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Recap / Game of Thrones S4E1: "Two Swords"

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Season Four begins in King's Landing, where Tywin has a Valyrian-steel-qualified blacksmith melt down the Stark Ancestral Weapon and then burns the wolf-skin sheath, thus destroying one more trace of House Stark. The greatsword formerly known as Ice is reformed into two swords, one of which Tywin presents to Jaime. The Kingslayer examines the sword, recognizing it as freshly forged. His question: where did you get this much Valyrian steel? From someone who no longer needs it, Tywin says pleasantly. Then, pointing out that Jaime is crippled and Tywin is occupied as Hand of the King, Tywin tries to get Jaime to rule Casterly Rock. Jaime makes it clear that the answer is simply no, and the pleasant manner vanishes. Tywin, once again, starts to chew out one of his offspring, and is asked if he wants the sword back. Keep it, he says, a man with one hand and no family needs all the help he can get.


Meanwhile, Tyrion, Bronn and Podrick wait for Prince of Dorne to arrive. A group of Dornishmen appear, waving Dornish banners but bearing no Dornish Prince. Undeterred, Tyrion gamely introduces himself and welcomes the party to King's Landing. Silence. After a second, Tyrion asks where Doran Martell is. One of the bannermen explains that Doran Martell is too ill to attend Joffrey's wedding, and that his brother Oberyn will appear in his place. He rode ahead of the party and arrived the previous day. They pointedly ride past Tyrion while he's in mid-sentence, leaving him scrambling to find Doran Martell's Hot-Blooded little brother before he murders someone.

Oberyn, true to Tyrion's guess, is currently in Littlefinger's brothel, which is being run by Olyvar, Littlefinger's spy. Oberyn and his paramour Ellaria Sand are examining potential candidates for a three-way. They choose one, and then Oberyn starts on Olyvar. A foursome is in the works, before a drunken Lannister in the next room starts to sing the Rains of Castamere. To Ellaria's horror, Oberyn walks out to confront him. Ethnic and family-based slurs are exchanged, and the situation escalates, until Oberyn pins the man's wrist to the table with his dagger. Tyrion walks in at this point, and the injured Mook and his companion both hightail it.


Tyrion and Oberyn take a walk to discuss things, giving the latter a chance to Info Dump his motivations. He once had a sister named Elia Martell, who married Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, the Last Dragon. She was very happy with her two children beget by him until Rhaegar ran off with Lyanna Stark and inadvertently started Robert's Rebellion. During the Sack of King's Landing, Elia was horribly murdered along with her children by Lannister soldiers, some say by Gregor Clegane himself. And why else would he do that but on Tywin's direct orders? Revenge is best served cold and Oberyn has come to collect.

Speaking of revenge long in the awaiting, across the Narrow Sea, on the continent of Essos, Daenerys Targaryen watches over her children, now grown to truly dangerous size. Drogon is as compliant as ever in her presence, staying ground-side to be petted while Viserion and Rhaegal fly above, rough-housing over a predated sheep. When their larger kin moves forward to aggressively claim a share; he snaps violently at his Mother when she attempts to calm him. Jorah Mormont, who had observed the events from a distance, voices Dany's own disquiet, that her "offspring" may never be fully tamed... Later, she discovers that Daario and Grey Worm didn't assemble with the rest of her advisers because they were too busy gambling. They had gotten into an endurance wager, balancing their swords at arms length, with the one who holds out the longest being able to ride with her on the march. Dany, obviously fed up at having to deal with a second minor insubordination that day, cheerfully tells them that that right belongs to Sers Jorah and Barristan, while they can ride at the back of the army's formation and guard the livestock.


Back in King's Landing, a deeply depressed Sansa is still haunted by the news of the Red Wedding. Shae, and then Tyrion, try to get her to eat, but she refuses. She has learned of the fate of her brother and mother. Dismissing Shae, Tyrion tries to comfort her, but gets nowhere, and Sansa goes off to be alone. When Tyrion returns to his room, Shae is waiting to seduce him, calling him her "Giant of Lannister". The newly-celibate Tyrion refuses, and they have a spat. She accuses him of sending Varys to bribe her. He has not the slightest idea what she's talking about. Elsewhere, Jaime isn't doing much better with Cersei. She's drinking more, and doesn't want to resume where they left off, unreasonably (even for her) blaming him for not coming back sooner.

Somewhere in the Gift, Ygritte is preparing arrows. Tormund shows up and they discuss Jon. He points out her proven accuracy with her short bow and considering she feathered Jon with three arrows, the only possible reason he can still be alive is because she let him go. A wildling clan known as the Thenns show up, sent by Mance Rayder. Tormund chafes under the scrutiny of their chieftain, Styr. Styr points out their failure to stop Jon from killing Orell, leaving their party blind to incoming threats. He also feels it necessary to establish him and his ilk as Obviously Evil dudes who like to roast dismembered human limbs over the campfire, and are looking forward to feasting on the "fat and marbled" men of the Night's Watch.

