The episode opens with Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) leading her army of former slaves towards the slave city of Meeran and being met with a taunting warning of a dead slave for every mil
The episode opens with Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) leading her army of former slaves towards the slave city of Meeran and being met with a taunting warning of a dead slave for every mile of the march.
Although her authority is again confirmed when she finds two of her men gambling, and her reaction to the dead bodies is one of wilful determination instead of the fear they were probably intended to arouse, Daenerys faces a new challenge – her three dragons are becoming harder to control.
Will this mean Daenerys will be unable to use the dragons in her plans to take back Kings Landing, or will she be able to teach them obedience?
Whatever happens, Season Four looks like it could be unkind to Daenerys, however the introduction of two new characters could hold the key to these answers.
We first hear about the arrival of the Dornish Prince Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) through a conversation between Tyrion and Bronn as they await Oberyn’s men. Tyrion explains to Bronn that the relationship between the Lannisters and the Prince is not exactly a good one as they await his arrival.
However unlike most characters, Oberyn’s arrival isn’t marked through the usual meet and greet as Tyrion is told that the Prince is already in Kings Landing, with the explanation that he is not one for “big welcome parties”.
We welcome some new faces
Cut to Littlefinger’s brothel and we meet Oberyn and his beloved paramour Ellaria preparing to have a bit of bisexual fun. Yet things soon turn gruesome after overhearing a Lannister soldier sing ‘The Rains of Castamere,’ and only after the stabbing of one of the men in the wrist, Oberyn explains exactly why he hates the Lannisters to non-other than Tyrion (who has come to investigate the commotion).
It turns out Oberyn’s sister was Elia Martell, wife to Rhaegar Targaryen, and thus when Kings Landing was ransacked, she was raped and killed alongside her children, by Tywin’s bannerman, Gregor Clegane. Perhaps this link with the Targaryens will mean Daenerys has support when she finally gets to Kings Landing, whenever that may be.
Oberyn and Ellaria come across as mysterious and dangerous (just watch as Oberyn casually runs his hand through the candle flame before attacking the Lannister men), and could mean great danger to the Lannisters, who all believe the war to be over and peace to be apparent.
The only Lannisters still fearful of threat are Tyrion (who is hiding his true love of Shae from his family as to protect her) and Jamie who has returned one-handed to a family who disowns and mocks him. Even his sister basically tells him where to go, which considering their love was the reason for the war between the Starks and the Lannisters in the first place, is pretty damn cruel.
Both Jamie and Tyrion also now have reasons to protect Sansa Stark, Jamie due to his promise to her mother, and Tyrion due to his kind nature and their recent forced marriage.
Could Season 4 see a split of the Lannisters? Will Jamie and Tyrion realise their mutual obligations and pair up, or will they simply continue to go about their business whilst Sansa recoils into her misery?
A brief look up North
We briefly get to see Jon Snow as he is made to answer for his act of betrayal and the ‘murder’ of Qhorin Halfhand to Maester Aemon, Ser Alliser Thorne and former City Watch commander, Janos Slynt.
However the most insightful part of the episode is when the Wildling party are joined by Styr, Magnar of Thenn, who although undoubtedly a threat to the uneasy Wildlings, appears to be an even bigger threat to the Night Watchmen as the scene ends with Styr munching on Crow body parts.
The climax of the episode has to be the fight between Arya, The Hound and a handful of Lannister men, led by Polliver, the man who murdered Lommy Greenhands using Arya’s sword, Needle. Tension builds with talk of raping the servant girls turning into a proposed exchange of a chicken for “a go” on Arya.
When the Hound loses his temper and a fight breaks out, Arya shines by taunting Polliver with the exact words he said to Lommy, before recreating Lommy’s death by sticking Needle through Polliver’s throat.
Although there is a great sense of catharsis in Arya’s actions after all she and her family have been through the past few seasons, and especially after the Red Wedding, we are left wondering exactly how far Arya is willing to go to enact her revenge against those who have wronged her and her family.
‘Two Swords’ may begin with the Stark sword being melted down and re-forged into two Lannister swords, symbolising the end of the war, but it ends with Arya Stark being reunited with her sword Needle. The war may be considered over in the Lannisters’ eyes, but for many, it has only just begun.
With no mention yet of Bran and his companions or of the Greyjoy’s journey to rescue Theon from Ramsey, Season 4 looks to be just as jam-packed as ever, let’s hope we can all keep up!
What did you think of the opening episode of series 4? Have your say in the comments section below.