This article is to be read after the episode has been seen, as and as a result may contain spoilers up to the episode that it’s covering, but no further. So if you haven’t seen the episode yet, go and watch it. Then come back and read this. Then watch the episode again. Then read this again.
Meereen looks a bit like Aku-Aku from Crash Bandicoot in the opening credits.
Let’s kick off with Arya’s story in Braavos. We saw Braavos very briefly in season 4, when Stannis and Davos visit the Iron Bank to ask for money. But now we get to see the city alive. So, Braavos is one of the Nine Free Cities – that is, cities in Essos (the eastern continent) that do not follow a king. Instead, Braavos is ruled by a Sealord. Cast your mind back to season 1, and the wonderful Syrio Forel (“not today”). Syrio was the First Sword to the Sealord of Braavos. Kind of a big deal. Braavos is a bit like Venice with Britain’s weather. It’s built on a load of canals, so boat travel is the most efficient way of getting around. We follow Arya as she finds the House of Black and White, the episode’s namesake. This is home to the Faceless Men: the organisation of assassins that Jaqen H’ghar is part of. OMG book spoiler – the old man in the books is never actually revealed to be Jaqen, though there were theories, so this is an interesting turn of events. Side note: one other thing that I did notice is that Arya’s list has gotten substantially shorter…no more Thoros, Beric or Mel, or Ilyn Payne. Has she forgiven or just forgotten…?
Sticking in Essos (it’s a pretty gosh darn big place), we caught up with Varys and Tyrion on their way to Meereen via Volantis. Volantis is another of the Free Cities, located at the very south of the map (Braavos is pretty north). Notably Volantians include Talisa – Robb Stark’s baby momma. Whilst we wait for Varys and Tyrion to catch up, let’s travel to Meereen ourselves, kids! As you can see, this episode saw Daenerys making a tough ol’ decision. The title House of Black and White may well refer to Dany’s decision of killing Maran…Meren….Maranana…I can’t remember his name. Not important. That guy. Personally, I think she did the right thing, though as we saw, it led to a riot between the old Masters and the freed slaves. Interesting, parallels can be drawn here with both Robb and Joffrey: Robb had to execute Rickard Karstark for killing his prisoners, just like Daenerys. Joffrey had to run from the lynch mob throwing rocks and poo, just like Daenerys (though maybe not the poo). What does this mean? Who knows!
Over to Westeros. Once again, Brienne’s bad track record proceeded her. Though, I can’t help but think that she didn’t try very hard before running off in a huff….though it did prove how bad-ass is she is. Notice as well, Sansa’s bird-like outfits, mirroring Baelish’s mockingbird sigil. Could the title Black and White refer to them too, or is that too tenuous?
In King’s Landing, we see just how highly Kevan Lannister thinks of his niece. Kevan is very much his brother’s brother. He idolised Tywin, so you can imagine that Tywin’s death has affected him pretty badly. But Kevan ain’t no fool. He can see right through Cersei for what she is. Along with complimenting bumbling (but wonderful) Mace Tyrell, Cersei seems to be slowly manipulating what remains of the Small Council. She obviously hates Pycelle (who doesn’t?) and is trying to worm Qyburn in there. I’ve talked about Qyburn before, but we’ll have a quick recap. We first met him in season 3 in Harrenhal, where he came to serve Roose Bolton. After Jaime lost his hand, Qyburn stitched him up and escorted him and Brienne back to King’s Landing. Qyburn is a Maester, like Pycelle, Aemon and Luwin (RIP). However, Qyburn was banished from the Citadel (their HQ) for…unethical experiments. What these were exactly, we don’t know. But we do know that he used his knowledge to potentially save a dying Gregor Clegane (the Mountain) and he had a curious fascination with the dead dwarf’s head…hmmmm.