Cue cut to Sam at Castle Black, who helps Jon to go before a tribunal of his superiors and defend his killing of Qhorin Halfhand, among other things. Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt are inclined against him, but Aemon is more sympathetic. Thorne doesn't believe that 100,000 Wildlings are massing to attack the Wall. When he says that he doesn't trust the boy, Aemon assures them all that Jon is being truthful. When asked where he gained the ability to "magically" discern truth from lies, he responds that he grew up in King's Landing. Jon is returned to his duties.

Back at King's Landing, Olenna thinks that all of Margaery's potential wedding necklaces are hideous, and sends her servant girls out into the city to find something better. Brienne shows up and is praised by Olenna for beating Loras. Walking with Margaery, Brienne tells the story of Renly's death and the shadow assassin and vows to avenge Renly by killing Stannis. Meanwhile, Joffrey half-listens as Jaime plans wedding security. Joffrey doesn't believe anything will happen, and spends most of his time mocking Jaime.

Over in Essos, Daenerys and Missandei discuss the thousands of slaves that died to build the great pyramids of Meereen. Daario shows up, and despite being on the outs with Dany, gets her to dismiss Missandei in order to discuss strategy. He gives her several flowers under the pretext of discussing local customs, which amuses her. The light mood of the scene is broken when she's called to the front. A child has been nailed to a road post, her hand pointing to the horizon. Jorah gives his report from their scouts: the Good Masters of Meereen have crucified a slave on every mile marker between here and the coastal city. Daenerys asks how many miles there are left to Meereen. One hundred and sixty three. Barristan offers to have the scouts take down the bodies to spare Dany the sight of them, but Dany refuses and says that she will see every face before their slave collars are removed for burial.

Back at King's Landing, Brienne and Jaime argue over what to do with Sansa. Brienne exhorts him to keep his vow to return them to their kin. Jaime responds that he didn't know she was married to his brother at the time. Besides, where in the hell would he take her?

Sansa, meanwhile, is walking alone in the gardens when she realizes she's being followed. Coming to a dead end, she turns to face Dontos Hollard, the drunk whose life she saved two seasons ago. He thanks her profusely for what she did and, the tension gone, she accepts his thanks graciously, but balks when he offers her a family necklace. Dontos explains that the jewelry is all he has left of his once-respectable house, and he would be honored if she would give it one last spot in the sunshine by wearing it. Sansa says she'll wear it with pride.

The Season Premiere concludes in The Riverlands, where Sandor is riding through the devastated countryside, still sharing Stranger's saddle with Arya. She thinks it's stupid for The Hound to treat her like she'll run away, given that they both know she'd be long dead without him. She also wants her own horse. Sandor tells her that she can get a pony when they get to Lysa Arryn, the only relatives of the Starks left who'd pay for her. They come across a tavern with five horses stabled out front. As they debate whether to go in, Arya recognizes a man who comes out to relieve himself: it's Polliver, the Lannister dogsbody who, along with Amory Lorch, captured Yoren's group near Harrenhall and personally stabbed Lommy in the throat. He still carries the rapier ("Needle") he stole from Arya, which was gifted to her by Jon all the way back at the beginning of Season One. She slips away from The Hound to follow him inside. He catches up to her at the entrance and they argue until a soldier opens the door. Not to be seen backing down, The Hound walks in and takes a seat. Polliver eventually turns around.

Polliver recognizes the Hound and sits with them. He chats amiably for a few minutes, explaining that now he's "keeping the peace" with Gregor Clegane. They do a lot of torture and plunder and rape and its all awesome and hey would you like to join us? Sandor doesn't think much of the company he used to keep and decides to antagonize the gang of war criminals. Things go further down-hill when Polliver offers to trade food to Sandor if he gives over his charge to be raped and soon The Hound is fighting all of them on an empty stomach. Arya cleans up after Sandor, knifing the Lannister soldiers as they try to get up off the ground. Clegane barely beats the five men-at-arms, and when Polliver sneaks up behind him, Arya takes a longsword and hamstrings the lout. The Wolf pup gets her hands on Needle. Standing over her helpless prey, she recites the words he spoke when he murdered Lommy with her own weapon. Polliver, for his part, stares up uncomprehendingly at the girl speaking in seeming non-sequiturs. But eventually it clicks and just as that moment dawns upon him she kills him by slowly running him through the brain stem with the pointy end and watches with cathartic pleasure as he chokes to death on his own blood.

The duo rides off, Sandor having gotten his chicken and Arya, her pony. One small victory at a time...


