In spite of a somewhat-generic title, Episode Four of Telltale’s Game of Thrones may very well be their strongest entry in the series yet. Like the more recent seasons of the show, Sons of Winter sees the political machinations of Kings Landing fade into the background while the struggles of the North and Eastern fronts come into focus. The extra attention ends up paving the way for an episode that boldly explores new ground and advances the main plot in some pretty big ways.
Telltale’s Game of Thrones: Episode Four: ‘Sons of Winter’ Review
Warning – Spoilers Follow
I finally got my wish this episode with Asher’s plotline taking centre stage. Following on from the encounter with Daenarys that closed the previous episode, the exiled Forrester and his companions are tasked with helping infiltrate the city of Meereen and laying the way for the siege depicted in the show. Though this encounter with Daenerys isn’t handled quite as well as Iron From Ice’s scatheing brush with Cersei Lannister, the action sequences and moral decisions that come into play in the episode’s final act are some of Telltale’s best work with the series thus far.
The other plotline that also gets a lot of attention in Sons of Winter concerns the occupation of Ironrath. It was refreshing to see how many of the plot points established in the second and third episodes paid off here with players finally having the chance to turn the tables on their Whitehall oppressors.
Speaking of the Whitehalls, Sons of Winter actually spends a surprising amount of time developing them out into far more compelling antagonists than they first appeared. There’s even a great sequences tied to this that very deliberately echoes the Red Wedding and cleverly manipulates the players expectations and suspicions.
The episode also sees Gared’s subplot at Castle Black undergo some exciting developments with him, Cotter and Finn ending up deserters after the events of The Sword in the Darkness. This departure from Castle Black actually ends up making Gared a far more interesting character. Up until now, he’s very much been following in the footsteps of Jon’s early days at The Night’s Watch, but Sons of Winter moves to paint him as a sort of Jon-gone-wrong figure – a version of Jon who deserted his post in order to better pursue his family’s agenda. There’s something really compelling to the idea of Telltale’s series exploring familiar archetypes from Martin’s universe making unfamiliar choices. Hopefully we see more of this in the remaining two episodes.
As mentioned before, Mira’s sequences in King’s Landing are the weakest part of the episode. It fails to make any real use of its tie-in to Tommen’s coronation but does provide some fun follow-up to some loose ends from The Sword in the Darkness. It’ll be interesting to see how far Mira’s plotline will take her in the final two episodes. Though Telltale have mostly kept her on the straight and narrow, it’d be really interesting to see her embrace the game of thrones and become more of a Cersei than a Sansa.
By the time the credits roll on Sons of Winter, the ‘pieces’ are in a very different place to where they started – and that’s the sign of Game of Thrones at its best. I can’t wait to see how Telltale handle the series’ penchant for explosive penultimate installments but in the meantime, Sons of Winter is the most fun I’ve had with the series thus far.