4×01: “Two Swords”
The episode begins with Tywin Lannister melting down Ned Stark’s Valyrian steel greatsword, Ice, to forge two new swords. And from the moment I whispered, “THAT’S NOT YOURS YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO DO THAT,” the latest season of Game of Thrones had me hooked.
This episode is in a unique position: whereas most season premieres are starting out new story arcs and hinting at where the rest of the season is going to go, season 4 is based on the second half of the third book in the ASOIAF series, A Storm of Swords. So this season picks up right where the last one left off while, yes, giving us several indications of where season 4 is going. And I’m a big fan of that, because even after watching all sorts of videos to catch up on where we’re at, it’s very easy to get lost.
It’s hard to recap where everyone’s at because there are so many characters, but I’ll give it a shot.
In King’s Landing, Cersei is angry as per usual, although in this case it’s because Jaime was captured and lost his hand. So she’s using this as an excuse not to sleep with him (and we thank you for your sacrifice, Cersei. It must be very hard not banging your brother). Jaime, meanwhile, is having a midlife crisis because his father wants him to leave the Kingsguard and return to Castilly Rock. But he’s convinced there’s still some untapped greatness in him, so he decides to stay behind even though Joffrey is being a little s**t as usual.
Tyrion has an uncomfortable conversation with Prince Oberon of Sunspear that relates to the death of Princess Elia (it’s a whole complicated thing that has to do with Robert’s Rebellion. Hang in there, I’ll address it at the end). It’s also uncomfortable because Oberon has some interesting tastes, most of which deal with stabbing various things with other things (not all of them real swords, if you catch my drift). Tyrion is also dealing with Shae being really reckless and petulant about his marriage to Sansa, and Sansa is manically depressed because her family is dead (although she’s been manically depressed for over two seasons now and it’s getting kinda old). So Tyrion is just having a bad time all around.
Daenerys (let’s call her Dany, because that’s easier to spell) is hanging out with her dragons and realizes she can’t tame them. Also she’s flirting with Daario, a sellsword in her employ, because let’s face it, he’s fairly attractive. On the other hand, though, between getting stark naked in front of him the first time they meet and putting him on time-out in this episode, she’s sending him some mixed signals. So it’ll be fun to see how that plays out.
Jon Snow has recovered remarkably quickly from getting three arrows shot all up in his business. He talks about his time with the wildlings in front of the boss-people of the Night’s Watch, and they basically let him off with a warning even though he killed Quorin Halfhand and laid siege to Ygritte’s lady-castle, because there’s a wildling attack coming and boys will be boys, amirite? I dunno, that’s the annoying thing about Jon Snow: he may get beaten up a bunch, but he sure does get off easy on the big stuff. I mean, he abandons Ygritte and even after that she just fires a couple of arrows at him because she’s sorta obliged to. But it doesn’t seem like her heart’s really in it, y’know?
Then there’s Arya and the Hound. Oh man, you guys. Arya is hands-down my favourite character, even before she got all murder-murder-stabby-stab. She started out the episode as your standard vengeful tomboy with no sword and no pony, but then she just storms into that inn after Polliver like it ain’t no thang. We learn that the Hound is very serious about chickens and that Arya doesn’t mind people making sexual assumptions about her even though she’s like twelve, and a fight scene ensues.
And after a whole season of Harrenhal and losing her family and all that other stuff, she finally gets her revenge on Polliver for killing her friend Lommy. And of course she does it in the most coldly dramatic way she can: by re-enacting Lommy’s murder and getting to see that look of recognition in Polliver’s eye before she stabs him right in the neck. So not ten minutes after she first appears, Arya’s got Needle back, and she has a pony. Pretty good for her first scene in the series, I think.
Here’s the thing about this episode: there’s a lot going on without it being particularly eventful, but it serves to set a few things in motion. We’re seeing that the royal wedding between Joffrey and Margaery is happening right away, that the Stark girls are coping with the deaths of half their family in very different ways, that Daenerys is marching on the city of Meereen, that a wildling attack is about to fall on the Wall, and that Tyrion’s relationship with Shae has just been revealed to Cersei, who almost certainly will do something devious with that information.
I have very few complaints, apart from A) why is Dany’s army just standing around while she cuddles her dragon, because that seems selfish to me, and B) I don’t remember the Thenns being cannibals, and that’s definitely not what I thought the Magnar would look like, so I’m not a fan of that. But overall, “Two Swords” serves as a great beginning for the season, and IS IT SUNDAY YET BECAUSE NEW EPISODE PLEASE.
Final Grade: A
- Haha, Dany’s face when Missandei says the boys are gambling. She’s just 9,000% done with these guys.
- Oh, Brienne. You’re just the awkwardest and I love you.
- I’m soooo glad they recast Daario. The other guy was creepy and I had no idea what Dany could possibly see in him. Now he’s all rugged, which I feel is much more her speed.
- Wait. How can Grey Worm have a crush on Missandei? After years of Lord Varys talking about how he’s not packing anything downstairs, you’d think the Game of Thrones writers would know exactly what a eunuch does and doesn’t have.
- I love that Dany makes a point of seeing every corpse on the road along the way. And I love that she wants them to remove the slaves’ collars before they’re buried. Man, I seriously hope she gets the Iron Throne at the end of everything. She absolutely deserves it.
- Sansa has a necklace… is that a replacement for the hairnet she got in the book? Because if so… YOU GUYS. BIG DEAL. (But no spoilers.)
- So eventually the writers are gonna run out of material, what with there still being two books to go and George R. R. Martin being unlikely to finish them both in time. I was talking to Boyfriend, and he thinks it’d be sweet to have a kind of prequel season in between that deals with the history of Robert’s Rebellion. Obviously they’d have to leave out some parts, like the bit with Jon Snow’s mother, but overall it’d be a great way to see all this history that’s just sort of addressed in passing. Could be cool. That is all.