We’re baaacccckkkk and we are so thrilled for a brand new season of Game of Thrones. With a new House in town and the taste of vengeance in the air, this season guarantees to be fantastic. Let’s dive in. First and foremost, we have a credits update! Meet Dreadfort, the keep of House Bolton and the current location of poor Theon. Also, Meerean makes an appearance, the slave city with a giant pyramid. Dany’s on her way there but more on that later.
We kick off the episode with a scene symbolizing the complete destruction of House Stark with a true song of fire and Ice. Tywin Lannister stands watch as Ice, Ned Stark’s gigantic Valyrian steel blade, is welded down in fire, forging two new swords for House Lannister. Tywin completes the destruction by tossing Ned’s wolf-skin scabbard into the fire as the Rains of Castamere plays eerily in the background. The Red Wedding may have happened ten months ago for us, but in the GOT world, it was mere weeks ago, and it continues to be the wound that keeps bleeding.
[ASIDE: This entire scene was painful to watch, and served as a terse reminder of the events of Season 3. Just like the Red Wedding, Tywin stands in the shadows, unwilling to reveal himself and his role. Tywin constantly takes what isn’t his and remolds it into something new, giving the appearance of power and bold courage. But is Tywin really that courageous? Isn’t he known for hiding under Casterly Rock during Robert’s Rebellion, only daring to step forth into King’s Landing when he knew the city was starving, ripe for sacking? Does he ever take responsibility for what he does? Was the Red Wedding not a cowardly move in itself? Tywin feared the Young Wolf and thus found a way to defeat him without facing him in battle. I think Tywin Lannister is a façade – a man who thinks he has all the power in the world but is really living in a house of cards, with children who are sleeping together and a grandson who holds a false claim to the throne. Every empire burns to the ground, and I can’t wait until Tywin Lannisters’ does just that. END OF ASIDE]
Tywin presents one of the new Valyrian blades to his one-handed son, Jaime Lannister, who clumsily receives his new sword. Tywin questions Jaime’s intentions for his future, imploring Jaime to leave the King’s Guard (since he can’t really fight with a sword anymore) and return to Casterly Rock and rule in his place. Jaime refuses. His honor, his word, his reputation are already spoiled and he refuses to abandon yet another post at the whims of another. Tywin is shocked that his 40 year old son still doesn’t get it and dismisses Jaime, but allows him to keep his present. “A one handed man with no family needs all the help he can get.” As Jaime leaves his fathers’ chamber, we see a sly [sexy] smile spread across his face. Wonder what that’s about.
Next, we catch up with everyone’s favorite imp, Tyrion Lannister, Master of Coin, accompanied by Bron and Pod. They are waiting to receive the party from Dorne, which sailed to King’s Landing for Joffrey’s wedding. In brilliant GOT fashion, Tyrion proceeds to discuss the Dornish sigils and the “bad blood” between House Martell and House Lannister, clueing the audience to the significance of the new characters and providing us with a Westerosi history lesson.
Much to Tyrion’s dismay, the Dornish reveal that Prince Doran did not sail to the capital due to illness. His brother, Prince Oberyn of House Martell, came instead and snuck into the city in the wee morning hours. Tyion has an idea where he may find him.
Enter stage left – the one and only Oberyn Martell aka The Red Viper of Dorne. Oberyn is with his great paramour, Ellaria Sand (Sand because she’s a Dornish bastard; like Snow for our beloved Jon), and the pair are inspecting Baylish’s whores. After Prince Oberyn picks a boy who can he can have his way with, he suddenly becomes distracted as the tune of Rains of Castamere float through the brothel. Oberyn ventures off to find the cause of the disturbance, despite Ellaria’s pleas.
Oberyn stumbles upon two couples whistling the Lannister tune. “Forgive me for staring, I don’t see many Lannisters where I come from.”
[ASIDE: The way those words ooze out of his mouth, and the way he burns his fingers on the candle as he walks, oh la la. I am already in love with Oberyn. END OF ASIDE]
The tension between the Lannister couples and Oberyn seeps out of the TV. The men make jabs at each other until the Red Viper stings. “May I tell you a secret? You’re not a golden lion. You’re just a pink little man whose far too slow on the draw.” Then, BAM, knife in one of the Lannisters wrists.
Tyrion enters just in time to disrupt the argument. Oberyn already knows the “King’s Imp Uncle” and the two men go for a stroll, talking truths to one another. Oberyn thinks Joffrey is offended since he is the second son, not the ruling Prince of Dorne. Tyrion questions Oberyn’s intentions, knowing there is more to the visit than attending a wedding. Then, in another genius dialogue-driven history lesson, we find out the true reason for the Martell/Lannister hatred. The last time Oberyn was in the capital was for his sister, Elia Martell’s, wedding to Rhagaer Targaryen. Elia had his children and cared for them until Rhagaer left her for another woman, the “kidnapped” Lyanna Stark, which caused Robert to wage war. After Rhagaer was killed, the Lannisters sacked King’s Landing, killing all remaining Targaryens, including Elia and her children. It is said that Elia was raped by the Mountain and then split in half. If this is the case, Oberyn holds Tywin directly responsible for her death and the deaths of his nephew and niece. “Tell your father I’m here. Tell him the Lannisters aren’t the only ones who pay their debts.”
