After a ten month hiatus, George R. R. Martin’s fantasy epic series turned HBO drama, Game of Thrones, premiered last night.
While the season three finale touched a bit on the aftermath of the Red Wedding, episode one of Season Four, titled “Two Swords,” jumped right into dragons, murder, and a lot of unnecessary haircuts.
Not only has a hand been lost for our dashing Kingslayer, Jaime Lannister, but Westeros is one head short of some seriously glorious locks. Tywin gifts his son a newly forged Valyrian steel sword (100% recycled from Ned Stark’s “gratuitously large” sword Ice) with his usual mildly spiteful attitude as he wonders to what purpose a knight with no dominant hand needs such a fine sword. “As long as I’m better than everyone else, I suppose it doesn’t matter.” Jaime retorts. Naively, I assumed this would win for best line of the episode, but naturally we haven’t seen Tyrion or The Adventures of Arya and The Hound yet, so I was obviously jumping the gun just a bit.
Yet we don’t have to wait long for Tyrion. The episode seems to start at the Red Keep and move slowly outwards, as we spy Tyrion with the important task of greeting the envoys from Dorne, who are steadily arriving for the coming nuptials between the Rose and the ‘Stag’-Lion. Tyrion notices that the sigil of House Martell is absent in the convoy, and the Prince of Dorne himself, Doran Martell, is too ill to attend and has sent his hot headed brother, Prince Oberyn, in his stead.
Prince Oberyn, more commonly known as The Red Viper and a new addition to this season’s roster, is found holed up in Littlefingers-R-Us, sifting through some ladies for himself and his lovely paramour, the seductive Ellaria Sand. Tyrion finds them in a compromising situation, though not the one you would automatically think. Prince Oberyn is given insult via a group of Lannisters, which heats up the tension between houses and also his lady love’s undergarments. Viewers are left with the warm fuzzies as he and cult favorite Bronn hit it off, their sense of humor not the only thing they have in common.
It’s strange to think that we’re all of ten minutes into the episode and Prince Oberyn is flat out explaining his motive for being in King’s Landing this early. Ready for History and Lineage 101?
H’okay, so. A long time ago back before King Robert got fat and killed by a boar, Prince Oberyn’s sister, Princess Elia of Dorne, was married off to Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, older brother to our lovely ‘Mysha’ across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen, and son of King Aerys II, more commonly known as the Mad King. Remember him? The one who wanted to set everything on fire and subsequently the only one Jaime has famously stabbed other than his sister? Right. Well, all was well on it’s way for Elia and Rhaegar to become King and Queen of Westeros after mad old Aerys died, but Prince Oberyn mentions that noble Rhaegar ran off with another woman (that pretty little Stark number one Robert Baratheon so famously started a war and hated his wife for not being) while our dear, sweet Dornishlady and her half dragon babies greeted the Mountain on the castle steps during the invasion. Staying with me? Rhaegar was not around to protect his wife after getting hammered at the Battle of the Trident and Prince Oberyn makes the not so obvious leap that The Mountain, who is a Lannister man, was most likely taking Lannister orders when he murdered Elia and her children. Tywin Lannister’s orders. And recounting this story to Tyrion Lannister.
To conclude? Oberyn Martell wants vengence for his sister Elia and her children, and having a Lannister name is not in anyone’s best interest while he’s in town. A+ for convoluted family drama.
Surely a mind as quick as Cersei’s is to spot danger in anyone threatening her immediate family would’ve seen the danger Oberyn poses to them, specifically her daughter Princess Myrcella who is currently living in the Dornish capital of Sunspear and entered into a marriage pact with House Martell. It’s quite strange to have a flat out revenge plot this early in the series, especially without all the sugarcoated subtext we’re used to keeping up with. I digress.
