All aboard the Hype Train! In preparation of Season 8 of Game of Thrones, Kelly is doing a rewatch for the greater good to refresh our memories, catch the things we might have forgotten, pick up the things we might have missed, and maybe make predictions! Hold onto your fur rugs from Ikea and AWAY WE GO.
Rules of this series: We’re deep diving into these episodes and I’m watching them on a per-episode base because I like digesting the episodes. Spoilers lie ahead. As much as I can, I am going to try and keep things episode/season specific. It’s out of respect to the narrative as well as the later seasons. Onwards!
4.1 Two Swords
This episode has one of the best cold openings of any episode in any season and yet another kickass Tywin entrance. To remind us of House Stark’s destruction (again), Ned’s Valyrian steel sword and Stark heirloom, the comically gigantic Ice, is melted down by Tywin Lannister and reforged into two swords, while playing over a mashup of the Winterfell theme and the Rains of Castamere.
He then throws Ice’s wolf pelt sheath into the flames and the title theme kicks in. Brilliant. Sums up all of Season 3 in its metaphors and visuals. New additions to the opening credits include THE DREADFORT, seat of House Bolton. At long last. We’ve made it. Winterfell is still on fire. After the Wall, the graphics to go across the Shining Sea have changed and we get to Meereen, the third slave city and home of Dany for the next three seasons. Ugh. Bad memories in Meereen. Next! In general, this is a great season opener. It’s a bit of a recap from last season but also brings characters together as their stories begin to intertwine.
Upstairs, Jaime admires his new haircut and his new sword- apparently, even though the Lannisters are super rich, they’ve never had one of these family heirlooms before. And now they have two. Since Jaime isn’t exactly a lefty, Tywin sees the loss of his hand as an opportunity to convince Jaime to move back home to Casterly Rock to take up his rightful seat and rule in Tywin’s stead. It gives Tywin eyes and power in both King’s Landing as well as Casterly Rock. Get Kevan out of there! Jaime has no interest, but Tywin still has hope.
Apparently and according to this episode, Jaime and Cersei are 40. Huh. Fun fact, Nikolaj Coster Waldau is old news to me- he played a Delta sniper in Black Hawk Down and I’ve half-followed his career since then. I say half-followed because Kim Coates was also in Black Hawk Down and Kim Coates is the dude. Great movie for now-recognizable faces- Bane/Venom, Obi Wan Kenobi, William Fichtner, Jason Isaacs, Hugh Dancy from Hannibal, OG Mr. Fantastic- and NCW. Oh, and the guy that brought condoms to the trial in Maniac. He’s in that too. Even TY BURRELL from Modern Family shows up. You have Black Hawk Down during Six Degrees and you are gold.
Outside King’s Landing, Tyrion is playing Welcome Party for incomers from Dorne- Pod can read all the sigils because he’s an overachiever. Just another reason why he should win Sansa’s heart. they’re supposed to give a formal hello to Prince Doran, but he’s sent his brother instead- and apparently, Oberyn has been in King’s Landing for days. He’s stealthy like that. It turns out Oberyn’s already made his way to the lovely ladies and lads of Littlefinger’s brothel with his girlfriend Ellaria played by Indira Varma, an excellent actress who is the only interesting part of Dorne after this season. Unlike other stuffy Westerosi nobles, Oberyn and Ellaria are openly sexual and invite Olyvar (Loras’ latest tryst) and Pod’s favorite contortionist to the party. Olyvar is wearing Tyrell blue and gold, in case you forgot his association.
Oberyn is about to show Olyvar the Dornish way of things when he hears the damned Rains of Castamere, sung by some drunk Lannister soldiers down the hall. The Lannisters are dumb. Like they weren’t prepped on the arrival of Dorne or uh, the marriage of the king wasn’t enough to indicate that nobility would be arriving in the city? Not sure if they would talk to Oberyn this way if they knew he was Doran’s brother, but the sigil on his clothes should have somewhat given it away. The soldiers also throw a couple of racist remarks towards him- not racist in how the audience is familiar with racist, but a couple of comments that Dornishmen stink, are poor, and like a bit of bestiality.
After a bit of back and forth, Oberyn proves his mettle as a warrior with a quick draw of a knife through a soldier’s wrist, just as Tyrion and Bronn show up to make formal introductions. Oberyn laments his last visit to King’s Landing- for his own sister’s wedding to Dany’s brother, Rhaegar Targaryen. After bearing his children, he left her for another woman. This move started Robert’s Rebellion, where the children were killed, with Elia raped and murdered by Gregor Clegane- the Mountain. Oberyn is aware that the Mountain only takes orders from Tywin, as we found out in Season 2- and so Tywin ordered the hit on his sister and her children. The younglings! The Lannisters need to be on guard with Oberyn around.
Over somewhere that’s not Meereen, Dany is patting Drogon when the others drop a sheep’s carcass and the dragons go wild. Dany is reminded that they are animals that can’t be tamed no matter how she tries to woo them. I guess we’re just done in Yunkai, because Dany is on the move to Meereen. You’re free, bye! Daario 2.0 is given a fairly unimpressive introduction. He’s more smarmy jock than a romantic tortured artist. Meh.
