; a place of power that can help his struggling family in their time of need. From the outset, the young squire’s personality has changed somewhat from his usual principled self. He becomes a darker figure, escaping from his imprisonment after killing a man, deserting the Night’s Watch with the help of a Wildling, and killing a group of hunters amongst the frozen forest. He may be taking on undesirable attributes, but his mission remains honourable and selfless, providing added pathos for an already likeable character. This change develops the character further, while highlighting the necessity for adaptation in such a harsh and desolate environment. This then integrates the plot with the landscape, showing Telltale’s excellent ability to craft a world that proliferates in depth and complexity.
Mira’s character also progresses forward somewhat in a change that sees the frightened girl away from home become a feared political manipulator. Her progression feels disingenuous however, holding back her story once again as the weakest link in the Forrester chain. As she attempts to uncover a conspiracy against her family by sleuthing her way around King Tommen’s coronation party, powerful members of court are greatly influenced by her presence; Lord Andros in particular seems positively frightened of Mira.
The problem here lies in her immaturity and distinct lack of action within previous episodes. She has not outwardly presented herself as sufficiently menacing enough to be considered a figure of great power. Therefore, her striking position within political matters feels forced and unearned. The idea that such a influential merchant like Lord Andros would be threatened by the young and inexperienced Mira is laughable to say the least. Despite the haphazard treatment of her character, the world of King’s Landing remains as colourful as ever. Mira is given the opportunity to eavesdrop on certain conversations between wealthy courtiers, allowing for some enjoyable exploration and well-written dialogue to shine through in an otherwise thoroughly perplexing chapter.
Notwithstanding Mira’s muddled characterisation, Sons of Winter is a great addition to the series and the best episode thus far. Its strengths come from some excellent character development, scenes of action and excitement, and a plenitude of fist pumping moments. The good guys have certainly won this round. Long may they reign, and in the words of Ryon Forrester: “Iron from Ice!”
Best Episode So Far
A great victory for the good guys!