Monday, 7 April 2014

Game of Thrones: Season 4, Episode 1 "Two Swords" Review

Bitch please, I'm Oberyn Martell; Dornish certified badass
It's back! Game of Thrones, my favourite television show of all time, not just at the present, has returned with it's fourth season! And after reading the third book, A Storm of Swords, I know things are going to be juicer, bigger and more treacherous than any season come before! If you want to get my take on Thrones in full, you need only examine my full review of it here. Now that I've plugged a separate review, on with this one! 

It seems to me, that after the Red Wedding, there is some kind of a space. I don't necessarily know how to explain it; maybe it's just the fact that we don't have someone marching towards or contesting Joffrey. We had Stannis primarily in Season 2, and then Robb in Season 3, but now both of them have either been reduced to tiny numbers, too insignificant to pull off an attack on the capital, or they've been involved in The Red Wedding; you're generally not going to be able to mount a rebellion after that kind of event has been dealt upon you, are you? So now, we have a few less points of view to cover, and this means we have more Lannister time. And that is especially evident here in this episode, seeing as over half the episode is spent with the Lannisters, and for good reason! Jamie and Tyrion are now two of our most important characters; Tyrion because he's our average Lannister, our eyes and ears into King's Landing from the start, and Jaime, because he's no longer a spoiled brat, and more a chivalrous knight, or trying to be, thanks to the good intention of Brienne of Tarth last season. We get to see two crippled Lannisters waddling around King's Landing now! The big story of this episode was, in fact, Jaime's story line, I believe, and how he has to adapt back in to King's Landing; all throughout the trip over the Riverlands and down south with Brienne, he was expecting his father to jump for joy at his return, and his sister to be gleaming when he arrived home. He expected their incestuous relationship to just start up where they had left off, but what he got was far from that.
Bitch, did you just turn my offer down?
What are you, chivalrous? You're my son!
Jaime's scene with Tywin at the beginning was brilliant, to begin the season. Well, technically, the season began with Tywin melting down Ned's Valyrian Steel sword Ice, but that was before the credits, so it's not counting! That scene was pretty awesome though, to herald in the new season. Tywin's almost smug face as the sword is being melted down into two new ones was amusing, and the music in the background, an orchestral slow version of The Rains of Castamere was a really haunting cue that set the tone perfectly. After the intro, which finally had the Dreadfort and Meereen included, we get a scene between Tywin and Jaime, one that I was looking forward to before the season commenced; Tywin's somewhat disowning of Jaime. It's not nearly as sad or powerful as it is in the book, yet Coster-Waldau and Dance's chemistry was still strong enough to make this an impressive scene, anyway. Tywin offers Jaime the opportunity to relinquish his duties as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, and return to Casterly Rock to rule his father's seat of power. Jaime turns it down, and acts with a bit of honor, something that Brienne undoubtedly instilled in him last season, and tells his father that the Kingsguard is a life long duty, and he did not want to walk away from that duty. Maybe it was because he wanted to protect the king and stay true to his word, maybe it was because he wanted to stay in King's Landing near Cersei; either way, it was a great moment. 

Total.. bloody... badass
Oberyn Martell's introduction to the series was absolutely incredible; Pedro Pascal's performance was brilliant, his demeanor and attitude was correct to the books, and he seemed pretty darn Dornish, so all in all, I approve! The writers certainly didn't wait to introduce us to his adventurous sexual side, and I'm not one to complain against it, to be honest! His introduction scene began with him pleasuring a whore employer, who you may recognize as the guy who informed on Loras and Sansa's wedding from last season, whilst his paramour bastard Ellaria Sand took to a female whore, before Oberyn suddenly lost his shit with a Lannister soldier, and stabbed him in the hand, as you do! After gathering himself, he gets into a nice bit of exposition with Tyrion, which was delivered timely and effectively. It was quick and to the point, which is something you need in television, especially if you have only 10 episodes per season (damn it HBO!). For those not paying attention, or who haven't read the books, Oberyn's sister Elia was Rhaegar Targaryen's wife, and gave him his children, before he kidnapped Lyanna and started the whole war 17 years back. When Tywin fooled Aerys Targaryen into letting him into the city, after the Battle of the Trident, he sacked the city, and sent Armory Lorch (killed by Jaqen H'ghar) and The Mountain that Rides to kill Rhaegar's wife and children. Lorch stabbed and killed the children, whilst Elia was raped and murdered by The Mountain. Oberyn is back, 17 years later, to exact revenge for his sister's death.

I'll stick with King's Landing for the first half of this review, and head East and North down below. Anyway, Sansa gets a little bit of decent screen time this episode, which I appreciated. I find her much more tolerable in the show than in the books, and Sophie Turner's performance is often fantastic, to add to that. Sansa is still mourning the fact that her brother and mother, as well as pretty much the rest of her family, is very much dead. I mean, we know that Bran, Rickon and Arya are all fine and dandy, but she doesn't! It's good to see her confess her sadness to Tyrion, as well, as in the books, she never seems to open up to the guy. Good change! She goes off to the Godswood, and she finally gets reacquainted with former Ser Dontos. He has a pivotal role in the season come the next few episodes, so it was good to see him return; there are a few scenes coming which I can't imagine without Dontos, so his return is logical. Tyrion also gets in strife with Shae, again, and denies her sex; so much chivalry from the Lannister brothers, isn't there! I did think the exposition between Tyrion and Shae was a little unnecessary, where he listed all the things that are bothering him, but the scene as a whole was good, I believe. Women hate Tyrion, whether they're married to him, or having sex with him! Poor dwarf! Shae runs out of Tyrion's solar fuming, without taking the necessary precautions to keep herself from being seen with her lover. That mistake leads to one of her fellow hand maidens spotting her leaving Tyrion's quarters, and running to inform on her, which leads into the next scene of importance!

