Game of Thrones Season 4 premiered tonight with Season 4, Episode 1 ("Two Swords"), and man, did we enjoy it. It wasn't the fastest paced episode — the premieres never are — but it introduced cool new characters and unsettled many character dynamics, promising fascinating new directions in the episodes to come.
Enough messing around. There's a lot to cover tonight, so read on for Wetpaint Entertainment's recap of the episode!
King's Landing: A House Divided
The majority of this episode takes place at King's Landing, where everything is changing in the wake of the Red Wedding and Jaime's return.
The episode opens with Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) watching a giant sword melted down into two smaller swords as an instrumental version of "The Rains of Castamere" plays. The show's not exactly explicit about this, so let's clarify: The big sword was Ned Stark's signature broadsword, Ice, which was made of rare Valyrian steel. Nothing says "classy victor" like destroying family heirlooms.
One of the swords Tywin made is a gift for Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who's looking awfully good with a new haircut and his King's Guard getup. No, the sword's not just a way for Tywin to show his son how happy he is to have him home. What do you think this is, a functional family? Now that Jaime's lost a hand, Tywin thinks it's high time his son step down from his King's Guard post and take over as Lord of Casterly Rock. Jaime's not having that, though. He's all hung up on that whole "honor" and "I took a vow for life" thing. OK, yeah, he also doesn't want a wife and kids because he's desperately in love with his twin sister, but we like the honor part better.
Tywin isn't as convinced by Jaime's impassioned speech as we are, and he ends the scene by telling Jaime he's a "one handed man with no family." It's subtle, but as Jaime points at later: Yeah, Tywin just disowned him. Ouch.
To add insult to injury, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) doesn't exactly welcome her lover back with open arms, either. Yes, she makes her twin a gold hand ("a hook would be more practical" Jaime notes), but she also brushes off his attempts to woo her, because he "took too long" to get back to King's Landing. That's reasonable. When our boyfriends are captured in battle we always blame them for failing to escape quickly enough.
Meanwhile, Tywin's other least favorite son has been put in charge of greeting the prince of Dorne, who's traveled to the city for the royal wedding. Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) admits to a sardonic Bronn (Jerome Flynn) that there's bad blood between the Lannisters and Martells, but insists everything will be OK, because he's an "accomplished diplomat." A wrench is thrown in his plan when he's told that the expected prince was too sick to come, so his warrior brother Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) was sent instead. Tyrion recovers quickly, but you can tell he's concerned.
There's a good reason for that. When we're introduced to Oberyn, two things become very clear: he loves sex (with people of either gender, though of course it's only the women who get naked), and he hates Lannisters. And by hates them, we mean "is willing to stab one in the wrist for a slight insult, like a boss." A boss Tywin and co. should be worried about.
So, what does this prince of Dorne have against the Lannisters? Fortunately, Oberyn is a talk-the-talk as well as walk-the-walk type, so he fills Tyrion, and the audience, in. His sister was Elia Martell, Rhaegar Targaryen's wife. Her children were murdered by a Lannister knight after the sack of King's Landing, and Elia herself was raped and killed by The Mountain. Oberyn holds the Lannisters responsible, and he warns that Tyrion's family members aren't the only ones who pay their debts.
A bloodthirsty warrior isn't Tyrion's only concern. He also has a wife (Sansa, in case you've blocked that out) who's depressed and starving herself, and a lover (Shae) who's jealous and unhappy because he's so focused on everything going on in his super-hectic life, and not her. Life has gone way downhill for the Imp.
Speaking of Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) — yeah, things are not looking good for the one remaining Stark in King's Landing. She's depressed and defeated, but she finds a surprising friend in Ser Dontos, the drunk whose life she saved back in Season 2 by convincing Joffrey to make him a fool instead of killing him. Dontos finds her in the godswood, and gives her a necklace. Let's just go ahead and assume that will come into play somehow in the future.
Final King's Landing note: Brienne is wasting no time showing that she's still honorable, even in the dishonorable city she's landed in. She tells Margaery about the shadow monster that killed Renly, and reminds Jaime that he's honor bound to help the Stark girls. We love you, Brienne.
On the Road to Meereen: Wild Dragons and Dead Slaves
Over in Essos, Daenerys Targaryen's (Emilia Clarke) dragons have gotten big. Scary big. And her focus doesn't exactly seem to be on getting to Westeros any time soon. Her next move is to march on Meereen, a huge slave city with a distinctive pyramid. It's not all fun and games on this mission, though; her blazing trail of liberation is earning her enemies. Enemies who have nailed a dead slave to every single mile marker on the road to Meereen (that's 163 dead). Her enemies mean business, but so does Dany.
On a lighter note, sellsword Daario Naharis, who has been revamped with a new, hotter actor (sorry, old Daario, but it's true), is steadily trying to woo Dany. All we can say is that if Daario 2.0 handed us a bouquet of flowers, we'd do more than smile a little. That's Liam from Nashville, Dany! How are you not already making out with him?
South of the Wall: Tasty, Tasty Crow
We also check in on wildlings Ygritte (Rose Leslie) and Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) , who are chilling south of the Wall, running their recon mission and arguing about if Ygritte purposefully let Jon live because of feelings and stuff. Their debate is interrupted by the introduction of another set of Wildings, the Thenns. There is no love lost between Tormund and the leader of this group, Styr, perhaps because the Thenns are cannibals. Or maybe it's because Styr is arrogant and more than a bit terrifying. We're pretty sure the cannibalism thing plays a part, though.
At the Wall: Welcome Back, Jon
At the Wall proper, Jon isn't given a hero's welcome. In fact, he's called in front of a council led by none other than his Season 1 nemesis Alliser Thorne, who has found a partner in dickinshness in Janos Slynt, the former Commander of the Night's Watch who Tyrion sent up north back in Season 2.
This group is suspicious of Jon's claim that Qhorin Halfhand wanted Jon to kill him, and they aren't happy to hear that he slept with a wildings, a fact which Jon admits because he is forever his father's son, and still knows nothing about when to keep his mouth shut. He also lets them know that the Night's Watch has to prepare for a major attack from Mance and his forces. Despite Alliser's best efforts, Jon is allowed to keep his head.
On the Road: Well, At Least She Got Her Horse
The episode ends with Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and The Hound (Rory McCann). Now that most of Arya's immediate family is dead, The Hound's new plan is to head to the Vale and ransom her off to Cat's crazy sister, Lysa Arryn.
This pair makes a good comedy duo — up until they run into Arya's old "friend," Polliver, one of the Lannister knights who attacked Arya's Night Watch group and stole her sword, Needle, back in Season 2. After a tense scene filled with innuendo-laced threats at Arya (yep, rape threats against a kid — it really is a Game of Thrones premiere) The Hound attacks Polliver and his friends, and kills them all like the badass he is.
Well, all of them except Polliver. That murder goes to Arya herself, who coldly jams Needle into his throat and watches with a bit too much delight as he dies. This girl is messed up.
Ellaria, Oberyn's lover, is pretty great. We like her resistance to being called a lady. A different take on bastardhood than Jon, that's for sure.
Jon admits that he used to be jealous of Robb, but could never hate him. Sam feels the same way about Jon.
Cersei's spy spotted Shae leaving Tyrion's room. That can't be good for either of them.
The Queen of Thorns continues to be great, of course.
We love that they threw a scene of Joffrey being The Worst in there, just in case we'd forgotten why we always want to punch his face.
They're not even trying to pretend Arya could be mistaken for a little boy anymore, are they?
Maester Aemon on why he can tell when someone is lying: "I grew up in King's Landing." Truth.
What did you think of this episode? Let us know in the comments below!