Game of Thrones – Season 4 Episode 1: “Two Swords”

Surprise! Normally I stick to writing film reviews but I figure the tagline of my blog, “film reviews etc.”, is broad enough to cover television writing for this special occasion. A new season of Game of Thrones is a thing to be celebrated. As a longtime fan of the books, I get really, inordinately excited about each new season and the promise of blood, guts and gratuitous nudity that it will bring. Ultimately, I think I need this space as an emotional outlet because my partner is sick of me fist-pumping like someone from Jersey Shore whilst jumping up and down on the couch whenever a major event happens.

The only way that I’ll be able to express myself is through dotpoints separated into each House, as otherwise I would just be mashing my hands on the keyboard hoping to produce a coherent paragraph. I’ll be posting reviews/reflections/incoherent ramblings on each episode for the whole season!

Spoilers for this episode everywhere in this post! You have been warned!

We’ll start with…

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House Targaryen

  • Mother of dragons Daenerys Targaryen, finds herself the leader of a massive army and group of followers, and in command of recently re-cast Essos sex symbol Daario Naharis, with whom she has a solid amount of romantic tension.
  • It’s nice to see Emilia Clarke owning the role of queen and commander. In previous seasons, Daenerys was never played as ‘strong and capable’ as she is now – she was always working up to having an army and the power associated with that. There’s a real sense of character development here, which you don’t get that much in the books (I always felt Daenerys was bratty and entitled in the books, but I feel much more positively about her on the show). So well done to Emilia for giving us that sense of development within the minutes she was on-screen for this episode.
  • The dragons! They’ve grown so big and beautiful, and the animation has improved tenfold. Now, when Daenerys is patting one on the head, it looks like she’s actually touching something rather than hovering her hand over nothing.
  • Meanwhile Lord Commander Friend-Zone continues to be a source of hilarity.
  • Summary: I’m really looking forward to seeing how Daenerys’ storyline plays out this season.

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House Stark

  • Sansa – she always comes off as snotty in the show, but in the books she has an amazing amount of character development and her arc is so intriguing. Watching her verbalise the depths of her depression post-Red Wedding was heartbreaking and I hope other viewers start liking her more.
  • Arya – just, perfection. I love Maisie Williams as Arya Stark so much, and showing her brutal side in this episode was oddly satisfying to watch. Finally, Arya can start getting the revenge she has wanted for so long. I will say that I imagined Arya’s killing spree to be a little bit more passionate and crazed rather than cold and calculating, but I was still so happy with her scene. It was the perfect way to end the episode.
  • Bran – no sight or mention of him this episode, but the preview for next episode looks very interesting indeed. I cannot wait to see what the show makes of his storyline as it is a pretty weird one.
  • Rickon – no one remembers who this little guy is. I asked my partner if he remembered ‘Bran and Rickon’ and he said “One of them has no legs, right?”, proving that this series of image macros is more true than ever.

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House Lannister

  • There was an amazing visual match between an ostentatious statue of Joffrey and the real-life Joffrey standing proudly in front of his kingsguard, and this was hilarious. Joffrey is just the worst. Not including Joffrey in a House Baratheon list because, well, you know why. Jack Gleeson is so skilled. I’ve never seen a more punchable face when he’s in character, but when watching interviews he seems like a really nice guy.
  • Cersei Lannister has always been interesting to me, and I think this season will be the one where we get some more insight into her psychology. At least I hope so.
  • Jaime Lannister is also one of my favourite characters. I love seeing him vulnerable because it gives him a bit of humanity. After having his sword hand, his source of power and strength, chopped off, his character has totally changed. He now has an insight into what it’s like to be the underdog, and the way this affects his relationships with others is going to be amazing.
  • Tyrion – the best. Peter Dinklage continues to be the star of the show.
  • Tywin – love him. Charles Dance continues to impress in his role as the Lannister patriarch.
  • What I find interesting about the Lannisters this season is that they’re already showing the cracks in the family – Cersei and Jaime are frustrated with each other, Tywin is ashamed of Jaime for losing his hand, everyone hates Tyrion as usual. A once-strong House is starting to show signs of weakness, which is going to be amazing to watch.

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The Night’s Watch

  • Finally, Jon Snow gets a backbone.
  • Sam is so cute.
  • That’s all. I’m interested to see how the tension within the Night’s Watch is built this season, particularly as we’ve seen some friction between those in control.

Game-of-Thrones-Season-4-Episode-1-Oberyn

House Martell

  • Love those Martells! The introduction of Prince Oberyn Martell should throw a spanner in the works this season, and they’re building him up to be a key player. Love the actor and his portrayal of the character is very similar to how I imagined him in the books.
  • However I think this might cause a bit of a story-absorbing problem for some viewers. Oberyn Martell has a lot of history to pack in to the already bulging story, and the actor speaks his lines pretty quickly. My partner’s eyes bugged out of his head when Oberyn started talking about his sister being killed in events prior to the show, because it was a lot of history conveyed in less than five minutes. I wonder if this will be explored more fully so that non-fanatical watchers can understand everything. I hope so because it’s essential to his character arc.

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Other characters

  • The Hound – I never really understood the internet fan reaction to the Hound because he’s just as horrible as any other murdering brute in the series. But in this episode, he had a massive amount of charisma. His interactions with Arya were really funny and paradoxically charming even though he’s just being horrible to her the whole time.
  • Margaery Tyrell – I like her.
  • Shae – shut your face.
  • Brienne of Tarth is one of my favourite characters and I’m looking forward to seeing more of her.
  • No Greyjoys this episode. Theon’s storyline will be interesting, but I’m also intrigued to see what’s going on with his sister, Yara. The last we saw of her, she had set sail with a crew of Ironborn sailors to save him at the end of season three.
  • Where is Stannis!?! I’m a big fan of book-Stannis but I think what the writers have done with him in the show is kind of a travesty. Hopefully he will redeem himself in the eyes of television viewers this season!

