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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Television Review: ‘Game of Thrones’

COLLISIONRECORDS In season four, Ygritte (Rose Leslie) and Thormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) prepare to march on the South.
In season four, Ygritte (Rose Leslie) and Thormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) prepare to march on the South.



This article contains spoilers.


This Sunday, “Game of Thrones” returned with its fourth season, so highly anticipated that reported that viewership had increased 52 percent since the third season opener and HBO Go crashed from the amount of traffic. But although the show ended on a grim and incredibly bloody note, the premiere opted to forgo its typical shock value for the more symbolic message.

The first scene ties directly to the end of the last season, as Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) completes the (supposed) destruction of the Stark legacy by destroying Ned Stark’s Valyrian steel sword, melting the metal to create two smaller blades, one for his son Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and the other for his grandson, King Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson). In a final affront to the Starks, he tosses a wolf pelt into the flames that had liquefied the blade.

Tywin might have been considered one of the bad guys in the past, but with his confession that he was the one who had ordered the Red Wedding, he’s taken on the mantle of one of the most evil characters in the series. His lack of sympathy extends to Jamie, who, now missing a hand, attempts to resume his role on the Kingsguard. But Tywin refuses. He offers him lordship of Casterly Rock, and although the promise of riches and a title come across as generous, it becomes apparent that he views Jamie as a disgrace of a soldier. When Jamie insists on staying part of the Kingsguard, Tywin essentially disowns him, finally alienating all of his children.

The first few minutes set the tone for the rest of the episode: there’s relatively limited bloodshed, the nudity is restricted, and the Westeros we’re familiar with is gone. The Stark line has been virtually eliminated and the war has apparently been won, with Stannis Baratheon (Stephan Dillane) in hiding and licking his wounds, but the audience’s knowledge of the White Walker threat casts a foreboding shadow and the supposed sense of stability is incredibly fragile. However, what this episode lacked in violence and excitement it made up for with its character development. Perhaps most notable is the increased exploration of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and Jamie.

The former is still far away from Westeros, and although she now has a daunting army of freed slaves and a wide-reaching reputation, it’s clear she’s losing control in ways she didn’t expect. Her dragons, now the size of small horses, react violently as she attempts to calm them when they squabble over a dead lamb. She may be their mother, but they are still dragons, and there’s a limit to how much she can tame them. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in future episodes, given her emotional connection to them and how her control over them is arguably her biggest weapon in trying to take the Iron Throne.

Arya, who is presumed to be dead, is still travelling with The Hound (Rory McCann) as he attempts to make a profit off of having her as a hostage. With both her parents dead, they’re now headed to the Veil to sell her to her aunt Lysa Arryn (Kate Dickie). However, when a tavern brawl ends with Arya coolly sliding a blade through someone’s throat, it’s hard to decide if she’s a character to be admired or feared. Regardless, she perfectly embodies the ramifications of the Lannister’s blood-stained rule: Everyone’s being affected in their quest for vengeance, and things are only going to get bloodier.

Watching Jamie get captured, freed, captured and finally freed again in the last season illustrated that the Kingslayer and the man who had lost a hand were no longer the same person. He goes against his father’s wishes to go to Casterly Rock, we learn, in order to be able to be close to Cersei (Lena Headey), and seems disillusioned while planning strategy with his nephew, who eventually mocks him. Things have changed for Westeros, and things have certainly changed for Jamie. After risking his life to save Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), he’s cold to her back at King’s Landing. And he approaches Cersei with love more than lust, although she spurns him, blaming him for his absence and claiming that he had been gone too long — which just goes to show why trying to date your sister will never turn out well.

Overall, the season had a magnificent beginning. A lot of things were left unanswered: Where are the White Walkers? Is Theon (Alfie Allen) still being tortured? Why didn’t Joffrey die at the Red Wedding? Will Ser Jorah (Iain Glen) be friend-zoned forever? This just means there’s that much more to look forward to this season (and for many seasons after, considering Game of Thrones just got renewed for two more). But what the premiere makes clear is that too many lives have been lost for crimes to simply be forgotten, and the Lannisters won’t be the only ones paying their debts.


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