Game of Thrones: "Two Swords" (Season 4: Episode 1) Recap/Analysis | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Game of Thrones: “Two Swords” (Season 4: Episode 1) Recap/Analysis

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Apr 07, 2014 Web Exclusive
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[Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen the latest episode of Game of Thrones, “Two Swords,” then read no further.]

Game of Thrones is back, which means it’s another couple months of brutality, mystery, political intrigue, and, oh yeah, dragons. I have not read the books, so no spoilers past “Two Swords” will be seen here.

Season four kicks off with a cold open, in an almost literal sense, as seeing Tywin break down Ned Stark’s sword and forge it into two new swords merely adds insult to injury after everything the Lannisters have done to the near-extinct Stark clan. But the theme of the first chapter of the new season is that with every victory in Westeros, the only true spoils are more enemies.

It seems Tyrion is much more aware of this fact than his father, as he ventures out to meet Prince Oberyn Martell, who shows his penchant for vengeance within minutes of his introduction. Oberyn swears to Tyrion that “the Lannisters aren’t the only ones who repay their debts.” A pretty heavy-handed omen, only to be topped by Daenerys’ near-fatal mishap with her dragons. Her loyal advisor, Ser Jorah, reminds her that dragons can never be tamed not even by their mothers.

The war is supposedly over, but so much has changed that no one is sure where to safely land. After a chilly confrontation with Cersei, only to watch him be cut down again by Joffrey, we start to wonder if we’re just totally on Jaime Lannister’s side now. He’s not defeated, but he’s more self-aware. But “Two Swords” does a good job of highlighting where some of the most unlikely alliances have turned out to be the most comfortable pairings in George R. R. Martin’s universe. When Jaime playfully accuses Brienne of sounding too much like a Lannister, it’s meant as a complaint, but there’s definitely a confirmation of trust hidden beneath.

And, of course, there’s Arya and the Hound. Fresh off her first kills, Arya negotiates with the Hound to steal some food and a horse. The Hound is no thief - murdering is okay, but he doesn’t steal. That’s a moot point by the time Arya recognizes her old sword, Needle, in the belt of Polliver, a kingsman who once used that very sword to kill Arya’s friend. The Hound reluctantly follows her into the tavern, where a bloodbath ensuesnot at Arya’s insistence, but because Polliver was too annoying for the Hound to stomach any longer. The initial delight of seeing the duo cut the room down to size wears off with the gruesome glee across Arya’s face as she plunges Needle into Polliver’s neck. As deserved as it may be, the image is unsettling, and one wonders how long until Arya’s lust for revenge proves too big a monster to wrangle.

“Two Swords” shows the messy and downright depressing attempts to move on from a war-torn Westeros, but its real purpose is to reveal who will be prepared for the oncoming storm. In the past, characters were difficult to define on terms of good and evil, but this week we’re clearly rooting for those who know there’s danger ahead versus those who are oblivious to their inevitable downfall. “Two Swords” was tame by the show’s unabashed standards, but if it’s any indication for the path season four is going to take, I’d say there are going to be some epic downfalls indeed.

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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