  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Cersei tells Jaime he's been away too long and she has apparently lost interest in him.
  • The Ace: Jon Snow feels his brother Robb Stark is this, much like Theon did of Robb in the last season. Unlike Theon, however, Jon never resented Robb for it (though he mentions he wanted to but couldn't, loving Robb as a brother). Sam apparently feels this very same way about Jon.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: In the books, Tyrion makes Pod study up on Dorne and their Houses, which explains how he's able to identify each of the Dornish sigils by sight. In the TV series, Pod seemingly pulls this information out of nowhere. However, because Pod is a squire, part of his duties would be to learn about various Houses, much like Bran did in Season 1.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The Thenns in the books are described and depicted as the most sophisticated of the Wildlings, the Proud Warrior Race of the Free Folk, having laws and mining copper and tin to make their bronze instead of just raiding for it. Here, they're the most The Dreaded of the Wildling clans with shaven heads, ritualistic scars all over their face and are very committed cannibals to the horror and disgust of other Wildlings. They've kept the bronze armor, however.
  • The Alcoholic: Jaime mentions how Cersei's been drinking more than ever. Formerly-Ser Dontos returns along with his drunkenness, which has reduced the proud House Hollard to a single drunk fool with one meaningful heirloom.
  • Armour-Piercing Question: Tyrion denies that he prefers Sansa over Shae, or that he knew anything about Varys attempt to buy her off. But when Shae bluntly asks if he wants her to stay, Tyrion can't think of an answer.
  • Asshole Victim: Polliver and his men.
  • As You Know: Oberyn telling the story of his sister to Tyrion, who knows it very well. Justified: Tyrion is attempting to avoid the subject; Oberyn prevents him from doing so by speaking plainly.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Jaime's golden replacement hand looks cool and matches his original hand exactly, but it's useless for anything since it can't move. He even laments that "a hook would be more practical."
  • Back for the Dead: Polliver appears again after some time and dies in this episode. Arya avenged her friend Lommy, a recruit of the Night's Watch, who was killed by Polliver.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Oberyn Martell: "Tell your father I'm here. And tell him the Lannisters aren't the only ones who pay their debts."
    • The Hound threatens Polliver, implying that he'll have every chicken to himself when they're all dead:
      Polliver: You don't seem to understand the situation.
      Sandor: I understand that if any more words come pouring out of your cunt mouth, I'm gonna have to eat every fucking chicken in this room. (...)
      Polliver: You spent your life serving the king. You going to die for some chickens?
      Sandor: Someone is.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Arya and the Hound, though Arya's not exactly the sweet and helpless child who normally makes up half the trope.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Olenna reacts with incredulity to the sight of Brienne and the latter tenses herself for the usual insults...only for a very impressed Olenna to genuinely compliment her.
    Olenna: My word!
    Brienne: [to Olenna and Margaery] My lady, my lady. Please pardon me for interrupting. My name is Brienne of Tarth-
    Olenna: We know who you are, we've heard all about you, but hearing is one thing...Aren't you just marvellous?! Absolutely singular! I hear you knocked my grandson into the dirt like the silly little boy he is?
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between Daario and Daenerys, though the belligerence is one-sided.
  • Beneath the Mask: In a private moment between Olenna and Margaery, the latter — who had been leading Joffrey with a tiny leash — mocks Joffrey's Nightmare Fetishist tendencies and speaks contemptuously about how his idea of a necklace would include dead sparrow heads. Olenna quickly tells Margaery to watch her words. "Even here, even with me!"
  • Benevolent Boss: Unlike most other Westerosi houses, Olenna prefers to motivate her handmaidens with fancy jewelry instead of brutal abuse.
  • BFS: Tywin lampshades Ice as being "absurdly large", as there was enough steel to make two decent-sized swords from it.
  • Big Eater: The Hound's concerned with food again, to the point that he's initially more reluctant to kill 5 men due to his empty stomach rather than the actual killing part.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Ser Meryn's "The people love their king". Jaime can tell it's bullshit, even without having been back in the city that long.
    • Joffrey boasting of how he smashed Stannis Baratheon on the Blackwater, which was, you know, that battle in which he ran away from the front, damaging troop morale at a critical time and the real work was done by his Uncle Tyrion and Grandfather Tywin who pulled a Big Damn Heroes. He also says that Margaery feeding the people and doing PR to prevent them from tearing him to pieces was his idea.
  • Book-Ends: The episode begins with Tywin melting Ice, the ancient Valyrian Sword of House Stark, and ends with Arya recovering Needle, the sword given to her by Jon Snow.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Oberyn says the Lannisters are too proud of their "gold and lions and golden lions".
  • Brick Joke: The Hound spends a good five minutes demanding a chicken from Polliver, eventually escalating into a lengthy fight. After the fight, we see him and Arya riding on the road, Sandor happily munching away on a piece of chicken. From the same scene, Arya is complaining about not having her own horse when they arrive and leaves on one taken from the soldiers they killed.
  • Brutal Honesty: Ellaria is fine with calling herself a bastard.
  • Buffy Speak: "Yes yes, one guard at the...thing."
  • Bullying a Dragon: When the Hound shows no interest in joining with Polliver's merry little band of marauders, he gets mocked about his desertion during the Battle of the Blackwater. No points for guessing what happens soon afterwards.
