Well hello there, little direwolves! I hope everyone has spent the last few weeks revisiting Season 3 of Game of Thrones (and maybe even finding out which House you belong to) because the Season 4 put a bag over our heads while we were unsuspectingly having brunch with a college friend, threw us into the trunk of an unmarked car, drove us in circles (so we couldn’t count traffic lights), dropped us into the middle of the action and ran. It’s just the first episode and already things in Westeros are as tense as a Real Housewives reunion (or as tense as I imagine one to be, never having seen one myself), and I have a feeling that some serious Stark is gonna hit the fan real soon.
Let’s dig in!
Deep within Castle Gargamel, Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) melts down Robb Stark’s shmancypants sword and burns a wolf pelt in the fireplace. (Note to self: Send the strongest Yankee Candle you can find as a Royal Wedding gift.) He then forges the sword into… two swords? A giant tuning fork? In any case, it is SIGNIFICANT.
Opening Titles. They now have a place called Dreadfort on them – is that new? Seriously, I can hardly remember what I did last weekend, much less which cities have popped up on the world’s scariest Lego diorama over the last three years.
Turns out Papa T melted the fine Valerian steel into two swords for Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) – which might be a bit of a practical joke, since Jamie only has one hand left. LULZ ADVANTAGE: TYWIN. But his right hand isn’t all that Jaime has had cut off: he’s also sporting a jaunty new ’do, confirming my suspicion that there are Super Cuts in King’s Landing. Tywin says that he wants to send Jaime to Casterly Rock where he belongs, but Jaime isn’t feeling it. Tywin says it will go far in repairing his honor, and Jaime replies, “My bloody honor is beyond repair.” And don’t forget your hand. And those bangs!
Unrelated: Please tell me that Casterly Rock is the name of the Game of Thrones cast jam band.
Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and iPod (Daniel Portman) wait on the road to King’s Landing for some sort of fancy visitors to arrive. They try to pick out their guest from a distance by playing the Westerosian version of License Plate Bingo (only it’s with banner sigils). iPod wins by spotting Hawaii.
Turns out their expected honored guest sent his warrior brother, Oberyn Martell. Hide the steak knives!
Turns out Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) is over at the whorehouse picking out… well, whores… with his ladyfriend. Because we are almost five whole minutes into the season and there have not been any boooooobies yet, you see? They disrobe one lass, but Oberyn’s lady – and it’s lady’s choice, mind you – isn’t impressed, favoring a slightly more limber model. When the whoremaster asks Oberyn which whore he would like, Oberyn responds by grabbing the guy’s junk. Well hellooooooo, nurse! The man insists that he’s not for sale, and Oberyn begs to differ. The man changes his status from “unavailable” to “expensive”. Oberyn doesn’t bat a lash. The man then asks “which way” Oberyn is looking to get down to business – a simple coin-toss works like a charm in situations like these, fellas – and Oberyn flatly responds: “My way.”
But before he has the chance to break into song, Oberyn is distracted by someone whistling “Here Come the Rains of Castamere Again” in the next suite. What kind of flimsy-walled brothel is this?! Oberyn charges next door, telling the Lannister lackeys there that he hates Lannisters, and Targaryens, because the Lannisters killed his sister and the Targaryens didn’t send a Pick-Me-Up Bouquet. He concludes, “Lannisters aren’t the only one who pay their debts.” and nails one of the guys’ hands to the table with his sword.
Okay, THAT is how you introduce a new character, folks. Oberyn is, let it be said, a kinky badass. And I can’t wait to see what he does next.
Meanwhile, down south, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) plays with her dragons, who are much larger now. They toss a scorched sheep back and forth, and one snaps at her. Teens! One minute they’re asking you to kiss a scrape on their knee to make it better, and before you know it they have their scorch-and-pillagers’ permits and they don’t want to have anything to do with you anymore.
Dany sashays through her massive army, asking where Daario and Grey Worm have gone. Apparently they’ve gone to Atlantic City! She tracks them down and finds them playing the Unsullied equivalent of Beer Pong. Or I think she does – that’s Grey Worm alright, but who’s the brunet dude with the beard? Wait, THAT is supposed to be golden-haired, spray-tanned paperback model Daario Naharis?!
As a refresher, when we last saw Daario, he looked like this:
Aaaaaaand here he is now:
I think this is is chaos-loving cousin, Waario Naharis. Seriously, this is worse than when they switched out Roman on Days of Our Lives.
Back at King’s Landing, Shae (Sibel Kekilli) tells Sansa (Sophie Turner) that she can’t starve herself to death just because she had to marry Tyrion while her mother and brother were brutally slaughtered, insisting: “You like lemon cakes!” Pretty good form for a woman whose lover was just stolen out from under her and forcibly married to an ungrateful cake-snob. Tyrion pops by and asks Sansa to let him help her. She reminds him what his family did to Robb. Tyrion’s measured reply: “Your mother would want you to carry on.” Hmmm. Is Tyrion starting to seriously turn against his own family?
