‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 4, Episode 1 Recap: Two Swords

King’s Landing prepares for a wedding; Danny finds Meereen; the Night’s Watch braces (Photos: HBO)
King’s Landing prepares for a wedding; Danny finds Meereen; the Night’s Watch braces (Photos: HBO)

Every Monday, our resident Game of Thrones fanatic E. Spencer Kyte will recap the previous night’s episode. Here’s his take on Season 4, Episode 1—Two Swords.

Whenever you’re dealing with a multi-story epic like Game of Thrones, one of the greatest challenges coming back off the lengthy break between seasons is refreshing the plot points and catching everyone up in one fell swoop.

Sunday’s Season 4 premiere did as good a job as any in the series so far, and set the stage for what should be another amazing season.

Warning: what follows is a review and analysis of what happened on Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones. If you haven’t watched it and don’t want to encounter spoilers, I suggest you go read something else on this site. Consider yourself warned.

You know what’s a good way to symbolically illustrate that we’re moving into new territory this season? Melting down a remnant from previous seasons in the opening sequence.

In this case, Tywin Lannister has Ned Stark’s massive sword melted and forged into two new swords—one for himself and one for his son, Jaime, who is still getting used to being solely left-handed after losing his right hand in the middle of last season.

Tywin instructs Jaime that he’s to return to the family home at Casterly Rock to rule in his stead, but Jaime bucks at the idea, as he still wishes to remain a member of the King’s Guard. Not one to take being defied lightly, the Lannister patriarch drops a gem on his eldest son, telling him (and I’m paraphrasing here), “Keep the sword—you’re missing your good hand and are spiting your family, so chances are you’re going to need it.”

Of course, he said it with a British accent and much more gravitas than I can convey in print. You really should watch the scene; it’s great.

With two of the Lannister males accounted for, we next head to the outskirts of town where Tyrion, Bronn, and Podrick await the arrival of an envoy from Dorne’s ruling family, House Martell. Once they meet the group heading to town, Tyrion and his sidekicks are informed that the middle child of the family has already arrived, eschewing the formality in favour of slipping into King’s Landing unannounced.

Inside Little Finger’s brothel, we meet Prince Oberyn Martell, who is picking out a female to share with his “paramour.” Once he’s found one that suits her liking, he instructs the gentlemen showing him the ladies to disrobe and stick around, but before everyone can get down to business, Prince Oberyn is pulled away from his tryst by someone singing “The Rains of Castamere,” an ode to Tywin Lannister.

You see, the Martells and the Lannisters don’t get along, at all, so Oberyn confronts the singers, and we get to see what makes “The Red Viper” an intriguing addition to this season’s cast.

Upon confronting the two men, Prince Oberyn stabs one through the wrist with a short blade — “A long sword is no good in close fighting,” he tells the man wailing in agony — at which point Tyrion enters with Bronn and Podrick to bring the tension to a close.

The two middle children step outside to speak privately, where we learn the history of their family tension: Oberyn’s sister, Elia, was once married to Rhaegar Targaryen (Dany’s older brother) and gave him two children. When Rhaegar left Elia, Tywin Lannister had the children killed, and Lannister executioner Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane proceeded to rape and kill Elia.

Oberyn hasn’t forgotten and instructs Tyrion to “tell your father I’m here. Tell him the Lanniers aren’t the only ones who pay their debts.” I already love this guy and can’t wait to see what kind of mayhem ensues with him in the capital this season.

Out across the Narrow Sea, Dany is learning that her dragons aren’t little pets that can be controlled any more, as one (the bluish-purpley one… I’ll come up with names for them all before next week) snaps at her after the other two drop a mauled goat on the rocks in front of her that they all fight over.

Ready to head out for another land, Dany finds out two of her best warriors, Grey Worm of The Unsullied and mercenary Daario Naharis are off gambling. Turns out they’re having a “who can hold their sword up the longest?” contest to see who gets to ride next to Dany. How sweet.

Side note: we’ve got a different Daario Naharis this year. Last year, he was blonde and surfer boyish. This year, he’s brunette, bearded, and more gladiator-like.

Later in the episode, Daario says he wants to talk strategy with Dany, producing three different flowers, explaining to her what all three can be used for or represent. “You’ve got to know a land to rule it. If you want them to follow you, you have to become part of their world,” he advises her, before smiling at her like a love-sick schoolboy.

Back in King’s Landing, Sansa Stark Lannister is refusing to eat. She doesn’t want to talk to anyone either, and ignores the good intentioned requests of her new husband, Tyrion, opting instead to go and find a quiet place to be alone.

After speaking with his wife, Tyrion returns to his chambers to find Shae waiting in his bed, which he’s not exactly thrilled about. His lack of excitement and interest pisses off his one-time bedmate, but Tyrion will not be swayed. Instead, he explains, gruffly, it’s a bad time, listing the numerous people that would like to see him killed. Shae storms out and we see that someone—another girl—has been spying on the two of them.

In another room in King’s Landing, Jaime Lannister is fitted with a golden prosthetic. He comments on his sister’s increased enjoyment of wine, and Cersei runs down why in a tidy “Let’s get you caught up to speed on things in case you forgot” sequence, citing his departure and capture, Joffrey’s pending marriage, and her pending marriage as reasons she drinks more frequently now.

When Jaime tries to nuzzle in for some illicit brother-sister time, Cersei rebukes him, pissed that he left her alone for all this time. The argument is interrupted, however, as the girl that was posted outside of Tyrion’s door arrives to pass on a message to Cersei, who had sent her to do the spying.

In the North, Ygritte gets a bit of a lecture from Tormund, the big, fire-bearded wildling guy from last season, about letting Jon Snow get away. Before they can discuss things further, we’re introduced to the Thenns, a cannibalistic clan from north of the wall with shaved heads and scars on their faces. They’re here to help carry out Mance Rayder’s plans and look mighty dangerous.

At Castle Black, Jon Snow is called before a Night’s Watch tribunal, where he answers for his actions in Season 3—killing Qhorin Halfhand, infiltrating the wildlings, bedding Ygritte. Though one member of the council wants to see him punished, wise old Maester Aemon says to let him live. Jon tells the tribunal of Mance Rayder’s pending assault, warning that he’s bringing 100,000 men with him.

Once again we’re back in King’s Landing, with Margaery and The Lady Olenna Tyrell looking over some wedding jewelry before Brienne interrupts, asking to speak to Margaery. For the record, I love Lady Olenna—she’s the only one that speaks freely and openly about everything in this whole damn show, and it’s refreshing. I love the intrigue, but sometimes it’s nice to have an old lady marvel at the size of Brienne because let’s face it, she’s sticks out amongst the petite, nubile young socialites flittering around King’s Landing.

Game Of Thrones premiere reviewed cont… 

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E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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