Whoa. These two actors were phenomenal together. The tension, the conflict, the dialogue, the accent. All fantastic. The chemistry between them is fantastic. GIMME MORE, PLEASE!
After Tyrion’s depressing conversation with his new wife, Sansa Stark, he goes back to his room to find Shae draped over his bed. She knows it’s a dangerous place but insisted on seeing him, since she hasn’t gotten any in weeks. Tyrion turns her down and makes her leave. In a fit of rage, she reveals she knows he tried to dismiss her from the city and she wants him to be a man and say it to her himself. Tyrion reveals he has no idea about Varys’ visit last season, as we correctly assumed. Then, Shae storms out of the room….and the audience sees that one of Cersei’s little birds was outside chirping. Uh oh.
Speaking of the Golden Queen, we catch up with Cersei Lannister as she presents her brother with a golden hand, with the help of the Un-Maester Qyburn. Cersei reveals that Maester Qyburn helped to relieve her of some symptoms. (Pregnancy symptoms? Or no longer able to get pregnant symptoms? Is this her way out of her marriage to Loras?) The twins talk about the events that got them here and Jaime’s plans for the future. He reveals he wants to stay in King’s Landing so he can be with her. He tries to seduce his sister (EW) but she denies him, making it so both Lannister boys aren’t getting any. Cersei then breaks his heart – she tells him he was gone for too long and it took too long to get back to her. The incestual scene is disrupted when Cersei’s bird flies into the room to tattle on Tyrion.
We get a glimpse of the Royal Wedding plans when we catch up with Olenna and Margaery Tyrell and Jaime and Joffrey. Olenna, determined to make a fashion statement at the wedding, is displeased with the necklace options for Margaery and sends her little doves out to find the most beautiful one in King’s Landing. Margaery has a different idea but Olenna warns her to be careful because even the walls have ears.
Jaime and King Joff discuss security for the wedding, and the fact that the war isn’t over as long as Stannis lives. Joffrey isn’t interested and would rather squabble with his uncle, blaming him for his imprisonment and poking fun at Jaime for being a 40 year old knight with no hand who has done “no good deeds.” Did anyone else think Jaime must’ve been thinking, “How did I create that,” as he watched Joffrey walk away?
We get our first glimpse of the Daenerys Stormborn, Mother of Dragons, being just that, mother of dragons. She’s sitting with a dragon in her lap, stroking Rhaego as if he is a puppy. The dragons are gigantic and have almost doubled in size. Suddenly, the other two dragons return with a dead sheep and the dragons begin to fight. Rhaego even snaps as Dany before the three fly off. Holy. Shit. The dragons are scary and on their way to becoming massive and uncontrollable. Ser Jorah Mormont so wisely states, “They are dragons, Khaleesi. They can never be tamed, not even by their mother.” Why thank you Jorah, I shall call you Captain Obvious.
Dany heads back to camp to discover Daario Naharis and Greyworm are missing – gambling. After she walks through her gigantic camp, she discovers the two men holding weapons to determine who has the right to ride beside Dany on road to Meereen. Dany quickly reins the boys in and we discover that Daario and Greyworm have a cute bro-competition going on. This scene felt kind of pointless and more like a chance to showcase the immense size of Dany’s horde and the new actor playing Daario Naharis but I’ll take any Dany time I can get.
Later, Dany and Missandei talk about Meereen and Missandei lets her know that she thinks the slave masters should fear Dany before Daario interrupts the women to talk strategy. He brings Dany three flowers, the flowers of Meereen, which are used for tea and poison, telling her if she wants to win over the peoples affections, she must become one with their lands. Dany is smitten, as are we, but seems to recognize Daario’s ploy for her heart.
Suddenly, the horde comes to a halt. There are dead children, mutilated and strung up, on every mile marker between there and Meereen – 163 in total. Barristan Selmy offers to ride ahead and bury the children but she refuses. She wants to see them all, and wants them to remove their collars before they are buried. Dany is going to liberate the enslaved and conquer the slavers. I’m afraid already for the masters of Meereen.
The length of the Stark section is dwindling, you know, since they’re almost all dead.
Sansa – Sansa is in mourning. During the Season 3 finale we saw her immediate reaction to her brother and mother’s deaths. Now knows the details. She stays awake at night thinking about how the Lannisters (via Bolton and Frey) mutilated her family members. They chopped off Robb’s head and sewed his direwolf’s there in its place. They sliced her mother’s neck to the bone and then threw her body into the river, discarded like trash. There’s no cheering up Sansa, not even with lemon cakes (um, can I have Sansa’s lemon cake? My mouth is practically watering). Don’t worry Sansa, misery loves company and she’s got plenty of company in the legion of GOT fans.
It takes a fool to cheer Sansa up, literally. After creepily following her through the garden, Ser Dontos — the former knight she rescued from Joffrey in Season 2 — gives her a charming necklace as a gift. The family heirloom is all he has left and wants her to have it and wear it proudly.
