Game of Thrones: Two Swords
Two Swords is a fantastic season opener, easing the audience back into Westeros, and reminding us why we love these characters. As they have with the past seasons, the opening is rather gentle, relatively speaking. There is not much action, but rather reaction to the previous action (which they were kind enough to offer a thorough recap prior to the episode). Overall, the episode was very plot heavy, but with subtlety that will cause us to look back at those small conversations, and they will seem much more important in retrospect. Look at those seeds, remember where they were planted, and enjoy that anticipation. This is what we have to experience for the next ten weeks, many seeds, and the anticipation of the bloody bloom.
To recap what happened here, I will make every attempt to keep this spoiler free, but be warned because to be completely spoiler free is next to impossible.
Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) opens the episode by having Ice, the Stark family sword melted down to forge two new blades. One of those blades he gifts to Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who demands to retain his position as Commander of the Kingsguard, despite the loss of his right hand. Tywin sends Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) is to greet Prince Doran Martell who is due to arrive in King’s Landing as a wedding guest; Tyrion suspects he is sent because he is seen as expendable, and there is no lack of bad blood between the two houses. Instead of Prince Doran Martell, his younger brother, Prince Oberyn, (Pedro Pascal) arrives in his place, and leaves no question as to his intentions to repay Tywin and Gregor Clegane the debt they are owed for the death of his sister. Tyrion then has to cope with his wife, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), mourning the loss of her brother and mother. Inconsolable Sansa takes refuge in the Godswood where Dontos Hollard (Tony Way), who thanks her for saving his life from Joffrey, meets her.
Back at Castle Black, Ser Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale), Ser Janos Slynt (Dominic Carter), and Maester Aemon (Peter Vaughan) question Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) about the death of Qhorin Halfhand. Jon admits to killing Qhorin to gain the trust of the wildings’ at the urging of Qhorin himself. Jon also admits to breaking his vow of celibacy before Thoron sentences Jon to death, only to have this sentence overruled by Maester Aemon.
Across the Sea, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), her much larger dragons, and her army continue their march towards Meereen, the last of the three great slave cities.
Meanwhile Sandor “The Hound” Clegane (Rory McCann) and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) en route to the Vale, come across an inn with several Lannister soldiers inside. Arya recognizes the man who stole her sword, and murdered her friend Lommy. She sets off to reclaim her sword, and claim her revenge.
This is the first time in the director’s chair for writer D. B. Weiss. Much of the action is plot driven, and the majority of scenes are relatively self-driving at this point. It would take an overzealous director to derail things; the restraint Weiss shows is commendable. Although I am sure it is easy to show restraint when you have written the roadmap and know what is coming in the next nine episodes. Still a lesser director may have attempted to make a large splash, fortunately, Weiss has nothing to prove, and in doing so, proves he has the skill to be a formidable director. I would especially like to comment on the direction of the final scene with Arya and The Hound. The palatable tension and the awkward and uncomfortable relationship between Arya and Clegane are unbelievably fun to watch.
If this opener is any indication this season of Game of Thrones is going to be beyond spectacular, and if the crashing of HBO Go is any indication, everyone will be watching.
Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 1 “Two Swords” directed by D. B. Weiss, written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss, 8.5 out of 10.