Game of Thrones Season 4 Premiere Recap: New Swords, Harsh Words and Vengeful Lords

Game of Thrones Season 4 PremiereOld friends can come in handy. Dragons are scary. Gold hands are not chick magnets. And the Dornish royal family knows how to get down (and throw down).

That’s just a smattering of what we learn in Game of Thrones‘ fourth season opener, which finds King’s Landing prepping for Margaery’s wedding to the antichrist Joffrey, Oberyn Martell making a memorable entrance and Arya returning to her dancing lessons. Read on as we review what took place in “Two Swords.”

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HOUSE STARK | Arya complains to the Hound that she wants her own horse, but he’s not really the give-a-cute-girl-a-pony type. They happen upon a tavern, and just as he’s deciding that there are too many men inside to make causing a ruckus worth his while, Arya notices that one of the patrons is Polliver: the man who killed Lommy and stole Needle, the sword Jon gave her. (Because this is somewhat of a family site, I won’t repeat what the Hound calls people who name their weapons.) Before he can stop her, she strides toward the tavern, and all he can do is follow.

The men inside wear the king’s colors, terrorize the tavern keeper and his daughter and are mightily offended when the Hound informs them what they can do with their king. By that point, the tension in the room is so high I’m relieved when a fight finally breaks out, even if it means I have to watch the Hound repeatedly impale a dude via eye socket. Arya watches with interest then, toward the end of the melee, jumps in and kills one man, grabs the discarded Needle and slowly approaches the man who murdered her friend.

Just as he recognizes her, she slides the blade into his throat vertically up under his chin, causing him to sputter gouts of blood and then die. Next thing we know, the Hound and his horse are ambling away from the tavern, followed by Arya – outfitted with Needle – on a mount of her own.

HOUSE MARTELL | The Dornish Prince Doran won’t attend Joffrey’s wedding, so he sends his brother, Prince Oberyn, in his stead – though Oberyn skips the official welome committee proceedings headed up by Tyrion. Bronn wonders where the prince might be. “You’re famous for f—ing half of Westeros, you’ve just arrived at the capital after two weeks of bad road. Where would you go?” Tyrion asks his sellsword. “I’d probably go to sleep, but I’m getting old,” Bronn replies. (Heh.)

At that very moment, the Dornish warrior prince is indeed auditioning playmates at Littlefinger’s establishment, and he’s doing so with his paramour, Ellaria Sand. They opt for a very bendy young woman and a rather willing young man – who gets whom seems pretty fluid – but are interrupted by some Lannister men singing “The Rains of Castamere” in the room next door. Oberyn can’t let it go, so he barges in, mocks them and smiles dementedly as he puts his dagger through one of their wrists, pinning him to the table like a butterfly about to be pressed.

Oberyn frees the man as Tyrion arrives, and the two second sons have a chat outside. Long story short: Martell is there for Joffrey’s wedding… aaaaaand to seek revenge on Tywin Lannister for allowing/ordering Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane to rape and kill Oberyn’s sister Elia and to kill her children. The Dornish prince has  a message for Tyrion’s pop: “Tell him the Lannisters aren’t the only ones who pay their debts.”

HOUSE TARGARYEN | We catch up with Daenerys as she lovingly strokes one dragon’s head and the other two frolick off in the distance. But when they draw near, they drop a bloody lamb at her feet like a cat with a dead mouse, and that starts all three dragons tussling for the prize. Dany tries to calm them and nearly loses a hand for her troubles; as Ser Jorah notes, the beasts can never be tamed – “not even by their mother.”

But the khaleesi has other problems to attend to; her rather impressive army marches onward toward the next slave city it hopes to liberate, Mereen. By her side are Missandei, Jorah, Barristan Selmy, nuDaario Naharis (hey, it’s Liam from Nashville! Scarlett is going to be hella ticked off when she finds out you’re not really in Tokyo) and Grey Worm – the latter pair don’t like each other very much.

HOUSE LANNISTER: DAMNED-IF-YOU-DO EDITION | Sansa is so consumed with thoughts of her dead mother and brother, she won’t eat (not even lemon cakes!) and prefers to spend her time alone in the godswood. Tyrion tries mightily to console his young wife, recalling the time he spent with Catelyn. “She wanted to have me executed, but I admired her,” he says lightly. (Heh.) But the redhead won’t hear it; she takes off and later runs into Ser Dontos, the drunken knight-turned-castle-fool Sansa saved from death on Joffrey’s name day. Dontos is pickled, as usual, but he’s also thankful: He gives her a necklace he says was his mother’s, and she reluctantly accepts..

