Game of Thrones: Two Swords
April 7, 2014 9:58 PM - Season 4, Episode 1 - Subscribe

The return of Game of Thrones for the fourth season arrives with a bang as we catch up with all the different story lines from where we were left off last season. Before watching this new season, you can check out Politics of Power, HBO's recap of the entire third season, available for free on YouTube.

Wikipedia offers a fairly comprehensive recap as bits of story are revealed in many families and areas of Westeros
posted by mathowie (40 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Just because it's lonely in here....guys, I'm worried about Arya. Also, is that a new actor playing the guy named Darrios-something, the mercenary who killed his buddies and joined up with your one with the dragons?
posted by Diablevert at 11:36 AM on April 16, 2014


I thought the same thing about Daario, yeah. And, indeed, the original dude went and got a different gig. I like that they went with a sort of total wardrobe change with the dude to at least give it some cover along the lines of him assimilating to the Khaleesi's band of travelers.
posted by cortex at 11:44 AM on April 16, 2014


oh thank god, I'm terrible with names and I was like "who the hell is that guy?"
posted by desjardins at 11:47 AM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Diablevert: "guys, I'm worried about Arya"

You and me both.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:48 PM on April 16, 2014


I think she's beyond being worried about after what she did with needle.
posted by ursus_comiter at 12:55 PM on April 16, 2014


What kind of cannibal epicure cooks hand and forearm?

One who clearly wants the audience to know just what's on the barbecue, I guess.
posted by ursus_comiter at 12:57 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I would watch an entire separate series called Arya and The Hound.
posted by mathowie at 2:53 PM on April 16, 2014 [10 favorites]


Arya and Hound
posted by homunculus at 3:15 PM on April 16, 2014


I would watch an entire separate series called Arya and The Hound.


Gee, Ayra, what do want to tonight?
Same thing we do every night, Hound....


Their twilight campaign is easy to explain is a surprisingly relevent lyric...
posted by Diablevert at 3:15 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


What kind of cannibal epicure cooks hand and forearm?

I'm no chef (butcher? cannibal?) but I'd have thought the limbs would be the meatiest parts, so maybe they have another bag with the legs in. And some people love chicken's feet so I guess they'd like gnawing on some knuckles?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:02 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Knuckles make for good flavor... I use cracked trotters in stews all the time even if they're not directly eaten themselves.

Same goes for ears btw.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:21 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I thought it was an interesting visual metaphor (or not?) that Arya rode away on a white horse and the Hound on a black horse. Hopefully that bodes well for her future.
posted by Night_owl at 5:01 PM on April 16, 2014


%n: "What kind of cannibal epicure cooks hand and forearm? "

Well, I'm no cannibal, but...

Lamb forearm is basically known as "shank" or "foreshank." The back ankle of a pig is know as the hock, as in ham hock. Both are fine braising cuts that give up a lot of meat when treated properly. You'll find them both in restaurants regularly. As for the hand, there's not really an analog that I can think of with common eatin' mammals, but chicken feet are a common gnawing delicacy in some cuisines. I suspect it's more of a flavor thing than a calorie thing. Like an oyster, for example. Not a lot of meat there but, gosh, what a transcendent experience.

So I guess there'd be an analogy with human carcasses.

Why does my experience with slaughtering and butchering animals keep coming up in GoT threads?
posted by stet at 5:36 PM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm glad that there is a new guy playing Dario - the old one was just waaay to Fabio
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 7:24 PM on April 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


%n: "%n: "What kind of cannibal epicure cooks hand and forearm? "

Well, I'm no cannibal, but ... my experience with slaughtering and butchering animals keep coming up in GoT threads.
"

By all accounts, we humans have a taste far closer to pork. So if you could just use some of your slaughtering/butchering experience with pigs to judge the taste of forearm and knuckles, that'd be snazzy!
posted by barnacles at 9:17 PM on April 16, 2014


I would think the ribs would be tasty, but how to cook them over an open fire? Maybe there needs to be some sort of cookbook about this.

Plus, messy.
posted by tracicle at 12:02 AM on April 17, 2014


I've seen this episode twice, but I'd like to watch that last scene again soon.

Arya may well be my favorite character in fiction of all time — I know that sounds crazy, given all those great characters in all those truly great books (I mean, don't even get me started about all the people in War and Peace) — but all sorts of things about Arya really speak to me and as I read the books, I just loved her all the more as she has gone darker and darker.

I don't think she's a bad person. The way they filmed and how Maisie acted this scene, it is very disturbing how deliberate her killing of Polliver is and how much satisfaction she takes from it. Arya is in a very dark place. I think she likes being there. But she's not a psychopath, she's not even simply a very talented killer like Jaime or Sandor; rather, she's a killer for very specific reasons and to serve a specific purpose. That she likes it? Well, for her, that's also serving a purpose. I mean, yeah, there's some psychological maladjustment there in that killing, in some very real and true sense, makes her feel better about herself and her life. But there are reasons for that.

