Game of Thrones, Season 4, Ep 1 “Two Swords”

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

King’s Landing: The episode opens with a rare pre-credits sequence, showing a sword being melted down and its metal being used to cast… two swords. After the credits, Tywin presents a washed and clean-shaven Jaime with one of them. He admires its Valyrian steel, and asks where it came from, because such steel is apparently very rare. Tywin says he melted down some legendary sword of some sort, which was so stupidly big that he made two swords out of it. But we never see where the second sword goes. Despite the “Two Swords” of the episode title, I don’t think this is the second sword being mentioned. It’s a bit like “The Two Towers”, in that it’s not at all clear which of the five towers in the book are the two towers of the title. Anyway, I think the two swords of import are Jaime’s sword and… well, we’ll get to that.

Tywin tells Jaime to go back to Casterly Rock and take up residence as its lord. Jaime refuses, saying he swore an oath to protect the king, and must remain in King’s Landing. They bicker a bit over Jaime’s lack of sword hand, but Jaime casually says using his left hand will just make things a bit more even for his enemies. Tywin gives up and lets Jaime stay. I think this is the first time anyone has ever defied Tywin’s wishes successfully.

Jaime’s true motives are revealed when he visits his sister Cersei, and attempts to resume their incestuous relationship. Cersei rejects him, however, claiming to be “ill”, and saying she has been having treatments from a Maester. Jaime is surprised that she would let Maester Pycelle touch her, but she says it’s someone else (whose name I didn’t catch). Cersei tells Jaime off for leaving her for so long. He protests that he was captured and escaped as quickly as he could, and it’s not like he wanted to be away from her, but she doesn’t accept this excuse. Cersei seems to have grown bitter in Jaime’s absence. I wonder what her “illness” is… Could it be something significant for the future?

Meanwhile, Tyrion has been sent on an errand, to welcome dignitaries visiting for Joffrey’s wedding in a fortnight. A Prince Oberyn from somewhere in the south arrives, and immediately terrorises a couple of minor Lannister cousins in Littlefinger’s whorehouse. When Tyrion intervenes, Obery openly tells him that he hates Lannisters, and has come to avenge the rape and death of his sister by Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane. Okay… this is clearly foreshadowing for later developments, but I have to wonder why Joffrey or Tywin invited this guy to the wedding. Would you invite a guy to your wedding, if your hired killer had despatched his sister?? Seriously, what were they thinking?

Later, Tyrion tries to comfort Sansa, who is inconsolable after the news about Robb and Cat’s deaths. Given she thinks Bran and Rickon are dead too, and Arya most likely dead, she basically has no family left. Tyrion is frustrated by the fact that he can’t do anything, and snaps at Shae when she tries to get romantic, driving her away. I fear Shae’s patience is running out and she’s getting very close to snapping. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if she left him soon, or even did something rash, designed to hurt Tyrion.

There’s a short scene between Sansa and some drunk guy who says she saved him a while back. He gives her a necklace, which she reluctantly accepts. This is near another scene in which Margaery’s grandmother tries to convince Margaery to pick a necklace for her wedding, but Margaery hates all of them because they’re ugly. There seems to be some sort of parallel being drawn here with the necklaces and the lives of the girls, but its deeper meaning eludes me at the moment. Sansa and Margaery are two very different sides of a coin – really two separate coins entirely. Sansa is naive and without guile and can’t see beyond today, while Margaery is worldly and conniving and clearly up to something with a long game. I think the lives of these two will become more intertwined over time. Probably tragically for Sansa.

Brienne talks to Jaime and asks that he honour his promise to her to aid Sansa. Jaime points out that her entire family is dead, and there’s really nothing he can do to help her any more. Jaime clearly has more important things on his mind already. I thought Brienne would start liking Jaime, but this certainly doesn’t help. She goes off to talk to Margaery about the death of her brother Renly, and says she’ll get revenge on her killer: Stannis.

Castle Black: Jon stands accused of betraying his patrol and working with Wildlings. He doesn’t deny any of the charges, but justifies his actions by saying it was the only way to learn what the Wildlings are up to. He then warns the commanders that an army of ten thousand of them is coming, plus a band south of the Wall already, to surround them in a pincer movement. The commanders want his executed, but Maester Aemon somehow prevails in his opinion to let Jon go free.

