Genre: Historical Fantasy
Watched: Episode 31 – April 6, 2014
Title: Two Swords
Summary: Excellent opening
Here we are again at Game of Thrones season. The “previously scenes” always give one a clue what’s coming, and this time it reached all over the place to odds and ends, sometimes from a season or two ago (like Dontos) or the Ice setup for what’s about to come with this episode. Watching with my wife, who HAS read the books (years ago) and seen every episode, but still needed a “reminder” lecture on the background, it was ever more evident to me how gigantic the scope of this world and series is.
The episode is named “Two Swords” and it opens with Ice (which we haven’t seen in more than two years) pulled from its sheath and reforged into two new swords. Definitely symbolic of the “end” of the Stark line, and depressing enough as Tywin gloats over it.
As usual, I’ll break down the episode into threads by character. This gets a little tricky in king’s landing.
Jaime – is back in King’s Landing, but more out of his element than ever. He’s shaved and cleaned up, impressive again in King’s Guard regalia, but also gaunt and haunted. Tywin offers him a new sword (we don’t se that the other goes to Joff, or maybe that’s later) and they argue about his future. He clings to the idea of the King’s Guard and Tywin wants him back at Casterly Rock. Truth is, Tywin is fairly gracious in yielding to Jaime’s stubborn position — for him. This just begins the assault on Jaime’s naive assumption that he can resume his normal life. Twice people (his father and Joff) comment on the luck of one handed swordsmen.
In his next scene he is fitted with an awkward looking gold hand by Qyburn (being setup for his future roles). Cersei is there and they too argue over his future. He moves to resume their incestuous romance, but she rebukes him hard. From her point of view he left her. From his, events were beyond his control. The dialog is top notch as usual. Loras is referred to as a Pillowbiter, an amusing British slang. Next up it’ll be Featherspitter.
And later, when he and Brienne look down on Sansa, the giant female knight (looking even more awkward in her “finery”) takes him to task. Who is he? The old Jaime who didn’t take anything seriously? Or the man that went back for Brienne?
Tyrion – is also on edge. Interestingly we don’t have a scene between the brothers, but he has been tasked with greeting the party from Dorne come for the royal wedding (Joff and Marg). But the prince of Dorne isn’t there, sending instead his younger brother Oberyn (the Red Viper). Of course, this gives opportunity to end up in a brothel, presumably one of Littlefinger’s (who, along with Varys, Stannis, Bran, and the Ironborn, is one of the few characters who does NOT make an appearance in this episode). Oberyn has a great introduction, in typical Thrones Brothel style involving a good deal of nudity and some clear bisexuality (which if it was in the books was pretty subtle). He’s certainly fun as he gives some obnoxious Lannister men a bit of a MadMax quandary. This is mostly introduction, as afterward he and Tyrion talk, mostly to inform the audience of the Dorne position on things. Oh, and Ty as usual has great lines like “I partook, but now I’m married.”
Oberyn’s “friend”, BTW is a veteran of that other great HBO historical epic: Rome.
We continue to be updated on Tyrion’s precarious position. He tries to sooth Sansa (still reeling from the death of her mother and brother) and at the same time keep Shae happy. It isn’t working, and when Shae comes on to him hard he rebukes her (playing off the later interchange between Jaime and Cersei). This is new material from the books and is helping set up where Shae is going as a character. To good effect, as I never really bought that part of the otherwise amazing 3rd novel.
His tryst (even if avoided) is clearly taken in by one of Cersei’s annoying spies.
Dany – gets in a little R&R with her (now) giant CG dragons. Seems they’re getting a little unruly. I guess they weren’t properly cage trained. Jorah marches in and we are reintroduced to her host: Jorah, Dario, Barristan, the translator girl, Grey Worm, etc. This new Eric Bana Lookalike Dario sure is different from last year’s sensual interpretation. The scope on these shots seems big, although Dany’s countryside looks… well Croatian.
Later, marching toward Maureen, Dany and crew (an enormous CG snake of an army) discover a crucified girl pointing at Maureen. Just one of thousands. Really, we don’t get what Dany is exactly up to, as she seems to be heading anywhere but back to Westerous.
Sansa – Is probably in one of the toughest positions, most notably because she doesn’t have a lot of options. Oh, and it is worth mentioning that her table table is made of Pietra dura and has a great view of the Adriatic. When Tryion tries to sooth her, he’s as witty as every: “She wanted to have me executed, but I admired her.” and “Prayer can be helpful, I hear.” Later, after being spied on by Jaime and Brienne she flees and runs into Ser Dontos, who she rescued forever again from Joff’s sadism. He volunteers his loyalty.
Ygritte – is back in the no mans land near the Wall and jousting verbally with Tormund Giantsbane. He gives her a hard time about now killing Jon, then a group of Thenns show up. They’re huge and scarred, with lots of manly attitude and a taste for human flesh. All in all icky.
Sam and Jon are back at Castle Black – but no one seems to take the Wildling threat seriously when Jon tries to warn them. In fact, he ends up being tried for the death of the Halfhand. We are reminded that Jonas Slynt is now up at the wall and that Measter Aeogon rules. Plus great lines like “none of us are free, we are all men of the Night’s Watch.”
The Tyrells – are plotting talking, and generally being good fun. Plus, behind them is a hilarious statue of Joff “slaying” a boar.
Ayra – the show likes to end with Arya, and that is no accident. She’s a fan favorite for a reason. Now, following the murder of her brother and mother, she’s in a grim place. The Hound intends to sell her to her Aunt for cash. And at least he isn’t interested in selling her back with his former masters. There’s is a bleak spot of the middle of the country (Riverlands?) and there are more than a fair share of corpses. On finding an Inn filled with Lannister soldiers, an amusing combo of their mutual stubborn sides leads them inside. What follows is quite fun. Sandor doesn’t give a shit (pardon my French) and he’s willing to drive straight on through even if it means a dozen bodies. But, amusing enough, it’s not him that we focus on, instead everything comes to life as Arya does. Boy, I have to go watch that scene again (and I knew what was coming).
Oh, and how weird was Poliver’s monologue about torture?
Overall, a great start to the season. This is a typical early GOT episode in that it focuses on the big peices and establishing the position of each of the MANY characters. Usually, it’s a few weeks before they really move. Not so much this time if I have my crystal ball ready.
HBO’s official Inside the Episode: