Review: Game of Thrones: Season 4 – Episode 1

It’s felt like the longest winter in Westeros waiting for Game of Thrones, but it’s finally back and here is my review of episode 1: Two Swords.

A word of warning first – this review will contain spoilers so please watch the first 3 seasons first so I can really discuss this episode properly.

So season 4 kicks off with Tywin Lannister melting down Ned Stark’s old sword ‘Ice’. Especially following the recent extermination of Rob and Catelyn Stark, there couldn’t be a stronger way of symbolically showing his conquest over the Starks. The fact that Tywin then forges two new swords out of Ice’s remains, shows that things have changed in the world, and this I feel very much sets the tone for the season to come.

One of these new swords is given to Jamie Lannister, a character who I have a rapidly growing liking to since season 3. Jamie’s development is fascinating; he’s gone from a character we almost despised in season 1, to one that I at least have developed sympathy and even fondness for. He has now returned to King’s Landing, but he is not the same man that he was in season 1, nor is the world the same. Sure as one of the realm’s best fighters. losing a hand is rather unfortunate but that’s only the tip of the iceberg, he is repeatedly looked down on by his father, sister/lover, even Joffrey, for being captured and away for so long. He stands his ground when his father, Tywin, tries to send him home to Casterly Rock, but it’s clear Jamie has lost much of the power and admiration he has gained. Even his own sister tells him he ‘took too long’ and there’s definitely a shift in their relationship. I’m very intuited as to where Jamie’s fall from grace will ultimately lead him.

Arya has forever been a favourite character of most people, and with good reason. Although Arya has always been headstrong and apathetic to the expectations of females, she has never quite taken control; Arya has spent the majority of the last 2 seasons in hiding or running, and nearly always relied on the help of others. She is admittedly reliant on the Hound, but we’re starting to see more and more of Arya’s independence and there’s definitely more to their relationship than either one of them lets on. We see some very satisfactory moments from Arya in this first episode, some that we’ve perhaps been waiting seasons for. The main word I can use to reflect Arya’s story this week is ‘reunion;’ we see a familiar character reappear from Arya’s past and she gets some sweet, sweet retribution, also reclaiming everyone’s favourite sword- needle. Also very excited to see where Arya’s path will lead her; the Hound uncovered his plans to sell her to her Aunt Lisa in the veil but we’ll have to see how that unfolds.

Almost the complete opposite of Arya, we see Sansa’s reaction to the news of her brother and mother’s death- hint, it involves tears. I think Sansa is growing more and more aware of the world that surrounds her and I have faith that in the end, she will find her way, but there’s a strong contrast between her weeping and Arya going out and killing some dudes. Sure the former is more socially acceptable but hey, if you don’t like death, turn off the show and go watch some Cbeebies.

There wasn’t a huge amount that moved the story forwards; the majority of the episode was re-establishing power relationships and character positions and also building up to the royal wedding, which fingers crossed will go down next week, and anyone who’s seen Game of Thrones knows that weddings mean bad news. On the topic of the royal wedding, there’s a new guy in town, and Oberyn Martel isn’t exactly making friends. The guy has a hatred for Lannisters and seems intent on revenge. Oberyn’s presence is generally creating a lot of tension and I don’t like where this is heading, well, when I say I don’t like it, I of course mean I totally love it.

Damn but those dragons are getting big, like really big. Daenerys has become one of the most powerful female characters in television, but it seems with every victory she makes, she gets further from King’s Landing. Come on, just go for the throne already! We saw the first signs that her dragons are going to be problematic, as Danny realises her control over the creatures is limited. Also what’s with the whole casting change for Daario? Ed Skrein seemed so perfect in the role but hey we just have to play along like nothing’s happened.

I’ll finish with the imminent willing invasion and the inevitable reunion between Ygritte and Jon Snow, (I say imminent- it’ll probably happen in a couple seasons time, judging by other developments.) I love that Ygritte has her own story on the side, but I cannot wait for her to finally face Jon Snow. There’s also a new tension between the wildlings and these weird cannibal guys called ‘Thenn,’ whilst at the same time posing a growing threat to Westeros and the Night’s watch.

All in all, this episode has been a great set up for future events and we see tensions growing between many characters. There wasn’t a lot of badass action or anything shocking, but not every episode can be a red wedding and we need these essential episodes to set the wheels in motion.

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