This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Game of Thrones, including last night’s Season 4 premiere, “Two Swords.” Enjoy!
On tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones we checked in with old friends, met some new ones and watched scarred men enjoying feasts of roasted chicken and roasted Crow. Welcome back to Westeros, where an episode without a beheading just means we’ll get some cannibalism instead.
In King’s Landing, Tywin and Cersei both got the newly returned Jaime some nifty “welcome home, sorry about your hand!” presents: Tywin gave him a sword melted down from Ned Stark’s giant blade (passing the sword from a man without a head to a man without a hand); Cersei got her brother/lover/baby-daddy an enormous new golden hand, even if a hook would be more practical for a man in Jaime’s predicament. (That thing is so huge, it looks like Jaime should be waving it during the Westeros equivalent of March Madness or the Superbowl—which would probably involve beheadings for the losing team.) After giving Jaime the sword, Tywin tried to browbeat his older son into leaving the Kingsguard, to which Jaime said “no!” which may be the first time any of Tywin’s children have ever said that word to him. Cersei also said “no!” to Jaime’s attempts to get back in her smallclothes. Come to think of it, if Cersei had just said “no!” some seventeen years earlier, she would have spared everyone Joffrey (something that Jaime himself may have pondered after being insulted by the little weasel who is his son/nephew/King).
Meanwhile, Jaime’s little brother Tyrion was not having any more fun than Jaime. First, he was given the unenviable task of welcoming the Martells to King’s Landing and Joffrey’s wedding. (okay, so if you’ve read the books, skip this part, but if, like my husband, you are wondering “who are these new people and should I pay attention?” here’s a little summary: The Martells are the head family of Dorne, which is one of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, and for various reasons, they’re Princes instead of just Lords, like the Starks, Lannisters, etc. Oberyn Martell’s sister Elia was married to Rhaegar Targaryen, much older brother of Viserys and Dany, and they had two kids. Rhaegar ran off with Ned Stark’s sister Lyanna, who was betrothed to Robert Baratheon, and Robert killed him in a battle. After Jaime killed mad king Aerys, father of Rhaegar, Viserys and Dany, Tywin Lannister’s army sacked King’s Landing, killing Rhaegar’s and Elia’s kids, and also Elia herself. Oberyn is not too fond of Lannisters as a result. Also, his girlfriend Ellaria is kind of awesome and played by Indira Varma who was memorably both Niobe on Rome and also Luther’s wife on Luther.)
Alas, the Martell welcoming party went badly because Oberyn was already in King's Landing, hanging out at Littlefinger’s brothel. Oberyn and Ellaria's attempts to have an orgy were derailed by some Lannister guardsmen singing “The Rains of Castamere,” which is the #1 song on Oberyn's hit parade Songs That Really Annoy Him. By the time Tyrion arrived, Oberyn had already inflicted grievous bodily harm on the Lannister guardsman, and then in private conference with Tyrion, threatened every Lannister, most especially Tywin, whom he blames for his sister's death. Well, this should be fun!
Tyrion tried to comfort his bride Sansa Stark about the grisly murders of her brother and her mother on his father's orders (poor Tyrion, always having to clean up after Tywin's ruthless inhumanity.) That went about as well as might be imagined, with Sansa fleeing to somewhere where no-one would talk to her. Except for a fat jester, who used to be a knight, whom some of you may remember is named Dontos Holland, and whom Sansa saved from being killed by Joffrey ages and ages ago. He was so grateful to Sansa that after months and months of disappearing somewhere, he just reappeared to gift her with a cheap-looking trinket that he claimed had once belonged to his mother.
Meanwhile, Tyrion’s girlfriend Shae was jealous of the time Tyrion has supposedly been spending with Sansa, and miffed that she hasn’t had sex with Tyrion lately. Also, she accused Tyrion of trying to bribe her to leave King’s Landing (except that was really Varys, acting without Tyrion’s knowledge) and told him to tell her himself if he wanted her gone. Which he doesn’t. When Shae slammed out of Tyrion’s rooms in a snit, she was observed by another waiting-woman who immediately went to Cersei with the information. Dun dun dun! This is probably not good news for Shae.
Elsewhere in King’s Landing, Margaery Tyrell and her grandmother put the finishing touches on Margaery’s wardrobe for her wedding and chatted with my girl Brienne of Tarth, who also tried to remind Jaime of his promise to return Sansa Stark to her mother. (In Brienne's eyes, the fact that there isn’t really anywhere to return Sansa to, given that Catelyn and Robb are dead and Winterfell is burned to the ground, did not absolve Jaime of keeping his promises.) Jaime asked Brienne if they were related because everyone in his family is a huge pain in his arse. (Although he might just have been saying that he wants to sleep with her, because he does that with at least 1/3 of his immediate family. You never know with Jaime.)
