Game of Thrones 4×01 – Two Swords Review

Oh hi- annnnnnd we’re back.

‘Two Swords’ is a premiere much like the others, a lot of back and forth between characters as we try to check in with almost every one of them- including any newcomers. And what wonderful newcomers they are. The episode manages to strike a balance between the different storylines, tying them all together through some overarching theme or plot that sometimes works and other times fall flat. In this instance we have a ding ding ding as we take a look at how the events of last season (and wars passed) have permeated the lives of those affected with ideas of revenge and reason being threaded throughout each plot-line.
But first, shall we have a quick rundown of where everyone’s at?

Well Tywin’s melted down a sword that don’t belong to him (Ned’s Ice) because Valyrian steel is hard to come by, okay? Tyrion’s being barraged by everyone for things his family have done while trying to do his diplomatic wizardry and keep peace with Dorne- via Dornish prince Oberyn Martell (helloooooo RED VIPER!) Which proves difficult, for good reason. Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) in all his sexiness has come a’seeking his own vengeance for the cold-blooded murder of his sister, Elia, and her children. Pascal plays Oberyn with just the right amount of sensuality and unrestrained rage which seems to be exactly what we didn’t know Oberyn needed. The Spanish accent is delightful.

Jaime’s trying to get his ins back with his twin while trying to reconcile his new-found sense of morality and his old life of twincest and not giving a damn- but Cersei is all ‘you took too long to get back to me even though you were captured’ and she’s now betrothed to Loras whom she calls a pillow-biter because everyone knows he was Renly’s buh-buh-buh-buh. Meanwhile Dany’s on her way to Meereen with her army of former-slave-Unsullied- fighting slavery and injustice every step of the way. Daario’s changed actors but he’s still trying to get his ins- while Ser Friend-Zone Jorah tries to warn Dany about her Dragons never ever being tamed and Dany -being all regal and shit- doesn’t curr one bit. Also they’ve chucked in a hint at Greyworm-Missandei which is weird but cute but sad because Greyworm’s a eunuch. Jon Snow’s alive but under Castle Black scrutiny because he’d previously been hanging out with them Wildlings- deep undercover a la DiCaprio’s character in The Departed– while the Wildlings continue to rally- even if they want to rip each other to shreds when it comes to other factions of Wildlings. Ew Thenns.

Margaery and her Grandmother have sass sessions and Margaery talks about how Joffrey would probably give her a necklace of sparrow heads which is hilarious and true. Jaime and Brienne have honour sessions that dissolve into sass sessions- while Sansa’s accosted in the Godswood while notpraying by drunken former-Ser-now-Fool Dontos she once saved. Speaking of blasts from the past remember Polliver? The douchebag who took Needle and then killed Lommy? Well Arya does and when she sees him again she bides her sweet time until she can exact her revenge in the best way possible. They’ve diverged from Book-Arya slightly (plot-wise) however there’s one thing about the younger Stark girl that prevails, her outright badassery.

 
And that’s what you missed on… Thrones.
 
Deciding to end with Arya and the Hound riding out toward the ravaged land on their way to sell Arya back to some kind of family member who’ll pay for her return, after we witness Arya sink further into mercenary-psyche territory, with Needle back in her possession is rather perfect. It’s nice that we end on a ‘win’ for Arya, but in the end it’s not really a ‘win’ for anyone is it? When the coolest girl in the series has been molded into a killer by her circumstances.
What ‘Two Swords’ shows us is that on one hand there’s winning battles and on the other there’s losing a small piece of what makes you human.
 
Although it also pulls that central theme of honour that’s gotten more than one character killed. Brienne is an honourable soul, she’s still trying to get justice for what happened to Renly- and will continue to try to get Sansa out safe and perhaps look for Arya, to keep her word to Catelyn Stark. All the while trying to help Jaime continue on the honour track- which can prove difficult when back in King’s landing- or anywhere in Westeros really. Decisions made in this series are difficult and frought with uncertainty.
 
This also manifests itself in Arya and Clegane’s strange relationship that yields some suspenseful moments where you wonder whether Arya’s going to make a break for it or not- however as she says so before the run-in with the Lannister men- she can’t survive without him at this point.
 
And to be honest, neither would we.
 
Honourable Mentions:
 
– That Thenn’s gonna want to tread lightly around Ygritte aye.
 
-No Stannis and Melisandre this episode- so none of that ‘Lord of Light’ nonsense that I love so much. We also didn’t get any Iron-born- do we get the Kingsmoot this season, does anyone know? No Bran or Hodor and so no wolf-warging or Reeds. The lack of Theon is comforting, slightly. Because seeing him will freak me out, I bet. Also, not ready to go in that direction- the Bolton bastard direction- the ‘reek reek rhymes with meek’ direction.
 
– Nothing like a bunch of foreshadowing to start the season, am I right? Sansa mentioning her mother’s throat slashing and where she’s dumped, Arya’s every move foreshadowing her eventual fate, Dany’s interactions with her dragons perhaps telling of the direction in which her relationship with her ‘children’ will develop and evolve along with their temperament and size.
 
– Until next week! Where it looks like we’ll be getting ALL of what I’ve said was left out this episode AND a wedding!
 


BOOK SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT! DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YA!

In New Zealand we brought down a big statue of Joffrey today, by tweeting using the hashtag #bringdowntheking, we were pretty chuffed about it. As you can see. The more we see Joffrey alive the more I want to fast forward to the Purple Wedding- but all in good time I suppose.

It’s also probably not what I want to rush into especially considering what follows the Purple Wedding. Because it’s not an all-round fun time for one of my favourite characters. I do see how the show-runners are building up to the point that we’re waiting for in Tyrion and Shae’s relationship- and where it converges with Tywin. I remember last season hating how much the show was making me like Shae, they’d taken quite a bit of liberties with her portrayal, so much so that how her storyline ends in the book would not have been a sufficient way for her to end in the show. I do believe they’re starting to work on changing peoples’ perceptions- however it’ll take more time. Which, incidentally we have.
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Arya’s still with the Hound, but at this point he should be mortally wounded but he isn’t. They’re gonna stick together for the duration of this season aren’t they? She’s gotta be on a boat to Braavos soon- for her destiny awaits. Also, we have not seen her warg in her dreams like Bran does yet. Gawd, will she EVER see Nymeria again?! It’s interesting how in the book Arya doesn’t kill Polliver herself, I like how they’ve deviated in this regard.
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Oberyn mentions Rhaegar falling for another woman, could this be talk of Lyanna? Her abduction triggered the war- but was it an abduction? Because the moment Oberyn mentioned his sister being slighted for another woman I thought about Rhaegar crowning Lyanna the queen of love and beauty at Harrenhal while his wife (Elia) was RIGHT THERE. Could this be more foreshadowing of the reveal of a huge series mystery… Jon Snow’s parentage?
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