Meanwhile, Shae forces an encounter with Tyrion by appearing in his bed, half naked. Unlike pretty much every other time this has happened, he’s displeased. Everyone wants to kill him, and it’s not safe for her either, he explains. “You… need… to relax,” she coos, licking his finger and attempting to put it in her pigeon pie. He stops her, and she flips out, yelling about how he tried to ship her away with diamonds – he has no notion of what she’s talking about – and they end on a very bad note as she leaves… and another maid overhears the entire thing.

HOUSE LANNISTER: UNHAND-ME EDITION | Elsewhere in the castle, Jaime gets a verbal beat-down from Tywin and then tries out the golden hand Cersei spent “days” working with an almost-maester to design. At her twin brother’s raised eyebrow, the queen regent saucily concedes, “Better part of an afternoon.” (Side note: Drunk Cersei for the win! And, from the look of things, there’s going to be a lot of winning this season.)

I feel the need to note that Jaime has cleaned up considerably since last we saw him. A haircut, a non-soul-wrenching bath and a return to the Kingsguard have done him well; he can slay my king anytime. Unfortunately, Cersei doesn’t feel the same way. Once Pycelle’s replacement has left the room, Jaime is all, “Ever made it with a gold-handed man?” and she’s all, “Not happening, bro. (No seriously. You’re literally my brother.)”

Cersei is mad at Jaime for leaving her alone – when he got captured – and isn’t sure she’s ready to forgive. He argues that his only thought during that muddy, amputating, bear-brawling nightmare was to get back to her. “You took too long,” she says coldly… and they’re interrupted by the maid who overheard Shae and Tyrion’s spat.

It’s OK, Jaime; at least you have a shiny new sword of Valyrian steel, which Tywin forged from Ned Stark’s masterpiece Ice, to keep you company – and Brienne! She’s still in King’s Landing, too! After the lady knight visits Margaery and vows to avenge Renly’s death-by-shadow, she makes sure to let Jaime know she plans to hold him to his promise to return the Stark girls to safety. “Are you sure we’re not related?” he asks her, annoyed that everyone in his family seems to have a beef with him. “You’ve got the hair for it, if not the looks.”

THE WILDLINGS/THE MEN OF THE WALL | While Ygritte and Tormund restlessly await Mance Rayder’s signal to attack, he questions whether she actually killed Jon Snow like she said. She’s such a good shot, he observes, “If that boy’s still walking, it’s because you let him go.” They’re interrupted, though, but the arrival of some bald, scarred, cannibalistic Thenns who – based on the appendages they start to cook – have clearly done some grocery shopping in the “Fresh Men of the Night’s Watch” section of the supermarket.

Meanwhile, Jon Snow – who has heard about the Red Wedding deaths and mourns Robb (though – shocker! — doesn’t mention Catelyn) – goes before a council of his Night’s Watch brothers to answer for his transgressions. He admits to fully integrating himself into the free folk’s society and sleeping with Ygritte, but he’s more worried that the men in black aren’t listening to his warnings of war. Thank goodness for the always cool, older than dirt Maester Aemon, who saves Ned’s bastard from death (“If we beheaded every ranger that lay with a girl, The Wall would be manned by headless men,” he quips). Still, it doesn’t seem like the crows are very ready for the storm headed their way.

Now it’s your turn! What do we think about Arya’s increasing willingness to kill people? Had you forgotten just how irritating little Joffrey is? And were you as delighted by Lady Olenna’s reaction to Brienne as I was? Sound off in the comments – and if you want a quick rehash of where our characters are at the top of the hour, click through the gallery below. 







Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Isaac Hunt says:

    Promising start, always seems to take a few episodes for a season to get going.

  2. Zach says:

    I’m surprised how far they went with Arya’s story. That was one of her last chapters in A Storm of Swords. Looks like they’re going to go into A Feasf for Crows sooner than I thought.

    • Joey says:

      I think it really depends on the character on how far into the other books they’re going to get. Considering the trailer footage including the Titan of Braavos and all of the casting they did characters from the Vale, I’d assume certain characters are progressing a lot more than others.

      • zacqua10 says:

        I didn’t hear about the casting of characters in the Vale. Wow so they’re going to go a lot farther than what I first imagined.

        • Joey says:

          Pretty sure confirmed characters coming this season are Yohn Royce, Anya Waynwood, and Donnel Waynwood.

        • Joey says:

          Also, forgot to mention that it was confirmed that Lysa and Robin are returning this season, too.

          • Hannah says:

            the Lysa chapters are in ASoS, with a certain someone doing a certain action as one of the end of the book-shocking events. I don’t know how far they’re gonna go with Arya’s story, but we know they like to use episode 10 for setting the stories for the following season rather than big events (with a few supernatural cliffhangers, granted), and this may include a change of location for some characters. What I mean to say is that Arya’s story can’t progress much because at one point she will meet a secondary character (whose name starts with is D.) from another main character’s storyline, whose story must be given time to progress accordingly.