Given what she's gone through and what she's up against, all the people that want her dead, and all that she will have to do just to survive in this world, much less make things right with her family and the people who've wronged them, Arya finding and expressing her agency this way is just as natural as Sandor and Jaime finding their agencies as warriors. And make no mistake, Jaime and Sandor and even Ned, too, all killed many men, and are/were exceptionally talented at doing so, as part of being the people they are/were and achieving the things they've achieved. I guess we can assume that Ned, being terminally noble and of good conscience, never enjoyed killing the men he killed as a warrior. Maybe. But I think a lot of other talented, renowned warriors love doing what they do, being good at what they do, and within context, that's okay. The world, and particularly the world of GoT, needs warriors.

And it needs Arya. Polliver needed to die. Furthermore, Polliver needed to die just that way. I think it's just fine that Arya enjoyed doing what she did. It's part of who she is and what's she's made for in this world.

I don't deny that it's disturbing.

But I think that, interestingly, all the Stark children have been forced by circumstance to realize their potential, their inherent talents and abilities. Not so much with Sansa, so far, but still she's certainly grown. It's not clear what her real talent is, yet. At least, not to me. But Rob became a talented war leader. Jon ... no longer knows nothing. Bran is obviously growing into someone special in this world. And in her own way, so is Arya.

Um, and then there's Rickon. You remember him? The baby brother? Well, if you've forgotten him, don't feel bad. I think George R. R. Martin has forgotten him, too.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:28 AM on April 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


"guys, I'm worried about Arya"

I'm not. Arya's reactions to her insane situation are pretty normal and may save her in the end. She's already learned not to be as honorable as her father or Robb. She's on a dark path for sure, but that isn't necessarily a completely bad thing.

She saw her father beheaded, was hunted and watched friends die because of that hunt, and she's been traded like an object. She came within seconds of seeing the head of a direwolf sewed on her brother's headless body and paraded around. She's still an object to sold off. There's the knowledge that she could have had Tywin killed and possibly saved Robb and her mom, but didn't. Massive survivors guilt there, no doubt.

The girl has very legitimate issues.


But I think that, interestingly, all the Stark children have been forced by circumstance to realize their potential, their inherent talents and abilities. Not so much with Sansa, so far, but still she's certainly grown. It's not clear what her real talent is, yet.

I suspect she'll learn a lot, over time, by hanging out around such power brokers. Hers will a slower path than Arya's, but in the end no less bloody. There's a lot of rage in Sansa also and I wouldn't want to be in her way when she finally has the power and means to let it out.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:55 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Your musings on Arya and Sansa now have me wanting to see GoT - 30 years later.
posted by ursus_comiter at 9:28 AM on April 17, 2014




This was my first exposure to the series, aside from hearing lots and lots of rambling about GoT in general from my boyfriend (which frankly was so convoluted and complex that I did not absorb practically any of it). I was surprised at how much more accessible it was than I expected - I went in thinking I wouldn't have any idea what was going on but actually we only had to stop and clarify a few times during the viewing. That's pretty neat given how complex this show is.

I found it very interesting that we only see one sword being made and given away even though there were two swords made from the steel (and that feels significant too because of the title of the episode). I'm also really looking forward to seeing Arya's character develop. She is great - I felt repulsed by her deeds but also like, really understanding. She kind of has to act that way to survive - that is the moral code of this culture, as unfortunate as that may be.
posted by sockermom at 10:36 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sansa's major talent is diplomacy and social intelligence - remember she's only fourteen and has only just recently emerged from the sheltered cocoon of fantasy cliche Noble Lady ideals she was raised in.

Assuming she survives, there's a good chance that coupled with her beauty, her inner rage and determination, her natural talents of manipulating people almost unwittingly, and her social skills she has all the potential to be as politically influential as someone like Varys or Littlefinger are, except her victims would never even know what hit them.

this of course assumes her moral compass allows her to become that sort of "chaotic-neutral" alignment, so to speak. I think everyone has her pegged as the quinessential essence of "lawful-good", same as her father was; however the shit she's been put through has very likely taught her not to swallow that "honor above all" bullshit anymore, so...

I for one would love to see her in cahoots with the Dornish, but who knows.
posted by lonefrontranger at 12:27 PM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sansa's major talent is diplomacy and social intelligence...her inner rage and determination, her natural talents of manipulating people almost unwittingly, and her social skills she has all the potential to be as politically influential as someone like Varys or Littlefinger are, except her victims would never even know what hit them.