Later, Shae tries to get busy with Tyrion but he isn’t in the mood – she whines that he’s always trying to buy her diamonds and send her away. Sounds like heaven! Outside, a chambermaid of some sort overhears their argument. Whoopsies…
We then rejoin Jaime, who has just been fitted with a golden, mechanical hand that can do a great Queen’s Wand and exactly nothing else. He is chatting with Cersei (Lena Headey), who has entered the Pat Nixon phase of her Queen Regency (or Cougar Town, Season 2). Even Jaime points out that she drinks more than she used to (“Atta girl!”), and tries to shoulder past her enormous glass of red wine for a booty call, but she rebuffs him with lines like, “Not now,” “You left me alone,” and “You took too long.” Ugh. Bratty little sister AND jealous ex? Good luck, J-Lan. So wait – is Cersei seriously freezing out the hottest sister-lover in Westeros? They are interrupted by the maid we earlier saw eavesdropping on Tyrion… DEVELOPING!
Ygritte (Rose Leslie) and Ginger McBeardy complain about JON SNOOOOW in some rocky impasse. Suddenly they are surrounded by a bunch of skinhead guys who look like they wandered over from the set of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. They are also cannibals. Gotta say, the lead Thunderdome is kinda hot, no? I’d go so far as to call him a fine young cannibal.
Up at Castle Black, Spamwise Tarly (Jon Benjamin) and Jon (Kit Harington) discuss heroism, and Sam says how he always used to be jealous of Jon. Now that Jon might be executed for deserting… mmmmmnotsomuch. Jon goes before the council of Watchers – he’s on trial for killing the Half-Hand (who we of course know made Jon kill him in order to gain the trust of the Wildlings). Jon tries to convince the council that there are 100,000 soldiers from different clans under Mance Rayder’s leadership, but they scoff at it. They also let Jon off easy for knocking boots with Ygritte, with an adorably curmudgeonly member of the panel essentially telling all the other heavies to unbunch their Night’s Watch-issued panties.
We then join Meemaw Tyrell (Dame Diana Motherf*cking Rigg) and Margaery (Natalie Dormer) in the garden, because these ladies always be gardenin’. They’re picking out jewelry from the Joan Riverlands Collection, all of which Meemaw dismisses as being cheap junk. She tells the attendants that she’ll give a cookie to anyone who can find anything that looks slightly less like it came from a clearance rack at Claire’s Boutique.
Suddenly Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) arrives – IN A SKORT. Calf-length, no less. It may be too short, but it is nothing short of amazing. Can we please get her on What Not to Wear? Meemaw Tyrell commends her: “I hear you knocked my silly grandson into the dirt.” SNORT. Okay, a bit bitchy, but kind of funny. Brienne tells Marge in confidence that she will avenge Renly’s murder, which she saw but didn’t quite understand because IT WAS A SMOKE MONSTER. As they speak, they pass a HILARIOUS statue of Joffrey.
Speaking of the devil, the Royal Shit (Jack Gleeson) is chatting with Jaime about how much better than he is than Jaime at Mario Cart, or really anything that requires two hands. To illustrate, he flips through the Encyclopedia of Knights, which I hope came free with a subscription to Newsweek. Joffrey points out that compared to the other guys in the book, Jaime really hasn’t accomplished much.
Sansa is out wandering in the garden, where it seems as though she is being followed by someone. After an unconvincing suspense sequence (I mean, this IS the Red Keep – who could possibly be in there that’s THAT dangerous?), it is revealed that it is the Fool who is after her – the guy that Sansa talked Joffrey out of pickling to death on his Name Day. He thanks her for saving him and gives her his mother’s necklace, muttering something about a “house on the rise.” She thanks him – his name is Ser Dantos – and says that she’ll “wear it with pride.”
We then move to the Riverlands, where the Hound (Rory Cochrane) is escorting young Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) to her batshit aunt Lyssa Arryn, to whom he hopes to sell her. I hope Arya isn’t lactose intolerant!
They have some delightful banter (“Lady wants a pony!”) before they come across the guys who stole Arya’s sword (“Needle”) and killed her little kid friend (well, the most recent one, anyway. She goes through more puddy tats…). They go into the pub with the plan of playing it cool, but after one of the knights recognizes The Hound and comes by to chat with him about how great it is to be a marauding bastard, things go south very quickly. Well, okay, it’s really due to the fact that the guy won’t buy Hound a chicken. Apparently he likes to be taken to dinner before his ass is kissed.
The entire pub erupts in violence, with the Hound kicking the ass of just about everyone in the joint… until Arya takes her sword back from her foe and uses it to pin him to the floor. LITERALLY. She holds the point to his throat and quotes his own words to him: “Maybe I’ll pick my teeth with it.” Then she slowly runs it through his throat.
Notably Absent: Hodor!, Bran, Osha, et al, Stannis, Onion Knight, ToriAmosandre, Gendry, Theon and Yarasofia Greyjoy, Lyssa Arryn, the Tullys, Varys, Baelish, Walder Frey and Roose “Don’t Call Me Michael” Bolton, the Bannermen without Banners, and about 100 other people
Notably Dead: A bunch of Lannister lackeys
Welcome back, Thrones – it’s been agony living without your Machiavellian plots, gratuitous nudity, and many wigs. I thought this ep did a great job of catching us up a bit (a few weeks have passed since the Season 3 capper, right?) while adding some new blood (Oberyn, harder and more often) and mixing up the alliances (Tyrion and Jaime against the rest of the fam, perhaps?). I can’t wait to see what comes next, especially if it means someone serving Joffrey’s head to Cersei on a platter. Could this oft-discussed wedding be the site of the next bit death? If so, what the hell does George R. R. Martin have against nuptials?!
Anyway, I’d give it a respectable 8 shampoo bottles, most of which should be applied liberally to The Hound:
What’d you folks think? (Other than that NuDaario is a major upgrade, of course?) Sound off in the comments!