Quite frankly, I am a little disappointed. I opined in the season preview of how exciting and action packed season four was going to be. And what did I get for all my boasting: A quiet, stage setting opening act of depressed and paranoid people talking about their issues instead of taking care of them.
Now do not misunderstand me. Two Swords was still a very solid episode. For the events of this season to unfold the way they should, characters had to be moved into position. And I do not think we will need to wait long for that action to commence based on the preview for next week’s episode (another wedding!!!!). So here is an analysis of this week’s episode broken down by regions of Westeros and beyond.
It is so refreshing to see a Lannister child stand up to Lord Tywin!!! Jamie has returned to Kings Landing (minus a hand and his golden locks) and tells his father to shove it. I cannot recall any of Tywin’s children refusing to do what he says in any previous episodes as Jamie does when he refuses to return to Casterly Rock. As a result, Tywin seems to indicate that Jamie is no longer a part of the family (well, until he needs him for something).
Of course, it doesn’t seem like anybody else is real happy with Jamie either. There appears to be trouble in incest paradise as Jamie’s sister and lover is upset he hasn’t been there for her through all the hardships she’s endured. That’s right, Jamie!!! How could you not fight ten thousand Stark men and an Amazon with two swords while only having one hand to be there for your lady who’s been cheating on you with her cousin? How horrible!!! But at least he can boast of a creepy gold hand created by Qyburn, a disgraced maester whose importance will only increase as the series moves on.
The other Lannister son did not fare much better in this episode. First, Tyrion was stood up by Oberyn Martell, the sex-crazed bisexual badass who rushed into King’s Landings’ top brothel. Has there ever been a quicker, more effective piece of character development than Oberyn Martell in this episode? After the Red Viper arranges an orgy with his paramour (someone you sleep with who’s not your wife), Ellaria Sand, and stabs a Lannister man in the hand with his knife, Martell meets with Tyrion and reminds him of the death of Elia Martell, Oberyn’s sister (who was raped and killed by the Mountain, a Lannister man).
But the Imp’s hardships did not end with the Red Viper. Sansa won’t eat because of what his family did to hers and Shae resents Tyrion because he won’t sleep with her anymore. And unfortunately for those two, a servant of Cersei’s overheard his conversation with Shae. But I’m sure Cersei won’t use that information against her beloved brother in the future.
And speaking of Sansa, as she goes to the quiet place where she used to pray, she runs into Dontos (the former Ser) Hollard. Sansa saved his life and in a very sweet moment, he gives her a necklace his mother had worn before her death. Remember naïve Sansa from back in season one? I don’t think she would have appreciated this touching gesture then as she does now.
At and Near the Wall
I was also surprised how quickly Jon Snow’s trial went for his misdeeds beyond the wall. I mean he did kill one of the best rangers of the Night’s Watch and sleep with a wildling girl. So all he has to do is answer a few questions and scream “The wildlings are coming!!!” and he’s let off the hook? I guess the show creators really want to focus on preparations for the impending wildling attack. I do like Jon’s new attitude. His experience beyond the wall appears to have hardened him significantly. And those spurned wildlings can’t be far off with their numbers growing. Thormund and Ygritte meet the Thenns led by Styr the Magnar, a group of cannibals from beyond the wall in the process of eating crow (literally). I am sure they’re reasonable people.
Across the Narrow Sea
Remember the long-haired pretty boy who joined Dany and her dragons at the end of last season? Well, he’s been replaced (not the character, but the actor). Funny thing is, I think the Queen of Dragons noticed. Was it just me, or did she not seem to have the same twinkle in her eye for the new actor? The new Daario does provide her with information to help her win the heart of the people in the next city on her slave freeing tour, Mereen, that just happens to double as a small bouquet of flowers. But Mereen is prepared for her, having killed 163 child slaves and hanging them on posts for her to see. Smart move by the slave owners of Mereen: piss off the chick who walks around with three dragons and an army of Eunuchs trained for nothing but war. And it would appear that Daenarys is starting to have difficulty controlling those dragons, which are becoming quite gigantic.
The Inn at the Crossroads
Finally, some action!!!! The Hound and Arya are taking their variety show to the Vale, where the hound intends to sell Arya to her aunt. But along the way, Arya sees Polliver, the man who previously took Needle (her sword) away from her. Of course, there is some harmless discussion at first, but it quickly becomes apparent that the first deaths of season 4 are about to take place. And die they do. The Hound takes most of the men by himself. But after some hesitation, Arya joins in, taking her sword back and killing Polliver with a coldness we haven’t seen from her yet. That is not a good sign for those who have crossed the Starks in the previous three seasons (and there are plenty of them out there for sure).
Notes and Questions for next week
-With his statue and insults hurled at his fath- uhhh uncle Jamie, King Joffrey claimed the lifetime achievement award for douchebaggery. Let’s not forget how he saved all the people of King’s Landing while hiding in a room with women and children during the worst of the battle.
-Lady Margeary and Lady Oleana Tyrell had a brief appearance barely worth mentioning. I guess there wasn’t enough time available in the episode for them, but surely there are better things for their characters to do than look at jewelry. And the same can be said for Brienne of Tarth. Let’s hope they have more for her to do in the future than trying to convince Jamie to reunite Sansa with her dead
-Several elements of important backstory were mentioned that you might have missed including:
-Catelyn Stark’s body was dumped into a river after her throat was cut.
-When the mad king, Aerys Targeryen was on the throne, his son was married to the previously mentioned Elia Martell. But when his son and Elia’s husband, Rhaegar, won a tournament, he offered a gift to Lyanna Stark, Ned Stark’s sister and the woman Robert Baratheon loved. Oberyn refers to this while talking with Tyrion when he mentions his sister being abandoned by her husband for “another woman.”
-Did I mention there is a wedding next week? The Rose of Tyrell and the Lion of Lannister will finally be united, and I cannot wait for the fireworks to commence.
(Editor’s note: This article was written by Jeff Merrick)