That seems....squirrelly. As far as I can tell, Sansa's survival skillet consists of being so naive and innocent and trusting --- and young, and beautiful --- that even cynical bastards can't bring themselves to harm her (cf. the Hound, Margery). Vicious bastards can (Joffrey). I honestly can't recall a scene that shows her inner rage. I've seen her terrified, humiliated, full of grief and sorrow, and occasionally petulant, but no rage. She does show some signs, toward the end of Season 3 and so far this season, of being a teensy tiny bit less naive than she was at the start. But I can't think of any evidence for her being particularly cunning, or successfully discerning anyone's hidden motives, and using them to her ends. I don't think natural charisma or charm is sufficient to be a good diplomat, without discernment. It's not enough to make people like you; you have to be able to understand what they want, what you can afford to give them, and what it'll cost you.

To tag on to my original comment...the thing about Arya, for me anyway, what makes me worry about her, is that I can't see a plausible happiness for her. Or rather, the only one I can see does not on reflection seem all that happy. She's everyone's favorite because of her fighting spirit; her whole arc in the show has been her natural spunk and fieriness charming a succession of badasses into taking her under their wing. All of us watchers kind of want her to blossom under their tutelage and turn into some kind of Westerosi superhero, a ninja assassin/warrior princess who revenges herself upon all her family's enemies. But really, how's that supposed to happen? She joins that face-changing death cult? That's her happy ending, a life spent killing? But if she were to return to someone who loves her, if somehow she every did see her family again...then she turns back into a frog, that is to say, if she ever reruns to the care of her people she becomes again a young noblewoman, a bargaining chip who'll be married off in a few years to seal some deal or other. No more Needle.

Obviously, I suspect some other path will be found for her; maybe the Blackfish will be her last protector on this path, and maybe he won't mind a tomboy assassin as a mascot. The convo between her and the Red Witch suggests she still has an important role to play in the story, somehow. But I can't help but think even the ending we'd all wish for her ---standing triumphant on a pile of her enemies' bodies --- isn't all that happy in the end. She'd still be alone. What do you do when you run out of enemies? Easy enough to make more, I suppose. But people who love killing turn into that guy who cut Jaime's hand off...
posted by Diablevert at 2:02 PM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


"I honestly can't recall a scene that shows her inner rage."

How about the scene after Joffrey tries to strip her in the throne room and Tyrion stops him? IIRC, she doesn't walk from the throne room whimpering and weak, but with surprising grace and resolve.

"But I can't help but think even the ending we'd all wish for her ---standing triumphant on a pile of her enemies' bodies --- isn't all that happy in the end. She'd still be alone."

I totally see this and agree with you. But, to me, it's relative. I think that given Arya's character and her experiences, finding her agency and self-actualization as a killer is among the most realistic "happy endings" available to her. This is GRRM's world, after all. There are few or no happy endings. The warning that this is the case is literally in the text and on the screen.

Who does get happy endings, anyway? In our world a whole lot of people, still perhaps the majority, live pretty shitty, cruelly unfulfilled lives. To my way of thinking, Arya self-actualizing as a killer and finding some peace in vengeance counts as a "win". That seems perverse, but it sure beats Lommy being cut down by Polliver, Mycah cut down by the Hound, Robb killed after watching his wife and unborn child murdered, or random peasant families raped and murdered by roving "king's men".
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:18 PM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I honestly can't recall a scene that shows her inner rage.

After Joffrey showed off her father's head, while they were standing on a narrow plank, she was clearly working out how to push him off. To the point that one of the guards did something like pull her away form Joffrey (can't remember what it was exactly).

Not sure if it's the same scene, but after Joffrey says he'll bring her Robb's head, she's gets absolute fire in her eyes and steel in voice and says "Or perhaps he'll bring me yours." She's smacked around after that, so I can understand her making no more overt threats.

When the Hound offered to take her home, she obviously refused. She made a choice to stay court circle and make her way somehow. Considering what happened to her family and Winterfell, it was probably a good choice.

When seeing Tyrion off to battle she gave him several backhand comments that seemed to praise him, while wishing him dead, all said in that quiet and polite voice that the royals adapt when arguing in public.

All of us watchers kind of want her to blossom under their tutelage and turn into some kind of Westerosi superhero, a ninja assassin/warrior princess who revenges herself upon all her family's enemies. But really, how's that supposed to happen?

For the record, my wish for Arya is have her bloody trail of revenge AND to find a family and place for herself. Whether that's with some of her four remaining siblings or a new people, a bit of solace would be good. Doesn't mean she'll get it, but it's what I'd like to see for the character.

