Two Swords (Game of Thrones)

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"Two Swords"
Game of Thrones episode
Game of Thrones-S04-E01-Dragon.jpg
The muscle and wing movements of the show's dragons, created by Pixomondo, were based largely on those of a chicken.
Episode no. Season 4
Episode 1
Directed by D. B. Weiss
Written by David Benioff
D. B. Weiss
Featured music Ramin Djawadi
Cinematography by Jonathan Freeman
Editing by Katie Weiland
Original air date April 6, 2014 (2014-04-06)
Running time 58 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Mhysa"
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"The Lion and the Rose"
Game of Thrones (season 4)
List of Game of Thrones episodes

"Two Swords" is the first episode of the fourth season of HBO's fantasy television series Game of Thrones, and the 31st overall. The episode was written by series co-creators and showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss,[1] and directed by Weiss.[2] It premiered on April 6, 2014.[3]

The title of the episode refers to the two swords Tywin Lannister forges from Ice, Ned Stark's large Valyrian steel sword, in the opening sequence.

Plot[edit]

In King's Landing[edit]

Tywin Lannister has the Stark family's ancestral greatsword, Ice, melted down and reforged into two new swords. One is given to his son Jaime, who, as the new Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, hopes to learn to use the sword with his left hand. Tywin informs Jaime that he is to be dismissed from the Kingsguard and sent to Casterly Rock to rule in his place, but Jaime refuses and leaves. He attempts to return the sword, but Tywin tells him to keep it, as he will need every advantage he can find now that he has been disowned.

Outside the city walls, Tyrion, his squire Podrick, and his bodyguard Bronn await the arrival of Prince Doran Martell and his entourage, but are informed that his younger brother, Prince Oberyn, will be attending in his stead. Oberyn, having already arrived, maims a Lannister soldier at one of Lord Baelish's whorehouses before Tyrion arrives. Oberyn reveals to Tyrion that he is in King's Landing to seek vengeance for the death of his sister, Elia, and her two children. Elia had been married to Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, who was next in line to the throne before Robert Baratheon killed him, and King's Landing fell to Tywin's army. Oberyn wants to kill Ser Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane, who is rumored to have raped and murdered Elia during the siege, and suggests that Ser Gregor was acting upon orders from Tywin himself.

At lunch, Shae tries in vain to get Sansa to eat. Sansa reveals to Tyrion that she cannot eat or sleep since hearing of how Robb and Catelyn Stark's bodies were desecrated after their murders ("The Rains of Castamere"). Sansa leaves for the godswood, where she is approached by Dontos Hollard, the former knight turned king's fool. Dontos thanks Sansa for saving his life on Joffrey's name-day celebration ("The North Remembers"), and gives her his mother's necklace as a token of his gratitude.

Tyrion returns to his chamber where he rebuffs Shae's attempts to rekindle their romance, and their argument is overheard by another of Sansa's handmaidens. Meanwhile, Jaime is fitted with a gilded steel hand by Qyburn. When he departs, Jaime and his twin sister, Cersei, discuss the state of their relationship before being interrupted by Sansa's handmaiden, with information for the Queen. Later, King Joffrey chastises Jaime for his absence during the Battle of the Blackwater and also makes fun of his age, the loss of his sword hand, and his lack of accomplishment as a member of the Kingsguard. Afterwards, Brienne tries to convince Jaime to follow through on his vow to return the Stark girls to safety, though Jaime argues the matter is now complicated by Catelyn Stark's death, Sansa's marriage to Tyrion and that Arya Stark has been missing ever since Ned Stark was executed ("Baelor").

In the gardens, Lady Olenna Tyrell and her granddaughter, Margaery, plan the royal wedding before Brienne of Tarth asks for a word with Margaery to discuss how Lord Renly was killed ("The Ghost of Harrenhal"). Brienne explains how she was not responsible for Renly's death, and vows to have revenge on his true killer, Stannis Baratheon.

In the North[edit]

Awaiting orders from Mance Rayder, Ygritte argues with Tormund Giantsbane about their next move before they are interrupted by the arrival of Styr and his group of cannibal Thenns.

At Castle Black[edit]

Having learned of Robb's death, Jon Snow recalls to Samwell Tarly how he envied Robb in their youth, before being summoned to testify to his sworn brothers, including Ser Alliser Thorne, Janos Slynt, and Maester Aemon Targaryen. Jon admits to killing Qhorin Halfhand and sleeping with Ygritte, but also reveals what he has learned of the wildlings' plans. Slynt calls for Jon to be executed as a traitor, and Thorne, who is acting Lord Commander of the Night's Watch following the death of Commander Jeor Mormont, is inclined to agree with him. However, Maester Aemon is convinced of Jon's ultimate loyalty to the Night's Watch and has him released.

In Slaver's Bay[edit]

Daenerys Targaryen leads her army on the march to Meereen, the third slaving city of Slaver's Bay. Daenerys becomes disturbed at how her dragons are growing less tame as they grow larger. As they march, Daario Naharis attempts to romance Daenerys, and warns her that if she plans to rule the land, she must learn more about the lifestyle and the culture of the slaves she is freeing. The march is halted by the discovery of a dead slave girl nailed to a mile-post pointing the route to Meereen. Ser Jorah explains that there is one dead child slave nailed to every mile marker on the road to Meereen. Ser Barristan offers to send men ahead to bury them, but Daenerys coldly informs him that she will look upon every dead child's face during the march.