At the Wall, Stannis finally starts being awesome like his book counterpart, offering Jon Snow the goddamn North. The letter that Stannis received was from Lyanna Mormont, who is niece of Jeor Mormont (the old Night’s Watch Lord Commander) and cousin of Jorah Mormont. The letter is pretty awesome as it declares that, even though Roose Bolton holds the North and Stannis wants to take it, the Northerners bow to one king, and his name is STARK. Frickin’ awesome. One day, I hope that the Seven Kingdoms are ruled by the Starks and Martells. WHICH BRINGS US NICELY ON TO:
Dorne. Hell yeah. Personally, the Martells are my favourite house. About 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones takes place, Aegon Targaryen, known as Aegon the Conqueror, landed in Westeros with his dragons and armies and tried to take over. The whole country bent the knee, apart from Dorne. The Martells words “Unbowed. Unbent. Unbroken.” is a symbol of their resistance. Throughout the ages, the Martells have often been pissed on, but have never faltered and always risen above it. They are a strong house, somewhat isolated (both geographically and politically) from the rest of Westeros. Our first encounter with the Martells was through the fantastic, late Oberyn. We know that he was bent on revenge against those that murdered his sister, Elia, and her children. Elia, if you remember, was married to Rhaegar Targaryen, Dany’s older brother. The Mountain “raped her. Murdered her. Killed her children.” But you know all this. So the Martells are a bit bitter. But do they incite open war? No. Doran Martell – Oberyn’s older brother and head of the family, Lord of Sunspear – is cleverer than that. We briefly meet Doran in this episode. He is pretty much wheelchair bound due to severe gout (caused by the lavish Dornish lifestyle, some say). Doran may seem weak, but he is patient. He will bide his time, like so many Martells have before him. Partially, this is why I am so scared for Jaime and Bronn going to Dorne. I love the Martells, but gosh darn I hope those two are safe (this is a diversion from the books so I have no idea what’s going to happen!). We also briefly saw Myrcella (who has been recast) walking around the Water Gardens with a young man, Trystane Martell. Trystane is Doran’s son. In the books, he has another daughter, Arienne. Unfortunately, she seems to have been omitted from the show, but it appears though Ellaria Sand, Oberyn’s ex-gf, is taking on her character responsibilities. So there’s a little history lesson to wrap up this week’s episode companion. Now, please join me in staring at Daenerys’ ridiculous eyebrows until the sun rises.
TOMMEN IS TOO OLD.
Sorry. Episode 4.03, “Breaker of Chains”, was definitely one of the weaker episodes as of late, and one of the weakest overall, IMO. I don’t think that anything has stirred the fanbase up so much more than the “rape” scene, but we will touch on that later, as well as how our opinions on certain characters change. I have very mixed feelings about this episode – there were some fantastic scenes such as Tryion and Pod, the sept (pre-rape) and that one bit with Daario…but equally, there were some very disappointing, almost seemingly pointless additions.
Let us begin, as most do, at the beginning. Following immediately after the Purple Wedding (feat. Jack Gleeson as ‘Corpse’), we see Sansa escaping with Dontos, across the water, and into the sly arms of Petyr Baelish aka Littlefinger. It has been heavily implied that Joffrey was poisoned. ‘The Strangler’, it’s called, not to be confused with the 1970’s English punk band. FUN FACT it’s the same poison that Maester Cressen used to try and kill Melisandre all the way back at the beginning of season 2, remember? Probably not. Anyway, if you’re wondering how it got in to Joffrey’s chalice, go and watch the scene again and keep an eye out. It’s awesome. What’s Pete doing out on the sea, you ask? He has recently been made Lord of Harrenhal (that big place where Arya and Tywin were), and needs to “acquire some sons”. He has sailed off to the Eyrie to marry Lysa Tully. Lysa, if you recall, is the late Catelyn’s sister – the one with the annoying breast feeding son. Baelish allegedly took her virginity, and since then she has apparently been infatuated with him, though it seems that he had eyes for Catelyn. Only Cat. So I imagine that that’s where he is taking Sansa – to meet her lovely aunt. I don’t know what he’s been doing since he left King’s Landing almost a season ago though…fishing, I imagine.
