"Game of Thrones" came back for its fourth season on Sunday, April 6. The episode "Two Swords" notched the highest ratings at 6.6 million viewers and became HBO's most watched program since The Sopranos' series finale back in 2007.
Season four starts off in a forge. "Ice," Ned Stark's great sword is being smelted down under the watch of Tywin Lannister, effectively erasing the last symbol of the most honorable man in Westeros. Nothing is said during the whole event, and as the metal melts to a liquid then fills the cast of not one, but two swords, Tywin throws the fur sheath into the fire with a small smirk. The Lannisters' have won.
This first scene sets the tone for the episode and what the season will be as a whole. The Lannisters' have come out on top; they are the rulers of Westeros and we now get to see how they will rule. It also signifies the central theme of change that is shown throughout the episode. While the episode was outstanding, there are a few scenes that stick out above the rest.
Jamie Lannister, the one-handed king slayer has returned to Kings Landing. Against his father's wishes, he declares that he will still serve on the king's guard even without his sword hand. The reason? His dear sister and lover Cersei. However, she doesn't feel as loving, blaming him for his absence and taking it personally, stating that he took too long.
In the North, Jon Snow returns to the Night's Watch, a little worse for wear, but still alive. We see his reaction to his brother Robb's death and then we go into where he has been for the past season. Jon pleas his cases to a council of the elder members of the watch; the Wildlings are coming in numbers previously unheard of.
While very serious and lasting less than five minutes this scene showcases Jon as one of the most well rounded characters. He is funny, he stands up for what is right and most importantly he knows his flaws. This scene also sets up what the bulk of the action will be this season. The Wildlings will attack and the Watch will have to defend against them.
Meanwhile Arya and the Hound are traveling together following the Red Wedding. Arya, having lost her eldest brother and mother, is driven only by revenge. The Hound plans to take her to her aunt Lysa, some may remember her from season one, for a reward. On the road they come across a tavern where Polliver, the man from season two who took Arya's sword Needle and killed Lommy, is currently drinking. Their story is the last of the episode and by this point no one has died, which is very uncommon for Game of Thrones, and needless to say the final scenes more than make up for it.
While the first three seasons had Arya playing a more passive role and feeling a bit like a lesser character, in this season Arya finally starts on her journey and will undoubtedly become a fan favorite by the end of the season.
Lastly a new character has been introduced into the series. Prince Oberyn Martell from Dorne, the southernmost part of Westeros, has come to celebrate the wedding of Joffrey and Margaery. He meets with Tyrion, and it is revealed that he may be there seeking revenge for his sister and her children against Tywin, who ordered their death and The Mountain who carried out the order.
This season of "Game of Thrones" is looking to be the best so far and if the first episode is any indication for that prediction, the season will far exceed expectations.