‘Game of Thrones’ picks up pieces from tragic third season


 “Game of Thrones”

Episode: “Two Swords”

Grade: B

It’s hard to come up with something more shocking and horrifying than the “Red Wedding,” which left viewers with a huge game-changing scene for hit HBO original series Game of Thrones. The debut of the show’s fourth season slowed down the pace a bit, giving viewers a much-needed chance to regroup after months of mulling over the horrors that transpired in last season’s spectacular conclusion.

Season four’s premiere episode, “Two Swords,” takes off halfway through George R.R. Martin’s third novel, “A Storm of Swords.” In the aftermath of the worst wedding ever, the Lannisters are now preparing another wedding for boy-king Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) — likely the most hated king of all time both within the show and outside of it. Meanwhile, Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) melts down Ned Stark’s old sword into two smaller ones, signaling what is believed to be the end of the war for the Iron Throne, now that Robb Stark’s military campaign has been quelled. 

This episode also gives us time to spend with the remaining characters, and introduces us to new ones. New characters such as Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) and prince Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) have made their way to King’s Landing. Oberyn’s out for revenge against the Lannisters, and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) is attempting to keep him from murdering any of the members of his family. Then there’s a newly recast Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman) who follows Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and the rest of her army as she marches on to the next city she plans to liberate. Her dragons are now enormous — and very unruly — which hints at problems later on in the series.   

Aside from a few cut out or combined characters, the HBO series has thus far remained strikingly true to the novels, but season four begins to branch out a little more. One-handed Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is back in King’s Landing much earlier than he’s meant to be, but no one seems to want him there. It’ll be interesting to see his actions in the coming events of the season. Plus, we get to see more of the Wall as Ygritte (Rose Leslie) and her band meet a whole new group of cannibalistic Wildings while Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Castle Black prepare for their counter-attack against them. 

The first episode left some characters out — Bran and Stannis were nowhere to be seen — but it was nice to get to spend some extra time where the action is happening.  

While the fourth season is still riding on the events that take place during the end of the third novel, it also seems like some of it will delve into material from books four and five, as those two novels take place during the same time frame. Arya Stark’s (Maisie Williams) 10 minutes of the episode left her with not much else to do other than move into “A Feast for Crows,” unless the writers have created brand-new material to work with. 

Overall, the first episode of season four started off slow, focusing on the main characters as they dealt with the aftershock of the Red Wedding. “Two Swords” is a slow start to the season, but it begins at the halfway point of the novel, so there’s bound to be some intense action happening very soon. While it wasn’t the greatest episode, the premiere proves that the rest of the season will be promising and entertaining as it goes immediately into action and wraps up what is considered by many fans to be the best installment of “A Song of Ice and Fire” yet.