Game of Thrones Moment of the Week: “Two Swords”

Game of Thrones is back, and I think we all need a place to talk about it. My inability to always watch the episodes in a timely manner would get in the way of writing full reviews of each episode, but I definitely wanted to start a Game of Thrones weekly feature over here. So feel free to comment about the moments I choose throughout the season, but the comments are open to discussion of every aspect of these episodes! And just as a fair warning: I read the series last year, so if I accidentally spoil anything by talking about foreshadowing or by not remembering how far along the show is compared to the books, I apologize. (Short story: Possible spoilers ahead!)

The Moment: Tyrion meets Oberyn Martell

two swords oberyn martell

Setting the Scene: The bad blood between the Lannisters and Martells is shown in no subtle way by “second son” Oberyn Martell’s stabbing of a Lannister in a King’s Landing brothel. Following this show of force, Oberyn reminds Tyrion that his sister, Princess Elia of Dorne, was once married to Rhaegar Targaryen before he ran off with Lyanna Stark and started a war, which resulted in the deaths of Oberyn’s niece and nephew as well as the rape and murder of Elia at the hand of Gregor Clegane. As a parting word, Oberyn tells Tyrion to inform his father that “the Lannisters aren’t the only ones who pay their debts.”

Why It’s Awesome: I think one of the character introductions that A Song of Ice and Fire readers have been anticipating the most is the Red Viper of Dorne, and this exceeded my high hopes by creating a fully-realized character from his first scene. Pedro Pascal is an excellent casting choice for Oberyn. The way he delivered his monologue about Elia’s fate left me breathless, and I wanted to cheer at his perfect parting words. The controlled grief and fury laying just below the surface of his words were chilling in the best possible way. You know this man means business, and you know from the start that it’s not a good thing for the Lannisters that he’s the Dornish prince in town for Joffrey’s wedding. Oberyn Martell is one of the most charismatic and compelling characters in the whole series, and his introduction left me hanging on his every word—even when I knew what they would be. Once again, this casting department did an excellent job, and this scene left me so excited for all that’s to come with Oberyn this season.

Honorable Mentions: Brienne confronts Jaime over the fate of the Stark girls, Joffrey mocks Jaime’s blank space in the White Book, Jon Snow talks about Robb, and Arya is reunited with Needle

19 thoughts on “Game of Thrones Moment of the Week: “Two Swords”

  1. It was the best launch of a season since the series began. Gone were all the ‘catch up/exposition’ moments that I think dragged the storytelling in the two prior seasons. I was grateful that the showrunners had enough confidence in the viewers to have caught themselves up on the complexities of Westeros.

    I agree the exciting and unabashed introduction of Oberyn was the strongest sequence of scenes in the opening hour. But for as strong as it opened, I thought it closed even stronger. Last year gutted House Stark – literally. To see this episode close with the rise of Arya Stark gaining back not only her sword, but her confidence to not simply be led was a terrific final sequence. She’s come far from the girl merely saying a mantra to herself for the revenge she seeks. We see her take action towards that revenge and now everything has changed.

    I am thrilled to see that Jamie is finally after 10 long episodes last year clean. Moreover I am keen to see his humor returned and a new found will to strike out and define his own fate. It set the stage for what I am most anticipating this season — Jamie and Tyrion against the world!

    I continue to be most disinterested in John Snow. I don’t know if its his storyline or the actor who plays him, but I have always been lukewarm on this aspect of the universe that is Game of Thrones. I also feel like our mother of dragons needs to be moved more expediently. I’ve always been OK with her story being disconnected to the rest of the GOT universe, but it now feels like her quest is getting repetitive which is disappointing given how fascinating the early part of her journey is.

    • I completely agree that this was my favorite opening episode since the series started. I loved that the writers didn’t feel the need to spoon-feed us exposition and instead let the characters re-introduce themselves in a way that still moved the plot along.

      Your analysis of why that last scene with Arya is so powerful was spot-on. It was the first moment of Stark victory after so many episodes of Stark defeat, and to see Arya finally able to take action after being at the mercy of others for so long was a huge moment for her character and for the show in general. It’s also chilling to think that this is a young girl who has been driven to kill because of circumstances surrounding her and her family.

      Also, I can only nod in ardent agreement that a clean Jaime is a wonderful change, and his quest to write his own story on his own terms is one of the things I’m most excited to see this season.

      I understand your disinterest in Jon and Daenerys because I have felt those things as well. I liked the hint that Jon is going to have more fight in him on the show than he’s had before because that bodes well for his future storylines, but I’m nervous that Daenerys’s story is going to become what it was in the books—a slow-moving plot that I quickly lost interest in when compared to the things that are always happening in King’s Landing.

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, and I agree with you—there was a lot of exposition happening, but it flowed better than ever before. I think so much of that had to do with the way the writers let the characters simply show through their interactions what the audience needed to know instead of doing it through heavy-handed dialogue. It showed new confidence in the intelligence of the audience, and I liked that a lot.

