Mary Baker ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Last season’s opening scene of Game of Thrones was bitter, cold, and brutal as the White Walkers caught up with the Night’s Watch. This season began with fire and all the trademark brutality that Game of Thrones viewers have come to know and love.
Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), patriarch of the House-that-shall-not-be-named who so enjoys killing EVERYONE, is back and nastier than ever. Without a single word and to the tune of “The Rains of Castermere,” he dissembles Ned Stark’s sword, Ice. Ice was made of Valyrian Steel, which according to George RR Martin’s source material, is lighter, stronger, and sharper than other steel. The secret to making the swords was lost in Valyria, so possessing a Valyrian sword is a big deal. Tywin, the greedy little thug he is, decides to melt down Ned Stark’s sword into two lesser swords. The symbolism of melting ice in fire recalls the name of Martin’s series, A Song of Ice and Fire.
Much like the original books, there are a lot of busy characters all over Westeros. Therefore, these recaps will be organized like the books, focusing on one character at a time.
Jamie (House Lannister)
You’ve got to hand it (pun intended) to Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), he’s had a rough couple of seasons: being captured by Catelyn Stark then being transported by Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) in the best buddy-cop pairing Westeros has ever seen. He begins season four cleaned up and with a new golden hand to boot. Yet Tywin, ever the caring father, basically says “Look son, you got yourself in jail, and you lost a hand. You’re worthless to me. Go home.” There is a plethora of reasons Jamie wants to stay in King’s Landing: being on the Kingsguard; being near Joffery, his son; and to be close to Cersei. Jamie helps with wedding plans and gets sassed by Joffery, who knows just what buttons to push to anger his uncle. Brienne reminds Jamie of a promise he made to Catelyn Stark to rescue Sansa, but he brushes it off.
Tyrion (House Lannister)
Ever the brains behind the operation, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) has been chosen to welcome Prince Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) to King’s Landing for Joffery and Margaery’s wedding. Tyrion’s two companions, Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and Pod (Daniel Portman), provide some of the best lines of the episode. The three developed amazing chemistry last season, and hopefully their one-liners continue to be of the same quality for the rest of the season. At long last we are introduced to House Martell of Dorne through Prince Oberyn and his suave love-making. In perhaps the best character introduction yet, Oberyn gets understandably pissed when he hears some minor Lannisters singing “The Rains of Castermere” and proceeds to elegantly purr (a la Antonio Banderas) and stab the offenders with a smile. We learn that House Martell has some serious beef against House Lannister, for they killed most of Elia Martell and Rhegar Targaryen’s children. Tyrion must also balance his personal problems, too. His secret love, Shae, is not getting enough of his time, but Tyrion has bigger problems to worry about.
Daenerys (House Targaryen)
Toothless and Hiccup have got nothing on Drogon and Dany (Emilia Clarke). The dragons are looking bigger and better than ever, but perhaps too big for Dany to control. We are reintroduced to the newly re-cast Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman) looking more handsome and less adult movie-like than last season’s incarnation. He proceeds to charm the viewers and attempts to charm the pants off Dany, but she is a woman on a mission and pauses for no man (to Jorah’s discontent as well.) On the way to Meeren, Dany is faced with a dead child every mile, a warning from the city she is marching to. This pisses her off even more and lets the audience know she is going to be just as ruthless in the upcoming episodes
Sansa (House Stark)
Poor Sansa. Sansa (Sophie Turner) is something like the Lady Edith (of Downton Abbey) of Game of Thrones. All the viewers just want something – anything – good to happen to this poor girl who has lost her entire family. She doesn’t even want lemon cakes, so the situation is pretty dire. Sansa is introduced to Sir Dontos the drunk (Tony Way), whom she saved last season. He gifts her with his prized family heirloom.
Cersei (House Lannister)
All hail the Queen. She (Lena Headley) expects Jamie to apologize for being captured and leaving her alone and thereby rebukes his advances.
Wine Swig Count: 3
Ygritte (Rose Leslie) is coping with the double-crossing double-crosser, Jon Snow (who still knows nothing), when they have a run-in with Hannibal Lecter the Thenns. We get our first cannibalism in the show, and it’s just as horrifying as one might expect.
Jon Snow (Night’s Watch)
Jon (Kit Harington) is facing atonement for his crimes (defecting, killing a fellow brother, and lying with a woman) even though he was ordered to do all of these things by Qhorin Halfhand last season in order to gain intel on the wildlings. Jon is able to warn the council of the wildling’s plans to attack Castle Black, and even better, Jon seems to have gained a backbone and a sense of humor since last season.
Margaery (House Tyrell)
Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) is the sassy woman who would give the Countess of Grantham from Downton a run for her money (can you even imagine a crossover episode?). She’s back and even feistier: throwing jewelry off of towers and bossing everyone around. Brienne informs Margaery (Natalie Dormer) of how Renly Baratheon was actually murdered (a shadow child with Stannis Baratheon’s face), and the two begin to form a bond.
Arya (House Stark)
The chemistry between the diminutive Arya (Maisie Williams) and the towering Hound (Rory McCann), sandwiched together on one horse, makes the episode spark. Arya sees Puliver, who killed her friend, Lommy, and stole Needle, the sword Jon gave to her before they were separated. They enter the tavern where Puliver is and proceed to verbally spar with the members of House Lannister before the Hound pulls his sword and everything goes crazy. Arya gets the best scene of the episode as she recounts Pulliver’s last words to Lommy before he killed him and says the same thing back to him as she shoves her sword through his throat. A bit overdramatic, but it’s a scene that lets viewers know House Stark is not down for the count.
The episode ends with a rare, sweeping wide shot of the Kingsroad, burned and destroyed, with Arya and the Hound (on separate horses, mind you), trotting away on their way to the Eryie.
All in all, it’s a fantastic season opener where, admittedly, not much happened. However, the characters we know and love (or hate with unbridled passion, in Joffery’s case) are back with big plans. This season is sure to be a doozy, and the next episode promises just that: the one episode of the season penned by Martin, and it’s about the wedding. And you know we love a good wedding in Westeros…
Overall Episode Grade: A-