TV Show Review

TV Review: GAME OF THRONES: Season 4, Episode 1: Two Swords [HBO]

Emilia Clarke Game of Thrones Season 4

HBO’s Game of Thrones Two Swords TV Show Review. Game of Thrones: Season 4, Episode 1: Two Swords houses the major theme “All Men Must Die” and it is a theme that permeates throughout the season (death and its aftermath are central to its story-lines).

This is particularly the case with the Lannisters, who seem to be sitting pretty now that Robb and Catelyn Stark are dead. Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) is as smug as ever and feeling victorious, decides to have two swords forged from Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark’s Valyrian steel great sword ‘Ice’  – one for Ser Jaime “Kingslayer” Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and the other for King Joffrey Lannister (Jack Gleeson).

But neither Tywin’s son nor his grandson respond in the way he expects. Tywin finds there are shortcomings to being the victor. For instance, Jaime is trying to figure out his place in the world as the one-handed king slayer while Joffrey, at his most immature, comes up with new ways to be more unbearably despicable.

With each emotional blow, Tywin’s face contorts into bitterness and frustration as he watches his dreams die. This is a whole other sort of death, isn’t it? As fans of GOT know, Dance is a masterful actor but he’s especially convincing and commanding in the opening episode. His Tywin is trying to create a legacy and secure his family’s future but all they want to do is defy and disappoint.

None disappoint Tywin more than Tyrion (the always impressive Peter Dinklage). Although he’s been obedient enough to marry Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), he’s still wild at heart and hard to pin down. Another fascinating development in Season 4 is watching Tyrion’s inner and outer struggles. He’s trying to be a team player for his father but his love for Shae (Sibel Kekilli) is too great. While he longs to be with Shae, the responsible and pragmatic part of him knows that to protect himself and Shae, he must send her away and that’s not going to be easy.

Adding to Tyrion’s outward troubles is his assignment to keep an eye on the pompous and equally unpredictable Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne (played by the drama’s newcomer Pedro Pascal). Oberyn comes to King’s Landing for King Joffrey’s wedding to Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) but is really there to bed as many women and men as he can, and harass and harangue the Lannisters. Oberyn hates the occupiers of the Iron Throne because they were indirectly responsible for the torture and murder of his sister Elia. Just how vengeful and angry Oberyn is unknown but everyone, particularly the Lannisters, will find out in due time.

The Lannisters aren’t the only focus in Two Swords. The episode, which does a lot to catch up viewers on the aftermath of the Red Wedding, also spends time with a newly confident Jon Snow (Kit Harrington). Feeling both liberated and mournful about Robb’s death, Jon also has the swagger of a man who has recently lost his virginity to Ygritte (Rose Leslie), a hot redhead wildling. In one of the episode’s best and most memorable moments, Jon addresses the Night’s Watch council in an impressively candid and bold manner reminiscent of his father, Ned.

There are also some sweet but brief catch-ups with Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), and Sandor “the Hound” Clegane (Rory McCann). While Arya and the Hound’s storyline proves particularly gratifying, most of the installment is dedicated to the Lannisters and their next moves. The end result is a rather cerebral and methodical first installment of Game of Thrones peppered with bouts of gore, blood and sex. But mostly this is brain food that allows us to revisit some of our most beloved and hated television characters as they deal with death and go on living. ‘All men must die,’ but it is how they live that will keep fans thoroughly entertained.

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Mekeisha Madden Toby

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