  2. I’m so glad you’ll be doing a weekly post on this show and I love the way you’ve chosen to do it!

    I agree, Oberyn’s introduction (and particularly his interactions with Tyrion) were fantastic. You are absolutely right – the casting department did a great job.

    I loved the intro with the forging of Oathkeeper. It was a wonderful way to begin the new season and made me even more excited about what is to come.

    My favorite moment of the week was Olenna Tyrell seeing Brienne for the first time. Lady Olenna is always a treat to watch and you know how much I love Brienne. There was nothing but delight in Lady Olenna’s voice at seeing Brienne and it was such a difference from everyone else’s initial reaction to her and it completely warmed my heart. She is wonderful and unique and I want her to be appreciated for that always.

    My next favorite moments were all those with Arya and The Hound. What amazing casting. Between the fact that The Hound is really over all of the Westerosi problems and isn’t even bothering to hide it anymore and Arya being reunited with the sword that means so much to her, it was just a fantastic set of scenes.

    Next on the list is Jaime and Brienne’s conversation, which shouldn’t surprise you at all. I love that she is going to make him do the right thing because it’s a promise she won’t let him break. She’s going to hold him accountable in order to have him be the man she knows he wants to be and I am going to love every second of it. I still think it is weird that they are already in Kings Landing because Sansa is right there and it seems like it shouldn’t be too hard to have a conversation with her but oh well.

    Next is probably Jon talking to Sam about his feelings toward Robb growing up and his trial. I think Kit has really grown into the role and he felt like Jon more than ever toward me. Also points for Maester Aemon for his existence because he’s just as great in the show as he is the books.

    Dany’s story has become the least interesting on the show for me although the CGI on the dragons is really good. I’m slightly distracted by the fact that Liam and Daario are now the same person but that’s just a side effect of watching too much TV lol.

    Is it Sunday yet? ;)

    • Let’s be honest—part of the reason I started doing these posts is so you and I could have a dedicated place to talk about the show every week in the detail that we need to talk about it. ;)

      Your favorite moment is one that made my Brienne-loving heart soar. I loved that Oleanna, who is about as honest as anyone can be, saw right to the heart of Brienne and spoke the truth: She’s as singular and marvelous as it gets in Westeros. And I thought Gwendoline Christie played Brienne’s reaction perfectly. She’s not used to people being genuinely kind to her right away—if at all. She’s always distrustful of other’s motives for their kindness, but she’s so pleased that someone sees her for who she is and thinks she’s a person of true value.

      I am so excited to watch Brienne’s story with Jaime develop this season (and to talk about it with you), especially because we’ve already seen that it’s diverging from the books (so we get to be at least somewhat surprised!). I love the very clear parallel between Cersei rejecting who Jaime has become and Brienne reminding him to hold on to who he has become. The temptations for Jaime to turn a blind eye to his renewed sense of honor are so strong in King’s Landing, and I’m happy Brienne is determined to act as a kind of sponsor/conscience for him, reminding him to be his best self in a world that wants him to lose that part of himself again.

      I’m also glad I’m not the only one who kept getting distracted by the new Daario casting and expecting him to start producing country songs. ;)

      This Sunday’s episode is going to be amazing, and I cannot wait to experience everyone’s reactions to it!

      • I loved the differences between Jaime’s interactions with Cersei and his interactions with Brienne. With both of them, Jaime just wants to go back to a time when his life was (relatively) simple. Things were less complicated for him when he was the hated, but talented Kingslayer who was sleeping with his sister. In losing his hand (and his subsequent revelation to Brienne), he lost all of that identity. He’s found someone who doesn’t hate or celebrate the choice that he made to kill Aerys but more importantly for his future, someone who finds value and honor in him besides his ability with a sword.

        He’s changed and Kings Landing (along with the people in it) have changed in his absence, whether he is ready to admit that or not. Cersei recognizes that and basically dismisses him even if I don’t know that I loved the dialogue choices in that scene. She’s smart enough to know he didn’t leave her willingly because I think she’s always known that his devotion to her is greater than hers to him. She’s angry at him but like you said, it’s more about the changes they’ve both been through.

        Brienne on the other hand, sees his desire to go back to that simpler time and basically tells him that he’s better than that. She knows that he knows that they need to do something for Sansa and she puts him in the uncomfortable position of confronting those feelings. I love that she challenges him and that she’s forcing him to accept the changes to his life.

        • I too thought the dialogue between Jamie and Cersei was odd. However the underlying sentiment made perfect sense to me. You are so right about the fact that his devotion is purer than hers. Because while Jamie wanted to pick up where they left off and sought that safe place they once shared Cersei has changed. She’s been undermined and in some ways outplayed. She was a gamemaker before the rise of her son to the throne. Since Joffery became King she has slowly lost power and control over him and her standing in Kings Landing. Tywin has dismissed her, she has not had control over her son since Ned’s beheading and now Margaery has taken over a roll she once dominated. Jamie is the easy punching bag for that anger. It is easy to place the blame and responsibility for her fate onto him because as you clearly point out – his loyalty to her is steadfast and there is no one else she can lash out to without real repercussions.