Meereen: Daenerys is on the move to another city, Meereen. We first see her lounging on a rock on a clifftop, with a dragon, now the size of a horse or larger, while the other two dragons spar in the sky. They land with a dead sheep, and the dragons hiss and snarl, and when Daenerys moves one of them suddenly snarls at her! She is momentarily taken aback. Jorah appears and says they are dragons and can’t be tamed. Is this perhaps foreshadowing that the dragons will one day turn against Daenerys?? Hmmm.

Daenerys is ready to march on, but wonders where Daario and Grey Worm are. She finds them gambling with a game of endurance – seeing who can hold a sword aloft on two outstretched arms the longest. She dismisses their folly and says both can be punished by riding at the back of the army. Then she says the last one to drop their sword can find a new queen, and they both instantly drop them together. As she walks off, Jorah makes a comment, that implies that both Daario and Grey Worm are also romantically attracted to Daenerys! Well, this is getting complicated.

As they approach Meereen, they find a dead slave girl nailed to a marker post. Daario says there will be one every mile to the city, over sixty something miles away. Ser Barristan says he’ll order a party to ride ehad and bury them, but Daenerys says no, she wants to see the face of every one. Look out Meereen… Daenerys is gearing up to do to you what she did to Yunkai and Qarth.

North, somewhere: Ygritte makes new arrows, while the leader of her Wildling band accuses her of letting Jon get away. She says she put three arrows into him, and he says he’s seen her put an arrow into a rabbit’s eye from 200 yards, so if Jon is still alive it means she let him go. Well, obviously she did. If anyone’s conflicted in all of Westeros, it’s Ygritte. She’ll no doubt have to come face to face with Jon during the upcoming attack on Castle Black, and at that point I expect her to make her decision about where her loyalties lie, though I’m not sure which way it’ll be. The some fierce-looking scarred dudes arrive who look like allies of the Wildlings, and they have Nights Watchmen bodies which they’re using as food. Gross.

Elsewhere, Arya complains as she rides sidesaddle in front of Sandor “The Hound”. She wants a horse of her own, but he says, “As if I’d let you ride on your own, you’d just run away.” He says he’s going to ransom her to Cat’s rich sister Lysa. Honestly, given what we’ve seen of Lysa, I’d be very surprised if she’d pay up, though I guess Sandor doesn’t know that.

They approach an inn, and Arya recognises a man there as the one who stole her sword Needle, way back when. Sandor and Arya enter the inn nonchalantly, asking for food. The dialogue turns to insults, and it looks for a second like the guy recognises Arya, but no… and then the inevitable fight breaks out. Sandor takes out a few men, but is overwhelmed by numbers, and then Arya grabs a sword and stabs a couple of men, and then she grabs Needle from the last guy, and starts reciting what must have been his words when he stole the sword off her originally. “Nice sword. I might pick my teeth with it.” At this the guys’ eyes light up in horrified recognition, and Arya pushes the sword point through his chin and into his skull.

Nice work, Arya! She’d killed one guy before, now she’s up to four. And she has Needle back – and this is what I choose to believe is the second sword of the episode title. You can hear the audience cheers go up as she rides triumphantly away from the inn on a new white horse, behind Sandor’s horse. But then the camera pans and we see them riding towards blackened ruins… which I’m guessing might be the smoking remains of Winterfell…

roll credits

3 Responses to “Game of Thrones, Season 4, Ep 1 “Two Swords””

  1. javier says:

    “Tywin says he melted down some legendary sword of some sort, which was so stupidly big that he made two swords out of it”

    really? you should pay more attention, he clearle says it was Eddard Stark’s sword, I try not to reply a lot here but this goes beyond that. Eddard Stark’s sword… :-(

  2. Glen Barnett says:

    Ah, it’s easy to miss a few things here and there. But yes, it was Ned’s sword.

  3. javier: Well, there’s a lot to absorb, especially the very first time watching episodes. It’s easy to miss some of the little details.

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