‘Game of Thrones’ Recap, S4 Ep. 1: Odd Couples

Season 4, Episode 1: Two Swords
After nine months—and a very painful 30 minutes waiting for HBO Go to work—we were back in Westeros. Season four of Game of Thrones was off to a rollicking start with a record-breaking 6.6 million viewers (not counting everyone who will watch it in reruns this week or who are torrenting it in China as we speak). While we are all—as a nation, nay, a species—still processing the trauma of the Red Wedding, we were ready to get back into the fray with dragons, light incest, and deadly political scheming.
Totals this episode:
Deaths: 5
Nudity: 4 women, 0 men
New horrors: cannibalism

Kadi Hughes: Where should be start?

Laura Dannen Redman: With me humming the theme song…daaaa daaaa dadada daaaaa. (Ed. note: Goats singing the theme song is even better.)

KH: 
 Can we talk about how well this show does odd couples?
LDR Yes, please. 

KH: 
 Tyrion and Bronn, Jamie and Brienne, Arya and the Hound. They are all so amazing and endearing. These relationships are almost sweet—which I can’t believe I am saying about anything in the GoT universe.
LDR Arya and Tywin Lannister.

KH: 
 Arya and everyone is amazing because she is the best character.

LDR: 
 And a smart little actress. 
KH: Agreed. The friendships are such a contrast to the sexual relationships on the show. For most of those, I can’t get invested, because they are either a) gross or b)  going to end in brutal-and-bloody-stabbing-in-your-pregnant-stomach death.
LDR Interesting point: The sex is overrated, the friendships the crux of the story.

KH: BFFs rule Westeros, I guess.
LDR : It’s all about alliances, and they’re constantly changing.

KH: 
 Let’s talk about Arya and the Hound. The end scene was the strongest in a strong episode, I think. Arya is transitioning nicely from plucky teenage girl to sociopathic badass and I approve.

LDR: 
 Under the tutelage of the Hound, is she going to learn courage or ruthlessness?  She’s stopped repeating her death poem/death lullaby. Now she’s just living out the nightmare—and stabbing bad guys in the throat with the pointy end of the stick.
KH Before she could fit nicely into the whole YA genre of female heroines, like Katniss from The Hunger Games or Tris from Divergent, but when she slowly runs that sword through Polliver—super graceful and nonplussed—and then recites his own evil deathwish back to him….THAT SHIT WAS FUCKING COLD AND AWESOME.

LDR: 
 It was like something out of No Country for Old Men or The Professional. Ice in her veins, and the perfect line for every murder.

KH: 
 She has the potential to become the most terrifying character.
It’s interesting comparing her to Sansa, who also has ice in her veins.
LDR She does. Sansa is in a tough spot.  Her father, mother, brothers (three that she knows of) and sister are all presumably dead. She’s married to a Lannister, and not the hot blond one.

KH: 
 But he’s the best one!
LDR: I’d rather be married to Tyrion, as well.
KH: She just feels constantly trapped.
LDR Bird in a cage (all those little bird allusions from earlier seasons). And now Joffrey is threatening to serve the head of her brother to her on a plate at his wedding feast. BUT in walks disgraced and drunk Ser Dontos.

KH:
It’s nice that she gets that act of kindness, but I want her to stay away from him. He’s an idiot and idiots will only get her in trouble.

LDR: 
 True.  She’s still a bit naïve and drawn to kindness…though, ironically, she isn’t drawn to Tyrion’s kindness. The Sansa-Dontos duo is going to be one of the less interesting pairings this season. I want more of Prince Oberyn and Ellaria Sand of Dorne.

KH: 
 Excellent entrance from those two, and props to Oberyn for wearing a robe dress and making it look tough.

LDR: 
 I wish he had a long mustache to twirl—that would seem right in character. “The Lannisters aren’t the only ones who pay their debts.” Muahaha. Twirl ‘stache.

KH: 
 Badass. I did like his scene with Tyrion. I think there’s some mutual respect between that pair of second sons.
LDR:  Right. And they share a love of brothels. Though it’s interesting that the sexual stakes are different this season. First, Lannister incest. Then the outing of Renly and Ser Loras. Now bisexual Oberyn.

KH: 
 GoT is so insane, so sensational, that we as viewers don’t even register incest as being gross anymore. The scene with Jamie and Cersei talking about their relationship did not creep me out at all, where as in the first episode, when they were macking it, it was very shocking. In any other show, if a brother was trying to have sex with his sister, that would be the main event. Something with huge ramifications.

LDR: 
 You know, you’re right. Why doesn’t their relationship bother us anymore? 

KH: 
 They are each other’s refuge, I think.

LDR: 
 Why do they get a free pass? Is it because Jamie is a more sympathetic character now that he’s been broken? Missing a hand and all?

KH: 
 When you see how terrible that family and that world is, you want them to have some sort of respite.

LDR: 
 Like Flowers in the Attic? That shit bothered me.

KH: 
 Flowers in the Attic is traumatizing. All the characters on GoT are sympathetic in a way, even Cersei. I understand why she does what she does—I don’t agree with it—but I understand it.
LDR:  True. Cersei nearly breaking down during the siege was very much a GoT show direction, not part of the books. She’s more vulnerable on the show.

