In no particular order…. here are some musings, clarifications, questions regarding the Game of Thrones Season 4 premiere. Overall, I rate this episode a B-.
a) The sword melted down for Jamie’s new sword? It was Ned Stark’s.
b) What are the symptoms Cersei is having???
c) I was happy to see Thormund Giantsbane. I was not, however, impressed with the Thenns‘ portrayal. Their leader seemed way too much like Xerxes from “The 300” (who was, of course, awesome in “The 300” but now seems duplicative).
d) Did you notice the actor playing Darius has changed? Previously, it was the Fabio-looking guy. It’s unclear whether HBO replaced him because fans weren’t OK with the Rico-Suave actor or because he had other commitments (probably the latter). Either way, I don’t care much for the Dany storyline and was pleased to see it at a minimum this episode. Yes, yes — we get it. You’re still in the desert, with your Unsullieds, asking questions, and making bad-ass observations (“No, leave them up — I want to see each and every one of their faces.”). BTW, has it occurred to anyone in the HBO makeup department to give Dany a bit of a suntan?!?! She is in the desert, after all! At least splash some Maybelline bronzer on the girl!
e) The introduction of Oberyn Martell. Seriously, HBO — can you PLEASE cool it with the racy sex scenes? It’s as if the show is on a quest to up its own ante from prior seasons. Gee… Let’s introduce a major character in a brothel (OK, fair enough) with his lover (sure, no problem) and… they’re going to have a threesome… with one or more underage looking girls… whom they’re picking out of a lineup like cattle… oh, and they both swing both ways. So… they’re swingers who swing both ways. Check and check. Newsflash: if we wanted to watch sex scenes on our screen, we’d watch porn! Please keep the racy aspects to a minimum or, better yet, completely out of it!
f) Why does Oberyn basically announce to Tyrion that he’s out for revenge? Tyrion is nervously looking at the two men who walk past them (did you notice that?), fearful that they might be henchmen, so obvious are Oberyn’s plans. Seems silly to announce it, no? And why would any Martells be invited to the wedding if there is still such bad blood between the families? Granted, I understand that, in this pseudo-medieval world, neglecting to invite another well-established family, bad blood or not, would be terribly improper. Still, one of the Martells (Elia) was allegedly killed on Tywin’s orders so…. In any case, great job by the actor playing this role (he didn’t ham it up or chew the scene) and I’d love to see where this goes.
g) The Hound is quickly becoming a fan favorite.
The Hound: “Of course you named your sword….”
Arya: “Lots of people name their swords.”
The Hound: “Lots of ____.”
If you didn’t laugh out loud, there is something wrong with your sense of humor. (Another great comical line, by Tyrion: “I admired your mother. She tried to execute me but I admired her.”)
h) The final scene wasn’t as great as Twitter made it out to be. Oh, look — Arya gets her vengeance precisely on the one guy in the pack who wronged her, with the very sword he took from her, in a way that allows her to make her little speech, using the same words he used on her, he recognizes who she is right before he dies, and she kills him in exactly same way he killed her friend (sword through the throat)! What serendipitous circumstances!
Ugh! CHEESY!!!!! CORNY!!! PREDICTABLE!!! I cannot recall if this is written the same way in the book (and can’t be bothered to go check) but, if it is, I’m disappointed in George R. R. Martin. The whole genius of his writing is that things don’t work out, things don’t all ‘happen for a reason,’ and there is no rhyme or reason to anything (hence why Robb and Catelyn had such untimely, sudden ends, making the entire War of Five Kings — and even Ned’s death — pointless). So this kind of ’80’s action movie’ conclusion scene, where it all comes together so perfectly, is just beneath Game of Thrones.
i) At first, I wasn’t clear on the point of the scene between Sansa and the ‘fool’ she saved, wondering why the writers dedicated a few minutes’ screentime to it. But I suppose it’s necessary to explain how/why Sansa will forge on, as well as the idea that, no matter what, a piece of the Stark family will always live on, just as the House Hollard (sp?) necklace. And did you notice that, despite Sansa having given up on faith (telling Tyrion she no longer prays), she is later praying? Nice touch. Shortly thereafter is when ‘the fool’ approaches her and gives her that much-needed pep talk, too. Sansa’s prayers answered? A little help from above? Up to you to interpret.
j) No Stannis? No Melissandre? BOO!!!
k) I’ve gone fuzzy on the order of the Targaryen events/children/women. So I brushed up on it and here you go:
Prince Rhaegar (son of Aerys “The Mad King” Targaryen and older brother of Viscerys and Dany), married princess Elia of Dorne (Oberlyn’s sister). Rhaegar and Elia had two children: a girl, Rhaneys, and a boy, Aegon (the children Oberlyn mentioned to Tyrion in this latest episode). Subsequently, Rhaegar fell for Lyanna Stark (Ned’s sister). A year later, he kidnapped (?) Lyanna, which triggered Robert’s Rebellion (the rebellion led by Robert Baratheon and how Robert came to the throne), the war we always hear about in which the Mad King was killed and the Targaryens deposed. The way Robert told the story, Lyanna was kidnapped against her will but that’s not exactly clear.
As for Rhaegar, he was killed in a battlefield (?) duel by Robert. What happened to Elia and the children? They were killed by Gregor Clegane (The Mountain / the Hound’s big brother) during the sack of King’s Landing (again, as Oberyn also mentioned).
My theory (SPOILERS — not really, more so just a theory):
My theory is that Jon Snow is not the son of Ned Stark and a mistress. He is, rather, the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna and, in fact, is the prophesied prince. Lyanna must have asked Ned to keep it secret in order to protect the child, hence Ned bringing Jon home and covering it up with some story about a mistress and an affair. As for Robert, I don’t think Lyanna was ever in love with him, as Robert believed. If I recall correctly, in the book there are certain comments by Ned where he’s basically telling Robert, in not so many words: ‘Look, you didn’t know Lyanna all that well, so tone down the ‘She was my soul-mate’ reflections.’ Robert may have been a strong warrior and hunter but, really, his character seems to also be that whipped guy who always pines away for an ex-girlfriend (or for a past love interest with whom a relationship never materialized) and over-romanticizes the heck out of it. It brings to mind an Andy Warhol (?) quote stating that the best kind of attraction is that which never comes to fruition — probably because one makes it out to be so wonderful and never had reality sully it. That’s Robert. He needs a dose of Warhol. Anyway, most fans have caught onto this Jon-Snow-parentage theory, though it isn’t a spoiler as it has not been confirmed in the books yet (Martin is still writing).