Staying in King’s Landing: with Joffrey’s death, his younger brother Tommen is now heir. As mentioned in me last post, Tommen has recently been recast presumably for a more experienced actor, due to becoming a larger character. I have yet to be impressed with this new (see: old) guy, though. For one thing, I think that he is too old. Tommen dans le books is supposed to be about 8 or so. A lot of characters ages have been upped (Daenerys is about 13…) but for them it makes sense: Tommen is supposed to be a podgy, naïve kid who would rather stamp envelopes and play with kittens than rule. Can you see this guy playing with kittens? I can’t. Of course, they may be taking him in a different direction, with his nativity possibly stemming from the fact that, at some point, he needs to get Margery preggos. Poor Margery. I think that she just wants to get laid… Tommen didn’t have too many lines in this episode though, so it’s still quite early to judge. Though I have to say I loved how blunt that scene between him, Cersei, Tywin and dead Joff was – Tywin outright insulting the recently deceased king – his own grandson – in front of Cersei, who remains brilliantly quiet and poker faced. Obviously, Tommen seems like a much nicer chap than Joffrey, and Tywin wants to break him in early. Perhaps Westeros will finally have a good king?
Meanwhile, locked away like the little rascal he is, Tyrion is awaiting trial for Joffrey’s death. The trial will be headed by Tywin, Mace Tyrell (“who will do whatever Tywin tells him to”) and Oberyn Martell. “But don’t the
Lannisters and the Martells hate each other?” I hear you scream at your computer/smart phone/tablet. Well, to an extent, yes. As has been established, Oberyn blames Tywin via the Mountain for his sister, niece and nephew’s deaths. However, Tywin knows that he needs Dorne. Interestingly, this is the first time that we see Tywin actually concerned about Daenerys and her dragons across the world. In the olden days, when Aegon conquered Westeros with his dragons, the Dornishmen were the only nation to resist due to their perseverance and promiscuity (that last one may be speculation…) Tywin seems an alliance with the Martells as completing the so-called Seven Kingdoms, and Oberyn probably sees it as an easy way to eliminate Tyrion Lannister, should he want to. All in all, Tyrion is pretty fuzzed, it seems. The discussion between him and Podrick was heartbreaking, ending with perhaps Tyrion’s only true friend leaving him. The fact that Tryion, who in a lot of ways is quite selfish and scheming, would willingly sacrifice his life (by having Pod ‘confess’) to save his squire’s is a credit to the growth of his character, and indeed their relationship.
So dem’s the good. Now the bad.
The scene that has the internet howling for blood: the rape scene. Some context of how this scene comes about: so in the books, Jaime was not present at King’s Landing for Joffrey’s wedding/death. He arrives afterwards, essentially when this scene in the sept takes place. He arrives to find a disgruntled Cersei, who has been longing for him (albeit sleeping whilst sleeping with about 5 other guys) as much as he has her. The result is a consensual, animalistic sex scene, from Jaime’s POV, next to the corpse of their illegitimate son. Cersei protests at first, as you would if you were about to have sex on your son, but soon gives in. In the series, however, he has already been back for weeks, which completely changes the dynamics. Since he’s been back, Cersei has not touched him. Bear in mind that these two had a super secret sexy relationship before Jaime was captured, so for Jaime to go without for so long, well, one can only imagine! But all he gets is rejection. His blood, and penis, are boiling. Then, when Cersei gives an oh-so-slight, but noticeable, recoil to his golden hand in the sept, that just triggers it. “Why have the gods made me love a hateful woman?”. And then…the series, in my opinion, dun goofed. What follows essentially undoes all of the character building that Jaime did in the last season that made him a fan favourite. But is that such a bad thing? At the end of the day, we have to remember that this is still the man that pushed a young boy from a tower window. This is still the man that attacked Ned in the street and dagger-eyed young Jory. Jaime Lannister is not a good man. But we want to like him, which is why so many book readers are upset over this scene – not just because ‘that didn’t happen in the book’, but because this changes EVERYTHING about his character. Yes, the series and the books are different, but at the end of the day this is still an adaptation of a novel, and changing something this big seems…well, ridiculous. This isn’t like making Sansa a bit more wet, or cutting Strong Belwas (look him up…but don’t read too much) – this is a character defining moment, and as a result, our opinion on (show) Jaime has dramatically changed. Because, as a wise man once said, “rape is never ok”. This isn’t the first time that the show has changed a consensual sex scene into one of rape, however. In the very first episode of the very first series, we see Drogo (who also later becomes a fan favourite) rape Dany on her wedding night. In the books, thirteen year old Daenerys, after a bit of fumbling, let’s Drogo have her way with her. So there’s some food for thought.