Later, Brienne of Tarth tries to convince Jaime that he has to honor his pledge to rescue Catelyn Stark’s daughters. With Arya presumed dead and Sansa married to his brother, that makes things a bit difficult for Jaime. With Jaime’s previous speech to Tywin about breaking his word, is it wrong of me to have hope that he’ll follow through? Also, don’t you love that Brienne and Jaime are still besties?
Jon Snow – Man, Ygritte is a woman scorned. To be honest, I can’t say I blame her. If my man left me for a 600-some guys that wear only black, I’d be a little peeved too. We check-in with Ygritte as she’s making arrows, surely thinking about firing more of them at Jon Snow. Her angry arrow making is short-lived as Tormund Giantsbane approaches.
Is it just me or does Giantsbane remind you of Rumpelstiltskin in his angry wig? No, maybe try upside down? I don’t know, I can’t take him seriously whenever he’s on my TV.
In case you forgot (and missed Jon Snow’s recap to the council), last season a few of the Wildlings, led by Tormund Giantsbane, scaled The Wall and now intend to attack Castle Black from the south. Once they have control of the castle, they will open the gates to The Wall so Mance Rayder’s army can invade the southern lands. Right now they are waiting for Mance Rayder’s signal and it will be a big signal, says Jon Snow.
Anyway, back to Giantsbane and Ygritte. He’s giving her a hard time about Jon Snow, questioning whether or not she actually killed him. If she didn’t, their entire plan is at risk. Their conversation is interrupted when some weirdos show up. A group of tall pale bald men with creepy scars start talking about body types in a way that says, “I’m not a personal trainer, I’m just hungry and you seem like a delectable piece of meat.” Now, I’ve been binge watching NBC’s Hannibal lately and I just don’t know if I can handle another cannibal in my life right now. This group is called the Thenns and they are here to help with the Castle Black attack.
Speaking of Castle Black, let’s catch up with Jon Snow. He’s hanging out with Samwell, reacting to the Red Wedding news. He explains to Sam that he was always jealous of his brother Robb, but never wished harm upon him. Samwell knows the feeling since he feels that way about Jon Snow. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed in this whole scene. Like, that’s it, Jon Snow? You aren’t a little bit angry? Did Samwell tell him about seeing Bran? Are you at least going to try to save Bran? Maybe try to track down Arya? I NEED ANSWERS.
Well, at least he’s going to give the Night’s Watch council some answers. Members of the council want to end Jon Snow for breaking his vow (“You know nothing, Jon Snow”) and killing Qhorin Halfhand. Jon Snow begs the council to stop stressing about the little details and start preparing for the Wildlings. Can the Night’s Watch ready themselves in time for the attack?
Arya – Arya is still with The Hound. The Hound is obviously just looking for somewhere to drop Arya and not feel bad about it. Now they’re on their way to her crazy Aunt Lysa in the Vale of Arryn. The dynamic between these actors is really growing (see Jaime and Brienne from last season). Their banter is perfect and I love seeing hints of The Hound’s personality.
During their road trip, they decide to stop at a local tavern where several of The Mountain’s men are pissing outside, harassing the barkeep, etc. Arya immediately recognizes the pisser as Polliver, who in Season 2 captured Arya and her buddies after killing a bunch of people in the prison camp. Polliver steals Arya’s sword Needle and kills her friend Lommy because he cannot walk. Conveniently, Polliver still carries Needle.
Upon entering the tavern, Polliver recognizes The Hound and starts trying to impress him with his torturous ways. The Hound teases Polliver and it’s obvious that The Hound has decided to kill all of these people but is just waiting for them to make the first move. “You’re a talker,” he says, taking Polliver’s drink. “Listening to talkers makes me thirsty.” The fight starts.
Arya retreats to the corner. This fight seems really tough; The Hound does not seem to be winning. Also, there’s no backtrack. The quiet mixed with the clangs and the grunts is making me really anxious. Finally, Arya makes her move and the music kicks in. She gets her sword. Once Polliver is without a weapon, she stands over him and repeats the words he once said to Lommy, “Something wrong with your leg, boy? Can you walk? I’ve got to carry you. Fine little blade. Maybe I’ll pick my teeth with it.” She then slowly drives the blade into his throat, just like he did to Lommy. Meet the darker Arya of season four.
No news from Theon, Bran, or Rickon this week.
There’s a brief chat between Brienne and Margaery where Brienne tells her what she remembers of Renly’s death. She saw a black fog with Stannis’ face murder Renly and vows to avenge “their king.” Quietly Margaery reminds her “Joffrey is their king now.” No update from Stannis but he should watch his back.
Rock Paper Watch’s Top Quote of 4×1:
Jenn’s Pick – “Perhaps I should just let Joffrey choose it for me, end up with a string of dead sparrow heads around my neck.” – Margaery Tyrell to Olenna. — Elizabeth’s Pick – “Are you sure we’re not related? Ever since I’ve returned, every Lannister I’ve seen has been a miserable pain in my ass. Maybe you’re a Lannister too. You’ve got the hair for it. You’ve got the looks.” – Jaime to Brienne