  • The Bus Came Back: Several characters reappear after long absences: Three not seen since season 2 (Janos Slynt, Dontos Hollard, Polliver), and two not seen since season 1 (Alliser Thorne, Othell Yarwyck).
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Polliver has no idea what Arya's talking about until she refers to the sword, which clearly meant a lot more to him than Lommy.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Jaime Lannister unexpectedly finds himself in this situation throughout the episode. His father thinks he's wasted his entire life and and expels him from the family for refusing to leave the Kingsguard, his sister/lover is no longer turned on by him, and his nephew/son rudely humiliates him by calling him a has-been who never amounted to much to begin with and will never join the Hall of Fame of the Kingsguard. Even Brienne, who's now his Only Friend, gives him grief for having seemingly forgotten his promise to redeem his honor by safeguarding the Stark girls which, given the circumstances, is extremely hard and unlikely for him to fulfill.
      "Are you sure we are not related? Ever since I've returned, every Lannister has been a miserable pain in my arse. Maybe you are a Lannister too, you've got the hair for it, if not the looks."
    • Tyrion has been foisted with the task of meeting the Dornish delegation. Bronn snarks that it's because no-one in his family would be bothered if they came to blows and Tyrion got killed. The Dornish in turn treat him with little respect, while Prince Oberyn shoves his family's past crimes in his face. Meanwhile his wife hates him, his mistress no longer excites him, and the King wants him dead.
  • Call-Back:
    • Shae reminds Tyrion of the diamonds Varys offered her to leave King's Landing. Turns out Tyrion had no idea whatsoever about it.
    • Last season, Sandor's only criticism of Arya brutally killing people was that she didn't let him know she was going to do it. Here she tells him exactly who she's going after, and why.
    • In episode 3x1, Tywin gave Tyrion a crushing "The Reason You Suck" Speech which led Tyrion to turn on his heel and storm out of his office. Here, Tywin gets similarly incensed at his other son Jaime, who walks out the same way.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Oberyn demonstrates that dagger beats sword in a Quick Draw.
  • Comic-Book Time: The season picks up several weeks after the last one ended, yet it's only now that Jaime and Brienne start talking about Sansa.
  • Coup de Grâce: Arya finishes off the henchmen downed by the Hound with a sword stab to the belly. As for Polliver, she relishes the moment of sticking Needle through his neck, much like how he killed Lommy with the same sword.
  • Covered in Scars: The Thenns have some pretty extensive ritualistic scars.
  • Country Matters: Sandor calls Polliver and Arya cunts, which seems to be his favorite insult.
  • Dark Reprise: "The Rains of Castamere" was already a villain song, but the fact that it's playing in the background as Tywin obliterates the last trace of the Starks' heritage counts as this.
  • Dead Guy on Display:
    • The mile markers to Meereen have crucified child slaves on them.
    • As noted by Oberyn Martell, when Clegane murdered Elia and her children, Tywin ordered their corpses to be wrapped in Lannister banners and presented to Robert Baratheon as a token of fealty.
  • The Dead Have Names: Daenerys promises to look at every face of every crucified child between her and Meereen.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Arya's total lack of reaction to her second cold-blooded murder, in contrast to her first one, which was planned, but frenzied. Here she takes the time to relish it.
  • Doorstopper: In-Universe, the Book of the Brothers. In the books it's even bigger.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "Two Swords" refers both to the two swords Tywin has forged out of Ice, and to one Stark sword (Ice) being lost, whilst another (Needle) is recovered. The final shot of the Hound and Arya riding off together, both of them with swords on hand, suggests it might also be a reference to their new partnership.
  • The Dreaded: Tyrion's reaction to hearing that Oberyn's in town is a restrained Oh, Crap!, and Oberyn's Badass Boast suggests he's well aware of his reputation.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • Evil version — As if beheading Robb's corpse to attach Grey Wind's head to it and parade it around the Twins wasn't enough, we learn that Catelyn's body was dumped into the waters of the Trident.
    • Good version — Dany insists the children used as signposts be taken down and have their slave collars removed before burial.
  • Elopement: Oberyn Martell suggested that Prince Rhaegar Targaryen ran off with Lyanna Stark. The last time the viewers heard about it was by her suitor Robert Baratheon, who claimed that Lyanna was abducted and raped.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: The Hound's way of demonstrating how little he cares for Polliver's bluster. He also alludes to this when he calmly asserts that he doesn't have a penny but he'll still help himself to one of their chickens. When they object, the Hound very deliberately picks up Polliver's ale, drinks the whole thing, and announces that he feels like having two chickens.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Oberyn Martell goes to a brothel to set up a little orgy with Ellaria, but interrupts it the second he hears a pair of Lannister men singing "The Rains of Castamere" to start a fight with them. Then promptly goes back to the groping and kissing the instant it's over, ignoring the people that are addressing him by name.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: The bisexual Oberyn finds Olyvar so desirable that he isn't at all deterred when Olyvar informs the prince that he's "wildly expensive."
  • Everyone Has Standards: Several examples;
    • Tormund says he hates Thenns, presumably for their cannibalism. It seems this sentiment is shared by the rest of his band of Wildlings, who noticeably back away when the Thenns start to set up camp beside them and look disgusted when they reveal their dinner is the severed arm of a Night's Watchman.
