tv review – HBO’s Game Of Thrones, episode 4.1

With ‘Two Swords’ Game Of Thrones‘ fourth season is off to a great start. As with each season this opener set up new storylines, introduced some new characters and continued the plot strands that were left dangling from last season. The title of the episode referred to two new Valyrian steel blades forged from Ned Stark’s broadsword, one of which Tywin gave to his son Jaime, now a one-handed knight. Because of Jaime’s disability his father ordered him to leave for Casterly Rock and be its Lord, which Jaime refused: he wanted to serve in the King’s Guard and could not be diswayed, only to be mocked for his loyalty and honor later by his despicable nephew/son. Well, at least he would be near his sister and lover Cersei, right? No, she threw accusations in his face: she said Jaime caused the war between the Starks and Lannisters, that his fate was his own fault and that his selfishness left her all alone. “You took too long,” she said after she rebuffed his love, “Everything’s changed.” No, things didn’t go well for Jaime this episode, not at all. I doubt getting a clunky golden right hand makes up for anything.

Fortunately he’s not the only Lannister in trouble. His brother Tyrion has to deal with a mourning wife he doesn’t know and doesnt know how to comfort, with an angry ex, but especially with new character Oberyn Martell, a prince who has a bone to pick with the Lannisters. Oberyn blames Tywin for the death of his sister and her babies, who were murdered by The Mountain, and he seeks revenge. “The Lannisters aren’t the only ones who pay their debts,” he told Tyrion, threatening him and his kin before walking off. Pedro Pascal, the actor portraying Oberyn, was impressive: a commanding presence, bringing a sense of rage, vulnerability and steely determination to the role. He reminded me of Antonio Banderas, another actor who can be charming and warm up until the point he isn’t and turns cold, cruel and violent. We haven’t seen that much of Oberyn this week, but I feel like we know him already: going around threatening people, bedding folk and stabbing a man would do that. It seems that, now that most of the Starks are gone, Oberyn is stepping in to be foil to the House that thinks their “gold and lions and gold lions” make them better than everyone else.

To move away from the Lannisters for a bit, let’s focus on the other players this episode. Daenerys and her armies march toward another city to free its slaves and, along the way, she learned that a) her dragons may not be as domesticated as she would like them to be, and b) that Daario Naharis is now actively vying for her attention (the character’s now played by the wonderful Michiel Huisman, who lends more warmth and charm to Daario than Ed Skrein’s more macho take on the character did). Jon Snow meanwhile seems to have found his tongue and is trying to tell the Crows they’re in big trouble, but they’re not as keen on listening to a man they don’t trust. They really should though: ex Ygritte’s pack is now joined by a bunch of cannibals called Thenn, led by the imposing Styr, which really adds to the danger the Night’s Watch is in. Lastly Arya Stark got her sword Needle back, getting her hands dirty traveling with The Hound and ending up in a bloody and thrilling sword fight.

All in all Game Of Thrones‘ ‘Two Swords’ had a lot of moving pieces, set up a lot for future episodes and gave viewers exactly what they wanted after the long wait. 8/10

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