In the Riverlands[edit]

Sandor "The Hound" Clegane tells the captive Arya Stark that he intends to ransom her to her Aunt Lysa Arryn in the Vale, before they come across an inn hosting several of the Mountain's men, Lannister soldiers. Among them, Arya recognises Polliver, the man who stole her sword, Needle, and killed Lommy Greenhands. She makes for the entrance before being stopped by the Hound, but they are discovered by one of the soldiers and enter the inn. Though several of the soldiers are fearful of the Hound, Polliver makes conversation with him and offers him a place in their band. After Sandor refuses and the two men trade insults, they engage in a fight. The Hound kills many of the soldiers, while Arya reclaims Needle from Polliver and uses it to kill him the same way he murdered Lommy ("What Is Dead May Never Die"). The two then depart from the tavern, Arya now in possession of a stolen pony. The camera pans out to reveal the Riverlands, now left black and desolate by the Mountain and his men.

Production[edit]

"Two Swords" was written and directed by producers D.B. Weiss and David Benioff.

The episode was directed by the writing team itself,[2] although to comply with the rules of the Directors Guild of America only Weiss is credited for directing.[3] They previously co-directed the season three episode "Walk of Punishment", in which Benioff received sole directing credit.[4]

Writing[edit]

"Two Swords" was written by executive producers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, based on George R. R. Martin's original work from his novel A Clash of Kings, chapters Sansa II and Sansa VIII, and A Storm of Swords, chapters Jaime VII, Tyrion V, Tyrion IV, Jon VI, Jon IX, Daenerys V, and Arya XIII.[5] Arya's revenge against Lommy's murderer using the same method of killing was depicted in The Winds of Winter chapter Mercy.

Casting[edit]

With this episode, Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth) and Kristofer Hivju (Tormund Giantsbane) are promoted to series regulars. The episode has the introduction of new recurring cast members Pedro Pascal (Oberyn Martell) and Indira Varma (Ellaria Sand), while Michiel Huisman replaces Ed Skrein as the recurring character Daario Naharis. Owen Teale (Alliser Thorne), Dominic Carter (Janos Slynt) and Tony Way (Ser Dontos Hollard) make return appearances after an absence of several years (Teale in the first season, Carter and Way in the second).

Reception[edit]

Television ratings[edit]

"Two Swords" broke the viewership record for Game of Thrones, which was set by episode six the previous season. 6.64 million people watched the premiere airing,[6] and when coupled with encore airings, that number rose to 8.2 million total viewers.[7] This was at the time HBO's highest ratings for any show since the finale episode of The Sopranos, though it was shortly exceeded.[8][9] In the UK on Sky Atlantic, "Two Swords" was top in the week with a viewership of 1.21 million.[10]

Critical reception[edit]

The season premiere obtained a 97% rating from 25 reviews with an average score of 9 out of 10 according to Rotten Tomatoes.[11]

Reviewing it for IGN, Matt Fowler gave the episode a mark of 8.5 out of 10, and wrote that "'Two Swords' was a solid GoT premiere, though it certainly didn't hide the fact that the show, post-Red Wedding, is going to possibly meander more than people might enjoy or expect."[12] Two reviews from The A.V. Club were written, with one intended for those who have read the novels and one for those who have not. Reviewing for the novel readers, Todd VanDerWerff gave the episode an "A-",[13] while Erik Adams, who reviewed for the non-readers, rated the episode a "B+".[14] Myles McNutt at Cultural Learnings also gave the episode a positive review, singling out the final scene with Arya and Sandor as the episode's best sequence.[15]

Accolades[edit]

The episode was nominated for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series at the 66th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Here is your season 4 writers breakdown". WinterIsComing.net. February 26, 2014. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Hibberd, James (July 16, 2013). "'Game of Thrones' season 4 directors chosen". EW.com. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "(#31/401) "Two Swords"". The Futon Critic. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  4. ^ Lash, Jolie. "Game of Thrones: Producers David Benioff & D.B. Weiss To Direct During Season 3". Access Hollywood. Retrieved April 15, 2013.
  5. ^ Garcia, Elio; Antonsson, Linda (May 3, 2013). "EP401: Two Swords". Westeros.org. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  6. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (April 8, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Game of Thrones' Wins Night + 'The Real Housewives of Atlanta', 'Silicon Valley', 'Married to Medicine' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
  7. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (April 7, 2014). "'Game Of Thrones' Season Four Premiere Sets New Series Record". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  8. ^ Koblin, John (June 16, 2015). "'Game of Thrones' Finale Sets a Record". New York Times. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  9. ^ Hibberd, James (April 7, 2014). "'Game of Thrones' gets record ratings: Biggest audience since 'Sopranos' finale". EW.com. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  10. ^ "Top 10 Programmes for Sky Atlantic". BARB. April 24, 2014. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  11. ^ "Game of Thrones: Season 4: Episode 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
  12. ^ Fowler, Matt (April 6, 2014). "Game of Thrones: "Two Swords" Review". IGN. Retrieved April 6, 2014.
  13. ^ VanDerWerff, Todd (April 6, 2014). "Game Of Thrones (Experts): 'Two Swords'". The A.V. Club. Retrieved April 6, 2014.
  14. ^ Adams, Erik (April 6, 2014). "Game of Thrones (newbies): "Two Swords"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  15. ^ McNutt, Myles (April 6, 2014). "Season Premiere: Game of Thrones – 'Two Swords'". Cultural Learnings. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  16. ^ Moraes, Lisa de (16 August 2014). "Creative Arts Emmy Awards: 'Saturday Night Live', HBO Grab Most Trophies — Full List Of Winners".

External links[edit]