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Episode: 401/31
Airdate: April 6, 2014
Directed by: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss
Written by: George R.R. Martin, David Benioff, D.B. Weiss

To see my review of this episode, click here.

Yesterday I previewed Season 4, taking a look at the three trailers released by HBO, and making a few guesses on general story arcs for the big five Great Houses we’re likely to see vying for power. Today, I take a closer look at the first episode of the season, which will be airing in just two days’ time. To see my thoughts on what we’re going to see in “Two Swords,” click through after the break.

<<Spoiler Alert: This preview of Game of Thrones S04E01 – “Two Swords” – will discuss major plot points and events suggested by previous events and the events shown in the Promo video; read further at your own risk!>>

The episode synopsis reads: “Tyrion welcomes a guest to King’s Landing. At Castle Black, Jon Snow finds himself unwelcome. Dany is pointed to Meereen, the mother of all slave cities. Arya runs into an old friend.” Four stories, and this theme is confirmed in the thirty second Promo video released by HBO. Let’s take a look:

The Promo opens with Daenerys walking with Missandei between ranks of soldiers. We hear her in voice-over, saying, “They say that a thousand slaves died building the Great Pyramid of Meereen. And now an army of former slaves is marching to their gates.” She makes her way up a rocky path, and then looks out over the sea, Missandei at her side. We then see her leading the soldiers along the coastal path – they see something, and stop, but we don’t see what it is. We cut to Jaime facing his father, as Tywin says, “You can’t serve in the King’s Guard with one hand.” As he finishes, we see Joffrey giving his uncle a smug look, and then cut to Jaime kissing Cersei on the neck although, gods forbid, she looks distinctly uncomfortable with his advances. We see her walking away, as he says, “I murdered people so that I could be here with you.” Jump to Arya as she approaches a wooden door, the Hound grabbing her shoulder from behind so that she doesn’t go through it. We then cut to a shot of Tormund Giantsbane standing out in the open, and then a group of Wildlings drawing their bows. Cut to Jon Snow, who is speaking to the Night’s Watch at Castle Black, telling them, “There’s a band of Wildlings south of the Wall already.” We see the Wildlings, Ygritte in the lead with half-drawn bow, walking through a narrow gorge. The shot shifts to show us several giants are with them as well. Then several quick shots: Sansa walking, looking over her shoulder as though she is being followed; Shae leaning in to Tyrion for a kiss; Arya with a wide bladed sword out, blood already on it, and the Hound coming from the other side of the room, sword swinging at an unseen foe. We then cut to a Braavosi (seen in the Season 4 trailers), walking towards the camera, wearing a loose-fitting robe as he runs his right hand through a candle’s flame, saying in voice-over, “Tell your father I’m here,” as the scene shifts, and we see him making Tyrion look at him as he tilts Tyrion’s chin up, and he continues, “and the Lannisters aren’t the only ones who pay their debts.” We see him stabbing a dagger into a table as an unidentifiable man tries to grab a sword. Cut to Ygritte, facing down someone and drawing her bow – I’m going to assume it’s Jon Snow, based on the look of confusion and pain on her face. Then Snow walking down a hallway at Castle Black, and a quick cut to two of Daenerys’s dragons, Rhaegal and Viserion (the green and white dragons, respectively), playing as they fly, Dany and Drogon (the black dragon), watching from atop a tor as Drogon lets out a mighty roar. They’re getting pretty big, big enough to cause some trouble at this point.

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Dany making a duck face for the Meereenese

To parse the episode synopsis via the Promo video: Tyrion’s “guest” is a Braavosi, who apparently has a debt to pay with the Lannisters; Jon is unwelcome at Castle Black – and so he should be, considering he broke every oath he swore to uphold (but yes, I still like him – he’s in my top three along with Tyrion and Arya); Dany is literally on the move, bringing her army of former slaves to battle for Meereen; and runs into an “old friend” – perhaps that should read, “runs through” an old friend?

Clearly, it appears that we will get four foci for this episode. Daenerys and her move toward the slave capital of Meereen appears to be a primary storyline, perhaps sharing equal focus with Jon’s return and report to Castle Black, and his subsequent encounter with Ygritte. All the scenes with Arya appear to be from a single encounter, so we likely won’t get much from her story, but I think it will be exciting nonetheless: she definitely has blood on her sword, and the episode synopsis does say that she’ll meet up with an “old friend.” Most of her old friends are her enemies, so that’s a pretty loaded term to begin with. Combine this with the blood, and the Hound’s apparent vigor in trying to keep her alive, and we should be in for an interesting moment or two with the stronger of the two Stark girls. The King’s Landing scenes seem a bit less intense. We get a bit of Sansa, and a bit more of Tyrion, but I think that these scenes will be used to slow down the pace between much more interesting and exciting moments involving the other threads of the narrative. Perhaps the only point of real interest here will be Cersei’s apparent rejection of her brother – is she finally coming to her senses? Or can she not love a man who has been maimed?

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The Hound realizes he doesn’t have enough coin to buy Arya a new sword

No matter what happens, I’m looking forward to the Game of Thrones season premier with a great deal of anticipation. Last week I was complaining about the six months we have to wait for the next season of The Walking Dead to start up, but then here we are, on our nine month rotation courtesy of HBO. I can’t complain too much, I guess – their production values are as good as or better than most films, and the storylines are far more sweeping and epic than anything possible in a two hour format. Here’s to hoping Sunday’s episode starts the season off at a gallop.

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  1. […] Sneak Peek: Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 1 “Two Swords” […]

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