"Two Swords" and "The Lion and The Rose"
Fox on the first two episodes of Season 4 of Game of Thrones.
I really liked this premiere. It actually might be my favorite of the series because unlike every other Game of Thrones premiere, "Two Swords" took its time. The writers didn't rush us around trying to catch us up with everyone. In fact they actually seem to have done the opposite. The episode's closing scene with Arya and The Hound sat at around ten minutes which makes it one of the longest scenes in the show's run. And it was completely awesome.
The only other comment I can think to make for this premiere was the awesome bookending they did with the opening and closing scenes in relation to the episode's title. The cold open tied us to a chair and made us watch as Tywin Lannister melted down Ned Stark's great sword "Ice" into two smaller blades. One he delivered to Jaime, the other we still don't know who the desired recipient is.
But while we watch that happen we're reminded that The Lannisters have pretty much taken over Westeros whether we like it or not. The Starks have been all but sidelined and the ones are still alive and kicking are up to their eyeballs in other people's terror and have to do everything they can to stay alive.
But with the final scene comes the other side of the story. Arya reclaims Needle. And in that moment the title has a whole new meaning. Yes the Lannisters have all the power. But the Starks aren't going to be forgotten. Ice was melted down but Needle is still very much a weapon to fear and now that it has found its way back into its master's hands the evildoers of Westeros may yet have something to fear. Valar Morghulis. All men must die.
"The Lion and The Rose"
I can only reinforce what I said about the writers taking their time with the pacing of the fourth season. The wedding sequence which of course is the main point of this episode took up over half its running time which is unheard of in television, let alone GoT. But George RR Martin actually penned the "Lion and the Rose" and I think it's his best screenplay for the series to date (and that's saying a lot considering he wrote "Blackwater" which features some of the show's best dialogue despite focusing so heavily on the titular battle.)
I actually went back and skimmed over that sequence in the book A Storm of Swords and though all the major beats are there, Martin does an awesome job of either adding in or adapting what's already there really well for the medium. I'm sure that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss get final say before anything goes to press but the dude may be a better television writer than he is a novelist.
It's also incredibly thrilling to be watching a GoT season based on the back half of one of the source novels. A Storm of Swords reads more like a standalone epic than a classic fantasy novel and clocking in at over 1000 pages it provides a roller coaster ride of climactic moments sprinkled throughout the story.
So far we've been able to accurately rely on episode 9 of each season of GoT being the "oh shit" episode of the season but with "The Lion and the Rose" the first of what I think will be many wrenches was thrown into our plans. It's hard to not run to wikipedia and look into who's writing and directing specific episodes as that usually decides just what kind of treatment we're all in for. It's the best.