Wow, it felt like that break between seasons lasted forever! Going into the Season 4 premiere, I barely even remembered what Game of Thrones was about. I was like, "What!? This show has dragons?" So before we start discussing "Two Swords," here's a quick refresher on how these reviews usually work/a primer for any new readers (hi, new readers! You smell delightful!):
Okay, now that all that's out of the way, let's get started. "Two Swords" wasn't a super eventful episode, but it didn't need to be. Game of Thrones is a heavy, meaty show, and sometimes it's best to ease the audience back into things and let everyone spend the hour asking questions like, "Wait, what's that guy's name again?," "Have we seen those breasts before?," and "Where's Robb Stark?" I'm sure some of you spent the off-season re-watching the entire series, but David Benioff and D.B. Weiss know that most viewers need a little help, so "Two Swords" was full of reminders. And the biggest reminder of them all was that everyone is totally miserable because this world is cruel and doesn't care if you've had a bad day. Hey, those Game of Thrones characters, they're just like us! And now let's talk about what happened in "Two Swords"...
"I murdered people so I could be here with you." —Jaime Lannister
It was nice to see those dysfunctional Lannisters still up to their old tricks. Incest! Animal cruelty! Pompousness! I love them. And in the first scene of the episode, Tywin Lannister was making two swords in his apartment's forge, because every Hand of the King deserves a two-bedroom pad complete with a weapon-making station. I'm sure there was some symbolism I was supposed to pick up on, but all I really saw was an old man smithing some blades. And don't ask me to confirm what he threw on the fire because it was dark and I couldn't really tell. As you know, Tywin loves to go heavy on the symbolism in his mutilation of animal parts (when we first met him, he was gutting a stag, remember?), so if I had to guess, I'd say he threw the corpse of a platypus, the sigil of House Johnson, into the flames. Now it's so obvious! The Lannisters are going to war with the Johnsons! (J/K it sure looked like a wolf pelt, didn't it? A direwolf pelt, perhaps?)
We'd soon find out that those swords were forged from Valaryian steel, the Cadillac of steel in Westeros. And if I had to guess again, I'd wager that it was Ned Stark's blade, Ice, that was melted down into a pair of smaller swords. Oh right, Ned Stark is dead. Thanks for reminding me, show. Sigh. Tywin gave Jaime one of the two new blades and did that thing that disappointed dads do when they present their sons gifts by backhanding him a few times with some harsh words. First, Tywin offered to let Jaime rule Casterly Rock while Tywin serves as Hand of the King, but really he just wanted to get Jaime out of King's Landing. Jaime refused, because that's like being offered the role of Philadelphia mayor when you can be the New York City comptroller. No thanks! Philly's a nice place to visit and all, but New York City. Jaime also didn't want to leave the love of his life, his sister (bleh!), so he politely declined through gritted teeth and then Tywin called him a useless cripple with no family.
Jaime would later try to get some from Cersei, but Cersei acted like a total See You Next Tuesday toward him, guilting Jaime for being gone too long. She did give him a golden hand to fit over his stump, but that might have been her way of telling Jaime to take care of himself now that he has Old Righty back. Jaime said he murdered people to get back to Cersei as fast as he could and how did she respond? "You took too long." Brrrrr. It was COLD in there.
Poor Jaime got pooped on by his dad and his sister-lover, and for what? Getting captured and not escaping fast enough? That's a raw deal for Jaime, if you ask me. The guy was on the road forever, he lost a hand, and he had his head shaved, and how is he welcomed back? With an invitation to GTFO of King's Landing from his dad, and a refusal to give him some nookie from his own sibling. Welcome home, Jaime! I hope Jaime unscrews his golden hand and smacks Cersei across the face with it before the season's over, or at the very least cuts off all the fingers except the middle one and is constantly flipping the bird to repay everyone for their "thanks."
One other tiny detail we gleaned from Jaime and Cersei's portion of the program: An unlicensed Maester was treating Cersei for something, the symptoms of which have abated. So what was it? To the polls!
"Tell your father I'm here, and tell him the Lannisters
aren't the only ones who pay their debts." —Oberyn Martell
Elsewhere in the capital, Tyrion—along with Bronn and Tyrion's squire Podrick Payne—was sent to greet Prince Doran Martell of Dorne, who was supposed to attend Joffrey and Margaery's wedding. Doran of Dorne? Isn't that like naming your kid Amorica? Anyway, quick little geography lesson for you: Dorne is at the Southeast tip of the Seven Kingdoms, about as far from Winterfell as you can get and still be in Westeros. It's closer to the equator, so Dornes have nice tans and drink a lot of wine. I think of Dorne as Spain.
But Doran of Dorne didn't show up because he was sick, sending his little brother Oberyn in his place. And if you need a hint as to Oberyn's "I don't give a f*ck" attitude, it turned out he'd arrived in King's Landing the day before, without telling anyone, because he's rude.
