GAME OF THRONES Recap: Four Seasons, Four Ways

Welcome back, GoTers! At last, it’s here — a new season, new characters, new boobs. We’ve got a whirlwind of catching up to do, and Sunday’s first episode didn’t manage to make it to everyone — Westeros is a big place, after all, to say nothing of the eastern continent. But it was a satisfying start to the season overall.

We open with Tywin Lannister gleefully melting down Ned Stark’s greatsword, Ice, to forge swords for Jamie and Joffrey. Ice is made of Valyrian steel, a rare form of metal, and having one — let alone two — in a family is a Big Deal. If there was any doubt that the war was over and the Stark rule of the North finished, doubt no more. This might literally be the first time we’ve ever seen Tywin smile. Aaaand, cue intro music…

In King’s Landing, Jamie’s home, clean cut, and ready to resume life in the Kingsguard, but things have changed since his capture so long ago. Tywin wants him and his stump out of the Kingsguard to rule Casterly Rock in his place while he serves as King’s Hand, but Jamie refuses. Cercei manages to give up “the better part of an afternoon” to sort out the detailing on Jamie’s new golden hand, but she didn’t do it all for the nookie — in fact, she’s not interested at all. Poor Jamie can’t get a break — incestuous or otherwise. Things seem rocky for your favorite twincest pair. Can their love survive? Stay tuned!

On the road to King’s Landing, Tyrion is waiting to greet the Prince of Dorne on his arrival to the city for Joffrey’s wedding, but it turns out he has sent his brother Oberyn Martell in his place. In fact Oberyn, crafty fellow that he is, isn’t even with the Dornish travel party. Turns out he and his paramour Ellaria Sand snuck in to the city at dawn, and did what any road-weary traveler of several weeks would do upon finally arriving at their destination — that is, search out a brothel and a tasty duo for a hot two-guy, two-girl foursome. And now the boob count begins: four boobs to start the season off right. But wait, what’s this? Are they going to throw some guys into the mix here? We ladies (and some fellows) waited with baited breath — but alas, before even a shirt was shed, Oberyn was distracted by some obnoxious Lannisters in the next room. Do the Lannisters have to ruin everything?? Yes, yes they do. Maybe next time! Tyrion manages to catch up with Oberyn before he can do more than stab one of the idiots in the wrist, but we’ve already learned a lot about Oberyn, aka the Red Viper of Dorne. He has the hot blood and hot head of a true desert Dornishman, and he’s here for more than a wedding. He wants revenge on whoever killed his sister, Princess Elia, during Robert’s Rebellion so many years ago, and his money’s on the Mountain Gregor Clegane. If Clegane did the deed, he reckons, it was on Tywin’s orders, and Oberyn’s ready to take a move from the Lannister playbook and make sure his debt is paid. The Dornish subplots have become some of my favorites in the books, so I’m glad to finally see them make an appearance on screen. Bonus points to anyone who knows Indira Varma because of Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love.

Across the sea, Dany dotes on her dragons, who are much bigger now. The entire Team Dany is assembled — Ser Barristan, Grey Worm, Daario Naharis, Jorah, and Missandei. And if it wasn’t hard enough already to keep track of all 9 million characters, they have changed actors with a new Daario, Michiel Huisman (Nashville). This Daario is even less swashbuckling than the book version, trying to disguise his courting of Dany with a lesson on how to rule. Everyone knows the real Daario is no diplomat (and has blue hair). You know nothing, HBO!

A Tale of Two Daarios. Which do you prefer?

Back in King’s Landing, Sansa Lannister — nee Stark — is despondent at the loss of the rest of her family, and won’t eat. Tyrion tries to be nice, but Sansa isn’t in the mood for consolation from a man whose family plotted to have hers murdered. She retreats to the godswood, where she’s overtaken and thanked by Dontos, the ex-knight-now-fool whose life she saved from Joffrey last season. Shae takes advantage of Tyrion’s alone time to try to get it on but he’s wary and refuses, frustrated that Shae can’t understand the need for caution. His fears are justified when one of Cercei’s handmaidens/spies sees Shae leaving Tyrion’s chambers in a huff.

South of the Wall, the wildlings are regrouping after the defection of Jon Snow. A clan of Thenns joins Ygritte and Tormund Giantsbane’s ragtag crew. The Thenns have a taste for blood — literally — and can’t wait to feast on some nice fat crows.

Speaking of crows, Jon Snow is indeed alive and recovering back at Castle Black, and has to answer to the leadership of the Night’s Watch for his actions among the wildlings. Unsurprisingly, no one but Maester Aemon wants to believe Jon’s story that an army of 100,000 wildlings is about to attack them from both sides of the wall. Will Ser Alliser get his head out of his ass in time to save the Watch from total annihilation?

Wedding plans proceed apace back in King’s Landing, with Lady Olenna and Margaery picking out jewelry and providing comic relief upon meeting with Brienne. Joff’s screen time is blessedly short but still packed with douchebaggery, directed toward his Kingsguard and Jamie in particular. Let’s hope the rumors of Jack Gleeson quitting acting after GoT is true, because the poor kid is so hated, no one can ever hire him again.

On the road to Meereen, it’s all fun and games until someone dies, and the Meereenese are not taking Dany’s approaching army lightly. Her army has encountered a warning — a dead slave child, mounted on a cross and pointing the way to Meereen. According to scouts, there’s one every mile for the next 160 miles. Cue Hulk voice saying “you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” The Mereenese are pissing off the wrong Dragon.

Last but not least, we join our favorite pair The Hound and Arya, who are travelling toward the Eyrie so he can sell Arya to her Aunt Lysa. They stop to scope out an inn and there encounter some of The Mountain’s men, including Polliver, who stole Needle and killed Arya’s friend Lommy in Season 2. Suffice to say that awesomeness ensues — the Hound and Arya kick the shit out of the bad guys, and Arya reclaims Needle and a horse of her own. The rapport and chemistry between Maisie Williams and Rory McCann is a beautiful thing to behold, and I can’t think of a better way to end this first episode of Season 4. Arya and The Hound: even better than a Dornish four-way!

Hopefully next week we’ll fill in the gaps and learn what Stannis, Bran, and the Greyjoys are up to. And those wedding bells should be ringing soon for Joff and Margaery. We all love weddings in Westeros, don’t we?

What did you think of the episode? Are they staying true enough to the books for your liking? Are you as happy as I am that Talisa is no more? Join in the comments below!

Boob Count: 4

Death Toll: 2++ (1 slave child, 1 Polliver, and I lost count of his fellow baddies that bit the big one)

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