‘Sons of Winter’ makes some excellent plot progress
Out with the tension, in with the spectacularly violent action.
The fourth episode of Telltale Games’ “Game of Thrones” series, “Sons of Winter,” prefers brawn to brain, though plenty of devious machinations continue apace as the Forresters and their allies strive desperately to save what they hold dear.
This two-hour installment finally offers some forward motion on many of the decisions that we’ve been making as the myriad controllable characters. We have a heart-racing nighttime stealth raid with Asher and Beshka, who also have to play nice with the Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen; Mira continues to try to save her family from the viper’s nest that is King’s Landing; Rodrik gets the chance to assert authority in his own home; and Gared begins his journey to locate the North Grove, which I find to be the most interesting aspect of the entire series so far.
Continuing directly after the events of “Episode 3 — The Sword in the Darkness,” “Sons of Winter” starts with Gared facing the consequences of his actions with Britt on top of the Wall. No matter how that played out, Gared makes the decision to break his vows by leaving the Night Watch to begin his episodes-long quest to find the North Grove, which is said to be able to save the Forrester family from destruction. But he, and the player, doesn’t know what’s there, or even how to get there. As mentioned earlier, the mystery behind that location is clearly the series’ stinger, and it probably serves as the crux for a second season. I’m becoming ever more eager to learn just what exactly is hidden away behind the Wall.
As for Asher’s more swashbuckling ways, he’s tasked with two interlocking quests in this chapter: to convince Daenerys he’s worthy of her and her army’s help to save his family, he’ll have to help in the siege of Mereen. These action-intense sequences are a nice break from the dialogue-heavy section from the previous episode (and even the tense negotiations with Daenerys early on in “Sons of Winter”).
When we get to Mereen, let’s just say all hell breaks loose. Slaves are set free against their former captors, and Asher and Beskha find themselves embroiled in all the chaos. Plus, to make matters more complicated, Beshka’s past makes an ugly return, threatening to undo all the work we’ve done to earn Daenerys’ trust. It’s a nice a blend of story and action, and it doesn’t hurt that the stealth sequences are well-done.
Back at Ironrath, the home of the Forresters, Rodrik, the long-tormented master of the house, finally gets to throw a few punches around, asserting his own dominance. His confrontation with tormentor Griff Whitehill is almost cathartic, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who found some relief in getting that monster his comeuppances. How that plays out in the future, through, makes me worried that I may have taken things too far in my own playthrough. But in more immediate terms, Rodrik’s action directly influence how a dinner/hostage negotiation at the Whitehills’ estate plays out, and don’t be surprised if you get more a whiff of Red Wedding vibes.
And while Mira’s role was relatively constrained to a after-coronation party for King Tommen Baratheon, her information-gathering continues to reveal important information that her family can use to save itself from more powerful adversaries. She eavesdrops and uses that new information to ply even more secrets from others, all in a lovely game of “Want to Trade Secrets?”. A moment where you have to decide how to treat friend Sara serves as the “choice” moment in this sequence, but I’m not sure if it’s going to matter in the long run.
In the end, “Sons of Winter,” the fourth episode in Telltale’s “Game of Thrones,” breaks away from the plodding nature of its previous episode with some much-needed action while advancing the plot. It continues to tease about what I find to be the best aspect of the series — the North Grove — while allowing out story lines to move forward that may save the day regardless. We’ve reached a point where the game’s threads have to start coming together, and “Sons of Winter” moves in the right direction in that regard. Here’s hoping it’s not all for nothing.
Three “Why can’t I have a dragon …” stars out of five.
Editor’s note: This version of “Game of Thrones: Episode 4 – Sons of Winter,” reviewed on the PS4, was provided courtesy of Telltale Games.