          It is for me what makes the Brienne parallel so important. As Jamie returns to Kings Landing she is the light to remind him that his true self is the one he discovered on their journey. She’s the mirror to help him remain true to himself. It’s what makes his line about her being a Lanister so wonderfully funny. He values her tremendously and no amount of desire to revert back to a simpler time can diminish that truth.

  3. How did I miss this post? Game of Thrones in NGN. Brilliant! =)

    My favourite moments have already been mentioned in your post and in the comments.
    Oberyn Martell, definitely; his parting words to Tyrion were perfect. I also loved the little scrap right before that conversation; lots of veins in the wrist, indeed.
    Brienne was brilliant in all her scenes, and I wonder how they’re going to tackle her story with the Tyrells since she seems to have convinced Margaery about her innocence of Renly’s death, but the’ve changed many details form the books so we’ll see. Lady Olenna is indeed always a treat.
    Watching Arya chin up was great, but I have to say that the Hound easily stole the first part of the scene for me. And made me crave chicken.

    I’m really happy that you include GoT in your blog. I can’t wait to see what’s next, particularly how they’re going to develop Tyrion’s plotline.

    • I’m so excited that you love Game of Thrones, too; it’s going to be so much fun discussing this season with everyone over here!

      I’m also happy to see another fan of Brienne’s scenes because she is my favorite character in the series, so I’m sure I will be talking about her moments in detail as the season goes on. And I agree about the Hound stealing the scene; he has this perfectly dry sense of humor and strange charm on the show that makes me like him much more than I did while reading the series.

  4. Is Sunday not the best night for TV? :)

    I love me some GoT. I have an intense love for the books, but have always been lukewarm on the show. Luckily now I am a few years removed from reading most of the novels and I have become less nitpicky about changes the show makes and I can enjoy it on its own.

    I thought this episode was one of the most well balanced in a long time. I love that for people in such desperate circumstances, there is still humor to be found. Some of my favorite characters in the show and the novels are the ones that realize just how stupid and pointless all these power plays are, and they are just doing their best to survive.

    There were too many great little moments throughout the episode for all the characters I am not sure I can pick one as my favorite. I will say that book three is the book where its impossible not to fall in love with Jaime as a character, and the show is doing a great job with him. And the fact that he made a hook joke made my day.

    Then there is Jon Snow. He is my favorite character in the books, but he just doesnt have the presence in the show that I feel he has in the novels and I think its a huge shame. I dont know what the future holds for him in the books (It wasnt looking so hot for him at the end of ADWD) but a part of me cant shake that he is actually super important to the overall story, and it would be a total shame if his character isnt developed well enough to see that through on the show.

    Book 3 is far and away my favorite, so I cant wait to see some of my favorite scenes play out on screen. Its going to be action packed for sure!

    • Added note. While Jon really hasnt been that engaging in the past few seasons, I actually really loved his scene in front of the night watch leaders. He owned his actions and told them to get their crap together. There was a spark of something good there, and I hope it can develop into a bit more fire moving forward.

    • Sunday night is by far my favorite TV night—Once, GoT, and The Good Wife all in one night!

      I love what you said about Book Three making you realize it’s impossible not to love Jaime because it’s so true. It was that book when he became my second-favorite character (after Brienne), and I’m so happy that the show seems to be doing his character arc justice.

      I also agree that the show hasn’t done a great job of making Jon Snow as captivating as he is in the books, but, like you said in your other comment, his scenes in this episode have me hopeful that maybe the show will be heading in the right direction with his character this season. I share your suspicion that he’s going to be a huge piece of this puzzle before the series is over, so I hope the show starts doing a better job with him.

      • As someone who has not read the books and has always been bored by John Snow. I find it intriguing that he is a favorite character of both of you in the books. It makes me think that the choice was deliberate. I think the show played into the medium of TV and deliberately built the arc to ensure that we as an audience invested in Robb Stark, particularly given Ned’s early demise in the series. I suspect they made these choices deliberately to heighten the impact of the Red Wedding (as though it needed it) but also to then perhaps build Snow and Ayra for that matter in a way that keeps viewers invested in House Stark in spite of the loss of Robb, Ned and Catelyn. Yup, ready for Sunday.

        • Robb is the only Stark that isnt a POV character in the book (not counting Rickon), while Jon is (with a lot of time given to him actually) so book readers are naturally going to have more investment in Jon and want his character to be property represented on the show. Even on the show I was never fully invested in Robb (but maybe that is because I knew not to get too attached going in). I mean now with Robb gone, Jon is the only “Stark” male left, so I have a feeling the focus is going to shift more to him this season, especially since his story is pivotal to the end of book 3.

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