            If I hadn’t been clear enough is because this site’s spoiler policy is very strict.

        • Alice says:

          The trailer also showed scenes from the Vale. Snowy scenes.

    • Sean C. says:

      Since they changed the implications of that fight for the Hound, I don’t think they’re going to be going into AFFC sooner. They just wanted to give her the sword back.

    • Guest says:

      Lommy has been AVEGED! Finally!

    • Alice says:

      And the line “You need to carry me”- in the book that was Raff, not Poliver, and he only just appeared in the released Chapter from Book 6.

      • mary says:

        I think in one of the early episodes of season two, after arya fled from King’s landing, there was a scene where a young boy who was injured and couldn’t walk, asked to be carried, and Polliver (I think) killed him, but did it while leaning over him pretending to get ready to carry him. Arya saw the whole thing and never forgave it.

        • Alice says:

          Yes you’re right-, they combined a few characters in the show for obvious reasons- she doesn’t sit on top of anyone stabbing him asking “are there jewels in the village” either. But what blew my mind is that in the released chapter from WoW- she says pretty much exactly the same thing she did in the episode. Have we reached the point where the books and the TV show are about dead even?

    • Mike says:

      Zach remember to consider that Feast for Crows doesn’t have every characters’ happenings but they wouldn’t skip 1/2 of the cast’s respective storylines for an entire season lol.

      • zacqua10 says:

        Yeah, I realize that. I guess in my head I was expecting them to have some of the characters do some other things that weren’t in the books so they could keep the chronology in sync with all the characters. But I don’t think that’s happening.

  3. Joey says:

    So did Oberyn just verify R&L or what? :O

    • zacqua10 says:

      No. He didn’t say anything that hasn’t already been said about Rhaegar and Lyanna.

      • CC says:

        I think it was the way Oberyn characterized it. All we hear in the books and show, except for Ned, is that Rhaegar stole or kidnapped Lyanna. Oberyn says “left her for another woman.” Doesn’t really change things but it’s softer language. Makes it appear more civilized, like they went together which is the general consensus of book readers. I dont think it was intentional to change any meaning though.

    • gdv says:

      I totally squealed when Oberyn said that!

  4. bender says:

    Arya is turning into a badarse, I think I would be drunk too if I had to live in kings landing. Dragons marvelous creatures aren’t they

  5. Jojo says:

    Great episode…feels like episode 4 or 5 from past seasons in terms of where we are in the story. Should be an exceptional season!

  6. Talia says:

    Olenna Tyrells reaction to Brienne was my reaction to this episode. Marvellous.

  7. James says:

    I truly laughed out loud at your Nashville reference. Good to see Michael Huisman again. Expect to see a lot more of him. A lot more.

  8. James says:

    When is the wedding?

    • Joey says:

      Judging by the trailer for the next episode, and the fact that it’s called The Lion and the Rose, I would assume it’s the next episode. :P

    • Kevin H. says:

      Oh, man– stop teasing. We can’t handle another one.

    • Ryan says:



      Like, yesterday. You know it’s bound to be all sorts of depraved and awesome.

  9. WTactualF says:

    Great episode! I loved Arya and the Hound!

  10. DarkDefender says:

    Kim, that was a funny and on point recap.. Kudos!
    I love everything about this show, especially Arya’s and Daenerys’ stories.

  11. tealeaves says:

    “were you as delighted by Lady Olenna’s reaction to Brienne as I was?”
    Yes. I loved it. I also loved every scene with Arya, as always. It was a great episode all the way around.

  12. Cheyenne says:

    Can someone please tell me if the show is any better than the books? I saw the first season which was pretty good and got me interested in the books. But the last two books were so godawful I didn’t want to watch the show any more.

    • abcben says:


      • Cheyenne says:

        Okay thanks, maybe I will give it another shot. The last book so far (#5) was absolutely dreadful. 1,100 pages of dreck.

    • AGGEE says:

      The books did become bogged down in the details and seemed to drag a little. This period coincided with season two and the first part of season three on TV. I can promise you that all of that was laying the groundwork for what is coming up. Things will be happening at a fast and furious pace and you will not regret staying with it.

    • AnnieM says:

      Storm of Swords and Feast of Crows happen at the same time, if I’m not mistaken. I’ll admit I did some skimming as I read those – all that business with Theon/Reek and the rest of the Greyjoys bored me to tears – but Dance With Dragons is a great book. :-) If you really want to know w/o reading through the books, I imagine there are probably several detailed synopses across the internet to help you decide. :-)

      • Cheyenne says:

        I have to disagree. I thought Storm of Swords was pretty good, but Dance of Dragons was terrible. I almost don’t care if Jon Snow is dead or alive. The book just dragged out too long. And at the rate Martin is writing them, he could be dead before the series is finished.