I’ve noticed that the first episode of each season of Game of Thrones is generally never as strong as the rest of the season. By and large the role of the first episode is to cultivate the buds of conflict for the rest of the season, and this episode did a good job (with well-handled exposition) in reminding viewers who everyone was, what their name is, and what their motivations and history are. The story is already building momentum with a number of key events for the season happening soon!

I am really, really looking forward to the next episode! I’m tempted to mash the keyboard with my fists just at the thought of it. Like this: difdfjdfjwsfhgshghal;. Looks like it’s going to be an epic one. I’m ready for it.

Episode rating: 3.75/5

17 comments

  1. I’m not going to read your post Anna, because I’ve not seen the first episode yet, and don’t want to ruin it. But I shall return…

    1. Awesome! 🙂 Definitely stay away from the spoilers!!

  2. Dany is so great! Can’t believe she isn’t that in the books.

    Lannisters are my favourite house, so I’m honestly filled with terror. I got the image that Tyrion’s gonna do the thing that will happen in the next episode somehow (I’m really hard trying to keep from spoiling here) and I’m really worried now.

    The Names Of “Game Of Thrones” Characters According To Someone’s Dad was hilarious, thanks for sharing that! I’ll be looking forward to your recaps now — it’s going to be a thing, right?

    1. Yeah! It’s weird because I love show-Dany, and I initially really loved book-Dany too and always looked forward to her chapters. But there was something about her character development that started to become a little bit ‘off’. We might see a bit of that in future seasons of the show!

      Lannisters have started to become my favourite house too. They’re just so good for drama. Plus Jaime Lannister is basically the best, and I really, really hope we see more from Cersei’s perspective because she is a lot more complex than how she’s portrayed in the show! I guess we’ll see next episode what kind of shenanigans Tyrion gets up to! 😉

      Thanks Elina! 🙂 Thrones recaps will definitely be a thing from now on, they’re too cathartic to not start writing immediately after watching!

      1. I remember saying “I wish I was Jaime’s sister” at one point. Or maybe tweeting it. That was when I realised how far gone I am for Thrones… 😀 I’m so sorry to hear about Dany, she’s been my favourite so far. Oh well, we’ll still have three seasons of her being awesome, even if she starts losing it from now on. 😛

        1. Haha! I wish I was Jaime’s sister too, at least post-hand removal when he’s actually nice and develops a moral compass. As for Dany, I think the showrunners know not to piss off her fans, so I think she will be represented a lot more favourably in the show!

  3. theipc · · Reply

    A beautiful post!! Excellent!

  4. Yep, I missed Stannis too. I love Dillane so my love kinda gets transfered to Stannis but this is the season where he really emerges as hero. I think he simply doesn’t get enough screen time, perhaps if they showed more of him the audiences response would be warmer – that Shireen scene last season was adorable.

    As for many things here – yes, yes, yes to so many including Shae really needing to shut up and Jon finally having a backbone.

    Not sure I agree about Sansa. She always seemed like a silly girl to me when I read the books. At least Sophie makes her sadness so powerful.

    1. Definitely agreed, he just doesn’t get enough time for non-book-reading viewers to get the same sense of his character. Plus way back in season two they were always talking about how honourable he was, and then you see him cheating on his wife with Melisandre, which made non-book viewers think he was a total scumbag. Such character assassination. More scenes like the Shireen scene please!

      I initially thought book-Sansa was so silly and boring as well, but then after having to deal with Joffrey, being forcibly married, and then having half her family killed off, I started to see her changing quite a bit. She went from someone who was so optimistic and believed in the ‘happy ever after’ life, to becoming totally disillusioned with everything. It was interesting to see that change. And after her story in the last book, she’s turning into someone to watch (trying not to spoil anything here!). I can’t wait to see what Sophie Turner does with the character because, you’re right, she is playing the role so powerfully. Cannot wait for the next episode!

  5. THANK YOU for linking to that Buzzfeed post!! Nearly died of laughter when they referred to Littlefinger as “Lord Weasel”!! Oh my goodness. Too good.

    I like the new Oberyn Martell character, but yes – it was extremely difficult to make out what he was saying, especially without my beloved subtitles. The Lannisters are a nasty bunch, but I can’t bring myself to fully dislike any of them! Except Joffrey, of course. I’m liking Margaery more and more, and Arya, too. Maisie Williams is one of the best parts of the show. I love that they let her play such a razor-smart female character.

    And I certainly would support you writing about television more often. I often break that rule, too. 🙂

    1. Haha! You’re welcome! 🙂 My favourites are ‘King of the Guys’ and ‘mercenary who gives wishes’. Classic.

      Totally agree with your assessments there. Even though the Lannisters are meant to be the villains, they’re too intriguing to hate. At least Oberyn Martell was nice to look at, even though it was difficult to understand him!

      Thanks! 🙂 I figure the ‘etc’ in the tagline technically covers it. It’s nice to write about different things!

  6. So, are we gonna get reviews for every Game of Thrones episode of Season 4? If yes, I’m gonna be looking forward to it 😉

    1. Definitely, and thanks! 🙂 I’m looking forward to writing about it!

  7. Yes. Yes, yes, yes. To all of this. SO pumped for tomorrow’s episode. 😀

    1. I’m so excited I think I just had a brain aneurism!

      1. Oh dear. Are you sure you should be watching Game of Thrones?? Lol.

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