Monday, April 14, 2014

Game of Thrones 4.01: "Two Swords"

“Keep it. A one-handed man with no family needs all the help he can get.”

After a surprisingly pleasant conversation with a Comcast representative, I got HBO included with my cable/internet package for a year and will be paying less than I paid before. Which basically means I’ll have easy access to “Game of Thrones” again this year for your blogging enjoyment. Score! Westeros is a brutal land, to say the least, but it’s fun to journey back there for a little while as an observer. To do a little housekeeping, I have been gradually reading the “Song of Ice and Fire” books very slowly, but I’m currently only about half-way through the second book. I prefer to see the show first, then follow up with the reading. So no holier than thou “but just wait till you read this” type spoilers, please. I’ll sic Arya and Needle on you if you pull that sort of thing (or at the very least, I’ll ban you from ever coming to MTVP again). With that unpleasantness out of the way, let’s talk about the beginning of Season 4 of “Game of Thrones!”

As early-season episodes of “Game of Thrones” tend to be, “Two Swords” was a lot of set-up, and it tried to service many stories. There was plenty of interesting King’s Landing action, but we also visited the Wall and wherever on their way to the Vale Arya and The Hound are right now. Let’s start with the King’s Landing action, where the episode opens on Tywin melting down Ice, the Stark family sword to forge two new swords. Way harsh, Tywin! Tywin gives one of the new swords to Jaime, who is struggling to fit back into King’s Landing life. Tywin wants Jaime to leave the Kingsguard and rule Casterly Rock, but Jaime isn’t having it. He doesn’t want to be seen as having broken yet another oath. Surprisingly, Cersei isn’t exactly happy with his presence, either. IN a scene that’s equal parts emotional and awkward, Cersei blames Jaime for “leaving” her and says he took “too long” to return. There’s also the implication that she was pregnant with her cousin Lancel’s child and had an abortion. Which is kind of gross (the first part, not the second…MTVP is a decidedly pro-choice blog).

Tyrion is having a rather difficult time juggling the ladies in his life. Sansa (who you’ll recall is now married to Tyrion) is taking the Red Wedding hard, as you would expect. She’s not eating, and Tyrion for some reason thinks he can help Sansa get over the extremely brutal murders of her brother and mother. Tyrion does have some very kind words to say about Cat (referencing their rather legendary encounter back in season 1), but as you might expect, it doesn’t help. Shae is jealous of Tyrion’s attention to Sansa (even though Tyrion and Sansa still haven’t had sex). When she sneaks into Tyrion’s room and tries to seduce him, Tyrion completely rejects her. Shae is a strong woman. I have a feeling Tyrion is going to come to regret this. Especially since one of Cersei’s servants heard Tyrion and Shae’s conversation and immediately reported it to her mistress.

One of my top picks for ultimate winner of the Iron Throne is Daenerys, who is still across the Narrow Sea as far as I can tell. Daenerys, her boys, and her kickass army are on their way to a city called Meereen. There’s an interesting little scene where one of Dany’s dragon’s snaps at her when she interrupts a feeding frenzy. Is this a metaphor for how Dany treats her post-Khal Drogo harem of suitors? Speaking of those suitors, Daario is now played by Michiel Huisman, aka Liam from “Nashville.” I know who I would choose if I were Dany. But alas, I’m not a kickass Mother of Dragons. Dany gives Daario a bit of a talking-to for gambling with the lead Unsullied when he should be preparing for battle. There’s a hot little scene where Daario gives Dany flowers under the guise of teaching her about local culture. Girl is going to eat him alive.

Up at the Wall, Jon and Ygritte are both dealing with the fallout of their brief alliance. The other Wildlings are not happy with Ygritte, especially the new, extra violent tribe that has arrived on the scene. Jon is facing a hearing of sorts from the Night’s Watch. They aren’t happy that he seemingly defected for a while. At his hearing, Jon explained that the Halfhand asked him (Jon) to murder him in order to gain the favor of the Wildlings and learn more about them. There’s a new guy in town (a former member of the City Watch) who seems especially unsympathetic to Jon. Jon admits he slept with Ygritte, but Maester Aemon doesn’t seem to think Jon’s crimes are especially serious. Following the hearing, Jon is free to go. For now.

Back at King’s Landing, there’s a new player in town. Dornish Prince Oberyn is in town for Joffery and Margaery’s wedding. His older brother was supposed to attend, but apparently he is sick and couldn’t make the journey. Tyrion is sent to greet the Prince, and naturally, he finds him at a whorehouse. Before Tyrion arrives, we see Oberyn try to proposition the male proprietor of the whorehouse, but when Tyrion arrives, Oberyn starts kissing is female companion. Tyrion tries to bond with Oberyn by invoking their mutual second son inferiority complexes, but it doesn’t seem to really work. Oberyn also really doesn’t like Lannisters on principal, going back to stuff that happened when the last Targaryen was overthrown.

Also in King’s Landing, Brienne is trying to see how much influence she can wield to protect the Stark daughters. First she tries talking to Margaery and her grandmother. She tells them both what she thinks really happened to Renly, but Margaery isn’t really interested. She says that Joffrey is the true King now. Brienne then goes to Jaime and tries to tell Jaime that he is obligated to help her deliver the Stark girls to safety. With Sansa a Lannister now and Arya long missing, Jaime doesn’t seem to think there’s really anything to be done, but Brianne disagrees.

Our final story to visit tonight is Arya and the Hound. We learn that the Hound is hoping to be able to get some ransom from Arya’s Aunt Lysa (good luck with that one, dude). Neither of them have any money, so they consider trying to steal from the patrons of a pub. Arya really wants to do some stealing and then some when she discovers that one of the pub patrons is the skeezy guy who killed one of her friends and stole Needle. Arya wants revenge, but the Hound doesn’t think it’s worth it. They go into the pub and try to play it cool, but they quickly attract the attention of the bad guys anyway. A pretty epic brawl ensues, and half-way through it, Arya starts becoming a killing machine. She gets Needle back (and uses it to kill the guy who stole it from her), but what price will she have to pay for her actions?

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