In King’s Landing, Sansa’s not eating, not even her beloved lemon cakes! This must be bad. Sansa’s still tortured by the descriptions of what they did to Robb and Cat- again, because it wasn’t bad enough when we saw it, she says Grey Wind’s head was sewn onto his body (sobs) and Cat… Sigh. They didn’t say what they did to Cat in the previous episode, but here we learn that her body was flung into the river. Tyrion desperately wants to help Sansa to the best of their abilities but neither of them know how that’s possible and Sansa goes back to not trusting Tyrion again and rightfully so. After this really emotional conversation, Shae is waiting to seduce Tyrion because of course he’s going to be in the mood for sexy times. Tyrion turns her down and Shae asks if he wants her to leave, referencing her previous conversation with Varys. She storms out of the room- where Cersei’s little spy is waiting. She’s just heard the entire conversation. We know where this is going now.
In another area of the Red Keep, Qyburn is fitting Jaime with a golden hand and Cersei thanks Qyburn for handling… another matter. What? I don’t think I’ve ever noticed this before, but he mentions symptoms without divulging detail. I’m thinking that it might have been Westeros’ Plan B after sleeping with Lancel in Jaime’s absence. Anyway, Jaime says he plans to stay in the Kingsguard so he can stay with Cersei but she brushes him away- they haven’t slept together since Jaime’s been back. Cersei’s affections have changed- not because of Jaime’s hand, but because she feels neglected as if Jaime had access to several ravens to communicate with her and chose not to. She then says, “You took too long” just as Sansa’s second handmaiden comes in with the news about Shae.
Up North, Ygritte is making a ton of arrows in and foul mood because she’s still pissed at Jon. Tormund knows that she missed Jon on purpose. They stop bickering upon the arrival of a bunch of Thenns, another tribe of Mance’s that everyone “fucking hates.” Thenns encourage cannibalism and scarification. And it looks like they slobber. A lot.
Over at Castle Black, Jon’s just got word of Robb’s death. Jon grew up in Robb’ shadow as Robb was the legitimate heir and prayed for Ned to look at him the same way he looked at Robb. Alliser Thorne puts Jon on blast that he killed a fellow Ranger, disregarding that Qhorin told him to do that, as he and Janos Slynt are hellbent on ruining his life. Aemon counsels with Thorne and Slynt in favor of Jon, as he also bears the news of Mance’s gigantic army and intel. Aemon demands that the Night’s Watch gets ready for the upcoming fight and Slynt and Thorne have no choice but to agree.
Back in King’s Landing, Olenna is picking out necklaces for Margaery’s wedding and she wants everything to be perfect- she sends out five handmaidens to bring the finest jewelry from the marketplace. Margaery admits that if it were up to Joff, she’d be wearing a necklace of dead sparrow heads. Ooh, there are plenty of fun things this could be in later seasons.
They’re interrupted by Brienne, and Olenna gives a bit of a confidence boost by calling her marvelous for pushing Loras around. Brienne and Margaery take a walk in the garden past a statue of Joff posing with his crossbow over a dead direwolf and we get another excellent cut to Joff…
… in the exact same pose as the sculpture. Gods, I love these bits of levity added to these episodes. Joff is staring around at the weapons in the room as Jaime and Meryn Trant discuss the wedding’s security. Joff is still convinced that he’s the one who broke Stannis at Blackwater- not Tyrion or Tywin- and that Jaime was “busy getting captured”- why does everyone think he did this on purpose!? Joff goes through the book of all the great men who has served in the Kingsguard and notes that Jaime doesn’t have anything attached to his name. This propels Jaime to learn how to fight with his left hand so he can add to his page.
Back on their way to Meereen, Daario hands Dany a bunch of flowers and tells her that to rule the land, she must learn the land, as well as its people and customs. It’s not a bad idea, but I don’t get any sexual tension in this Daario 2.0 scene so it’s not as interesting as it should have been. Up ahead, Jorah has found a corpse of a dead girl pointing to Meereen and says one has been placed for each mile to the city- a total of 163. Dany is visibly angry and tells Jorah to keep the bodies up until she has seen all of them so that she can act accordingly when she meets the men who are responsible.
Brienne and Jaime are spying on Sansa, and Jaime is dangerously close to turning back into his old self as he rationalizes that since Cat is dead, there is no need to bring her daughters anywhere. Brienne, being the good and honest person she is, says he’s still under oath and that Sansa is in danger as long as she is in the presence of a Lannister. As they leave, a figure passes- it’s Ser Dontos, played by Not James Corden, the fool Sansa saved from Joffrey back in Season 2, Episode 1. He’s returned to thank her with a necklace that once belonged to his mother and a family heirloom. It’s the first time anyone has shown Sansa a bit of nonrelated Stark kindness and she accepts it without question.
Arya and the Hound are on their way to the Vale- the Hound still wants something for turning in Arya. They come across an inn and Polliver is inside. If you need memory jogging, Polliver is the one who killed Yoren and took Needle from Arya. Polliver and his Mountain-following men are terrorizing the staff and the Hound and Arya sit down to eat… chicken. Two chickens. The Hound’s favorite. Cue all of the chicken memes.
A fight ensues and it’s definitely one of the better ones. The Hound gets to show off exactly why he’s earned his reputation, stabbing someone in the balls and overpowering just about everyone. Arya takes a longsword and stabs someone in the throat, her favorite. She regains Needle from Polliver and recites his little speech back to him before- yup, slicing him in the neck. Go for the jugular! Arya is not only acting out against what happened to her family but seeking for a way to regain control after everything she knows has been taken away from her. I love that the Hound seems to understand her grief, leaving her along at times and not chastising her for killing people. He knows what it’s like to be filled with uncontrollable rage. He really is the best roadtrip partner for her- only exemplified when he rewards her with a horse of her own. It’s cute.
Next up, 4.2 The Lion and the Rose!