And how about this Oberyn fella? Like all good Game of Thrones characters, we met him just as he was about to get his rocks off, which he's apparently very famous for. He was in one of Littlefinger's pleasure houses examining the goods as if he was at the farmer's market, squeezing melons and pulling back the husks of the whores. The scene provided another round of the questionable nudity that Game of Thrones is known for. Oberyn was accompanied by Ellaria Sand, his "paramour," which is Dornish for girlfriend, basically, and she was down for pretty much anything. But before Oberyn could get going with a bisexual ménage a four, he was distracted by some singing in the next room, and that's when we learned that Oberyn doesn't really like Lannisters.
Tyrion and Oberyn had a little chat, which served to provide some backstory that will be key to understanding Oberyn as a character. Oberyn's sister married Rhaegar Targeryen, but she was raped and then murdered during Robert Baratheon's takeover of King's Landing. And the worst part? Her kids were also slain during the rebellion. Oberyn is still pretty upset about that, and he's in town not to celebrate the beautiful love between Joffrey and Margaery, but to repay some debts to Tywin and the Mountain, who did the rapin' and murderin' of his sister. And he had no problem basically telling Tyrion that was his plan. Umm, this guy is kind of awesome already?
"You need to relax." —Shae
Ugh, Shae. This insecure bonehead was hovering over Sansa trying to get her to eat, but Sansa was not a grief eater and refused everything. She even passed up lemon cakes. I know for a fact that Sansa would eat her way out of a moat full of lemon cakes and then dive back in for more, so either she's on a crash diet or there's something very wrong with her. And as Tyrion found out, it's the Red Wedding that still has her with a case of the grumps. I guess I would be a little bummed too if my dad, mom, brother, sister-in-law, unborn niece/nephew, and dog were murdered by my husband's family, but maybe that's just me and Sansa.
Anyway, Shae still has the nerve to be insanely jealous of Sansa despite the marriage obviously being a total wreck and the result of political maneuvering and punishment. Get over yourself, Shae. You should be happy you aren't giving handjobs to fat knights in Littlefinger's palace o' pleasure. Yet there she was whining about Tyrion not being there for her. Of course Tyrion isn't going to bed you with that attitude. And was she trying to get herself killed? She knows the rules, she can't be seen in Tyrion's crib or they're both in trouble. And what do you know, a spy happened to see her leave and told Cersei. Jump off a cliff, Shae, and save everyone the trouble. I just pity the afterlife when Shae shows up. Sorry ghosts, but we didn't want her on this plane of mortal existence either.
Sansa would later have a run in with Ser Drunkard, who you may remember as Ser Dontos from the Season 3 premiere. He was the guy that chugged a barrel of wine under Joffrey's orders and then puked all over the place. Not his finest hour. But Sansa saved his life that day by telling Joffrey he was a dick, and Dontos repaid her with a necklace. Whoopdeedoo! Still, it's nice to see that Sansa has found someone in the kingdom who doesn't hate her.
"My word!" —Olenna "Queen of Thorns" Tyrell
Not a whole lot to talk about here, but I just wanted to use that quote because the Queen of Thorns' reaction to seeing the behemoth fashion disaster that is Brienne was hilarious. She acted as though she'd just seen Sasquatch. And not just Sasquatch, but Sasquatch wearing a brown leather top and a turquoise skirt. That outfit would've been laughed out of Burning Man! Anyway, I love Brienne, but she can get a bit too chatty about her promises and Renly's death. Spend less time blathering on about those subjects and more time looking in the mirror before you leave the house, Brienne!
"Your dragons, Khaleesi, they can never be tamed. Not
even by their mother." —Ser Jorah Mormont
But you know who does know how to dress? Khaleesi, that's who! Dany looked great as usual, her hair done all perfect and her spotless wardrobe fitting her like a glove. I can't take two steps beyond my front door without getting mud on my shirt, but this girl treks miles through deserts and lets dragons rest their drooling, lamb's-blood-caked heads on her lap and she still looks like she just left the salon! It's a good thing her Unsullied are eunuchs, because otherwise they'd all have broken necks from checking her out and saying, "Daaaaaamn girrrrrrrl!"
Dany's dragons (name refresher: Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion) are all growed-up now and they're pretty nasty, tossing lamb corpses around and snapping at each other like they're jackals. Not only are they as big as elephants, they have an "I do what I want" attitude, which might cause problems in the future as Ser Jorah Buzzkill (a.k.a. Lord Friend Zone) was quick to point out.
Anyway, later in the episode, Dany went looking for Daario because OMG he's so cute do you think he likes me? And where was that troublemaker? Gambling with Greyworm! And how do you gamble in the wastelands of Essos with no dice, playing cards, or dwarves to toss? You balance your blade on your outstretched arms for as long as you can. Dany saw this and was so over it that she didn't even flinch when she saw that Daario'd had a face transplant and gone from looking like a moon-faced underwear model to looking like a guy from Nashville. That's how blindly in love she is with the dude, she can't even see his face! But that's not the only romance blooming on this long journey of slave-freeing and enslaver-burning. Daario caught Greyworm giving Missandei the "How YOU doin'?" look, too.
