Game of Thrones

Season 4 Episode 1

Two Swords

196
Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Apr 06, 2014 on HBO
8.5
out of 10
User Rating
302 votes
10

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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In King's Landing, Tyrion welcomes Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne for the royal wedding. Elsewhere, Jaime readjusts to life after his imprisonment. Up North, Jon shares what he learned beyond the Wall as the wildlings continue to plan their attack. Meanwhile, while with the Hound, Arya runs into an old friend. And on the road to Mereen, Daenerys and her army find gruesome markers for the city.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Two Swords

    7.0
    Good start to the season. Glad to see Daenerys appear and be more assertive in the show tonight. Hopefully this set the stage for an explosive season.
  • Great reintroduction of the show.

    10
    The focus on "Two Swords" was not to further the plot, and that with a good reason.



    The main purpose of this episode was to remember the viewers of what they've forgotten over the last year since season 3, so they have to reintroduce the characters (at least as much as fit into one episode - see you next week Bran, Theon and Stanis), throw the new ones in the mix and show us the current state of Westeros.



    And that they did in an excellent way: the opening scene established that the Starks are beaten and the Lannisters are in power now, the introduction of Oberyn worked well, etc etc.



    So this could have been a pretty good episode - until the last 10 minutes.



    Probably the show creators thought, "pretty good" isn't good enough! We also have to remember the people why they love the show, why they waited so hard for a year and are so excited that it's back. So they ended the episode with a scene that made a "pretty good episode" into an excellent one. :-)



    Imho the whole Arya & the Hound sequence is a masterpiece: from the rather funny and lighthearted start to the thrilling entrance into the barn, to the right-paced escalation of this scene to the Hound's fight to the chilling showdown with Arya.



    The whole thing could have been from a Sergio Leone-western (I'm a huge fan of the "Dollar"-trilogy) and would be considered a classic now.



    (Actually Arya's revenge looks like a homage to the climax of Leone's classic "Once upon a time in the West" -> a man takes revenge many years later in a similar way on the guy who killed his father when said man was still a boy and saw his father die: youtu . be / Lp_5dCfUp4s?t=2m40s



    BTW: while future Emmy winner Maisie Williams gets lots of (very well-deserved) praise for her performance as badass Arya, let's not forget Rory McCann's amazing performance as the Hound!



    Very well done, David Benioff & . Weiss, reintroducing us with the show, before the sh*t 's going to hit the fan and the whole thing escalates in the next 9 episodes (believe me! It will... ^^)moreless
  • Pursuit

    8.0
    1. Oberyn Martell

    Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken--Martell is my house. I am extremely pleased they kept his canon bisexuality; my friend said she was guiltily pleased by his "equal-opportunity Now the show just needs to follow his lead.

    Oberyn and Ellaria throw off the plans right away. Tyrion only gets to be nervous this episode, and he knows, even if he can't articulate it, how dangerous the Red Viper is. Oberyn will not be ignored or denied, and pursues his sister, nieces and nephews, and house's vengeance. He's acted very well and I can only look forward to seeing him at court.



    2. Jaime Lannister

    Most cruel to him was Cersei's rejection. He is far from the same man, but him coming back earlier than he did in the books, we see even more the lions working at him with shame, scorn, and power to change him back. Brienne sees it, and feels their roles reversed in power, and she hates it. We all want Jaime to come through on his better self.



    3. Sansa

    Sansa gets more to do now, and feels even more hopeless and isolated than before. She'll only get more interesting from here, and it's great to see her much earlier action from the start of season 2 catch up like this.



    4. Brienne and the Roses

    These dangerous women are all different. The Queen of Thorns is keenly aware of the legend that wedding will become, and Margaery--she's one of the smartest people there, who knows what she's thinking? I love watching her. You saw so little in the books. It was great to remind us of the connections between some of our favorite characters. A non-book interaction, and appropriate. Brienne and Margaery are complete opposites, and who else wants to see a lady Queen's Guard for nymph-like, graceful Margaery Tyrell?



    5. Daenerys

    I am SO HAPPY that we see more of Dany being human. I love her imperial pose, but without the books point of view we see so very, very little of what's inside her head and heart. I want the relationship between her and new-guy to develop respecting the huge chasm of power between them, to keep it realistic. To be honest, I was more excited about Missandei and Grey Worm! Talk about unconventional love stories and perfect matches, seriously. But I am happy about Dany's journey this season; tempering and testing her ideals, settling down, thinking about romance in a way she never has before.



    6. Jon Snow

    A far briefer trial than in the books, and clumsy in comparison, but it served its purpose. I didn't really feel Jon's grief; I was more empathetic for Sam in that scene. I know the Wall is vastly important; but I care more for the wildlings as the personality seems to freeze off the Night's Watch.



