Pedro Pascal, Indira Varma
Hello, friends and bannermen. Game of Thrones kicked off its fourth season with plenty of swords and a few new players. How did it match up with the books? How did it differ?
This weekly chat series is for fans of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books, upon which HBO's fantasy drama is based. It's meant to be a safe haven to discuss spoilers and changes from the novels and how they have played out or will play out in the TV series. Hanh Nguyen and Sadie Gennisare longtime fantasy fans of varying levels of geekiness who will sound off on all things Westerosi (and beyond!).
Game of Thrones recap: "Two Swords"
[Warning: If you're a Game of Thrones fan who has stumbled upon this chat and haven't read the books yet, begone! Instead, check out theGame of Thrones recap for "Two Swords" for a spoiler-free discussion.]
Hanh: Huzzah, the show is finally back! And we got to meet a few new faces: Oberyn Martell, the new Daario and I think this is the first we've seen of Styr, the Magnar of Thenn, right?
Sadie: And I have so many feelings about all of them! Mainly positive ones towards Oberyn and the new Daario, but I'm not too pleased with the show's portrayal of Styr. I understand why he couldn't be earless (just like Tyrion isn't noseless: way too much time/money for such a little detail), but his entire introduction just seemed so cheap-horror-movie cheesy. Like, of course the meat he brought to eat is "crow."
Hanh: From the books, is it clear that the Thenns are cannibals? Or is it just this version of Styr?
Sadie: I don't remember the Thenns being cannibals in the books (though I wouldn't be surprised if they were). But they were seriously unnerving, and I see how cannibalism is a quick way to convey that whole dangerous, no-holds-barred attitude.
Hanh: Right, and that helps us differentiate each of the wildling "types" from each other I guess. I think I'm OK with this portrayal just because I had no real feelings about Styr in the books. I hope this makes for juicier scenes to come!
Teacher threatens disruptive students with Game of Thrones spoilers
Sadie: I rarely roll my eyes during this show, and they felt a little cookie-cutter villain to me. But Oberyn is pretty much as far from cookie cutter as possible. I don't even know where to start with that guy. Actually I do: That sexy Dornish accent!
Hanh: Ha! That accent is how he gets all the boys and girls. Very good casting on the show's part. And when he passed his hand through the flame? Nice touch. Casually dangerous, the Red Viper is. Why did I just use Yoda syntax?
Sadie: Maybe because Oberyn is a wise badass, like a Jedi?
Hanh: I could see that. He has some of that retro-futuristic fashion sense.
Sadie: It's totally the tunic.
Hanh: That's going to be the name of my Game of Thrones-themed apparel store: It's Totally the Tunic! Ooh, and did you recognize the pimp that Oberyn pulled into playtime? It's the same dude that had seduced Loras for Littlefinger. I had to look him up. Olyver. #knowyourwhores
Sadie: Wow! You have a keen eye. I knew that guy looked familiar but I was too busy thinking about the chances of him being a "pillow-biter" as Cersei would say. Because really though, what is the likelihood of that? That whole brother interaction did irk me a little bit just because I love how cunning the Red Viper is, but his first appearance made him seem like a randy, cocky school boy.We get it. He's sexually liberated and bi (which is awesome), but there's so much more too him than his sexuality. I wish it didn't define him so much in this episode.
Hanh: Well, he did come straight out and talk about revenge instead of playing it close to the vest. I guess that's good? I did like that we got that hint about how Elia was so devoted to Rhaegar, but Rhaegar "left her for another woman." I can't wait until my non-reader friends start putting together those pieces.
PHOTOS: Game of Thrones
Sadie: It was a lot of fun to see someone so boldly stand up to the Lannisters -- especially in King's Landing! And I'm relieved that the show's finally getting into the Seven Kingdom's history a bit, since the murder of Elia and her children (or alleged murder, I guess) is about to play such a big part in the show's mythology going forward. I honestly feel kind of bad for people who haven't read the books because all those dead kings and ancient feuds must be hard to keep track of.
