We thought we'd got used to the dark and sinister nature of Game of Thrones. Random sex acts taking place in the background, topless women wandering in from stage left, beheadings, incest, children being pushed out of windows, baby stabbings. If you were looking for the complete opposite of 'family viewing', this would be it.
However, episode four of the season, 'Garden of Bones', may have topped the lot when it comes to dark and creepy television.
The instalment ended with a demonic shadow crawling out of Melisandre's (Carice van Houten) lady parts, while Liam Cunningham's Onion Knight Ser Davos Seaworth watched on aghast and as appalled as the rest of us. Most shows would have found a way to unveil this scene on television through suggestion or subtle brushstrokes. Game of Thrones chucked us in at Melisandre's business end.
Perhaps even darker than the smoky stuff coming out from the woman in the red dress's bits was King Joffrey's (Jack Gleeson) bedroom antics. After getting a dressing down from Tyrion about his treatment of Queen-to-be Sansa (Sophie Turner), the snotty-nosed, throne-wearing brat took out his various complexes on an unfortunate pair of female guests.
Not content to watch the two girls making love, Joffrey unveiled a sadistic streak only hinted at previously, forcing one of them to thrash the other first with a strap and then (at the threat of a cross bow) with a rather nasty looking stick with a clawed metal top. Ouch. Nothing like a bit of sado-machisim as you eat your beans on toast on a Monday night.
Things were not much better in Harrenhal, where Arya (Maisie Williams) and Gendry (Joe Dempsie) were lucky to escape death by rat (you don't even want to know how they did it). Saved at the last by Charles Dance's Tywin Lannister, Arya's sex is now known by all, but her true identity remains a mystery. How long she can keep it that way remains to be seen.
It was nice to see Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) back on our screens as her bedraggled Dothraki collective seek refuge in the mysterious and beautiful city of Quarth. After three weeks of traipsing through a desert with little or no dragon action, we were beginning to tire of Daenerys and co, so let's hope the arrival at Quarth can spice things up a bit for them. Someone give that woman a proper meal!
Even more tedious that Daenerys's marathon trip through the wastelands is Catelyn Stark's (Michelle Fairley) story. She is being set up to cause her son's downfall and hand over Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to the Lannisters, despite the fact that the deal is currently being offered by Littlefinger - the shadiest of shady characters in the show. Her heartbreak over Ned and love for her daughters looks destined to win out over a desire to keep Jaime captured. She's clearly forgotten the first rule of Game of Thrones - don't trust the Lannisters.
Elsewhere, Renly (Gethin Anthony) and Stannis (Stephen Dillane) have a stand-off and fire some insults at each other inbetween pouting and posing on a hilltop. Renly has a cockiness about him - ironic considering that his troops are often talking about his fondness for male genitalia - that makes him more appealing and easy to love than stuffy Stannis.
Let's hope Melisandre's creepy baby shadow doesn't help Stannis to the crown, because it would be a very boring Westeros with him sat in the Iron Throne.
Game of Thrones continues on Monday nights in the UK on Sky Atlantic. It airs in the US on Sundays on HBO.
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