Game of Thrones Episode (4×01) Review – “Two Swords”



The Lannisters Take Over the Game of Thrones Season 4 Premiere

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a new episode of Game of Thrones, and it sure felt like it. Last season Daenerys marched through the lands across the Narrow Sea freeing slaves every where she went. Jon Snow took up with the Wildlings at Qhorin Halfhand’s request, lost his virginity, and played at being a spy. The Lannisters plotted with Roose Bolton and Walder Frey to murder Robb Stark and his mother Catelyn in an effort to end the War of the Five Kings, in the wake of Sansa Stark’s forced marriage to Tyrion Lannister. After Losing a hand, Jaime Lannister returned home and discovered his return wasn’t as welcome as he’d hoped. Meanwhile, Arya Stark continued to ride across the countryside with the Hound. So much happened and so many people died, but now here we are with a new season, and you just know someone else we’ve all come to know and/or love will find their head on the chopping block before season’s end. Will it be your fave? That’s enough catching up. Let’s get to it and discuss what happened in the season 4 premiere, “Two Swords!”

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We Didn’t Land on Casterly Rock. Casterly Rock Landed on Us

The episode title, “Two Swords,” is a reference to the opening scene of Tywin melting down Ned Stark’s sword “Ice” to make two new swords. One was for Jaime, who’s missing his sword hand, and the other recipient is yet unknown. Considering Tywin’s grandson Joffrey is about to get hitched, it’s easy to think the smaller sword is Joff’s wedding present. Either way both gifts are insulting. Jaime is maimed and can’t wield his new shiny toy, and Joffrey’s only good for showing swords off or letting little girls steal them out of his hand and throw them into a river. Could these gifts be back-handed compliments, or just more examples of Tywin’s refusal to accept his family for who they are instead of who he wishes they were?

Tywin: A one-handed man with no family needs all the help he can get.

We see evidence of how Tywin’s frigidness towards his children has affected his family all throughout this episode. Tyrion is stuck in a loveless marriage with Sansa who spends all of her  time crying over her brother and mother’s murders. The position Tywin has put Tyrion in has even killed his sexual appetite, and he’s not the only one. Tyrion is married off, but Cersei’s marriage to Loras is still in the works. This coupled with Margaery’s influence over Joffrey and her father’s overbearing presence has managed to sour Cersei’s desire for Jaime, and thank god!  Their relationship is disturbing and disgusting on so many levels, and Jaime needs to move on to a woman more deserving of him. Now that he’s been disowned, maybe Jaime will finally start living for himself. Now all he needs is for someone to tell him how Cersei spends her time away from him, and with whom. Any takers? I, for one, can’t wait for Jaime to realize just what a viper Cersei truly is.

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Check Please!

One of the most anticipated characters of the new season was Oberyn Martell, and boy did he not disappoint. His introduction was probably one of the most memorable on  the series to date. The prince first hit the scene in Littlefinger’s whorehouse as he was trying to select the right sexual partners for him and his mistress, Ellaria Sand. Maybe it was the selective way he chooses his whores or the fact he swings both ways that makes him stand out, or maybe it’s his wicked crazy temper. Those Lannister’s better watch out! Oberyn may have been invited to King’s Landing as a guest to Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding, but it’s revenge this guy has on his mind.

Oberyn: Tell your father I’m here, and tell him that the Lannisters aren’t the only ones who pay their debts.

For those of you who may have forgotten from way back in season 1 when the story was first told, Oberyn’s sister Elia was Rhaegar Targaryen’s wife, and was raped and murdered (along with her children) by the Mountain during the sacking of King’s Landing. Oberyn knows the Mountain does everything on Tywin Lannister’s orders and is seeking some retribution. If anyone can take on the Lannisters it’s this guy, and who wouldn’t want to see Oberyn fight the ginormous Mountain? I know I would! Besides, Tywin has gotten away with loads of dirt and it seems high time he pays the piper.

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Assassin’s Creed

Prince Oberyn isn’t the only viper in Westeros. Arya Stark is becoming very scary. After witnessing her father’s beheading and discovering that her brother and mother were murdered, Arya’s survival skills have greatly improved to equal her thirst for vengeance. Watching her bicker with the Hound over his refusal to steal from men they come across on the road was funny, but disturbing. When she asked him, “You’re fine with murdering little boys, but thieving is beneath you?” it said more about Arya than it did by the Hound. Sure the Hound thinks, “A man’s got to have a code,” but the fact Arya sees nothing wrong with robbing someone shows how much she’s changed from the little girl who only wanted to learn to sword fight like her brothers.

