Welcome back to Game of Thrones! The epic HBO fantasy drama enters its fourth season, and the start of every year means desperately trying to remember what the heck is going on.
This episode, “Two Swords,” does a good job bringing us back into the world as preparations continue to be made for the royal wedding and the attack on Castle Black. Most of the episode is dedicated to Jaime Lannister’s return to King’s Landing, which isn’t very easy.
We also meet Oberyn Martell (a man who enjoys sex and violence as much as the show’s writers), the show expects us to remember who the heck Lommy and Dontos are and there’s a long-awaited reunion between a girl and her sword.
Jaime Lannister is finally back in King’s Landing, but things aren’t going so well. His father Tywin wants him to return to Casterly Rock, but Jaime refuses and vows to stay on as a meber of the Kingsguard. His sister Cersei isn’t really into their twincest anymore because he was away when she needed him most. And, as usual, his nephew/son King Joffrey is a total d-bag.
On the bright side, Jaime gets a new sword, one of two that Tywin had made from Ned Stark’s massive sword after it was melted down. He also has a golden hand, because prosthetics in Westeros are surprising good. He also has Brienne nagging him about honoring his word to protect the Stark girls.
Speaking of Brienne, she reunites with Margaery Tyrell and tells her the true story about Renly’s death (though “He was killed by a smoke monster that looked like his brother” isn’t exactly the most believable explanation). At least Olenna seems fascinated by Brienne. That woman has excellent taste.
Introducing Oberyn Martell
Tyrion is sent to welcome the Prince of Dorn for the royal wedding, but instead they sent the second son, Oberyn Martell. Oberyn is pretty bad-ass.
We meet him in a brothel picking out whores for himself and his lover, Ellaria Sand. Oberyn doesn’t seem too concerned with traditional gender roles as he’s willing to pick any kind of whore, male or female. He’s interrupted, however, when he overhears some Lannisters singing “The Rains of Castamere” in the next room. But that’s nothing that a dagger through the wrist won’t fix.
Yes, Oberyn loves sex and violence, so he’ll fit right in on Game of Thrones. Tyrion shows up in a scene that’s really just an excuse to give us the full backstory. Oberyn’s sister married Rhaegar Targaryen, but when the Lannisters seized the castle, all of their kids (aka Oberyn’s nieces and nephews) were brutally murdered. Also, Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane, on orders from Tywin Lannister, raped Oberyn’s sister and then cut her in half with his sword.
Basically, Oberyn is Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, and he’s in King’s Landing to avenge his sister by killing some Lannisters. Take a number, buddy, because the line to kill Lannisters is a long one.
Tyrion’s Two Women
Tyrion is still having to deal with double the female drama. Shae, his lover, is still angry because she thinks Tyrion loves Sansa and that he tried to bribe her to leave (she’s unaware that Varys was not working with Tyrion when he made that offer). She’s being way too jealous, but it might be over quickly since one of Cersei’s spies overhears the fight.
Elsewhere, Sansa is understandably depressed because her brother and mother were killed in the Red Wedding. She doesn’t feel like talking to Tyrion or anyone about it. Sansa does have one admirer, however. Dontos Hollard, aka the knight who was made into the court jester on King Joffrey’s Nameday celebration back in season 2, stalks Sansa and gives her his family necklace because she was responsible for sparing his life when Joffrey wanted to kill him. Since he hasn’t been seen in a long time, I have to assume this will somehow become important.
Dany’s Next Destination
Daenerys is off to Meereen, yet another city so she can add more people to her army. There’s really nothing new there. The dragons are getting a lot bigger and less easy to control, which is going to be a problem. Also, it seems that Greyworm and Daario Naharis (who had some extreme plastic surgery and is now a completely different person) are engaged in childish fights to see who Dany likes more. Daario definitely has the upper hand, mostly because he wasn’t castrated. He also picks Dany flowers, which is what passes for romance on this show.
In the North
Jon Snow, who has heard about Robb’s death, goes before the Night’s Watch council and tells them everything that he’s been through, including killing Qhorin Halfhand and sleeping with Ygritte. Dude, nobody asked for a sexual history and banging a wildling in a cave seems like more of a humble-brag than important information. He warns them that Mance Rayder is coming to attack Castle Black from the north and the south when a giant bonfire is lit. Some of them want Jon Snow killed for treason, but Maester Aemon believes him.
Elsewhere, Tormund Giantsbane and Ygritte await additional troops from Mance before moving forward on their plan to attack Castle Black. Help arrives in the form of Styr, a Thenn warrior and cannibal.
Arya and Needle
The episode ends with the return of everyone’s favorite tiny bad-ass, Arya Stark. After the Red Wedding, the Hound decided the next best place to take her is the Vale, home of Catelyn’s sister Lysa Arryn. On the way they stop at a tavern where Arya spies Poliver, aka that dude who stole her sword Needle and killed Lommy Greenhands all the way back in the third episode of season 2.
They go into the tavern and the Hound really wants some chicken. That ultimately leads to a huge brawl where the Hound kills a whole bunch of dudes in some of the most disturbing ways possible. Arya stands back for most of it, but then she gets into the action, takes one of the swords and kills a few people on her own.
In the end, she takes back Needle, stands over Poliver’s body and starts reciting the last words Poliver said to Lommy. He has no idea what’s going on, but then he seems to remember what she’s talking about. That’s when she slides Needle into his throat just like he did to Lommy.
Arya, now with Needle by her side, gets her own horse and she and the Hound ride off to the Vale. On Game of Thrones, we have to take small victories at this point, and the return of Needle is definitely one of those.
(Image courtesy of HBO)