After such heavy handed exposition, we’re flitted across the Narrow Sea to the outskirts of Mereen, where Daenerys Targaryen cuddles (CUDDLES WITH A DRAGON, YES, I WANT.) with Drogon as they watch Viserion and Rhaegal argue over breakfast. A pretty little family portrait, but there are three notable things this brief glimpse into dragon territory shows us.
1. Firstly, dat CG doe! I can’t even stand it and I want a dragon immediately.
2. Daenerys may be impervious to fire, but fangs still hurt, and she is going to have to figure out how to handle her ever growing babies.
3. Can we stop for a second to talk about the Epic Recast that was never addressed? Because gone is our charming pirate and replaced with a bland, stoic yawn of a character. Fans complained that last season’s Daario Naharis, played by Ed Skrein, was missing his blue beard and eccentric garb, but what the actor he didn’t have visually he made up for in personality. He was arrogant, he was suave, and he had some damn fine hair that didn’t have to come from his beard.
There isn’t a lot more that I care to say on the subject of the recast, as I’m sure I will have plenty of other opportunities over the course of the season, but I would like to point out that our new Daario (Michael Huisman) somehow can’t convince the audience that he’s even attracted to Daenerys. Which isn’t really difficult, as Emilia Clarke is kind of a babe, you guys. A hint of bad acting to come, perhaps?
Oh yeah, Jon Snow got shot with three arrows and showed up at The Wall’s doorstep. “Oh hey guys, sorry I’ve been away all last season. What happened over here in season three? Where’s Commander Mormont, I wanna tell him all the awesome things I did with Longclaw!”
“You’re better than me at everything. Except reading.” Sam confides to Jon, explaining that he understands Jon’s jealousy of his brother, the late King in the North, Robb Stark. Sam has felt it himself more often than not being in that giant cloak’s black shadow, but the comparison serves to remind Jon that he has new brothers now – even after laying with a Wildling girl. Which, speaking of that executionable act, Maester Aemon throws some serious seniority down at Jon’s hearing, declaring that Jon will actually not be condemned for his actions of killing Quorin Halfhand, joining up with the Wildling clans, or sheathing his sword with Ygritte.
Is it bad that I originally thought Sam said, “You’re better than me at everything. Except eating.” Because I totally snorted and rewound and was disappointed.
But not disappointed for long, because enter Lady Olenna, the Queen of Thorns and apparently one liners, because everything that comes out of this dame’s mouth is as gold as the money she’s throwing down for Joffrey and Margaery’s upcoming nuptuals. She may have had only a quick snippet this episode, but I can guarantee that episode two will be filled with hilarious Olenna goodness, as the grandmother of the bride to be.
Arya and the Hound. I just want an entire episode of them. Is that a thing? I know Daenerys’ story slows down this season, so can we just have an entire episode of these two bantering their way to the Vale of Arynn? Because just. Please. The entire exchange and skirmish shows how great their on-screen chemistry is, and damn do I want to see more of it. Arya ends this episode with vengeance on Polliver as she kills him in the same way he killed her friend, and earned himself a subsequent space and check mark on her list. Thank the Old Gods that Sansa hadn’t taken the Hound up on his offer, because this pairing is stealing the entire show.
Best Line: “What the fuck is a Lommy?” had me pretty much rolling.
Most Mourned Hair: Though Jaime, Podrick Payne, and Daario Naharis all had their flowing locks snipped away, I’m going with Daario, considering the other two could always just grow theirs out again.
Storylines we missed: Bran and his buddies beyond the wall, Melisandre and Stannis, not enough of Joff + Margaery’s wedding preperations Theon accepting his new role as Reek, but I think what was missed the most in this episode was Gendry’s glorious abs.
And just in case you didn’t catch the title for next week’s episode, it’s “The Lion and The Rose.” With the book-savvy ready for a few key points in this episode, we’ve been hard pressed to keep in mind that a lot of major events are going down in the first few episodes. This season is moving a little fast, eh?
What did you think of the series premiere? Let us know in the comments below! Don’t forget to check out our review of episode 2, “The Lion and the Rose”!