Game of Thrones season 4, episode 1 - TV review: A so-so start in Westeros

There was blood, breasts and dragons but in the end it was just an average day in Westeros

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

After countless trailers promising even more mind blowing action sequences and shocking twists that will leave viewers stunned, season four of Game of Thrones finally returned to our screens. But did episode one meet the hype? Well, not really.

It was fine as season premieres go but those expecting a repeat of the Red Wedding or the Battle of the Blackwater would have been left disappointed.

‘Two Swords’ was a gentle re-entry into Game of Thrones. While there was plenty going on: Joffrey's upcoming wedding; the imminent wilding attack; Dany's continuing journey with her growing army of freed slaves, none of it was terribly exciting.

Even bratty boy-king, Joffrey, who usually sends viewers into a rage, was toned down and came across as mildly annoying.  

The only real things to pique interest were Jaime's return to King's Landing and the arrival of Prince Oberyn and his paramour Ellaria Sand – but we’ll get to them in a moment.

Since his capture and losing his hand, Jaime Lannister has become one of the most interesting characters on Game of Thrones. If you thought that Tyrion was the only likeable Lannister, then think again. Jaime too, appears to be winning over viewers' sympathies.

He has come a long way since throwing Bran Stark out of a tower while mid-way through a tryst with his sister back in season one.

Incidentally, his twin sister has changed too. Cersei has lost her taste for incest, even if Jaime hasn't, shunning him in favour of a bottle of wine. It was a telling moment and keeps the show compelling and unpredictable.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau gives a worthy performance as Jaime and makes his character’s journey completely believable, the arrogance is replaced with humility.   

This week we were introduced to Prince Oberyn of the House Martell and his paramour Ellaria Sand in true Game of Thrones style.

The first scene involved the pair picking out prostitutes in a brothel to partake in a spot of swinging.

If the show’s makers were trying to create some sort of parity between male and female nudity then they failed. Again, it was the female prostitutes who were fully disrobed by Oberyn – with one even doing some eye-watering naked gymnastics. However, the most male flesh fans got was a pimp stripping off his shirt. When will the rent boys of Westeros be making an appearance?

Oberyn and Ellaria make a delightful addition to the roster of characters and add a fiery zest with their Dornish ways. No doubt their sexual antics will be seen again at some point.

Game of Thrones has always been a slow-burning affair, which is worth more as a whole than the sum of its parts. But when a show pledges to give fans even more and then doesn’t deliver its leave of an empty feeling of mild disappointment.

With swinging couples (and swords), the Lannister family reunion and Arya’s latest kill, there was plenty for fans to get their teeth stuck in to but all in all, ‘Two Swords’ was a so-so start to a season billed to be the best of them yet.

Read more: Police crack down on illegal GoT downloads
Game of Thrones season four crashes HBO Go