Speaking of opinions on characters changing, what about that Hound fellow, eh? That was a dickish thing to do. The point of this (show only) scene was to seemingly show that, like Jaime in many ways, Sandor Clegane is still not a good person. Sorry guys, looks like we won’t be getting that “Arya and the Hound” spin off any time soon! Sandor Clegane just wants to survive, and as a realist (see “everyone’s a killer) he will do that however he can.
Goodness this has been long. Erm what else should be covered… Angry Wildlings? That was a bit OTT, but I guess it just shows their ferocity. These guys are pissed. At the Wall, Grenn and Ed return from the north north, bringing news of what happened at Craster’s Keep. Jon wants to send a party back to Craster’s to eliminate the Night’s Watch Brothers there, who killed Craster, Lord Commander Mormont and several other Brothers. When Jon was travelling with the Wildlings, he told Mance that Castle Black was garrisoned by over a thousand men, when in reality it is only a few hundred. Jon fears that if Mance’s army falls upon Craster’s keep, he will find out – one way or another – from the ex-Brothers there about Castle Black’s real numbers, giving him no reason to hold back: “he’s already got enough to crush us; he just doesn’t know it yet”.
The last scene, and perhaps the most climatic, saw Daenerys at the gates of Meereen. Meereen is the largest city in Slaver’s Bay – the other two being Yunkai and Astapor, which Dany has already, erm, liberated. Meereen is
a lot different, and a lot richer. They send out a rider to defeat Daenerys’ champion in one-on-one combat, which fails when Daario kicks arse and takes names. In the books, the aforementioned Strong Belwas performs the act, proceeding to poo on the corpse of Meereen’s champion, but Daario was a good choice in Belwas’ absence. Daenerys then uses her loud voice and barrels to intimidate Meereen (and, you know, not her three fat-off dragons), causing fear and mutiny in the city. The Mother of Dragons is building her army!
I’ll finish off by just elaborating a bit on something that has been mentioned a few times already: the Iron Bank of Bravos. What is this? Well, pretty much what it says on the tin. The Iron Bank is an extremely wealthy bank…in Bravos…with clients all over the world, including the Crown in King’s Landing. Tyrion, in season three I think, goes as far as saying that the Bank will begin funding the Crown’s enemies if they are not careful, to ensure they get their money back quicker, which is precisely what Davos’ little epiphany was. One way other another, the Iron Bank will have its due.
Well that’s it for this somewhat dark episode. I mean dark as in lighting. Seriously, someone in Westeros should discover electricity. Maybe then they could start distributing music too, and people wouldn’t have to only sing “The Rains of Castamere” and “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”. Maybe that’s why everyone is so angry and aggravated? Ahh I’m so funny.
Murder! But who dun it?
Ok, the ending of “The Lion and the Rose” was arguably the most climatic scene in the episode, so we’ll pop on to that last. Firstly, let’s look at some new characters and concepts introduced.
