Game of Thrones season premiere recap: A Storm of Swords and Swingers

Our recap of HBO's fantasy hit returns!
Ep. 01 | Aired Apr 6, 2014

Swinging for Vengeance: "My name is Prince Oberyn Martell. You killed my sister. Prepare to die."

Later, Brienne tries to get Jaime to keep his pledge to rescue Catelyn's daughters. He points out this is a tad difficult to do since Arya is presumably dead and Sansa is now married to his brother.  Still, the fact he's even speaking to Brienne shows his inner changes, which Tywin and Cersei do not see since because they're so distracted by his stump. The old Jaime would have ditched Brienne the moment he returned to King's Landing, and maybe even had her killed. Speaking of Sansa, Ser Dontos -- the former knight she rescued from Joffrey's wrath in season 2 -- gives her a family heirloom necklace as a gift.

Near Meereen: Daario flirts with Dany. He gives her local flowers under the guise of teaching her about the local culture. It's a clever exchange. "If you want them to follow you, you have to become a part of their world," he advises. I disagree with Daario here. I'm pretty sure having a massive army and three dragons is enough to get people to follow Dany; nobody is going to quiz the Khaleesi on botany.

Dany is called to the front of the march to see a crucified slave girl. The slave masters of Meereen -- the next city she plans to conquer -- have posted this girl as a f-you warning to Dany due to her slave-freeing policy and emancipation proclamations. In fact, there's a crucified slave every mile for 163 miles to the city -- which is truly horrific, yet also should make it super easy to find the place. Dany doesn't want the slaves taken down until she sees each one. "I will see each and every one of their faces," she says, firing up her rage. These Meereen masters do realize she has dragons, right?

Riverlands: Arya and The Hound road trip adventure time! This sequence is my favorite of the premiere, and I suspect it will be yours too. It's not just that fan-fav Arya gets to cross a name off her list. The dialogue is cracking ("Little lady wants a pony" ... "'course you named your sword") and the sequence is suspenseful. Plus, it shows more personality from The Hound than we've ever previously seen.

The Hound has decided to take Arya to her crazy Aunt Lysa in the Vale of Arryn (the place with the sky cells where Tyrion was captured in season one). They better hurry since Arya is running out of family members. They find a tavern where several of The Mountain's men are harassing the barkeep and his daughter (if you own a tavern in Westeros, just lock up your daughters in the cellar). One of the men is Polliver, who in season 2, when Arya and her companions were captured on the way to Castle Black, we saw torture and kill a bunch of people in the prison camp. He's also on Arya's death-wish list and stole her sword Needle (and still carries it, which is weird -- it's a kid-sized sword).

They enter the tavern and get a table. Polliver recognizes The Hound and he starts bragging about his torture tour of Westeros now that Joffrey has won. The world is his rape oyster, etc.

The Hound pushes Polliver's buttons. He wants the chicken Polliver and his men have stolen from the tavern owner and at some point decides that he's going to kill them all. He just wants Polliver to make the first move. "You're a talker," he says, taking Polliver's drink. "Listening to talkers makes me thirsty."

FINALLY: Arya victorious; handy links...

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