She's one of the most fascinating characters on the show because she could go in any number of directions and I'm dying to see where Martin takes her.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:05 PM on April 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, upon reflection maybe I wasn't giving her enough credit, rage-wise. Although I dunno if not going with the Hound counts as showing steel; that scene gave me some extremely creepy vibes. I think I was just influenced because I had just re watched the bit where Margery is trying to reconcile her to marrying Tyrion; she still seems quite naive in that scene. (Hell, she seems quite naive to be trusting Margery at all, Jesus. God knows I love Margery but she makes Cersei look like a Girl Scout when it comes to steel-eyed ambition and ruthlessness.)
posted by Diablevert at 4:19 PM on April 18, 2014


Sansa is very naive, no question. But that does inspire a protective streak in many around her.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:53 PM on April 18, 2014


My guess about Rickon:

His direwolf is going to unexpectedly come out of nowhere at an important moment and save the day. That way, the whole tale could rightfully be called... a shaggydog story.
posted by JHarris at 5:38 PM on April 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


For you, jharris.

Saying your username in my head, I realized that it is a homophone with one of the Targaryen kings, Jaehaerys! That made the ASOIAF nerd in my unduly happy.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:46 PM on April 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Diablevert, go back and watch an early part of The Battle of Blackwater again. Sansa cleverly wishes Tyrion dead, as I mentioned before, then goes ahead and completely fucks with Joffrey verbally and mentally. Granted, it's not a huge feat, as Joffrey isn't that smart, but she adopts this completely confident and regal demeanor. There's steel in her voice and body. Pretty good acting by Sophie Turner.

Then she adopts the meek child demeanor with Cersei, which is probably half truth.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:42 PM on April 18, 2014


For the record, my wish for Arya is have her bloody trail of revenge AND to find a family and place for herself. Whether that's with some of her four remaining siblings or a new people, a bit of solace would be good. Doesn't mean she'll get it, but it's what I'd like to see for the character.

Agreed. I think there are even some unlikely but possible scenarios for that. All she really needs to do is leave the conventional power structures of Westeros, and she could be okay. Wildlings like warrior women just fine, and if Daenerys holds stuff together at all, she'd probably have a place for one too. Arya's pretty much only reduced back to 'bargaining chip' if she sticks around and reclaims the Stark name, which doesn't strike me as all that likely considering what happened to her family.
posted by mordax at 10:16 AM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


If she did reclaim the Stark name, who is there left that would use her as a token?
posted by JHarris at 12:43 PM on April 19, 2014


I don't think Arya's necessarily a useful token to anybody with regard to the big pointy chair at this point, but I bet there are people up North who could find a use for a Stark. (For one thing, I doubt having the Boltons in charge up there is going to be popular.)

Plus, there's no telling what the political landscape might look like in a decade, assuming the impending zombie apocalypse is properly thwarted. Also, the bastard Baratheon children were a good lesson in names never really losing importance around those parts.
posted by mordax at 1:39 PM on April 19, 2014


What was the furry thing Tywin Lannister threw on the fire at the end of the opening sword-forging sequence?
posted by obloquy at 1:45 PM on May 4, 2014


The wolf pelt sheath that Ice was usually carried around in. Here you can see Theon holding it as Ned unsheathes the sword in Season 1 episode 1.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:56 PM on May 4, 2014


You can also see the sheath very briefly at 3:58 in this video of Ned Stark's death from Season 1 Episode 9, as Ilyn Payne unsheathes Ice to execute Ned.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:10 PM on May 4, 2014


Oh! Okay, and Ice had been in King's Landing ever since the events of Season One. I was thinking the molten sword was one of more recent acquisition. Thanks! (I'm always afraid to try to look things up myself when I'm not quite caught up with the current season yet.)
posted by obloquy at 4:28 PM on May 4, 2014


No worries! I think you (and others with similar worries) should feel free to ask in thread; those of us who have read the books/obsessively pored over online commentary can easily answer them in a spoiler-free fashion.

I think part of the point of that scene is that this episode is all about the Lannisters being on top; Tywin finally deals with the sword because he has time to focus on it, now that he's not engineering the red wedding, etc.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:59 PM on May 4, 2014


Ilyn Payne is so grumpy.
posted by homunculus at 6:14 PM on May 4, 2014


Ivan Fyodorovich: The world, and particularly the world of GoT, needs warriors. And it needs Arya. Polliver needed to die. Furthermore, Polliver needed to die just that way. I think it's just fine that Arya enjoyed doing what she did. It's part of who she is and what's she's made for in this world.

That's a lot of "need" in a world where fan expectations and desires are mocked/tropes are deconstructed. I agree that warriors are a critical part of this world, but I don't agree with the rest, given how many characters I thought were critical have been killed off in various ways, both to further the story and sometimes in apparent spite of storylines.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:25 PM on April 6, 2015


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