    • The Hound is disgusted by the Rape, Pillage, and Burn his brother's team gets up to, and also says he's not a thief. Arya points out the Moral Dissonance of the latter.
    • Despite the fact they were on opposing sides and his personal dislike of them for their mistreatment of him, Tyrion states his belief that what happened to Robb and Catelyn was an outrage.
    Tyrion Lannister: [speaking to Sansa] What happened to your family was a terrible crime.
  • Evil Gloating: Tywin Lannister is not vulgar enough to do this openly (unlike his grandson) but in a private moment, as he surveys Ned Stark's "absurdly large" greatsword forged into two new Valyrian Steel swords for his family and then tosses the wolf-pelt scabbard into the flames, he enjoys a look of smug satisfaction as he watches the wolf fur burn.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Styr of the Thenns has quite a growl. It might have been a simple Badass Baritone, except for his Obviously Evil status.
  • Eye Scream: Sandor slams one of Polliver's men into his own knife, putting his eyes out. And just to make it as gross as possible, some CGI trickery makes it appear to happen in a single shot.
  • Fanservice: In the novels Tyrion meets the Red Viper and his paramour outside the city. Here they've nipped on ahead to sample the delights of a brothel.
  • Fanservice Extra: The contortionist whore puts on a reappearance.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Dornishmen are clearly based on Moorish Spain. Take a look at the clothing of the Dornish entourage, the color of their skin, and the accent of Oberyn and Ellaria.
  • Flowers of Romance: Daario Naharis offers Daenerys several different flowers under the pretext of teaching her about the local area. She responds with amused aloofness.
  • Fluffy Tamer: Subverted: When Daenerys tries to calm Drogon from fighting with his siblings, he angrily turns on her. Both Jorah and Daenerys are uneasy at the fact she is losing her ability to rein them in.
    Jorah Mormont: They're dragons, Khaleesi. They can never be tamed. Not even by their mother.
  • Forging Scene: Inverted from the usual heroic version (see Wrecked Weapon).
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • When Joffrey turns the page to Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, you can see House Dayne's sigil. The previous page details the entry of Ser Gerold Hightower, former Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, with the final paragraph vaguely mentioning Eddard Stark's confrontation with the Kingsguard at the Red Mountains. That fight scene has not yet been mentioned on TV, but is legendary among readers of the books.note 
    • Along with Alliser Thorne, Aemon and Lord Janos is Othell Yarwyck, who hasn't appeared since one episode in Season 1.
    • Besides the Dornish banners mentioned by Podrick: Houses Dalt, Blackmont, and Manwoody, you can also see the banner of House Qorgyle, and the banner of House Jordayne. There's a fourth banner that could be House Uller or House Martell as well.
  • Gender Flip: Olyvar becomes the TV equivalent of the "blonde whore" that Oberyn mentions he and Ellaria have been looking forward to fooling around with in the novels (although that particular line is likely a veiled comment about Cersei).
  • Genius Bruiser: After stabbing someone through the wrist, Oberyn demonstrates enough medical knowledge to tell the other man that if he withdraws the dagger to fight him, the first man will bleed to death before help arrives. The books say that Oberyn studied at the Citadel (where Maesters are trained) until he got bored and left, something that is confirmed a few episodes later, so he could well be knowledgeable in that area.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: None of Jaime's deeds made it into the Book of Brothers and Joffrey basically calls him a wash-out that no one will remember. It all drives home how Jaime's saving of King's Landing could trump every other heroic knight story in the book, but the world will never know about it.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Jon discusses how he always envied Robb as he felt Robb was better than him at everything, but could never bring himself to hate him because he loved him as a brother.
  • Groin Attack: During the tavern melee, Sandor parries a henchman's sword straight into another assailant's crotch.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Oberyn hates the Lannisters violently; much to Tyrion's distress, as he tries to do some damage control.
  • Has a Type: Ellaria is bored by timid girls, and is only attracted to those with a vivacious personality.
  • Holding Hands: Shae isn't happy to see Tyrion take Sansa's hand, storming off without seeing Sansa coldly pull away from him.
  • Hot-Blooded: His voice may stay calm, but it takes little to get Oberyn ready to fight.
  • I Choose to Stay: Tywin tells Jaime that he's released from the Kingsguard so he can go back to Casterly Rock. Jaime won't have any of it.
  • I Die Free: Daenerys is going for something like this when she orders the crucified children buried without their collars.
  • I Have No Son!: Tywin coldly disowns Jaime for refusing to leave the Kingsguard in order to take lordship of Casterly Rock, which is really saying something considering how up until this point Jaime was his clear favorite. From the books... 
    "Keep [the sword]. A man with one hand and no family needs all the help he can get."
  • Impaled Palm: A Lannister soldier gets stabbed in the wrist by Oberyn Martell.
  • It's All About Me: Cersei apparently doesn't give a rat's ass that Jaime was captured, dragged around as a prisoner, then got humiliated repeatedly, had his hand chopped off and nearly died. She only cares that he left her alone (living lavishly in the Red Keep and surrounded by guards and servants), as she thinks that she was the one who was wronged.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The Thenns. It's presumably why Tormund says "I fucking hate Thenns".
    Styr: I know we've had our differences, Tormund. But just one time, before you die, you really ought to try... crow. [camera pans down to a severed arm on a spit]