Arya: Is there gold hidden in the village? Is there silver? Gems? Is there food? Where is Lord Beric? Where did he go?

In a stroke of luck Arya and the Hound ran across Arya’s old friends Polliver and The Tickler, whom she last saw during her time spent at Harrenhal as Tywin Lannister’s cupbearer. This is where we really glimpse how Arya has gone from a girl repeating the names of her enemies as she lay down to sleep to a girl willing to cross names off by her own hands. Melisandre was right when she said there’s a darkness living inside Arya and it’ll be exciting to see what this darkness does to her.

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Feel the Burn!

Now that Jon has returned as a traitor to the Wall, he has to deal with folks trying to kill him for betraying his vows. Luckily, he has Maester Aemon looking out for him. Jon may have killed one of his brothers, joined the Wildlings and climbed over the Wall, and slept with a woman, but like the Maester said, “If we beheaded every Ranger who lay with a girl, the Wall would be manned with headless men.” On the surface Jon did wrong, but in truth he only did what the Halfhand told him. Jon Snow showed lots of growth this week. He’s no longer the bastard living in his older brother Robb’s shadow. He’s now a man in his own right, and who knows? One day he may command the Night’s Watch. Or could Jon be destined for greater things? How great would it be if the Bastard of Winterfell ended up sitting on the Iron Throne? True, it’s a long shot, but we can hope. In the meantime, Jon will just have to content himself with doing his thing and snatching the wig of anyone who has something to say. Just ask Janos Slynt. He’s probably looking for a nice warm hat about now.

Jon: Have you ever been beyond the Wall, sir?

Slynt: I commanded the Gold Cloaks up in King’s Landing.

Jon: ANd now you’re here. Must not have been good at your job, then.

Game of Thrones kicked off its fourth season by reminding viewers what previously happened and setting the stage for what’s to come. “Two Swords” was written by creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who also directed the episode, and they did an incredible job adapting the source material from author George R. R. Martin’s 1128 page novel, A Storm of Swords. While most of the episode followed the source material pretty faithfully, several major changes will undoubtedly give book fans a nice surprise. Most notably Jaime Lannister’s return to King’s Landing, which happened much later in the book series. Even though “Two Swords” was exposition heavy, many of the characters were featured which kept things exciting, and aside from Daenery’s flirtations with Daario Naharis, the episode kept my attention from beginning to end.  While it appears most of our heroes have been killed in one fell swoop during the Red Wedding, a few underdogs may rise to the challenge. Sansa Stark is beginning to show some mettle, and while she may not be as bloodthirsty as her sister Arya, Sansa is ready to become a player in the game. Vipers are everywhere, and this episode gave the feeling of being the quiet before the storm.

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The Rules of the Game…

  • How much of a little shit was Joffrey to Jaime? When he called Jaime, “A 40 year old knight with one hand,” I wanted Jaime to bitch-slap Joff with his golden hand so badly it was almost indecent.
  • According to Tyrion, Catelyn Stark was “a strong woman and fierce protector of her children.” I guess it’s true, but I’ll never forgive Cat for how she mistreated Jon. It wasn’t Jon’s fault that Ned was a hoe. #Bitter
  •  It seems Tywin isn’t the only Lannister good with back-handed compliments. Jaime telling Brienne, “You sure you’re not a Lannister? You’ve got the hair, but not the looks,” was almost as hilarious as Olenna Tyrell’s reaction to the giantess.
  • If Jaime telling Cersei, “I murdered people to be with you,” doesn’t encapsulates their twisted relationship, I don’t know what does.
  • Aside from Jaime’s premature return to King’s Landing, the other thing different from the books that stood out for me was that Arya didn’t have a horse of her own until after the tavern massacre. I don’t know why this bothered me, but it did. Ugh, book fans, aren’t we annoying?
  • Was anyone else pissed off that Tywin melted down Ice? Isn’t it bad enough you’ve nearly wiped out an entire family, you have to destroy something that’s been around for nearly a thousand years? Dick move, Lannister senior!
  • Who else missed Original Daario? While I enjoyed Michiel Huisman’s (Nashville) portrayal of the Tyroshi sellsword, I missed Ed Skrein’s crooked smile.