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- Episode: Two Swords (Season 4, Episode 1)
- Starring: Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Octavia Selena Alexandru, Peter Dinklage
- Written By: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss
- Directed By: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss
- Network: HBO
- Studio: Home Box Office (HBO), Television 360, Grok! Studio
Game of Thrones: Two Swords Review
All Men Must Die
By Jarrett Kruse
April 07, 2014
The off season of GAME OF THRONES seemed longer than ever but the epic show has finally returned. Maybe it was the ridiculously long winter that we have experienced on the east coast or that the show has grown so exponentially that we have so missed the world of Westeros. In its absence the GOT brand can be compared to the THE SOPRANOS’ unreal popularity as droves of new viewers have caught up on the first three seasons to prep for tonight’s season four debut. From throw blankets to shot glasses the worlds of GOT have become synonymous with geek culture but has also spread into the mainstream capturing the minds of not only fantasy enthusiasts but those that are fans of human stories being told in a magical world. Whatever your reason everyone seems to be tuning in to HBO’s golden goose and with good reason, GAME OF THRONES is the best show on pay cable and continues to fascinate me with its scope and scale, its brilliant production design and broad narrative that continues to capture our minds.
While I think it is sometimes a valid complaint that big events may take a long time to happen on the show, I was very happy that the new season kicked off with a solid framework that sets up what’s in store this year. The fallout from the Red Wedding and season 3’s finale “Mhysa” has sent some waves throughout Westeros but in no way does the storytelling lose its footing. The opening with Tywin overseeing the meltdown and reshaping of Ned Stark’s Valyrian steel sword with “The Rains of Castamere” was symbolic of a dramatic shift in power from last year. (Note to self: change your ringtone to “The Rains of Castamere”). Tywin has two swords made and gives one to Jaime who seems to be having a difficult time adjusting back to life at King’s Landing. Not only does Tywin reiterate that his son will never be the same swordsman without two hands but after getting a cool golden prosthetic hand he is rejected by Cersei after making sexual advances. The icy cold Cersei is quick to let her brother know that Jaime simply “took too long” returning. Ouch.
The Imp, masterfully played by Peter Dinklage seems to be distraught as he tries to welcome Oberyn Martell, the prince of Dorne who sneaks into one of Littlefinger’s brothels ahead of his landing parry. This dude is definitely not someone to be trifled with and his heated exchange with Tyrion about his dead sister is scary. He assures the diminutive Lannister that his family is not the only one that pays their debts. Yikes. He has a major score to settle and he reminded me of an evil Inigo Montoya. Dany is moving with her army and sharing a moment with her dragons that have continued to grow. When one of the dragons snaps at her, Jorah reiterates that no one can control these monsters, not even their mother. It was interesting to see Jon Snow mulling over what has happened to the House of Stark as he prepares to appear before a council of the Night’s Watch. Avoiding execution, I was impressed at how confident Jon was in his answers to the council even after just disclosing what a disappointment he felt like compared to Robb.
I liked that they decided to catch up with Ygritte and the other wildlings from her point of view as we meet bunch of cannibal baddies called the Thenns. Very creepy to see these giant dudes cook up a human arm. Ygritte clearly let Jon get away despite putting three arrows in him; she is in love and her allegiance to the wildling’s is being called into question. Back at King’s Landing, Sansa Stark is still miserable and cannot so much as choke down some sweets. She is beside herself with grief and seems to be destined for eternal sadness. Gotta feel bad for the kid. On the plus side one Stark, Arya, has one hell of an entrance into season four. After complaining about The Hound’s stench and her desire for a horse of her own, the duo come upon men of the king’s drinking ale and groping the inn’s waitress. Arya immediately recognizes Polliver as the killer of Lommy and now owner of Needle. In an epic close quarter battle, The Hound does what he does best but it is Arya whose entire persona changes as she takes possession of her old sword and repeats the last words Lommy heard and reenacting the kill. She is no longer a girl but now a young woman with a vendetta seeking revenge. They grow up so fast.
All in all it was a true return to form for the show maintaining its stark (ha) storytelling and expansive narrative. There are very few shows where you can actually say “I cannot wait until next week” but GOT is one of those shows. The hype is warranted and the buzz is as good as it can get. The Game has superseded the whole “its not TV, its HBO” thing and become a cultural phenomenon all its own carving out a big piece of the pop zeitgeist making it not only geeks’ flagship show but something that everyone can look forward to. A solid “A-“ hour.