        • Mike says:

          Cheyenne what a rude irreverent thing to say about G.R.R.M. Show a bit of respect, for YOU could be dead before the series is finished. Dance with Dragons was decent, and it dragged on LESS than AFFC because it had a variety of characters’ POV, and even introduced a few new ones.

        • Joey says:

          Pretty sure that the general consensus is that AFFC is the dud of the series so far.

        • Saskatoon says:

          The problem with Dance was that it ended just before it was about to enter its climax. Those 2 large battles that GRRM was building the story for were supposed to be in ADWD, but because the book would have been too long publisher asked to cut them and have them in next book.

        • Hannah says:

          While we all hope George will live a long life, I must say I had the same thought.

  13. Elle says:

    Arya’s smug little face after she put the sword though Polliver’s neck was awesome. And, oooh, Sansa. I yelled for her not to take the necklace, it’s clearly a set up! They’re going to do something awful to her, accuse her of theft and have her beaten again or something like that.

  14. Shawn says:

    I have never been so happy to see a righteous kill such as Arya’s at the end…that was two seasons of waiting for vengeance of some sort and I loved it when we got it…

  15. Apples says:

    I friggin loved Oberyn Martell, and the Jaime/Cersei scenes (am I weird for actually liking them together? Screw it, incest ftw. The Targaryens did it). Arya’s going to suitably dark places, excellent.

  16. Mitchell says:

    Great start to the new season.
    Arya + The Hound = all kinds of awesome. Arya is so badarse and is by far my favourite character on this show.

  17. Quinn Mallory says:

    The new Daario Naharis looks nothing like the guy from the last season, particularly with a different facial hair.

    • Scott says:

      Why should he look the same? The show was quite careful to make sure we knew who he was. With a huge cast like GoT has I’m surprised more re-casting hasn’t been necessary. Even the young man in the brothel was a returning character (he bedded Ser Loras on Littlefinger’s orders last season).

    • gdv says:

      The recasting really bugged me. As my husband pointed out, the new guy is boring and has no screen presence. The old actor did a good job of making the character alluring but also still dangerous.

    • I was wondering who that was, and then only idley realized it was the guy from last season.

    • Ninna says:

      I agree that this recast was a huge mistake. I was feeling that way since they announced the other actor wouldn’t comeback and this episode sealed it. Not flashy and showy as he was supposed to be.This Daario Naharis doesn’t have the charisma and the presence the other had. What were they thinking?!

  18. Anna says:

    And finally the Martells are in the picture! About time! I’m very happy with Oberyn, he was all kinds of awesome; now I just need the rest of them.
    This was a very good first episode of what is hopefully going to be a very good season. And it looks like next week is finally going to be the week of Joffrey’s wedding! I’m so excited! Although I fear I know where exactly the episode is going to end…

    • Hannah says:

      I’m glad they went with a little colour into the casting. I was worried they’d WASP the Martells off but they didn’t. It’s important to show Dornish people have different origins and race from the rest of Westeros.

  19. Elyse says:

    I like the new guy they cast to play Daario Naharis but man he looked nothing like the old actor! I guess its like soaps they don’t worry much about the actors looking alike when they recast.

  20. H.Houston says:

    Anyone else have an “uh oh” moment thinking about Sansa accepting the necklace and then think “oh that is somehow going to come back to bite her in the arse”?

  21. Pati says:

    It was an ok start, I almost fell asleep but I know they had to do a catch up episode. Next week looks really good. I’m not happy with the guy who replaced Khaleesi’s warrior, the other guy was so much hotter, they could have at least found someone that looked like the last guy.

  22. MSDowns says:

    Wonder how many episodes til we see stoneheart?

  23. justjack says:

    Wondering if they are going to take AFFC and ADWD and intermix them so the story is told chronologically. That would make the most sense. And – would make the AFFC stuff a lot less boring. :)

    • Hannah says:

      4 minutes of every episode for each of the 10 storyline then? I have no idea about what the’re going to do. Season 5 and 6 are going to be a hell of a mess!

      • Mike says:

        Not at all, Hannah. I have a feeling they are going to stick with key points. Each episode is roughly an hour. With due respect alot of G.R.R.M. writing in the books deals with details such as what the scenery is etc which is easily conveyed in a few seconds onscreen. Also it seems this season will be a blend of the last part of Storm of Swords, mixed between part of AFFC with a slight bit of DWD. Remember most of the events in AFFC coincide with the events of DWD. Season 5 will probably be the remainder of books 4-5. Season 6 would be caught up on book 5 and beyond!