Mace Tyrell, the Lord “Oaf” of Highgarden. Mace is Margery and Loras’ father, and Olenna’s (the Queen of Thorns) son. We don’t see too much of him in this episode, but what we do is fantastic. Mace is supposed to be a bumbling fool – on paper, he may be the head of the family, but everyone knows that really it’s his mother ruling the roost. Roger Ashton-Griffiths does a fantastic job of perfecting Mace’s ridiculous facial expressions, mannerisms and characteristics; the epitome being the scene where he’s plodding down the stairs, looking so chuffed with himself, to acknowledge his other… who completely disregards him. Also, that facial hair.
Meanwhile, in the north (not the NORTH north, just the north) we get to spend some loving time with Ramsay, Reek and a girl called Myranda. Myranda is a character created solely for the show, though as of yet I’m not entirely sure why. She was one of the minxs that tantalised Theon before Ramsay cut off his todger. In the books, Ramsay has a band of merry men called “The Bastards Boys” who do his bidding. Myranda seems to have replaced them in the show. I’m still not sure how I feel about this, as having a female counterpart arguably humanises Ramsay, and shows that he does hold compassion towards some people. But we shall see, eh?
Briefly we also saw Roose Bolton’s new wife, Fat Walda. If you cast your minds back to episode 3.09 (prior to the Red Wedding), Roose explains to Catelyn that Walder Frey said that if Roose would marry one of his daughters or granddaughters, he could have her weight in gold. So, Roose, the sneaky devil, chose the fattest one he could find. Oh Fat Walda, you don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself in to…
M’kay, scene and themes breakdown. Firstly, Alfie Allen’s portrayal of Reek was…incredible. Every tiny movement was thought out – the way he hobbled along during the forest, the way he barely looks Roose or Ramsay in the eye, and the sheer heartbreak you see on his face when he learns of Robb’s fate. There has been some criticism that his transition from Theon to Reek was too rapid, but I don’t think there was really any other way they could show the ‘brainwashing’ without it getting boring and tedious. I mean, judging from the state that Theon was in at the end of the last season, you can imagine how much torture he must have gone through up to this point.
Staying with the Boltons (sounds like a sitcom), it was great seeing some interactions between Roose and Ramsay. Ramsay seems to have major daddy issues, and is constantly reminded that he is a Snow, not a Bolton. Parallels can be drawn here with Oberyn and Ellaria Sand discussing bastards with Cersei and Tywin in King’s Landing: “bastards are born of passion”. Dorne has a completely different way of looking at bastards compared to the rest of Westeros. Just look at Jon, for example. He joined the Night’s Watch because he knew that, as a bastard, he would inherit nothing, and become nothing. Ramsey probably feels the same way. Bastards are frowned upon in the majority of Westeros, whereas in Dorne they are accepted for who they are, not what they are.
Over on Dragonstone, we were reintroduced to Stannis’ lovely wife Selyse, and get a deeper look into his belief in Melisandre’s god. The scene opened with some sacrificial burnings. No biggie. One of the lucky chosen was Selyse’s brother, Axell Florent. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that Stannis is becoming obsessed with obtaining the Iron Throne through any means. He seems Melisandre as his key, and doesn’t seem to mind if he has to use black magic to obtain his goal. I mean, we’ve already seen Melisandre birth Shadow Baby, so what else is she capable of?
In the north north north north, Bran is becoming a moody teenager who just wants to be a wolf. The three that he caresses is a weirwood tree (also known as a heart tree). These trees have been mentioned a few times (one appears prominently in Winterfell) as they are remnants of the Old Gods. The trees all have faces carved into them, which, combined with the blood-red sap, makes them look like they are crying. Upon touching the tree, Bran is presented with a strange and interesting vision that hasn’t been getting enough internet attention!! This is Game of Thrones, so one can assume that all the visions had some significance somehow: Ned in the black cells, Ned honing Ice, Bran falling, the three-eyed raven, the crowstorm from when Sam killed the White Walker, the undead horse, and, perhaps most prominent, King’s Landing: once covered by the shadow of a dragon, and again in the throne room. This one, if you remember, is exactly the same as Daenerys’ vision at the end of season 2 – the Red Keep, destroyed, coated in snow (or perhaps ash?), in ruins. Is Bran seeing what is to come, what may come, or what has come? Either way, a voice spoke out to him, and now he must continue north north north north…north.