  • Important Haircut: Jaime's sporting a crewcut now instead of his long blonde locks, probably to emphasize how different from Cersei he's become.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Tormund claims he's seen Ygritte split a rabbit's eyeball with an arrow at 200 yards, which she doesn't deny.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: When Jaime confronts Cersei on her alcoholism, she cites a series of events that caused her to turn to the wineglass, conveniently recapping everything that happened on her end while Jaime was gone.
  • Info Dump: Oberyn's monologue about his sister.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • "Tell your father I'm here. And tell him the Lannisters aren't the only ones who pay their debts."
    • Polliver's death. Arya recites the exact same words Polliver said to Lommy before killing him. She even kills him the same way, with one thrust through the neck.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Brienne still wants Jaime to carry out his vow to Catelyn, which he's reluctant to do. But really - where is he supposed to take Sansa, now her mother, brothers and sister are dead (or believed to be), her uncles are held captive, Winterfell's gone and she's married to a Lannister?
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Tywin gets two: Melting down Ice to make new swords and burning the sword's wolf-pelt sheath and disowning Jaime for daring to not leave the Kingsguard and become Lord of Casterly Rock.
    • Joffrey wastes no time mocking his uncle's various failures.
    • Exasperated by his family's poor treatment of him, Jaime takes out his frustration on Brienne by calling her ugly after she reminds him of his promise to protect Catelyn's daughters.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Arya chillingly kills another man in cold blood, but it's not like Polliver, like the Frey man-at-arms last season, didn't thoroughly deserve it.
  • Lady Drunk: Cersei is introduced with a wine glass in her hand, which Jaime comments on.
  • The Lady's Favour: Gender-inverted when Dontos gives Sansa his family heirloom in thanks for saving his life.
  • Last of His Kind: Failure Knight Dontos Hollard. He is the last of his House, and is in rather unfortunate and sad circumstances. He wants one heirloom to be given "one last moment in the sun". It's quite sad, actually.
  • Law of Conservation of Detail: The scene where Dontos gives Sansa the necklace isn't just there to fill time, it will be significant to later episode(s).
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Brienne and Jaime of course. He even asks if they're related.
  • Little "No": Jaime's response to Tywin telling him to go back to Casterly Rock. It's delivered without any melodrama, but Tywin is nonetheless astonished.
  • Living Lie Detector: Aemon claims to be one as a result of growing up in King's Landing.
  • Lysistrata Gambit: Cersei punishes Jaime for abandoning her after the events of "The Wolf and the Lion" by withholding sex.
  • Macho Masochism: Downplayed; when entering to confront the singing Lannisters, Oberyn slowly brushes his hand over a lit candle, just long enough to make a point without actually doing anything to damage his Quick Draw. The Lannisters seem not to notice.
  • Match Cut: One scene ends on a heroic statue of Joffrey, and the next scene begins with Joffrey affecting a similar grandiose pose.
  • Miles Gloriosus: In the background of Brienne and Margaery's walk through the garden, a statue of Joffrey standing heroically atop a dead direwolf riddled with crossbow bolts can be seen.
  • Miss Kitty: Looks like Olyvar took over Ros' job as the brothel's middle manager. Doubles as Klingon Promotion, as his scheming eventually led to her discovery and gruesome punishment.
  • Moment Killer: There's some pretty demonstrative necking between Oberyn and Ellaria, with Tyrion being completely ignored until Ellaria forces Oberyn to acknowledge him.
  • Moral Dissonance: The Hound declares that he's no thief, and when Arya points out that he's fine with killing children, he can only reply that "A man's got to have a code."
  • Mr. Exposition: Apparently Pod knows quite a bit about Dorne's houses and their sigils.
  • Mugging the Monster: The Lannister men that harass Oberyn clearly have no idea who they just pissed off.
  • Mythology Gag
    • Joffrey notes that someone named "Ser Duncan the Tall" has four pages all to himself in the White Book. He's referring to one of the eponymous characters in the Tales of Dunk and Egg prequels, a set of short stories currently numbering four.
    • Bronn makes a crack that he should really get a sigil at some point. He has one in the books, a chain wreathed in green fire, but it wouldn't make sense on the show because it references events that were Adapted Out. (See the "Compressed Adaptation" entry in the recap for Blackwater for an explanation).
    • While waiting for the Dornish party to arrive, Bronn cracks an off-colour joke about Dorne. This is likely a reference to a thought Tyrion has while waiting for the group to arrive; Tyrion privately notes that it should be Joffrey meeting the Dornish, but given the King has taken to repeating crude and offensive jokes about the Dornish he'd picked up from Tyrell soldiers, admits Joffrey would only muck things up.
  • My Secret Pregnancy: One possible interpretation of Cersei thanking Qyburn for his help with a problem she refuses to discuss with Jaime.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Deliberate; Oberyn raises Tyrion's chin to look him in the eye while talking about what happened to his sister. Tyrion brushes his hand aside, despite it looking like Oberyn might lash out at any moment.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Lampshaded by Cersei when Jaime expects to take up their relationship where they left off.
  • Not So Above It All: Grey Worm, serious and unflappable as he is, still gets in on a bit of gambling with Daario to see who can hold his sword level the longest.
    • Brienne can't help but smile a little when Olenna compliments her for knocking the stuffing out of Loras.
