It’s back at last! The highly anticipated Game of Thrones has returned to our televisions and computers, promising boobs, dodgy accents, great costumes, boobs, murder, betrayal, heartache, boobs, UNHOLY ACTING TALENT, dragons, and boobs. For the next ten weeks (or longer, if HBO schedules any breaks) I’ll be recapping and hyper-analysing each episode. NOTHING BUT SPOILERS AHOY, so be warned from…now!

The cold open for “Two Swords” flashes back to Ned Stark’s execution with his own sword, Ice. The bloodstains from the Red Wedding have only just been removed from Walder Frey’s Great Hall with whatever Westeros folk have for fizzy pop, and here we are presented with another grave insult to House Stark. Robb had included the return of the rare Valyrian steel sword along with his father’s bones for burial in Winterfell’s crypt among his laundry list of things for Cersei to rip up derisively, but ain’t nobody gonna give up Valyrian steel. Canny Tywin Lannister has the enormoblade melted and re-forged into two swords, the final symbol of Stark power remade to Lannister tastes. With this in mind, we launch into a catch-up with almost all the main characters since the apparent end of the War of the Five Kings, barring Stannis Baratheon, his pervy fire priestess Melisandre, Theon Greyjoy, and Bran Stark (but it’s hard to get worked up about him).

Everything’s coming up Lannister! Except nobody’s happy and everything sucks. It all starts so well – Tywin proudly gives Sword One of the blade formerly known as Ice to Jaime and bids him offski to Casterly Rock. As Lord of the Rock, he should begin a belligerent and numerous family, but Jaime wants to stay on as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard so he can continue banging Cersei. After all Tywin’s fiery pronouncements of love for his son, Jaime has ended up almost as gross and disappointing as Tyrion, and so he casually disowns him.

Just outside King’s Landing, Tyrion, Bronn, and Podrick skulk around waiting to welcome the Prince of Dorne, Doran Martell, who is visiting for awful, awful Joffrey’s wedding. Except the Dornish sent second son Oberyn instead, and he already turned up last night, being too good for welcoming parties. In the grand tradition of throwing new characters our way via the queries “who are these people and why are they all having it off?”, he and his paramour Ellaria Sand are bisexually sussing out sex workers in the brothel, because new characters are confusing without some boobs to help soothe ponderous brows.

It almost all kicks off when some random minor Lannisters are heard singing “The Rains of Castamere”, but Tyrion helpfully arrives just in time to be even more helpfully instructed in some exposition: Oberyn’s sister Elia was married to Rhaegar Targaryen and almost certainly murdered by the Mountain (presumably under Lannister pay) so he’s looking for some revenge.

In Essos, Dany’s dragons (YAY!) are getting bigger and more dangerous every day. The Unsullied are fixin’ for a brawl with the slavers down Meereen way, even if their leader Grey Worm has a non-existent boner for his queen and so does Daario Naharis. There’s very little of our Khaleesi in this episode, being mostly Westeros-focused, but I’m sure this will change very soon.

Meanwhile, Sansa’s appetite is understandably quashed by the horrific murder of her mother and older brother, and she can’t seem to take much comfort from the Lannister husband she was forced to marry. Sansa gets a lot of irrational hate from some fans, in many ways akin to the demonising of Skyler White. Both characters are vilified for their apparent weaknesses and betrayals, when they really should be praised or, at the very least, have their innate sense of self-preservation and survival with an extremely stacked deck acknowledged. She’s desperately looking for a friend in Margaery Tyrell and (*shudder*) Petyr Baelish, but for now, she’s just weary and grieving. Shae takes more risks by sneaking into Tyrion’s chambers for some nooky, but Tyrion dismisses her. This is going to be increasingly important. Whores matter!

Jaime gets fitted for a golden hand, which isn’t going to be creepy or cumbersome at all, and now even Cersei is fully grossed out by him. HE’S A MONSTER! After coming all this way, no canoodling for the elder Lannister boy either, because he took too long, dammit! The Lions won the War of the Five Kings and everything sucks and nobody’s happy.