Hanh: Exactly! I need to ask my non-book friends what they think happened with Robert, Jaime, the Mad King, etc., because that's relatively recent history, but it still must be told in exposition.
Sadie: I remember barely being able to follow the first season, which is why I actually ended up reading the books. Now, of course, I try to get everyone else to do the same. But I guess if you only watch the show you don't get hung up on petty grievances. For instance, WTF is up with Oathkeeper?! I don't care about the ruby-eyed lion heads, but where are those frakking black and red ripples?
Hanh: Ah, it's a case of ruby vs. silver slippers I guess. What shows up better on screen? Maybe they tried the ripples and they looked cheap? Maybe it's not in the budget for Valyrian steel. Alas, more's the pity.
Sadie: I've just been looking forward to that sword for so long. At least Jaime's golden hand didn't disappoint.
Hanh: Well, I had to give up my dream of a blue-bearded Daario. And Michiel Huisman as this new Daario has won me over even without his predecessor's guyliner.
Sadie: I've come to terms with the lack of blue pointed beard, only because we're really supposed to believe Dany's attraction to Daario and that get-up does not sound hot. Now this new Daario, on the other hand... *heart flutters out of body*
Hanh: Hallelujah! I just may get my wish to see the more human side of Daenerys after all. She does seem rather reluctantly intrigued by his charm and knowledge of, um, the local flora. I must look up how to say "hot" in Dothraki and Valyrian. Where's my personal Missandei?
Sadie: I don't know if I would describe Daenerys as reluctant. I'd say she is playing hard to get (she is a queen after all). Speaking of Dany though, can we take a minute to talk about the dragons? Seven Hells those things are huge! I really loved Jorah's foreshadowing about how even though they love Dany, dragons can't be tamed.
Will there be a Game of Thrones movie?
Hanh: Finally! The CGI department outdid themselves. I'm thrilled that they're getting bigger and bring the problems of a large animal. Of course my mind went to dragon droppings, but still. I wonder when/if they're supposed to go after larger (perhaps two-legged) prey.
Sadie: I'm guessing as soon as Dany gets control of Meereen, which will be hopefully sooner than later. I feel like she's been wandering the desert as long as Moses! This is really the point in the book where I struggle with Daenerys' story line. I'm hoping the show is going to find ways to keep it interesting instead of just us watching her sit around in Meereen making mistake after mistake.
Hanh: The show has done a decent job of keeping Dany's story a bit more action-oriented (although I did hate the kidnapped dragons farce), so I have a feeling she won't just be politicking. Khaleesi was meant for bigger things! But we also saw Arya getting into the action when she kills Polliver. Finally! She crosses someone off of her hit list. After last season when Arya killed that guy who was at the Red Wedding and now, I think Arya has a real thirst for blood. Plus: She has Needle back!
Sadie: I am so excited we're finally seeing Arya go a little blood crazy! And frankly, I don't care that this show makes me feel like a psychopath. It's great to watch her take charge and not only defend herself but get a little revenge. I don't think I've seen Arya closer to happiness than she was when killing Polliver in a long time, as messed up as that sounds. But after what she's been through, the girl deserves a little joy. No matter how morally corrupt.
Hanh: I think this series (both book and TV) have made us all a little bloodthirsty. I mean, case in point: How much are we looking forward to Joffrey's wedding, especially now that we've seen how he was such a snot to Jaime?
Sadie: To be fair, for once Joffrey's snottiness wasn't without reason. He was really putting voice to what Jaime thinks of himself. In terms of Joffrey-ness, that wasn't half bad. But that being said, DOWN WITH THE KING!
Hanh: Ha! On that note, let's see what our readers thought of the premiere.
Did you enjoy the premiere? Did you like Oberyn and this new interpretation of the Magnar of Thenn? Do you prefer this Daario? Do you have anything special planned for watching Joffrey's wedding next week?
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.