The wait between each new season of Game of Thrones has become increasingly painful, almost unbearable. Season 3 ended on a cruel cliffhanger that left a few major characters dead and sent the cutthroat world of Westeros into chaos. Those unfamiliar with George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire books had no idea where that chaos would take them, until tonight. The season premiere, “Two Swords,” has come and gone, and we here at STARBURST are absolutely thrilled with what we saw.
MINOR SPOILERS from tonight's episode and MAJOR SPOILERS from Season 3 can be found in the paragraphs below, so if you'd like to remain in the dark, please stop reading now. You've been warned.
Season 4 opens with a typically solemn Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) standing over a forge as a magnificent blade is re-forged into two, his gaze never wavering as he watches the metal melt and re-form. Following the Red Wedding, Westeros finds itself in an uproar. The Lannisters (mostly Joffrey) are beyond thrilled that yet another opponent in the war for the Iron Throne has been eliminated, but they have no idea what that really means quite yet. Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) is devastated by the loss of her mother and older brother, and understandably spends the episode in tears. Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) attempts to console her while at the same time deals with the charming Prince Oberyn (Pedro Pascal). Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) finds himself shunned by his sister Cersei (Lena Headey) after a lengthy absence that cost him his hand. Deemed useless by his father Tywin, Jaime struggles to regain his place among the Kingsguard and rekindle his romance with Cersei. Danaerys's dragons have grown massive since we last saw them, and with their growth spurts come a ferocity that can't be controlled. Jon Snow finds himself at the mercy of the leaders of the Night's Watch, who decide to keep him alive for the upcoming battle against the Wildlings. And finally, we reunite with the winning duo of Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and Sandor “The Hound” Clegane (Rory McCann), whose latest bit of trouble involves a pub brawl and some sweet revenge.
Season 3 took several episodes to really get going, but Season 4 hits the ground running and refuses to stop. The returning actors are better than ever, with Maisie Williams, Peter Dinklage, and Rory McCann being the three standouts. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are also at their absolute best, deftly juggling various character arcs while injecting the show with all of the ingredients we've come to expect. It seems that, in this case, bigger is indeed better, something that the showrunners are counting on heavily. The Hound/Arya dynamic remains one of the strongest aspects of the show, and it'll be interesting to see where the two end up by the end of the season.
Of course, in typical Game of Thrones fashion, various plot lines are left wide, wide open, practically forcing viewers to come back for next week's episode, “The Lion and the Rose.” Luckily, we're more than happy to do that.
Tune in next week for our recap and review of the next episode!
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