in Television

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 4 Premiere Recap: “Two Swords”

Tyrion welcomes a surprise guest to King’s Landing for the royal wedding, but fears he’s come to the Red Keep for something else. Meanwhile, Jon warns his skeptical Night’s Watch superiors about an impending attack; Jaime struggles to regain his status at home; Arya encounters a face from her past; and Daario Naharis discusses strategy with Daenerys on the journey to the slave city Meereen.

It’s back! Game of Thrones is back! Winter is (eventually) coming! Ours is the fury! Fire cannot kill a dragon! Lannisters always pay their debts! Insert other appropriately dramatic GOT family saying here! Seriously, though, I’m way pumped for this season. Let’s jump right into the recap of “Two Swords.”

The Lannisters

Before we start: let me just say that I can’t get over “The Rains of Castamere” playing even before the show’s theme song did. This is definitely gonna be the Season Of The Lannisters, but whether it’s the season of their rise, or downfall, is up in the air.

“Two Swords” kicks off with Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) gifting his son Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) with a sword made of Valyrian steel. Coupled with the gift, is a suggestion that Jamie retire to Casterly Rock, get married, father some non-bastard children, and rule the Lannister stronghold in Tywin’s stead. Obviously Jaime isn’t keen on this plan – for one, it would mean leaving his sister Cersei (Lena Headey), and Jaime wouldn’t be a Kingsguard anymore.

Tywin is visibly disappointed in Jaime, but agrees to let him stay in King’s Landing. Later, while getting fitted with a shiny new golden hand, Jaime tells Cersei the good news. Cersei remains cold to him, saying that he left her alone when he got captured, and that she’s changed. “You took too long,” she tells him. Guess they’re not quite going back to where they left off after all.

Jaime’s job isn’t going so well either; his nephew/secret son, Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) is being a little shit as always, mocking Jaime’s meager accomplishments during his time as Kingsguard, as well as Jaime’s singular hand.

The Martells

Meanwhile, the other Lannister son – you know, the one whose father super despises him – is sent to greet the Prince of Dorne as he arrives at King’s Landing. Instead, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) finds Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal), the Prince’s brother, and a man with some major beef to settle with the Lannister family.

Hanging out in a brothel with his paramour Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma), several female prostitutes, and one male prostitute, Oberyn wanders away to start some shit when he hears another brothel patron singing “The Rains of Castamere.” Thankfully, Tyrion and company interrupt before too much blood is spilled, and Oberyn explains to Tyrion what his real purpose is in King’s Landing: years before, Oberyn’s sister Elia had been married to Rhaegar Targaryen when war broke out. During the sack of King’s Landing, Elia’s children had been slaughtered, and herself raped and murdered by Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane, at what Oberyn suspects was Tywin’s orders. Oberyn is here at the castle now to right some wrongs.

Daenerys Targaryen

So Dany’s (Emilia Clarke) got herself some dragons. I know, right! Whaat a shocker. By now they’ve grown huge and unruly and semi-uncontrollable, even by their own mother. Jorah (Iain Glen) warns Dany that dragons can’t be tamed, a line which immediately gets Miley Cyrus’ “Can’t Be Tamed” stuck on loop in my head. I’m nothing if not predictable.

The only noteworthy thing to come out of Dany’s very short appearances in this episode is Daario’s new face – previously portrayed by Ed Skrein in season 3, now played by Michiel Huisman. The episode devotes a little screentime to getting the audience used to the “new” dude, as well as playing up Darrio’s romantic/sexual advances towards Dany, advances which so far aren’t entirely unwelcome. Daario even gives Dany some useful advice on how to rule her people by getting to know their customs.

Sansa Stark/Lannister

Poor sweet Sansa (Sophie Turner) is completely broken after finding out about her brother and mother’s deaths at the Red Wedding. She’s refusing to eat and shutting herself away, ignoring both Shae (Sibel Kekilli) and Tyrion’s attempts to help her. While in the Godswood praying, she’s approached by one of Joffrey’s fools, a man whom Sansa had saved from death on Joffrey’s nameday. The man offers Sansa a prized family heirloom in thanks – a beautiful necklace – and Sansa promises to wear the necklace to honor his family’s name.