KH: 
 Or do we no longer care about the incest issue because we are thirsting for more sensationalist things? Bisexual orgies and cannibalism?

LDR: 
 The cannibalism! I almost forgot! See, how bad is that? The Thenns (wildlings) are cannibals who like to roast up a good forearm! Are we numb?

KH: 
 By the series end, what will they have to do to shock us?
LDR: Sex with dragons.
KH:  Not to get too Rust Cohle on this, but whatever horror they show, we will be responsible for.
LDR:  Oooh. 

KH: 
 So if it is sex with dragons, we are complicit.
LDR: Can’t we blame George RR Martin a little? And HBO?
KH:  Sure, but HBO is only making them because we’re watching —and crashing their platform. Switching gears, what do we think about Dany’s latest liberation march?
LDR: I still somehow think she’s the most balanced of the leaders: noble and ruthless, firm and fair.

KH: 
 I liked seeing the bigger dragons, but my no. 1 complaint now and forever about this show is that if there are going to be mythological beasts in this universe, USE THEM MORE.

LDR: 
 Oh totally. 

Kadi: 
 There was an article comparing Dany’s philosophy to George W Bush’s foreign policy, pointing out that they align on most things.
LDR:  Shock and awe?

KH: 
 The Dany storyline drags a bit for me.

LDR: 
 It’s going to ramp up once Daario, aka Nashville,  becomes a love interest.
KH:  I hope so. I like the recast. The dude from Nashville is better looking.

LDR: 
 And she likes strong men…speaking of strong men: Jon Snow.
KH: Jon Snow. I know he is your future ex-husband but he just doesn’t do it for me. Stop pouting, cut your hair.
LDR:  I work with what we have in the absence of Robb Stark/
Richard Madden.

KH: 
 I did like the small scene when he mourns the death of Robb (my future ex-husband). 

LDR: 
 I appreciate the need for the scene where he confronts the Night Watch elders about being a traitor…but in the grand scheme of Westeros wrongdoing, he seems so clean.

KH: 
 Agreed. I also liked how Old Man Targaryen on the Night’s Watch council was so flippant about the rules. Those elders are so out of touch with reality.
LDR:  Old Man Targyeran is up there with the Hound in terms of accidental comedy.
KH:  Old Man T was like, “Shut up, fools. No one cares about your bullshit. Let’s get to work!”
LDR:  “Build me a ramp so I don’t have to keep going up and down these damn stairs!”
KH: While watching this episode—mainly because they were harping on poor Jamie so much about his age—I realized I don’t have a good sense of Westeros physics. Do the humans have human lifespans? The seasons are doing their own thing so do humans age differently?
LDR: I always assumed they did, but if the seasons don’t match up—maybe he’s 40 in dog years?
KH:  It has crossed my mind that with our seven-month winter this year, maybe we are moving toward Westeros seasonal time? But I digress. Do they have the same diseases as we do? Tyrion must have herpes, right?
LDR:  One would think so. I’m betting there was a plague of some kind.
KH: It was also useful looking at that map of Westeros because I had no idea where Dorne was.

LDR: Dorne is this desert land where everyone’s tan and eats spicy foods, per the book. The 
New Mexico of Westeros.
KH:  So is Oberyn Walter White and his lover is the Jesse Pinkman of Dorne?
LDR: Oh man, does he have a dirty deal with the proprietor of Ye Old El Pollo Loco?

KH: 
 How else would he finance his trip to King’s Landing? So next week…
LDR: Next week, we’ll probably see Stannis and Melisandre.

KH: 
We will probably catch up with Bran and Hodor and the creepfest twins.
LDR:  And revisit Theon/Reek.
KH:  Stannis and Melisandre, being boring, despite having demon gods on their side. Theon…enough. I don’t care. The torture porn was at Mel Gibson levels last year. I am spent.

LDR: 
 I truly forget what happens to his character.

KH: 
 Isn’t he just a eunuch slave? Crawling about? I would rather a five-minute interlude of direwolves loping across a plain.

LDR: 
 Agreed.
KH: Do you think that Joffrey’s wedding will be next week?

LDR:  I think they’ll hold out for mid-late season now. 
Will there be as many intensely gruesome violent scenes each episode?
KH:  I think so.

LDR: 
 I had to cover my eyes. The cast kept saying in pre-seasn interviews, “Things get dark.”  How black are our souls going to get? 

KH: 
 I  had to palate cleanse before bed with some 30 Rock reruns.

LDR
Oh, me too! Parks and Rec.
KH: I think it is safe to say, everyone is going to die and it is going to be terrible/amazing.  Hopefully in the end there will just be dragons and direwolves, frolicking in the sunset.
LDR:  Probably crossbreeding.
 KH:  YES! DIREGONS. I think that should be the name of our new intramural softball team or something.

Tune in next week for more musings on the latest episode of Game of Thrones. The show airs Sunday nights at 9 on HBO.

Image of Prince Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) and Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) courtesy HBO.

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