Alright, King’s Landing. It’s wedding day. And OH MY GOD SO MUCH FORESHADOWING. Let’s firstly pay quick homage to the scene between Jaime and Bronn sparring. In the books, Jaime enlists the help of mute Ilyn Payne (the King’s Justice), but tragically, Payne’s actor, musician Wilko Johnson, has terminal cancer and will not be reprising his role. The choice to have Bronn step up to the mark, however, was a great one by the show’s writers. At this point in the books, Bronn kind of drifts off into the background, for the most part. But Jerome Flynn’s portrayal of the sellsword has been brilliant, and it makes sense for him to remain in King’s Landing as a semi-prominent role: Jaime needs someone who will be discreet – if word got out that he could no longer fight, he would lose his dignity and what little remains of his honour. That, or if his king died whilst he was supposed to be protecting him. Oops. Plus, we get to see some awesome banter between him and Jaime.
Ok, right, the Purple Wedding. I think that a lot of respect needs to be paid to everyone that made this scene possible. It’s shot in real time, and features (I think) the most members of cast in one place at a time. It managed to jump from character to character, without feeling disjointed or erred. It would have been nice to see more of the actual wedding, but the afterparty was where it’s at. So, Joffrey’s dead, eh? That makeup was outstanding. In fact, that whole scene in general was just…ahh. I imagine his death was met with screams of both joy and regret – joy because he is an evil bastard (heh) and regret because he’s such a good character, and Jack Gleeson played him brilliantly. It’s a shame to see such a talented actor go: it’s something really special to make an entire fan base absolutely loath and despise you! Jaime and Brienne’s inclusion at the wedding was interesting too, as in the books they’re not near King’s Landing at this point. Though one thing that did bug me was Brienne’s lack of interaction with Sansa – you’d think that she would at least acknowledge her, maybe mention her mother or something, instead of just walking straight past her. But Jaime’s presence added a new level of emotion: as mentioned, all he can do now is protect the king. I think that he is aware that Joffrey is his son, but his sprint to the dying king’s side wasn’t out of love for a child – it was because he knew that this was his one task, his one duty, his one chance to redeem himself. And he failed. That’s just my opinion anyway. Having a ‘villain’ die can often feel a bit clichéd, but this scene was written and shot in such a way that, in the end, we’re looking at a scared child, looking to his mother to help, and she watches her firstborn die in her arms. It really humanised both Cersei and Joffrey, even if for only a second. Sidenote, on recasting, that blond boy sat next to Cersei was Tommen, the youngest of Cersei and
Robert’s Jaime’s children. He was played by a different actor in previous seasons, but has recently been replaced. The actor playing him now actually played Martyn Lannister – one of the children that Robb captured before Rickard Karstark murdered them.
So, who did it, and how was it done? Was it Tyrion? What about Sansa, escaping with Dontos at the end? Could it have been Oberyn, with his hatred for Lannisters and knowledge of poison? Or the Tyrells, perhaps? Tywin, wanting to be rid of a useless king? Maybe Melisandre and her leeches – remember them? If you would like to find out, there have been a few explanations as to how it was brilliantly done and filmed online, such as this one nyah – http://imgur.com/a/2DtPH (click at your own risk!).
So that’s it for “The Lion and the Rose”. Next week’s episode, entitled “Breaker of Chains”, will have Westeros realling in the aftermath of the Purple Wedding. Who sits on the Iron Throne now? Dun dun duuuuun.
Also, don’t go to a wedding in Westeros.
Let’s kick off with the big new characters introduced in this first episode of the new season (squee). As the Game of Thrones cast is so big, it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of who everyone is in relation to whom.
