Some of you reading this will have blurry eyes after having stayed up late to catch the first episode of Game of Thrones’ fourth season. Due to the programme’s massive fanbase, Sky Atlantic made the decision to air the first episode at the same time as HBO in America. Thankfully I didn’t have to make this choice having already been treated to the episode at the Season Four premiere a couple of weeks ago.
The premiere was a grand event with the outside of The Guildhall in London being suitably decked out in a Gmae of Thrones-style wintry motif. The screening itself took place in a grand hall which could rival anything that King’s Landing had to offer. Watching the episode amongst others was also interesting experience as I found it fascinating to take in various reactions to this opening instalment.
The episode itself saw some characters still trying to deal with the after effects of the sinister Red Wedding. Arya (Maisie Williams) isn’t handling things at all well as she’s now been present at the deaths of her brother and both of her parents. It appears that Arya’s main story this season will revolve around her becoming even more vengeful as we witnessed in her attack at the end of this episode.
Meanwhile, Arya’s sister Sansa (Sophie Turner) is stuck in a loveless marriage to Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and is upset that her new in-laws ordered the murder of her family. Although it seems that she’ll be doing another season’s worth of moping, Turner revealed to us that Sansa will start to manipulate the men around her. I think it’ll be interesting to see where the Sansa character goes in season four as she’s had little to do apart from act horrified for about two years.
Elsewhere in King’s Landing, the guests are beginning to arrive for the wedding of Joffrey and Margareay. One of these guests is Prince Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) a member of a family who has nothing but hate for the Lannisters. Oberyn has arrived alongside his paramour Ellaira (Indira Varma) and they don’t waste getting to sample the palace’s finest goods. Both Oberyn and Ellaira appear to be interesting additions to the cast and their outwardly fiery nature is a bit of a change from the more reserved characters who occupy the court.
One character who is struggling to adjust to his new surroundings is Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who is now back in King’s Landing. Unfortunately he is struggling to handle a sword again after having his hand chopped off midway through season three. The issues with his hand lead his father (Charles Dance) to suggest he return to their ancestral home but Jaime wants to remain where he is primarily so he can be near his sister/lover Cersei (Lena Headey). Jaime’s new friend Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) is also finding it awkward to adjust to life at court but is determined to have him stick to his word of protecting the Stark girls.
Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) continues to take her sweet time getting to King’s Landing and taking her place on the Iron Throne. It appears as if the recurring theme of this series will be her struggle to control her dragons now that they are growing rapidly. Hopefully she’ll make it over the Narrow Sea sooner rather than later primarily so we can see one of her dragons burn Joffrey’s face off.
Finally Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) faced his trial at the Night’s Watch where he was accused of abandoning his brothers and siding with the widlings. Although some of the elders were sceptical of his motives he was able to inform them of an impending march of wildlings on Castle Black.
Judging by the reaction in the room, this first episode was incredibly funny with certain lines generating loud bursts of laughter from the audience. Joffrey posing for another statue and one of The Hound’s more fruity lines were two of the moments that really stood out for me. As with any first episode there was a lot of place setting going on but I’m optimistic that Season Four will be an improvement on its predecessor which for the most part was just a lot of people walking round.
Part of the reason for this optimism came from actor Liam Cunningham (who plays Davos) as he informed the audience that the incredibly dramatic moment usually reserved for episode nine will be coming a lot earlier. This news, coupled with what was an extremely accomplished opening episode, had me excited for a show which definitely needed a bit of a boost.
After watching this first episode I’m definitely excited to see what the rest of the season will bring. But I’m still not prepared to stay up till the early hours of the morning to find out what happens next.