‘Game of Thrones’ recap: Review of Season 4 Episode 1′s ‘Two Swords’

Cass Anderson

When we finished up with Season 3 of Game of Thrones, everything we once knew about Westeros was changing. We expect a whole lot more of this to come in the Season 4 premiere. Here’s our review of Game of Thrones Season 4 episode 1, “Two Swords.”

This year I’ll be taking over the recaps in place of Chris Spags, but I’ll be sticking with our tradition of picking each episode’s winners and losers.

BIGGEST LOSER: Eddard Stark’s Sword, Ice

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HBO

We open up the season to a beautiful montage of two swords being forged out of Valerian steel, a steel that no longer exists. We hadn’t seen Eddard Stark since the end of Season 1, when he was beheaded. We’d long since forgotten about that gargantuan sword he used to behead the Crow from the Wall in the series’ pilot. You know who didn’t forget about the sword? Tywin Lanniester. A sword forged of Valyrian steel was the one thing the House Lannister did not possess, until now. He’s fashioned two swords out of the Stark’s Ice, one for himself and one for his one-handed son Jamie. +2 Lannisters, -1 Starks.

BIGGEST WINNER: Arya Stark’s sword, Needle

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HBO

As you’ll quickly find out in my recaps this season, Arya Stark is my favorite character in Game of Thrones. Thus, when she gloriously reclaimed her sword, Needle, to conclude this season’s opener, it was that visceral ‘hell yes’ moment I’d been hoping for. We last saw Arya’s sword when it was taken by Polliver, a *solider of Gregor Clegane (enforcer for Tywin Lannister), when he took it from her and consequently ended up on her ‘kill list.’ The list she speaks to herself every night before going to sleep. The list of all the men she will one day murder as retribution for any wrongdoing against her or her family.

Well, we got that “HELL YES!” moment when Arya and her new travel buddy, The Hound (Gregor Clegane’s little bro), stumbled into a pub full of Polliver and his men. From the second they staggered in we all had the feeling that sh*t was about to GO DOWN, we just didn’t know which way it’d shake out. Given the show’s penchant for murdering our favorite characters, I wasn’t so optimistic of Arya’s chances. But, after all Hell broke loose Arya and The Hound walked out of there triumphant. The Hound leaving with a few beers in his belly, Arya leaving with the sword her brother gave her intact once again, and the list of names she recites every night one name shorter, goodbye Polliver.

LOSER: Tyrion Lannister

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HBO screenshot

Tyrion is tasked with waiting out on the King’s Road to meet the season’s first new addition to the main cast, Oberyn Martell. Naturally, Tyrion is sent on a fool’s errand as the Prince’s entourage shows up without the Prince in tow, and the Prince is already knee deep in prostitutes accompanied by his paramour, Ellaria Sand. Oberyn Martell, aka the Red Viper, wastes no time before jumping right into a decades old blood feud with the Lannisters when he stabs a man through the hand. And in the very next scene makes sure to strike fear into the heart of Tyrion Lannister by making known his true intentions for showing up in King’s Landing: revenge for the rape and murder of his sister, Elia, who was once wed to Rhaegar Targaryen (deceased older brother of Daenerys Targaryen, aka Khaleesi).

WINNER: Khaleesi’s Dragons

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The first glimpse we get of Khaleesi and her dragons is a gleam of hope for that day we’ve all been longing for, when her dragons are massive and able to wreck sh*t. Drogon, the biggest of her 3, snaps on her whilst eating and we see flashes of fear from the typically stone faced Khaleesi (losing her grip on life?). These dragons are clearly large enough now to take down an army, and we’re now crossing our fingers for the day we see that happen.

After the dragon seen we see Khaleesing meeting with Daario Naharis, who appears to have some sway over the Queen of Dragons. He’s dashing, clearly these two have some physical chemistry that’s growing. Do we see it blossom? Do we care? This is definitely something we’ll need to monitor throughout the season.

LOSER: Sansa Stark

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HBO Screenshot

In the first glimpse we get of the Drama Queen Stark, Sansa, she’s refusing to eat and blabbering on about her dead family. On the one hand, the Red Wedding was the most unexpected and outraging event in television history, but on the other hand Sansa Stark simply does NOT quit with her endless woes. Something has to give here, why keep alive the most insufferable of Starks? Is it to torture us avid TV watchers? Is there some grand plot afoot that we cannot see? Only time will tell I suppose, but in the mean time hopefully being married to Tyrion Lannister will begin to have a positive effect on her incessant doldrums.