The focus is all on Sansa, because everyone still thinks Arya Stark is dead, but they could not be more wrong. She is in fact enjoying the most hilarious road trip with the Hound since...Jaime and Brienne’s road trip. Sandor intends to deliver Arya to Creepy Aunt Lysa Arryn up in the Vale, certain that Auntie Lysa will reward him with untold riches. Of course, first they have to make it through the burnt-out Riverlands, where it's every man, woman, and kid for themselves. Despite the terrible things the Hound has done, Arya could be in worse hands. He even quoted Omar Little from The Wire, saying that “a man's got to have a code.” (Oh no doubt, Hound, no doubt!).
Arya and the Hound enjoyed a fantastic meal of roast chicken and Arya even got a pony of her own after the two of them killed five people at an inn; in their defense, the dudes all worked for Sandor’s brother, Gregor Clegane aka “The Mountain” aka “The Horse Beheader” and they were all nasty, nasty individuals. Arya recognized one of them as Polliver, who, back in season 2 took Arya’s sword Needle from her, killed her friend Lommy with it, and was generally a vicious bastard. Arya repeated his words back to him as she stuck him in the throat with Needle, and the sad thing is that Polliver didn’t even remember Arya’s friend because he’d killed so many people since. Nonetheless, Arya appeared quite satisfied at crossing another name of her kill-list.
Meanwhile, the guy who gave Arya Needle, her half-brother Jon Snow, faced a court-martial (in essence) composed of Maester Aemon, Ser Alliser Thorne (remember the sadistic drill instructor from Season 1?) and Janos Slynt (erstwhile head of the city guard whom Tyrion banished from King’s Landing to the Wall in Season 2). Despite Jon’s confession about breaking his vows, killing his fellow Night’s Watchman Qhorin Halfhand AND sleeping with the enemy, things went surprisingly well for him (and by that I mean he didn’t get his head cut off. He wasn't even clapped in irons! Welcome to the kinder gentler Night's Watch—RIP Poor Guy That Ned Stark Executed for Desertion Back in the Pilot!) Perhaps that something to do with the warning he brought about Mance Rayder’s plans to attack Castle Black in the not-too-distant future.
And speaking of attacks, if Jon’s wildling girlfriend Ygritte has anything to do with it, Theon Greyjoy may not be the only man in the North lacking an appendage. She and Tormund Giantsbane were apparently hanging out south of the Wall, waiting for Mance’s orders, which showed up in the form of some grisly-looking dudes with ritual scarification and German accents, and with a penchant for eating Crow. (I mean that absolutely literally since they showed up with some body parts in a bag and started roasting them. I fear for poor Samwell Tarly when these fellas show up at Castle Black.)
Lastly, over in Essos, Dany continued her march to Meereen (which is another one of the slave cities) while learning that her dragons are growing up and are seriously scary creatures. (They kind of remind me of my late, beloved German Shepherd, at least in regards to their reactions to food, though he was a lot cuddlier and never, to my knowledge, breathed fire.) Dany also had to mediate pointless conflicts between Grey Worm and Daario, who is now played by a different actor who does not remotely resemble the actor who played him last season, so to all intents and purposes might just as well be a completely different character. Anyway, Nu!Daario is all attractive and suave in a slightly less annoying manner than Old!Daario was, and gives Dany a bouquet full of symbolism and possibly poisonous flowers. Meanwhile, the city of Meereen has decided to give Dany a bouquet of dead children, marking each of the 163 miles between her current position and Meereen with crucified young slaves. Dany is, as one might imagine, not at all happy about this. People really need to stop and ask themselves if it’s a good idea to piss off the person with a large army and three enormous dragons before they indulge in these sorts of games.
—Favorite scene of the episode: A tie: the cold open, in which Charles Dance managed to convey Tywin Lannister’s utter satisfaction at his victory over the Starks simply by the look on his face as he watched Ned Stark’s wolfskin cloak burn, was just brilliant. And then there was scene at the end of the episode when Arya smiled as she watched Polliver die. It was such a bittersweet moment to see that the training that Ned had set up for her with Syrio had finally born fruit, as she killed men in a mini-battle. Ned gave her the means to survive in an incredibly hostile world, but I wonder if he would have been as horrified as I felt at seeing her satisfaction in killing someone.
Next week on Game of Thrones: Joffrey’s wedding—the fashions, the food, and the hope that someone, somehow, will punch the little megalomaniac in the face. (My money’s on Oberyn!) I can't wait!!
Regina Thorne is an avid reader of just about everything, an aspiring writer, a lover of old movies and current tv shows, and a hopeless romantic.