The wait for Game of Thrones is always agonising. Thankfully it’s just over a week until the show is back on our screens, and SciFiNow was lucky enough to catch Season Four opener ‘Two Swords’ at its UK premiere.
Still traumatised by the events of the Red Wedding, hearing the opening bars of ‘The Rains Of Castamere’ – the Lannister family’s ‘We Are The Champions’ – filled us with a cold dread. Yet something tells us that all is not well with the lions of Casterly Rock.
In a scene dripping with symbolism, Tywin (Charles Dance) oversees the melting down of a huge Valyrian steel sword into two new blades. He gives one to Jaime (Nikolaj Coster Waldau) – newly returned to King’s Landing, missing his sword hand and a piece of himself – as well as an edict that his son does not want to hear: so much for the touching family reunion.
On top of that, Jaime’s twin and lover Cersei (Lena Headey), doesn’t seem too pleased with the former captive either. And as ever, no one is happy with Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), who meets with this series’ most prominent new face, Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne (Pedro Pascal), and his paramour Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma).
The Red Viper, as he’s known, has a particular score to settle. His sister Elia was married to Rhaegar Targaryan at the time of Robert’s rebellion, and rumour has it that Gregor Clegane raped and murdered her on Tywin’s orders. “The Lannisters aren’t the only ones who pay their debts,” he tells Tyrion in an electrifying introduction that sees him live up to his nickname.
This new blood from Dorne is a fantastic reminder that even in Westeros actions have consequences, and the fractured de facto ruling family is firmly in the firing line for a bit of karmic retribution.
Meanwhile, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is back on The Wall and possibly facing execution after breaking his vows with Wildling woman Ygritte (Rose Leslie). Will he convince the Night’s Watch that the Wildlings are headed their way? And across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) is marching her army of Unsullied towards another city in Slaver’s Bay. But her dragons are growing larger and more savage – which begs the question, what will happen if even she cannot control them? It looks like this season will be a challenging one for the Mother of Dragons, among others.
After the game-changing shocks of Season Three, it feels like things are shifting for the ensemble. Jaime is not the man who fought Ned Stark outside a brothel; Tyrion has more worry lines on his face to match the scar he gained on the Blackwater; and Arya (Maisie Williams)’s road trip with the Hound (Rory McCann) has brought the steel out in her eyes.
Davos actor Liam Cunningham said at Tuesday’s screening that unlike previous years where events built up to an explosive ninth episode, Season Four would kick things off quickly.
As season openers go, ‘Two Swords’ is a strong one, serving as a fantastic reminder of where the chess pieces are on the board and how far they’ve come, as well as being a tantalising glimpse of where they’re all headed.
Game of Thrones starts on Sky Atlantic on 7 April at 2am and again at 9pm.