With Shae, Sansa seems to have become a sort of sore spot, as Shae is torn between her protectiveness for Sansa and her jealousy over Tyrion spending time away from her. Shae approaches Tyrion in his chambers and asks him if he wants her to stay – when he doesn’t answer, she flees, only to be spotted by a castle maid. The maid then runs straight to Cersei and Jaime to tell them what she overheard.

The Wildlings and Jon Snow

Ygritte (Rose Leslie) and her band of Wildlings are preparing to continue their attack on the Wall when a clan of Wildlings called Thenns approach. The two groups clash immediately – the Thenns are, to put it lightly, intimidating – but they don’t seem to want to start any conflicts yet. Instead, the Thenns, led by Styr (Yuri Kolokolnikov), propose an alliance to storm the Wall, and offer to share their dinner: fire roasted human arm. Yup, that’s right, they’re CANNIBALS.

Now returned to the wall, Jon reports what he’s learned during his stint as a spy in the Wildling troops. Eventually, the council lets him go without chopping his head off, though many of the men don’t believe what he says. But hey, Jon gets to keep his head! Score!

Brienne of Tarth

As Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg) and Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) prepare Margaery’s jewels for her wedding day, Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) approaches in an adorably awkward mash-up of flowy blue dress and practical outdoorsy jacket. Brienne tells Margaery that she watched Renly die, and that the shadow that killed him had Stannis’ face.

Later, Brienne tries to convince a reluctant Jaime to help Sansa, as he had promised that he would return the Stark girls back to Lady Catelyn.

Arya Stark

A hungry Arya (Maisie Williams) and Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann) cautiously approach a tavern. When Arya sees that one of the men in the tavern is Polliver, a Lannister soldier who had cruelly killed one of Arya’s friends, she storms toward the building, forcing Sandor to follow her. In the tavern, Polliver’s attempts at friendly conversation are rebuffed by Sandor, leading to a bloody bar fight that ends in a lot of casualties on Polliver’s side. It’s terrifying how cold Arya has become after what she saw at the Red Wedding. Once most of the violence has died down, Arya takes vengeance on Polliver by reenacting her friend’s murder, stabbing Polliver in the throat and watching him die.

Memorable Quotes

Jaime: You know they call me ? Kingslayer. Oathbreaker. Man without honor. Now you want me to break another sacred vow.

Jaime: Suppose you’ll want the sword back.
Tywin: Keep it. A one-handed man with no family needs all the help he can get.

Bronn: Seems to me the smart place to meet travelers is in a tavern. That way, one party’s late, the other party can drink some ale inside.

Oberyn: You know why all the world hates a Lannister? You think your gold, and lions, and your gold lions make you better than everyone. Can I tell you a secret? You’re not a golden lion. You’re just a pink little man who’s far too slow on the draw.

Daario: I’d rather have no brains and two balls.
Grey Worm: >:(

Tyrion: Your mother, on the other hand. I admired her. She wanted to have me executed, but I admired her. She was a strong woman. She was fierce, and aimed to protect her children. Sansa, your mother would want you to carry on.

Sansa: I don’t pray anymore. It’s the only place I can go where people don’t talk to me.

Tyrion: Things are… tense right now.
Shae: What things?
Tyrion: My nephew the King wants to murder me, my wife hates me because my father murdered her family, Oberyn Martell wants to murder everyone whose last name is Lannister…

Jaime: A hook would be more practical.

Sam: Sometimes I want to hate you. You’re better than me at everything… except reading.

Aemon: If we beheaded every Ranger who lay with a girl, the Wall would be manned by headless men.

Jaime: Are you sure we’re not related? Ever since I’ve returned every Lannister I’ve seen has been a miserable pain in my arse. Maybe you’re a Lannister too. You’ve got the hair for it… but not the looks.

Sandor: The lady wants a horse?
Arya: The lady wants away from your stench.

Arya: Why don’t you have any money? Didn’t you steal anything from Joffrey before you left?
Sandor: No. I’m not a thief.
Arya: You’re fine with murdering little boys but thieving’s beneath you.
Sandor: Man’s got to have a code.

Sandor: What the fuck’s a Lommy?

Sandor: Needle? Of course you named your sword.
Arya: Lots of people name their swords.
Sandor: Lots of cunts.

Rating: A-