Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!

Game of Thrones – Season 4, Episode One – Two Swords

Note: Spoilers – Be warned.

I never expected Jaime Lannister to be redeemed and I never expected the Hound (Sandor Clegane) to become one of my favorite characters, but that’s just what season three of HBO’s Game of Thrones television adaptation did. Season three made reprehensible characters into outright heroes, with Jaime rescuing Brienne of Tarth from the bear pit at Harrenhal and the Hound doing his best to reunite Arya with her family (ok, so maybe it was for money… I guess the Hound is more of an anti-hero, but still…). The most striking parts of last night’s season four premiere involved both Jaime, who has finally returned to King’s Landing after what seems like years of capture, as well as Sandor, who is still paired with Arya, planning to get her to the Eyrie to ransom her to her aunt.

Jaime Lannister is a redeemed man on HBO's Game of Thrones.

Jaime Lannister is a redeemed man on HBO’s Game of Thrones.

In between, there was all sorts of other interesting stuff of course. We are introduced to Oberyn Martell, the second son and prince of Dorne, a nation that has only been thus far notable for its wine production. Oberyn comes to King’s Landing in his brother’s stead to attend the wedding of King Joffrey and Lady Margaery. Oberyn comes into immediate conflict with two Lannister soldiers, stabbing one in the wrist before Tyrion comes to clear things up. We then learn that Oberyn plans to avenge the death of his sister and nieces and nephews, who were murdered by Lannisters during Robert’s Rebellion some years back.

Elsewhere in King’s Landing, Jaime is reunited with his family, but all is not well. His father commands him to give up the King’s Guard and head back to Casterly Rock, where he will rule in his father’s stead. Jaime disagrees, intending to stay on as part of the King’s Guard. This disappoints Tywin, of course. Joffrey is also unamused with his uncle, mocking him for getting captured and losing a hand. Even Cersei, his sister-lover, has also seemingly moved on from Jaime. A brief conversation with Brienne over the fate of Sansa shows us just how hurt Jaime really is. Speaking of Sansa, she is still heartbroken over the deaths of her mother and brother, and refuses to eat while having a lunch break with Tyrion and Shae.

At the Wall, Jon Snow finally faces the leaders of the Night’s Watch for his “abandonment” of the oath he swore. His fate (execution) is staved off by Master Aemmon, who defends him and then dismisses Snow to join his mates in training. With the impending invasion of Wildlings, the Night’s Watch can’t afford to lose Jon Snow. Meanwhile, Daenerys Targaryen, having sacked Yunkai, is quickly learning she will never have full control of her dragons. She also learns that she must adapt to the cultures of the lands she takes to truly learn about the people she continually liberates (she learns all of this from the recast Dario Nahaaris, who is much better than the actor from last season).

The episode closes out with Arya and the Hound heading toward the Eyrie to meet with Arya’s aunt for a ransoming. The two first stop at an inn, where five Lannister men are harassing the innkeeper and his daughter. Arya notices one of the five is responsible for the death of her friend way back in season two. The Hound, unamused with their antics and constant chattering, lays waste to them, and Arya is able to get her sword, Needle, back – slaying the chatty, sadistic Lannister soldier in the process. There was a lot of exposition throughout “Two Swords,” but it was necessary to catch us back up to speed, help processing Westeros in the aftermath of the Red Wedding, and set the season up for future events. I can’t wait to check out the next episode, as per usual.

-Z-

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