Late in the 'Game'

A&E catches up after 'Game of Thrones' season premiere


Warning, this is a review of the season premiere of “Game of Thrones” and does contain spoilers.

It has been far too long since HBO cruelly left distraught viewers alone after the Red Wedding, dishing up great television with a side of post-traumatic stress disorder. After nearly a year of frantically searching for a fictional realm to rival Westeros —you almost had us, “True Detective” — “Game of Thrones” finally returned in full swing this past Sunday.

Though no major events took place, the season four premiere was a near-perfect assembly of catching up with our beloved characters — at least, the few that are left — as well as despised ones. It offered the audience the chance to get reacquainted with the abundance of sex, blood and gore intrinsic to the show. The premiere was an exciting and delicious feast of quality television, rather than a dull-but-necessary exposition, largely thanks to high amounts of characterization and the rekindling of relationships — or better yet, the destruction of them.

Despite having recently won a war and gotten back their treasured — and now one-handed — Jaime, the Lannisters are far from one big happy family. Instead, they treat each other with hostility as they plan King Joffrey’s wedding to the smart and seductive Margaery Tyrell.

Cersei even refuses to sleep with twin-brother Jaime (gasp!), blaming him for “taking too long” escaping from imprisonment. And Jaime isn’t the only one striking out. Tyrion refuses his secret mistress, Shae, out of fear the one person he loves in King’s Landing will be found out and killed — which now seems very likely as a servant spots Shae angrily exiting his room.

Outside King’s Landing, Daenerys starts to realize just how wild and untamed her dragons are, and Jon Snow barely avoids execution by informing the Night’s Watch of the wildlings’ attack plans. Finally, we meet up with Arya and the Hound in their travels after discovering the Starks’ deaths at the wedding. Arya is no longer an androgynous little girl. Now, she is a seriously pissed off androgynous little girl seeking vengeance for her family’s death.

Arya and the Hound walk into a bar. They kill everyone and leave. No joke.

This oddly paired, kick-ass vigilante duo is quickly becoming one of the best relationships in the show and the most captivating storyline to follow. And if a 9-year-old girl on a murder rampage seems concerning to you, just remember what show you are watching.

Another interesting interaction found in the premiere is the unexpected friendship — and potential for romance — found between Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth. Their back-and-forth banter and strangely flirtatious teasing restores some humor and lightness to an otherwise dark and macabre show.

Though we didn’t get to see any Bran and company (Hodor), Stannis and his witch girlfriend, or Gendry this week, rest assured they’ll be back.

The season debut of “Game of Thrones” flaunted all the makings of a great episode: blood, nudity, murder, incest, politics and dragons. The Seven Kingdoms of Westeros are as divided as ever, ruled under a figurehead king who acts more like a spoiled little brat than a commanding leader. The Lannisters may be in power now, but it’s going to take a lot more than two swords made of Valyrian steel to keep the throne from the multitude of threats coming its way.

Additionally, Sunday’s launch set this season up to be perhaps the bloodiest one yet — displaying everything from cannibalism to crucified children as mile markers — reminding us no matter how warm the spring weather may get in Charlottesville, winter is coming.

Published April 10, 2014 in Arts and Entertainment, tableau

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