WINNER: Exogamy

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HBO/Neil Davidson

Exogamy: sexual reproduction between individuals that are not closely related.” As we first see Cersei Lannister on the screen she and Jamie appear to be falling in to their same old routine of brother-sister-love: they’re alone in a bedroom. However, after a few moments of squabbling we discover that Cersei no longer has the desire to bang her beloved brother now that he’s only down to one hand. +1 exogamy, -1 incest.

LOSER: The Night’s Watch

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HBO Screenshot

Our next major character introduction comes when we meet the Thenn’s, who we’re immediately supposed to assume is Public Enemy #1 of the Night’s Watch. Looking like they’re straight out of the movie 300, these guys come sneaking up on Ygritte and the other Wildlings, commandeer their fire and get to eating on the actual human arm of a member of the Night’s Watch. Things aren’t looking good for Jon Snow right about now. Things we know about the Thenn’s thus far: they’re a band of Wildlings who are also cannibals, they despise everyone and everything below the Wall, and they’ve come to wreak havoc.

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HBO Screenshot

I repeat: they. eat. people.

WINNER: Jon Snow

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HBO Screenshot

On trial for the killing of Qhorin Halfhand and joining the Wildlings, things are not looking good off the get go for Jon Snow. Given that Jon Snow is the bastard son of Eddard Stark and has the Stark blood flowing within him, we can only assume that bad things will befall him. So as he appears in front of a jury of his peers, being judged for the murder of a superior, optimism is not flowing by the barrel.

However, after coming clean about his time with the Wildlings, including the admission that he got busy with Ygritte (going against his vows of the Night’s Watch), he then drops the bombshell of a plan set by Mance Rayder (King Beyond The Wall) to lay siege to the Wall from both sides and toppling the Night’s Watch. This lil tidbit of information seems to be enough to buy Jon Snow’s life for a while longer, as he and his brothers of the Night’s Watch are now tasked with protecting the wall from one hundred thousand Wildlings trying to outrun the White Walkers of the North.

LOSER: Jamie Lannister

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HBO Screenshot

Is it not enough of a burden that he fathered the most annoying twat in all the realms? No, it’s not. Jamie is also forced to endure a belittling from the little pissant as well. According to Joffrey he’s single-handedly responsible for keeping the people of King’s Landing alive and fed, and protecting them from the attacks of Stannis Baratheon. He’s just so damn modest. Someone really should throw him an ice cream party as a thank you for being so damn modest.

WINNER: Mereen

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HBO Screenshot

Why is the city of Mereen a winner? Because they’re about to get a massive explosion of Khaleesi all over them. She’s marching towards the city, she’s got her massive dragons in tow, this dude Daario Naharis giving her weird flowers and teaching her how to make tea. Yes, Mereen’s wildest dreams are about to come true. That is, if their wildest dreams include being attacked by a platinum haired queen with enough dragon to melt a pyramid in seconds.

The city must actually be eagerly anticipating the arrival of Khaleesi, because they crucified 163 corpses, one for each mile, leading up to the city as a welcoming present. Real smart guys, really damn smart. Let’s piss off the Queen who’s entire military history has been built around f*cking up injustice (frees slaves, kills slavers).

LOSER: Sir Dontos

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HBO Screenshot

We first met Ser Dontos back in season 2 when King Joffrey was holding Knight’s games in honor of his name day celebration. Ser Dontos was all set to fight until Joffrey accused him of being drunk, then ordered him to be drowned in wine until Sansa stuck up for him, and eventually ensuring Ser Dontos’ life is spared. Flash forward to present day, Ser Dontos is still all fat, lazy, and crunked up. He’s also made the poor decision of devoting his life to freeing Sansa Stark from the castle. The only hiccup being that he’s fat, lazy, and all crunked up.

This plot line certainly us hope for the character of Sansa Stark, as if she were ever to make it outside of the castle something even remotely interesting might happen in her life. So this is most certainly one to keep an eye on.

WINNER: Us

After months and months of waiting, Game of Thrones is FINALLY back. And with the first episode concluding with Arya finally taking steps towards being the badass we all hope she’ll be, things in Westeros appear to be on the rise. This episode was packed full of about as many concurrent plot lines as we’ve ever seen, yet they’ve managed to give us good indications of where this season is headed: things are looking GOOD for Khaleesi, Arya Stark, and Jon Snow, and things are looking BAD for Tyrion Lannister and Sansa Stark.

This is in our opinion the best show on television, and after last season’s Red Wedding there’s truly no way we can speculate with any sort of accuracy as to where this season is headed. But I can promise you this: I’ll be back here each week to give you a recap on what went down in that week’s episode of Game of Thrones, everything else is up for speculation.

Hit us in the comments down below with what you thought about this week’s episode and what you’re hoping to see this season! And if you need a refresher on last season you can find all of Guyism’s Game of Thrones content right HERE.

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