Jaime and Cersei have a heated scene, where she denies him sex, and gets angry with him for arriving to her side much too late for her desires (seriously, it wasn't his intention that he got captured, and had to spend the best part of year soaking in his own shit!). Cersei delivers some pointless exposition on Jaime's previous endeavors, and what's happened in the previous seasons, just before the hand maiden we saw before spying on Shae arrives, obviously to inform on Shae and Tyrion. Come on! I thought Tyrion's whores were out of danger, after Ros got the crossbow! And I'm beginning to like Shae within the series, surprisingly. Within the books, she never struck me as someone who ever loved Tyrion, whilst in the series, she seems very dedicated to Tyrion, and wanting to be with him. Good change, I believe. 

Leaving King's Landing, lets go to Daenerys! We have a new Daario Naharis, which I see as nothing but an improvement. Sure, he's certainly not as flamboyant as he was in the books, yet I think that would just take too much time, to make him as he was within the source material. That would require a lot of make up, dye, and a great amount of wigs! Last season's Daario was a bit of twat; certainly not someone who you want Daenerys to bang, which she will ultimately do, seeing as she's only 18 years old. She should not be banging second hand Nicholas Hoult! This season's Daario is Michiel Huisman, whom seems a little more classy and interesting than last season's Ed Skrein, which is a good change. By the way, big dragons!!! It's starting to become apparent to Dany that these giant creatures that she calls her children, are actually incredibly dangerous, not only to her enemies, but to her friends and even herself. These are dragons for crying out loud! Apart from that, not much happened with Dany this episode, which was not surprising. Dany attempting to take down Meereen, the next slave city she's intent on sacking, is going to be the big moment of the season for her, so leading up until that point is going to be a lot of slow, somewhat unimportant scenes for her. Don't worry though, her attempt at taking down Meereen will come soon people!

Not like we completely forgot who the hell you were! Oh wait, we did! 
Jon had some pretty good show time, despite some lack of exposition in his scenes. Do you remember Janos Slynt? If you don't, let me enlighten you; he helped Cersei and the rest of the royal family take down the Starks, being as he was Commander of the City Watch in King's Landing, before being shipped off by Tyrion to the Night's Watch. You don't see him for a couple of seasons, and then suddenly, BAM, he's part of the group of men deciding whether or not Jon is a turncloak, and is truly a wilding. Alliser Thorne is also back, without much introduction whatsoever, although you should remember him better. He's the one that trained Jon, and started calling him Lord Snow! We're all much better acquainted now, then! Fortunately for Jon, Maester Aemon manages to convince the rest of the board that Jon is innocent, or at least won't get his head chopped off just yet. He didn't even have to mention that he was a Targaryen to convince the others of Jon's innocence, to Thorne nor Slynt! Just that he was from King's Landing, and could tell whether or not someone was lying or not, thanks to his upbringing. Genius, you old blind man, bloody genius! Whilst we're up North, lets check in on Ygritte! She's still visibly pissed about Jon ditching her, which is good to see, and Tormund is still a happy wilding, whom likes to swear openly in large quantities. All the great people we love! The Thenns show up then, people who I'm sure the vast majority of the audience wouldn't recognize, for obvious reasons. I.E they haven't done anything as of yet! The Thenns are ruthless badasses from the far north, further than we've ever seen, who all serve the Magnar of Thenn, who we will see later on in the season I'm assured. Great introduction, by the way; again, exactly how I imagined these guys!

We head a little further South-East, we'll come to Arya and The Hound! One of the pivotal scenes from the book, The Hound and Arya arrive at a tavern, and they are approached by men from Harrenhal, The Mountain's men, all of whom Arya knows. Even Polliver is there, the man who stole her Needle! After The Hound is denied some chicken from the men, he decides to kill them! Good ole' respective Sandor! Whilst Sandor is both dealing heavy damage, and taking some brutal beating, Arya smashes a keg of wine on one guys head, and pulls cuts Polliver's legs out from under him, before taking her Needle. Do we all remember Lommy, the boy who got Needle skewered through his throat? Arya reenacts that entire scene, before killing good ole' Polliver! Well, Arya has truly turned to the dark side, and is now rapidly losing all humanity that she presented to begin with. Game of Thrones, ruining highborns since 2011! There is actually a diversion from the book within this whole fight, being that in the book, The Hound gets mortally wounded fighting Polliver and the rest, and Arya abandons him to die. I'm happy to see that they didn't take that route, and instead, they're both going to be happy companions, at least for another episode at the minimum. I don't mind book diversions with this odd couple, seeing as they're so damn entertaining! 

We were missing a few characters this week; Stannis and Bran, most notably. I don't know where the writers shall venture for Bran, seeing as they completed his entire Storm of Swords plot line last season, and every other character is about 1/3rd of the way through the 2nd part of SoS. Stannis will have some major ass to kick later on in the season, being as he's coming North to face the wildings, as he stated with Melisandre at the end of the previous season, so don't worry Stannis lovers. He will return! 

Great start to the season, despite the minor exposition flaws, and Dany's somewhat weak entrance. Oberyn Martell's introduction was wonderful, Arya's final scene was brilliant, and everything Jaime was wonderful! This gets me quite excited for the rest of the season!

Junkie Score: 9.1

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