The fourth season of Game of Thrones opened Sunday with a reminder that the land of Westeros is the kind of place where the vicious thrive.
Tyrannical patriarch Lord Tywin Lannister watches as two swords are forged from the molten Valyrian steel of Ned Stark’s massive sword — the one used to behead him. Lannister, of course, is the mastermind behind the slaughter of Stark’s wife, son and unborn grandchild during the Red Wedding in last season’s stunner of a climax.
And while that murderous act brought to an end the “war of five kings,” the fallout is still being felt.
Here are five more highlights from last night’s episode.
1. People in King’s Landing are making preparations for the joyful wedding of sociopathic King Joffrey Baratheon to Margaery Tyrell. One of the guests is Prince Oberyn of Dorne who, it turns out, harbors some rage against the Lannisters for the killing of his sister and would like nothing better than to have his revenge on Tywin Lannister. “The Lannisters aren’t the only ones who pay their debts,” Prince Oberyn tells Tyrion Lannister, chillingly.
2. Awesome dragons! Daenerys Targaryen is enjoying the sunshine while petting one of her “children” while the other two swoop through the air. It’s all very nice. Until she tells one of them to cool it, and the dragon snaps back at her like a potentially aggressive puppy. “They will never be tamed, not even by their mother,” says her advisor, Jorah Mormont, helpful as always.
3. Jamie gets a prosthetic hand. It really looks nice but clunky, and he holds it up for his sister and erstwhile lover Cersei who is repulsed by his stump. She approves. But they don’t seem to be getting along too well, with Cersei seeming to consider him less of a man now.
4. Up North, Jon Snow has to answers to a council of the Night Watch and admits to breaking a number of vows he had taken, including having sex. Worse, he had sex with a wilding. The old guys on the council mull over whether to have him executed, but then hear him out when he tells them that, much to their skepticism, some 100,000 wildings are marching on the Wall.
5. Arya and the Hound are hungry. They come across what looks like a tavern in the woods, and Arya recognizes one of the men taking a piss in the woods as Polliver, who killed a boy named Lommy that Arya had befriended. To make matters worse, Polliver used Arya’s sword, Needle, to kill him. So basically Arya leads the Hound into the tavern; when Polliver and his fellow goons refuse to give the Hound some chicken, mayhem ensues. “You gonna die for some chicken?” Polliver asks. “Someone is,” the Hound replies, and it isn’t gonna be him. Arya stabs a gravely wounded Polliver through the neck with Needle.