  • Obviously Evil: Even before the cannibalism gets made explicit, it's hard to see how Styr could possibly be mistaken for being a good guy, between his extensive scarring, his guttural voice, and the dark music that just screams "this is someone to be afraid of".
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The look Tyrion has on his face when told it is Oberyn Martell who will be attending the royal wedding, to the amusement of the Dornish lord who just told him.
    • Followed by Ellaria's smile falling and getting this look on her face when Oberyn introduces the dwarf standing before them as the kings uncle, a Lannister (right after Oberyn stabbed a Lannister guard)
    • Daenerys's face when Drogon whirls round and snarls at her, his fangs mere inches from her face.
    • Arya has one when Polliver appears to recognise her; actually he's referring to the Hound.
      • She then gets another when Polliver suggests that Sandor hand her over to be raped in exchange for chicken. Based on her expressions, she thinks it possible he will agree.
    • Then Polliver when he finally recognises Arya, a fraction of a second before she slowly and deliberately sticks Needle through his throat.
    • Jaime, when Cersei tells him he took too long.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Tywin letting Jaime keep the sword even after he defies him is given a somewhat dismissive explanation, but is still a pretty big gesture on his part. On the smaller side, discreetly and unobtrusively helping Jaime sheathe it also counts, and parallels Brienne's similar actions in the last season when Jaime was struggling to cut his meat.
    • Tyrion tries this with Sansa, remarking that Robb and Catelyn Stark were good people that he respected (even if they didn't like him) who didn't deserve the deaths they suffered and that they would want Sansa to go on living for them.
    • Olenna is one of the very few individuals in Westeros who compliments Brienne instead of insulting her when meeting the female warrior for the first time. (The only other two characters who have previously done this are Renly and Catelyn.)
    • Margaery does this when she touches Brienne's arm with both of her hands as a way to reassure the lady knight that she no longer believes that Brienne was involved with Renly's death.
    • Sandor finally letting Arya have the pony she wanted, which he didn't have to do even though it was just there for the taking after their inn melee.
  • Plot Hole: Arya blaming the Hound's not robbing the King when he left for their poverty makes no sense. She was present when the Brotherhood stole all of his money.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation:
    • The Two Swords' blades Tywin has forged don't have a crimson-black-rippled tint, which even the most talented prop designer couldn't have realized without making it look tacky on screen.
    • The early death of the Tickler prevented us from seeing the fan favorite moment when Arya kills him after reclaiming Needle, giving an Ironic Echo of his questions while torturing people. So instead, the show uses the echo that Polliver set up back in episode 2x3.
    • Jaime and Brienne arriving at King's Landing before the wedding means Sansa is still there, meaning they have to deal with Brienne's oath to bring her to safety. This is covered by Jaime convincing Brienne that, twisted as it is, she's in the safest place possible right where she is.
    • Dontos gives Sansa a necklace instead of a hairnet, which are hardly seen on any actresses' heads.
    • The crucified slave children are not shown disemboweled. It would've been quite difficult production-wise and an unnecessary risk with censorship to border in Torture Porn to show the villainy of the Great Masters.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: More of a short exchange than a one liner by Sandor to Polliver. See "Badass Boast" above for the quote.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • The series is no stranger to strong language, but Tormund's vehement "I fucking hate Thenns" manages to be one anyway.
    • Tywin gets increasingly infuriated by Jaime's "bloody honor", which may be pretty mild to American audiences but it marks the first time he's sworn in the whole series.
    • Sandor's "Fuck the king" silences the entire tavern.
  • Pretty Boy: Despite Oberyn's anger at Rhaegar's abandonment of Elia, he acknowledges that Rhaegar was beautiful.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Polliver subverts this; he mentions that he doesn't like working as part of the Mountain's Rape, Pillage, and Burn brigade... because they're doing so much torturing, that it's become a chore and there's no fun in it any more.
  • Queer People Are Funny: Most of Westeros frown upon Dorne's openly tolerant attitude towards non-heterosexual relations, as demonstrated by Bronn's and the two Lannister soldiers' offensive joke about Dornishmen fucking goats, and Tyrion mentions Oberyn's notorious reputation for having sex with half of the continent.
  • Quick Draw:
    • Oberyn, definitely. His choice of insult before suggests he's quite proud of how quick he is.
    • Sandor defeats Polliver's attempt to draw his sword by Flipping the Table on him.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil:
    • Polliver's men are seen molesting an innkeeper's daughter with clear intentions. They never actually get to the deed before the Hound and Arya show up, though.
    • Polliver's suggestion that the Hound leave Arya with them for the same purpose didn't do anything to increase his chances of survival, and judging by Sandor's facial expression, is clearly the point where the Hound jumped on board with killing him.
    • Oberyn would doubtless have been furious about his sister and her children being slaughtered at Tywin's orders anyway, but the fact that the Mountain raped her too just adds to it.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Polliver's crew has been doing this throughout the countryside. The last shot is of the destruction left in their wake.
  • Reality Ensues: As Daenerys discovers, even hand-rearing a dangerous animal from birth will never completely suppress its more feral instincts and is no guarantee that said animal won't turn violent or aggressive towards its owner/handler as it grows older, larger and stronger.