    7. Ygritte

    Thenns. I like how the peoples are shown as divisive, but that was some straight-up obvious villainy there. An arm? Seriously? Who *didn't* know what they'd pull out that sack? I was happy Ygritte said she was no one's, and her skill was brought back into mention, but I'd be happier if I saw more than one shield maiden. Anyway, lets hope the Free People get their due this season same as the book gave.



    8. Arya

    Everyone's favorite young murderer. She's been towed around the wild for two full seasons now and I can feel the writers pressing action out of her time with the Hound. I like their relationship and I *love* Maisie Williams's acting. Chilling.



    DO NOT miss next week's episode.moreless
  • Two Swords (Spoilers Ahead)

    8.5
    Game of Thrones made a triumphant return this week and without missing a beat showed us what the world of Westeros looked like in a post-Red-Wedding era. Taking place firmly in the latter part of A Storm of Swords a lot was pulled off of the page and some was not . Most of our characters are now firmly planted in King's Landing. A good portion of the episode focused on the end of the Stark-era which was exemplified by Ned's huge sword Ice being melted down into two swords at the behest of Tywin Lannister. Tyrion gets the chance the welcome the Prince of Dorne to King's Landing for the Royal Wedding of Joffrey and Margaery but finds that the real prince (Doran Martell) was unable to make it due to illness so he sent his brother Prince Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) in his stead. Tyrion finds Oberyn in a brothel with his paramour Ellaria Sand trying to select sexual partners for their evening. Tyrion brushes in unannounced and welcomes Oberyn to the hornet's nest of King's Landing. Oberyn states that he has his issues with the Lannisters for having sacked King's Landing during Robert's Rebellion and how his sister (who had been married to Rhaegar Targaryen) was brutally raped and murdered by Lannister henchmen in addition to his nieces and nephews and he wants retribution. His bit about "how the Lannisters aren't the only ones who pay their debts" was a fantastic line and I got a special kick out of the cultural clash between Oberyn and the Lannister soldiers he was picking a fight with in the brothel before being interrupted. Jaime assumes command of the Kingsguard against his father's wishes (who wants him to rule from Casterly Rock) and his new disability he tries to rekindle his relationship with Cersei but she claims that he was "away too long" now that she's guzzling wine in every scene due to her impending marriage to be soon after Joffrey's. Jaime had a great scene with Brienne about how he can keep his vow to Catelyn Stark when all of Sansa's relatives are dead and the North itself is ruled by her enemies. Sansa herself had a heartbreaking string of luck this week as we see the effects of hearing how her mother and brother passed away haunts her to no end. Also she meets Ser Dontos (the jester Joffrey nearly beheaded for being drunk in the Season 2 opener that she spared) gives her a necklace that belonged to his mother. Nothing creepy about that, I guess. Poor Tyrion, unable to comfort her because she hates the family he comes from and unable to see the one he truly loves due to his own (and potential stigma) code of honor when he had prostitutes regularly before he was married. But his straight and narrow path is interesting to say the least and at least Bronn gets to hang out with him still so there's that. Joffrey is ever the dick as to be expected. Seeing Brienne approach Margaery and Lady Oleanna was a great callback to how she had served under Renly before his passing and something that I appreciated for the show's respect to the previous events of the show and how Stannis used magic to kill his younger brother. I hope Brienne's arc gets around to the Feast for Crows material by midway through because having her remain idle in King's Landing beside Jaime and apologizing for past wrongdoings would get boring so hopefully they start up that arc sooner than later (and I think they plan on it given the dialogue between her and Jaime in the premiere). Jon's return doesn't bode well as he has to answer for his crimes against the Watch and killing Quorhin Halfhand as a way to enter Mance Rayder's inner circle to the likes of Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt (former baby killing commander of the City Watch in King's Landing before Tyrion sent him on his way). Good thing Jon at least acknowledges what he did was wrong but getting to warn his brothers on the Wall about the incoming threat is probably much more priceless than breaching his vows. Being prepared for such an enemy is essential for them winning especially now that their numbers are so small with most of those that went North of the Wall having been killed off at this point. What I like most about Jon is how human his story is and how he acknowledges his faults from last season by having fallen in love with Ygritte and almost considered turning against the Watch to be with her and the fallout of that choice. I only hope the Watch sees what a valuable asset he is to them in the long run. No Bran in the premiere (his stories are typically the most boring for me anyway) but we did see Tormund and Ygritte rendezvous with the Thenns (a tribe of people North of the Wall who climbed to the Westeros side at Mance's behest) and how they'll team up to attack Castle Black. I like how Tormund isn't stupid enough to buy that Ygritte couldn't finish off Jon and how "if that boy's still walking, it's because you let him She most certainly did but it's nice to see Jon up and ready to fight and the rift between is surely going to drive most of the dramatic material of the Night's Watch story we see this season for the upcoming siege of Castle Black. Arya continued her quest to become death and she and the Hound come upon an inn with several soldiers at it. The Hound plans on taking Arya to the Vale to ransom her to her Aunt Lysa (the breastfeeding one from Season 1) for a large sum of gold now that the other Starks are dead. Arya wants to steal the other soldiers' horses but the Hound says one on five isn't good odds on an empty stomach as he has. Arya recognizes one of the soldiers as Polliver (the soldier who put her sword needle through the injured Lommy character back in Season 2) and sure enough he still has Needle on him. The Hound's, "What the f**k is a Lommy?" was a great comedic bit too. The two enter the inn and Polliver recognizes the Hound and asks him to join their merry band of rape and depravity but only if he "gets a go" at Arya sitting next to him. This scene had me disgusted thinking about the implications and the acts that those men that Polliver travelled with had done/could do. Them being King's Men makes it even worse but the Hound tells him to shove it and give him their chickens for having to listen to him run his mouth. He throws the table over and takes on the whole party of soldiers with Polliver (with some help from Arya). This was really tense as you never know who will survive these skirmishes on this show (even if you've read the books it's still climactic). Arya kills one with their own sword before hamstringing Polliver and using Needle to kill him the exact same way he killed Lommy (and he totally knew what she was talking about in the end you could see it in his eyes). But I love that Arya's revenge journey got to cross a name off of her prayer list (if Polliver was even on there) and since in the books it was "The Tickler" who she killed in cold blood like that yelling, "Where's Beric Dondarrion?!" But I don't mind them changing it to someone more recognizable for casual fans who only watch the show. Her and the Hound should get their own buddy-cop-knight show as she learns how to be a swordfighter of sorts while he drinks and kicks ass. I would totally watch that as a spin-off. In closing I know we didn't see any Stannis this week (although he did get a good portion of the Season 3 finale) and we didn't see any Bran but surely we'll see them and maybe Theon next week. But Daenery's slow march to Meereen is probably the most gruesome bit she's encountered. Seeing the small children dead and nailed with their hands pointing the way to the city at every mile marker (that's very specific of the rulers of Meereen to go to the trouble of) on her way to the city. I especially admire how she says that she "will see every one of them" which exemplifies her stance as a firm leader but also one of heart. It reminds me a lot of Ned Stark's code of "they who give the order should swing the sword. A king who hides behind hired executioners soon forgets what death Or something to that effect that you must take responsibility for your actions and your impact on the world (very existentialist and adult of you Mother of Dragons bravo). I also enjoyed the new introduction to the new actor who plays Daario (although the other underwear model guy worked just fine for me) I would've enjoyed seeing that actor and his effect on Dany color her interactions with him a bit more than I like this new guy and what he brings to the table. It was a little uneasy of a transition given that this Daario is actively courting her (something the other Daario wouldn't do. He enjoyed her company and would have sex with her but for nothing more than carnal pleasure as those who have read the books can attest to and he learns to love I feel this recasting robs us in a way of seeing that very young teenage side of Dany who is attracted to loving men as hard as Drogo was while scoffing at suitors like Jorah. Regardless it was a good start and I hope they don't take too long to reach Meereen. There's only so many dead children I can take looking at. But now that she's got her army her focus will surely turn to King's Landing before long and claiming what is/was her birthright and returning to the Throne to the rightful family. This premiere worked on many levels. Bringing us the signature violence, politicial intrigue, and (unnecessary nudity) that we can ask for. Much less clunky than past premieres it feels like we're falling right into step with the events of Westeros and our favorite characters to deliver key dramatic and comedic moments that will surely surprise, entertain, and torture us for the next 9 weeks to come. Also it got renewed for two more season due to the series high ratings so keep up the good work HBO and Martin, get to finishing up them books before the series overtakes you.

