So long, Rust Cohle and Marty Hart. HBO's best on-screen duo is on Game of Thrones. They are Arya Stark and Sandor, or "the Hound," the Felix and Oscar of Westeros, and they owned last night's season four premiere, "Two Swords."
Well, not so much owned as, let's say, "decimated."
As with the show's three previous season openers, "Two Swords" is mostly all character set-ups and world building. It's the necessary but totally satisfying foreplay before the inevitable climaxes. The one-handed Jaime Lannister has voluntarily become Joffrey's new bodyguard, much to Daddy Tywin's disappointment. Daenerys, whose army seems to have quadrupled since last season, has all the power but now needs to figure out what to do with it, not to mention somehow tame her unruly dragons as they go through reptilian puberty. Tyrion has to keep an eye on newcomer Oberyn Martell, an imposing hedonist with a vendetta against the Lannister family, while also dealing with Shae's growing insecurities over his marriage to Sansa. Jon Snow's stabbing of a Night's Watch member and hanky-panky with Wildling ginger Ygritte has him in hot water with the Watch's superiors. And, of course, Joffrey is still a little son-of-a-bitch—Jaime apologizes for missing the Blackwater battle by saying, "I was rather busy," to which Joffrey replies, "Busy being captured." First-class Baratheon burn, right there.
All of that happens during the episode's first 50 minutes, leaving Game of Thrones viewers to wonder where the hell everyone's favorite pint-sized badass, Arya Stark, was. The show's co-runners, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, though, know exactly what they were doing. They saved the best for last.
At the end of season 3, if you'll recall, Arya committed her first murder, prison-shivving that House Frey soldier for talking sideways about her late brother, Robb, and mother, Catelyn.
That taste for blood has intensified.
Once again riding shotgun on the Hound's horseback last night, she asks Sandor when she's going to get her own horse. "The little lady wants a pony," he says; "The little lady wants away from your stench," she fires back. Their back-and-forth throwing of shade gets cut short when they come across a group of men whom have food and drinks, two things Arya and Sandor badly want. Arya notices something else about one of them: he's the guy who captured her, murdered her pal Lommy (Sandor: "What the fuck's a Lommy?"), and took her sword, "Needle," the one Jon Snow made for her before he left for the Night's Watch.
"Lots of people name their swords," she says, defending herself against Sandor's condescension.
"Lots of cunts," he retorts.
Naturally, their sit-down with the men goes to shit. After the guy who offed Lommy tells Sandor he'll trade him a chicken for "a go with" Arya, a brawl breaks out. Sandor handles most of them by himself, pushing one poor bastard's head down onto a blade three times in what's already a strong contender for season four's nastiest visual. Arya, not one to sit back and watch, gets in on the action by piercing one man's neck with trusty old "Needle" and then knocking down Lommy's killer. "Fine little blade," she says, surveying Needle's pointy end. "Maybe I'll pick my teeth with it." Instead, though, she drives through the man's throat.
The next thing we see, Sandor's gnawing on a chicken leg while riding off on his horse. Arya, meanwhile, is atop a smaller white horse of her own, cheese-grinning and, one could presume, saying to herself, "Yeah, bitches—come and get me."
As well as, "Tyrion's not gonna be your favorite Game of Thrones character for much longer, friends."
Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)
[GIF via Uproxx]
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