  • Rule of Cool: Tywin having Ice melted down, and casting two swords from its steel. Cast iron is very rigid, and a really bad choice to make swords from. It is topped off by the fact that the melted steel is poured into an opened stone mold, which in reality would result in the steel cooling too fast and unevenly, forming all kinds of bumps, and in the top side of the swords becoming shapeless lumps. The orange glow and the shadows make the casting look very cool though. Of course, this can all be attributed to the vague (and in the books, almost contradictory) properties of Valyrian steel.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The melting of Ice, the House Stark Valyrian steel greatsword. And if that wasn't enough, Tywin throws Ice's scabbard, made from the hide of a wolf, into the flames and watches it burn.
  • Sarcasm Mode: When Cersei's includes her husband's tragic Hunting "Accident" among her list of disasters, Jaime notes sardonically "That must have been...traumatic for you."
  • Save the Villain: From Arya's point-of-view anyway; faced with Polliver about to kill Sandor, she acts to protect one of the men on her death list.
  • Saying Too Much: Ygritte fails to refer to Jon in the past tense, tipping Tormund that she was unable to bring herself to kill him.
  • Scenery Gorn: The final shot of Sandor and Arya riding off into the war-ravaged countryside.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shrine to Self: A statue of King Joffrey depicts him posing with a crossbow over a slain direwolf.
  • Smug Snake:
    • Janos Slynt's trip north doesn't seem to have taught him any humility. At least he stops himself from scoffing at the idea of giants when he realizes that Alliser Thorne isn't laughing.
    • Joffrey, as always. The fact that he's mocking a man who, whatever his current disability, will still be much better than him doesn't seem to cross his mind. Not to mention that the man is his father.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Arya and Sandor seem to have developed this over the course of their tenuous alliance.
    Arya: When am I going to get my own horse?
    Arya: The little lady wants away from your stench.
    Arya: He's still got it. My sword. Needle.
    Sandor: (mockingly) Needle. Of course you named your sword.
    Arya: Lots of people name their swords.
    Sandor: Lots of cunts.
    Arya: He killed my friend!
    Sandor: I don't care if he ate your friend!
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Arya Stark's partnership and quasi-friendship with Sandor "The Hound" Clegane who used to be part of her hitlist in her Madness Mantra. At the end of the episode, she willingly rides a horse alongside him (something Sandor was refusing to allow for fears that she'd run away) and wears a Psychotic Smirk in the afterglow of her recent revenge murder. Of course as she points out earlier, she doesn't have much of a choice in staying with him: Her mother and brother are dead and she wouldn't survive on her own so Sandor is her only option.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • The Hound is quite adamant that he's not going into that tavern... until someone opens the door and sees them anyway.
    • Joffrey doesn't care who's guarding him at his wedding as he's not expecting any trouble.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: Grey Worm (showing you don't need balls to have a cockfight) and Daario. Dany quickly puts an end to their nonsense.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare:
    • Sansa stares into nothing and seems haunted. Subverted when Sansa drops the shell-shocked look the moment Brienne and Jaimie stop looking at her, implying she's not the Broken Bird that everyone assumes.
    • Arya's empty staring makes her look dead.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Arya involves herself in Sandor's brawl with several armed soldiers, doing so quite soberly and without fear.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Arya smirks with triumph after toying with and then killing Polliver.
  • Tranquil Fury:
    • The presence of Lannisters seems to send Oberyn straight into this.
    • While she keeps her temper, the sight of the dead slave child crucified to the mile-post and the revelation there are 162 more such children killed just to taunt her seriously pisses Dany off.
    • Arya, when the bloodshed of Polliver and his men commences.
    • Tywin doesn't even have to change his tone of voice for Jaime and the audience to realize how infuriated he's getting.
  • Triumphant Reprise: Of both the main theme and "Valar Morghulis" at the end of the episode, after Arya kills Polliver and scratches off the first name from her prayer. It's suitably dark, but hopeful and uplifting at the same time.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: The evident satisfaction that Arya takes in killing Polliver.
  • White Stallion: Ayra is riding one by the end of the episode.
  • Women Are Wiser: Ellaria spends part of her screen-time trying to stop Oberyn doing anything too violent or openly confrontational. But of course, it wasn't her sister who'd been murdered.
  • World of Snark: Honestly, everyone gets into the act.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • The masters of Meereen crucified 163 slave children as a challenge to Daenerys.
    • Our reintroduction to Sandor and Arya is them passing the corpses of several Riverlands children, apparently killed by the Mountain's men.
  • Wrecked Weapon: Lord Tywin watches (with just a touch of villainous smugness) as Ice, the Ancestral Weapon of House Stark, is melted down into two smaller swords for the use of his own family. At this stage in the war, House Lannister has apparently triumphed over all their enemies. Just to emphasize this point, Tywin throws the wolfskin scabbard (the wolf being the sigil of House Stark) into the fire.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Shae's solution to a tense Tyrion.
  • Your Favorite: Shae tries to get Sansa to eat by offering her lemon cakes. It doesn't work.


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