This "Game of Thrones" discussion is written by someone who has read George R.R. Martin's books but will only discuss events that have happened on the HBO's televised version. Please respect these boundaries should you choose to participate in the comments section.
Episode 4.1, "Two Swords"
FINAL SCORE: Violence 8, Sex 1
(Scores are roughly deaths versus nude bodies, though adjustments are made for additional corpses displayed, non-fatal violence, other sexual content, and various other factors determined by the reviewer.)
Totals: five on-screen deaths; one wrist stabbed (with subsequent knife twist); one bloody lamb tossed onto rocks and devoured by dragons; one human arm cooked on a spit (from a bag with many more body parts); one crucified slave pointing the way to Meereen (with 162 more serving as mile markers); at least two additional corpses foreshadowing violence at at an inn.
Game notes: On a show filled with as much killing as "Game of Thrones," there are three ways for a death to stand out as notable: victim, murderer, or means. We can remember who got killed, who did the killing, or how they died -- and "GoT" crackles most loudly in the public's imagination when at least two of those three factors are at work. To wit: a dead whore in King's Landing isn't particularly remarkable. But a dead whore pumped full of arrows is somewhat more memorable, and is moreso when those arrows come from the crossbow of Westeros's Bieber-king.
Though all five on-screen deaths in "Two Swords" happen in a nameless inn somewhere between the riverlands and the Vale, they're not at all equal. Some of the poor saps are dispatched by the Hound's blade without so much as a line of dialog; they'll be forgotten in the long arc of the show's run. Perhaps we'll recall one resourceful medieval melée enthusiast who got a knife blade to Clegane's neck, only to have his face shoved into the blade repeatedly. As always, we award bonus points for method, which is why I'm still thinking about Sandor's brother decapitating a horse three seasons ago.
Naturally, the scene's final death is its most satisfying: delivered by series favorite Arya to one of the names on her revenge list in a particularly memorable way: feeding Polliver the lines he said to poor, doomed Lommy, then sinking the business end of Needle into Polliver's throat just as he pieced it together. It would almost be a quiet moment, were it not for the sputtering blood fountain coming from his mouth.
Totals: two pairs of bared breasts; one vaginal pelt; one bare ass (female); one pansexual orgy negotiated and interrupted before it could begin; one quick post-stabbing makeout; the saddest, briefest fingerbang imaginable. Really more of an unwilling fingertap.
Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones
Game notes: As intrinsic as sex may be to "Game of Thrones," the Season 4 premiere was more about its characters NOT having sex. Tyrion's still not sleeping with wife Sansa, while her handmaiden Shae -- also Tyrion's headstrong whore -- wants but can't get "peter dinklage" (Westerosi term for sex with a dwarf). Tyrion's elder brother Jaime is back in King's Landing minus a hand and his father's approval, but back in the presence of incestuous love-twin Cersei, who shuns his advances so she can drink wine like she's hosting the fourth hour of The Today Show. Long story short: the Lannisters are still on top, but none of them are getting laid.
Elsewhere in King's Landing, the whores on display are perfectly worthy of the show's rich nudity canon (lovely arabesque from Whore #2, by the way), but the customers -- Prince Oberyn Martell and his paramour Ellaria Sand -- never get to enjoy the fruits of their laborers, as Martell abandons his seduction of the male proprietor to stab a Lannister cousin. This also interrupts Ellaria's lesbo makeout, but the stabbing spurs an impassioned makeout sesh between the Red Viper and his lady -- which, of course, is interrupted by Tyrion. DAMMIT, CAN SOMEONE GET OFF ALREADY?
Oberyn Martell and Ellaria Sand are the strongest new arrivals, obviously, and there's a new actor in the role of Daario (less dreamy but better suited to the role, it seems), but let's turn our attention to the north, where the Thenns have joined the fractured party of wildlings led by Tormund Giantsbane and Ygritte, who was last seen getting her heart broken and sinking three arrows into her love. ('You're doing it wrong." -- Cupid)
The Thenns: Bald. Decorative head scars. Eating the flesh of human prey. Not super-popular at parties, but they'll do in a pinch if you need an ally against the scourge of snow zombies, I guess.
Of course, the cannibalism was a slow reveal. The Thenns arrived with bags of mystery meat, and we were treated to an ominous monologue that ended with a human arm roasting on a spit. But here's the thing about that: let's say your band of warriors has been walking all day, many of them carrying heavy loads from the town they pillaged. You need a cut of meat to serve a platoon of marauders, and you go with ... an arm? COME ON. Put a couple of thighs on that spit. Roast a butt or carve up the ribs of a fat guy. These men didn't murder an entire town to be fed some crappy hand that's all tendon and bone.
1. Arya and the Hound
2. Jaime and Brienne
3. Daario and Grey Worm
57. Tyrion and Sansa
1,286. Joffrey and anyone
New swords forged: 2
Wolf pelts burned: 1 (NOTE: burning fur inside your home is NOT RECOMMENDED)
Horses acquired: 1
Satisfactory necklace percentage: .125 (thanks, Ser Dontos)
Hilarious waves of a golden hand: only 1, sadly
Statues of Joffrey: also only 1, also sadly
C-bombs from the Hound: 2
Sansa tears: man, we stopped counting two seasons ago
DNP, coach's decision
Bran Stark, Hodor, Hodor's wang, Stannis Baratheon, Melisandre, Davos Seaworth, Stannis's daughter with the fish scales on her face, Theon Greyjoy, Theon's wang (RIP), Ramsay Bolton, Asha Greyjoy, all direwolves, the Hold Steady, Margaery's bra