So here we go. Let’s start with arguably this season’s most prominent new character, the Red Viper himself, Oberyn Martell. The Martell’s are the presiding family over Dorne, located at the very south of Westeros. The lord of Dorne is Doran Martell, who suffers from gout, and is rarely seen in public as a result. The men of the Martell family are also known as ‘princes’, though this is just Dornish custom, and essentially has the same meaning as ‘lord’. Oh, Dorne is also where Myrcella (Joff’s younger sister) was sent in season 2, to be betrothed to Doran’s son. Oberyn is a fan favourite, as well as one of my own, and is often described as a ‘wild card’. He’s a sexual deviant, fathering many bastards, and hell-bent on seeking revenge for the death of his sister at the hands of Gregor Clegane, the Mountain. His sister was Elia Martell, who was married to good old Rhaegar Targaryen before he ran off with Lyanna Stark. Marriage, guys; it’s complicated. Also Oberyn’s paramour, Ellaria (not to be confused with Elia!) is a bastard – her surname is Sand. Obvs King’s Landing frowns upon bastards at court, so this will be fun to watch.
We were also introduced to Styr, the Magnar (leader) of a group of Wildlings from a place called Thenn. He was the big Xerxes-looking guy, with the bald, scarred head and crazy eyes. Since Jonathan killed Orel (Mackenzie Crook) last season, the Wildlings south of the Wall don’t have a Scooby as to where they are going, so the Thenns have come to lend a not-so-helping hand. These guys are terrifying. Interestingly, in the books these guys aren’t cannibals, and are actually implied to be a lot more civil than the rest of the Wildlings, so it will be interesting to see the developments in their characters.
Now some recurring characters who we haven’t seen in a while! The drunk guy that was following Sansa is Dontos Hollard. Cast your minds back to the very first episode of season 2 – Dontos was the knight that was too drunk to fight at Joffrey’s name day, so Joff tried to kill him. Sansa spoke up and Dontos was made the serve as the court’s fool instead. He just stopped to say hello. At the Wall, Jon was seen speaking in front of a board of Night’s Watch members, including Alliser Thorne (the guy that made Jon’s life hell in the first season), and Janos Slynt, who was the old commander of the City Watch at King’s Landing, before Tyrion sends him to the Wall for betraying Ned. Oh Ned…. Lastly, in the climactic scene of the episode, we see an old friend of Arya’s, Polliver. This was the guy who killed Lommy and took Needle from Arya back in season 2. God that last scene was awesome. And has sprouted various Sandor Clegane-chicken memes. Rightly so.
One last shout out to a recast: Daario Naharis. He was introduced at the end of season 3, played by actor Ed Skrein, but was recast after Skrein went on to pursue other things. I’m still not sure how I feel about this – Michiel Huisman seems like a better actor, but I miss Skrein’s smarminess. And something about Huisman just makes him look like generic guard #5. Still, it’s early days to judge.
The title of the episode – “Two Swords” – comes from the opening scene, where we see Ned Stark’s fat off greatsword Ice melted down into two brand new Valyrian Steel swords. One went to Jaime, and the other….?
Overall this was a great first episode to what promises to be an outstanding season. The speech-less opening was very powerful, and symbolised the Lannister triumph over the Starks, whilst the end scene almost represented the opposite: one Stark sword is lost; another is gained. The Hound was hilarious, and you can real feel Tyrion’s growing disdain for his family. Also Jaime picked up on Cersei’s drinking. Well, someone needs to tell her. I didn’t really like how Oberyn’s ‘characteristics’ were almost spoon-fed to the audience though – oh, he’s in a brothel. Oh he’s obviously in an open relationship. Oh he’s bi too. Oh and he wants to kill every Lannister he sees? Still, Oberyn’s character goes a lot deeper than that, so maybe this was just a preliminary introduction to establish his nature: he will either kill you, or have sex with you. Soon we will see why House Martell is so freaking awesome. Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.