Game of Thrones Season 4 Premiere Recap and Review
The Game of Thrones offseason is the most painful nine months any person can experience, and I say that in full understanding of the female human anatomy. But finally, the time has come: Season 4 is upon us, and it is slated to be the best season yet.
Warning: There are spoilers ahead. Actually, this whole article is one giant spoiler.
The premiere begins with the reforging of Ned Stark’s sword, made of rare Valyrian steel. Tywin Lannister presents the sword to the smith, and as Ned’s sword is melted and recast into two smaller swords, you hear a solemn rendition of “The Rains of Castamere,” the Lannisters’ house song. Remember that song? The last time you heard that song, it was moments before you found yourself lying naked in the fetal position in an empty bathtub, quietly sobbing while you called your parents just to let them know that you love them. Then Tywin Lannister throws Robb Stark’s direwolf into the fire, as a gentle reminder to viewers that their fandom of this show is, by any definition, masochistic.
Cut to opening credits.
We now see Jaime Lannister — clean cut, shaven, and no longer resembling a 7th grade social studies teacher who has played Joseph in the annual Christmas play for the last fourteen years — admiring his new sword, a gift from his father. Jaime is quite grateful to Tywin for the sword, but since these two men are Lannisters, the conversation soon turns into an aggressive argument. In this episode of “Lannisters Fighting About Family Things,” Tywin orders Jaime to rule at Casterly Rock, which Jaime refuses to do, because he wants to stay in the capital to
bone his sister serve in the King’s Guard. Tywin allows him to do so, but not before referring to him as a “one-handed man with no family.” Sure, this is exactly what Jaime is, but when he puts it in those words, it really doesn’t sound too flattering.
Meanwhile, Tyrion is on a road near King’s Landing with Bronn and Podrick waiting for the Martells of Dorne, a great house of Westeros who has sent members to attend the impending royal wedding between Joffrey and Margaery.1 We find out that Prince Doran (expected to attend) is sick, and that in his stead, he has sent Prince Oberyn. Apparently, Prince Oberyn bangs a lot of women and fights a lot of people, which is good, because this show has really been lacking in tits and blood.
Now Prince Oberyn is in Littlefinger’s brothel, because of course he’s in Littlefinger’s brothel. It takes little time to learn that him and his wife(?) are swingers, and that he’s also bi-curious, and by bi-curious, I mean blatantly bisexual. As in, he grabs another gay man by the balls and tells him he likes it “my way.” He wastes no time in finding a couple of Lannisters with whom to cause trouble, but only has time to violently stab one of them before Tyrion arrives.
Tyrion and Oberyn take a walk, soon revealing that Oberyn’s sister, Elia Martell, was the wife of Rhaegar Targaryen, and was raped and killed by The Mountain during the rebellion. As it turns out, Oberyn is still a little bitter about the Lannisters killing his sister, nephew and niece. Oberyn finishes by saying, “Tell your father I’m here, and tell him the Lannisters aren’t the only ones who pay their debts.”
Let’s all take a moment to mark down “Vengeance against Lannisters” as the first awesome thing to expect in Season 4.
Across the Narrow Sea, we find Daenerys Targaryen having a bit of trouble controlling her dragons. They’re getting large and unruly, even angsty. When they’re not listening to My Chemical Romance alone in their room, they’re reading Sylvia Plath or smoking hookah. It’s just a rebellious phase that every dragon experiences. Daenerys doesn’t feel any more comforted by the fact that Daario Naharis and Grey Worm are having a competition to determine who can hold a sword at arm’s length for the longest period of time.2 Daenerys tells them to get ready to march, and Daario makes fun of Grey Worm for not having balls. Cue laugh track.
Back in King’s Landing, we find that Sansa isn’t eating. The girl is married, and quite thin, so it’s probably less of a “insecurity-based anorexia” thing and more of a “my brother and mother were massacred by my husband’s family and I can’t sleep” thing. Tyrion does everything in his power to be supportive, and Sansa, per usual, is a close-minded bitch.
When Tyrion returns to his room, Shae is in his bed trying to seduce him. Tyrion refuses, because unlike anybody else on the show, he’s sort of a decent human being. Shae storms out of the room and a spy watches her do so, meaning there’s a reasonable chance either Shae or Tyrion dies in the next few episodes.
Cut to: Jaime, getting a gold hand. As in, a hand of solid gold. As much as I hate Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, he at least had the good sense to get a relatively light prosthetic arm. Jaime seems to prefer imitating delusional Bond villains. He then proceeds to “have the talk” with his sister. You know, the talk we all have with our sister, where you ask her why she doesn’t want to sleep with you anymore, and find out she’s mad at you for being a prisoner of war for too long. Just sister things. Their conversation is interrupted when the spy enters to talk to Cersei, meaning there’s an almost certain chance either Shae or Tyrion dies in the next few episodes.
Up north, the wildlings are biding their time before attacking Castle Black. Tormund accuses Ygritte of sparing Jon Snow’s life by not compromising any of his vitals with the THREE FUCKING ARROWS with which she shot him. Their argument is cut short by the arrival of the Thenns, another sect of Mance Rayder’s army, who incidentally resemble veiny, cultish Jason Statham clones. Tensions are eased when the leader of the Thenns offers Tormund a human arm to eat.
At Castle Black, Jon Snow has to testify before a panel including Maester Aemon Targaryen, Ser Alliser Thorne, and Janos Slynt, recently sent to King’s Landing by Tyrion. Jon admits to killing Qhorin Halfhand and bumping uglies with a Wildling (both for good reason), but is acquitted by Maester Aemon after detailing Wildling plans. With Janos and Alliser in charge at Castle Black, there is a preponderance of untempered cuntiness.
Back across the Narrow Sea, Daario Naharis is hardcore tryna with Daenerys Targaryen, even giving her flowers. The mood is compromised when they discover that, at every of the 163 mile markers between her army and their next destination, Meereen, there is a crucified slave pointing to the city. Cool idea, and actually better tourism advertising than you’ll see in those commercials imploring you to visit South Dakota.3
Meanwhile, Jaime and Brienne are discussing the plausibility of upholding his promise to return Sansa Stark to her family. Difficult, since her family’s almost entirely dead now. But even with all her terrible fortune, Sansa is lucky enough to get creepily stalked by Ser Dontos, the drunk knight whose life she saved at Joffrey’s name day tournament, who gives her valuable family jewels (not those family jewels) as a token of his gratitude.
Now, finally, we get to the Arya/The Hound plotline. It starts out mundane, with Arya bitching about not having her own horse, and The Hound being aloof. He divulges his intent to take her to her Aunt Lysa at the The Vale. They eventually reach an inn, and Arya immediately recognizes Polliver, the Lannister soldier who stole her sword and killed her friend with it when they were taken from the Kingsroad.4 They head into the inn and, of course, The Hound picks a fight with Polliver. The Hound kills probably six or seven people, but then — in an act of unthinkable greatness — Arya decides that she, too, wants in on the killing. She finishes off (not that way) one of The Hound’s victims, then recovers her sword from Polliver and stabs him in the jugular vein while repeating to him things he said while he killed her friend. She stands over him and watches as he coughs up blood and dies.
As Arya and The Hound leave the inn together (riding on separate horses), you feel, for the first time in Season 4, fucking invigorated. The Arya Stark Vengeance Tour has officially begun, and Polliver is just the first victim. She loves murdering those who have wronged her. She is going to do more of it. And we’re going to love every goddamn second of it.