After three years of successfully changing the feel of each new run, the start of Game of Thrones year four felt… a lot like the third season, actually. But I loved that, so it’s hard to really complain. More bright-yet-bitchy King’s Landing action, Daenerys still in the desertand the inexorable march towards a Joffrey/Margaery union continues.
Spoilers lurk below, and if you can’t remember what was happening last year, I wrote a catch-up post to help. Once you feel okay about that, we can press on with this review.
Lunching With Lannisters
As with other season-debut episodes, Two Swords dives around as many characters as possible to catch up where they’re all at, rather than attempting any big story or theme. Not many people get more than two scenes, but they’re usually strong, memorable moments to strike our memory chords.
Jaime gets more action than many, as his new life as a one-handed golden bodyguard unfolds. His low-ranking career choices are entirely to allow more twincest, of course, but Cersei doesn’t seem keen. His out-of-place confusion at being back home, yet not fitting in with these cackling blondes, is well-played here – hopefully it goes somewhere good.
Meanwhile, Tyrion gets to intro new character Oberyn Martell. The introduction of a new major plot point helps remind us this is a new season, and he promises to complicate the situation. Elsewhere, the Half-Man’s new living situation is ridiculous, but amusingly so – however, it should probably advance soon as Shae’s jealous anger might get old.
Intro To Swearing with The Hound
Up in the North, Jon Snow deliver some red-hot burns to the senior arseholes of the Watch, while Ygritte finds herself stuck with cannibals nowhere near as pretty as Snow. It’s no doubt going somewhere slowly, although the bumpy-head-tribe material is a bit too standard-fantasy for my personal taste.
Off in her own world as ever, Daenerys is on her way to her next conquest. To be honest, her parts mostly serve to hammer home that Daario has been re-cast, but there’s some intriguing foreshadowing and cool dragon effects too.
Elsewhere, the Stark daughters get bitten by early season two nostalgia. Sansa meets the knight/fool she saved back then, while Arya reunites with her rat-bucket-loving torturer and lets him have it. The Arya/Hound material is great, one of the high points of the episode with quality swearing, brutal action and a cold reminder of how much the poor kid has changed. Hopefully they are more dramatic places for it to go than another whole season of endless forest traipsing.
In short, a good return to the hectic lands of Westeros. It’s all set-up, but artfully pitched, well-acted, beautifully filmed set-up, hopefully leading to good places in future weeks. Next week on Game of Thrones – our annual George R.R. Martin written episode, already? Is stuff going down?