Daario flirted with Dany by coming up with a smooth way to hand Dany a bunch of flowers: He used the gesture as an excuse to teach her about the lands she was about to take by force. And it worked! Dany all but felt the THWACK of Cupid's arrow hitting her in the rump. If Dany's story this season turns out to be a bunch of fluttery eyes and pickup lines, then I hope Drogon goes nuts and turns everyone into a pile of ash. The dead girls as mile markers were cool, but I'm worried that Dany might be poised to spend another season wasting time on love instead of setting shit on fire. How much will it cost to Kickstart a campaign to get Dany to Westeros, like, now?
"If we beheaded every ranger who lay with a girl, the Wall would be manned by headless men." —Maester Aemon
My favorite part of "Two Swords" happened up North with the Wildlings. I know this show doesn't need more plots going on, but I'm glad we're sticking with these ragtag barbaric nomads after Jon Snow left them because they're the coolest. And we definitely don't need any new characters, but ummm... HELLO THENN! They're like a cross between the kid from Powder and the dudes from Prometheus, they're assholes, and they eat people. And they have a Worg? And now Ygritte and Tormund have to travel with these guys? I'm usually busy taking notes while I'm watching Game of Thrones but all I could do during this scene was watch in awe. I would not be sad if the Thenn sucked the marrow out of Samwell's bones in the finale and I can't wait to see the Thenn cosplay at Comic-Con and say, "What up Prometheus dudes!" just to piss 'em off.
Over at Castle Black, Jon Snow bemoaned Robb's death (more mourning over dead siblings, sheesh) and then stood before a council of Night's Watch old folk. We've always been led to believe that the rules of the Night's Watch are steadfast—no sleeping with women, no abandoning your post, no farting—but Jon readily admitted that he killed Qoran Halfhand and banged a Wildling broad, and he got off without so much as a rap on the snout with a rolled-up newspaper or raven-poop clean-up duty. And you know why? Because Maester Aemon is boss. He may be as old as the Wall, but he's the most progressive of the bunch. "If we beheaded all the dudes who banged shorties, we'd be nobodies," he said (okay I may've paraphrased a bit). And Jon had plenty of scoop for the council that will be helpful when it comes to staying alive. The new question is whether or not Mance Rayder's troops will stick with their plan now that they know Jon Snow was a mole.
"Fuck the king." —the Hound
Arya and the Hound continued their long zig-zag across the kingdom looking for trouble, and ended up coming across an inn where Polliver, the Lannister bannerman who stuck Arya's pal Lommy with Arya's sword, was supping. Arya's got a list of people she needs to exterminate, and when you're on that list and you come across Arya, you will die because Arya is like Damien from The Omen. She's cute and all, but I would not want to meet her in a dark alley. Polliver recognized the Hound and the two had a nice chat about chickens that turned into talk of child rape, as conversations in the countryside tend to do. Well the Hound is down with child murder, but he draws the line at child rape and after downing a mug of ale on an empty stomach, he was buzzed enough to take on five men and kicked their asses in a fantastically visceral fight scene that honestly didn't look too great on HBO's screeners (sorry HBO but you know it's true). Arya snuck into the fray to mop up once all the dangers were taken care of, and she quoted Polliver's death speech to Lommy when she killed him herself. What kind of child remembers a death speech and then repeats it back to the dude who killed her friend? A psychopath, that's who! I don't know about you but I'm worried about her. However, the only real happy thing to happen in this episode was that Arya got her own horse and the Hound devoured a chicken. The lesson here? Happiness comes from slaughtering others. That's the Game of Thrones I like. I missed you, show!
Each week, I'll rank the episodes of Season 4 from best to worst. But remember, these are just my opinions! Feel free to post your own in the comments!
This week: "Two Swords" welcomed us back to Game of Thrones with training wheels, without throwing too much new stuff at us. But it was a thrill to have the show back and to watch the political machinations start to turn again.
1. "Two Swords" (Episode 1)
– If Jaime got one of the Valaryian swords, who gets the other? Is it a wedding gift for Joffrey? What a great present for a coward who will hide behind hay bales during an actual fight.
– All that "Mhysa mhysa mhysa" stuff gets on my nerves for some reason. I guess because it reminds me of that terrible finale story for Dany last season, when she crowd surfed.
– It was cute how Arya thought Polliver recognized her, when he actually recognized the Hound. It wasn't the first time that'd happened with Arya; when Lannister men came looking for Gendry, she thought they were after her too. Arya, stop being so conceited. It's not all about you.
– Why is Winterfell still appearing in the credits sequence? It's a pile of rubble and no one is there. Let's move on, credits!
– I love Cersei, and I loved that she said Pycelle smells like dead cats. And she called Loras a pillowbiter. Her whole sourpuss speech was amazing, and Lena Headey's performance is excellent. Can we give her some sort of award, please?
– How can I get that statue of Joffrey for my office? I will pay good money for it.
– So, Jaime Lannister is 40 years old, and Jeff Winger from Community is 40 years old, too? Big revelations on the 4-0 front this week.
What'd you think of Game of Thrones' return?