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  • Arya and the Hound

    8.5
    Being conservative rating this episode an 8.5 I would rate it higher you know since it's Game of Thrones but knowing what's yet to come 'Two Swords' is just the beginning of the shit storm. David and Dan did an awesome job of introducing one of my favorite characters from the book Oberyn Martell! He is such a badass I can't wait to see him in the next few episodes. The way Tyrion was cowering while talking to him really conveyed his gravitas and vengeful attitude loved the quote "Tell your father, the Lannisters aren't the only ones who pay their debts!" Ooo snap! Love it! The rest of 'Two Swords' set up the season nicely getting us reacquainted with a few of the key characters and their goings on since 'Mhysa' out of all the plots this episode though the end with Arya and the Hound was hands the best! Seriously we could have a spinoff of these two with Varys and Littlefinger haha that would be great fun.



    I seriously can't wait for the next two episodes as they will really propel major events for the rest of the season.moreless
Will Tudor

Will Tudor

Olyvar

Guest Star

Andy Kellegher

Andy Kellegher

Polliver

Guest Star

Chris Reilly

Chris Reilly

Morgan

Guest Star

Diana Rigg

Diana Rigg

Olenna Redwyne

Recurring Role

Pedro Pascal

Pedro Pascal

Oberyn Martell

Recurring Role

Indira Varma

Indira Varma

Ellaria Sand

Recurring Role

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