Just beyond the Wall, Ygritte and Tormund Giantsbane hang out with some Thenns who happily throw down a slimy-sounding bag and commence to roast some human league, I mean, leg, I mean, arm. This leads us to bastard know-nothing Jon Snow, who finally has a decent reason for his slapped-arse face, as he’s on trial for desertion. He admits to bonding with the Free Folk/wildlings and knowing their ways, and by “knowing”, he means “shagging” (“You were a MAID, Jon Snow!”). Luckily for him everyone’s too concerned about the zombie snowpocalpyse, and Maester Aemon’s words save Jon’s head for now.

Happily, we then cut to the Queen of Thorns and Margaery Tyrell selecting jewellery for her wedding to awful, awful Joffrey. Diana Rigg’s brilliantly catty QoT is even forgiven for her rather snarky comment towards my wife, Brienne of Tarth, who arrives to lay down the skinny on how Margaery’s dead gay husband was murdered. To remind you in case you forgot: Stannis shagged pervy fire priestess Melisandre, who then sprogged a shadow with Stannis’s face, who then killed Renly and conveniently vanished. Margaery reminds Brienne that awful, awful Joffrey is our king now, and we cut to the odious scrote.

Not content with alienating merely almost everyone around him, awful, awful Joffrey sets upon his poor maimed father-uncle and mocks him for being one-handed, forty, and not having enough darin’ deeds recorded in The Big Book of Kingsguards. Each scene with awful, awful Joffrey is like a delicious helping of hate, served with side of quivering whoop-ass just begging to opened. YOU GUYS, I can’t even.

We briefly return to see Dany and her Unsullied make their way into Meereen, where the road is lined with crucified slave children. This is supposed to put Dany off, but it only makes her more determined to save whom she is beginning to think of as her children, and she carries on determined to see the faces of everyone, all while pretending Daario isn’t skeeving her out.

Brienne reminds Jaime that he made a promise to Catelyn Stark, which in all fairness is pretty forfeit, what with Cat being all throat be-slitted and riverdumped. Personally, THAT SHIP HAS SAILED – there’s been such an intense romantic reaction formation between Jaime and Brienne that when he asks if they’re related (because since he returned, all the Lannisters have been miserable pains in his arse and she’s being a miserable pain in his arse), well, we all know how much Jaime reveres family, amirite? What do we say about the family, Jaime? We say we don’t need the family, unless we say family is the most important thing. Or was it breakfast?

As Sansa returns from not-praying in the godswood, she’s accosted by Ser Dontos, the drunkard knight she saved from awful, awful Joffrey’s murderous nameday tantrum. Poor Sansa. Everyone who is nice to her is either using her or just plain creepy, although the offer of a family heirloom and profound thanks is probably the most benign kind of creepy she can hope for considering (*shudder*) Petyr Baelish.

AND FINALLY, the best is saved for last! The Hound and Arya, with visions of the Red Wedding still searing their retinas, land themselves in a six-piece bucket o’ trouble. Polliver, the Needle-stealing torturer, and his Lannister-sworn, Mountain-led men are sexually harassing innkeepers, bogarting all the chicken, and generally being jackasses. The Hound, no fan of his bro (the man who burned his very face off) isn’t too hep to the pro-Joffrey vibes being kicked around and, with one “fuck the King”, starts a brawl that lets us see just how serious Arya was about her death prayer. Seeing her coldly parrot Polliver’s words to Lommy before stabbing his throat and calmly watching the blood bubble out had me punching the air in triumph, then immediately feeling intensely shameful. As they ride into the horizon, I’m left with a weird warm glow, knowing the fact that I find this somewhat heartwarming is very sick indeed, but at least I’m not alone. Tumblr proved me!

Overall, a great catch-up episode that felt disjointed in some places, but not too much so. I’m sure the pace will pick up sharpish, because there’s a LOT of plottin’ to transpire, and I promise you, you will love every moment of it – and/or it will scar you for life. 9/10

Sexy, Important Thoughts:

  • Boob to wiener ratio: 4:0. Typical.
  • Bronn didn’t call anyone a cunt, but he did start telling a filthy joke.
  • Lack of Bronn cunt-calling was more than made up for by this exchange – Arya:  “Lots of people name their swords.” The Hound: “Lots of cunts!”There’s no such thing as innocence in Westeros. To be fair how many people has Arya killed by now?
  • Costume spends hours braiding Emilia Clarke’s hair into Daenerys Targaryen’s blonde wig, but zero time making her eyebrows look convincing to the barnet. They should really send her to Stan Sitwell’s people. Ask about their Formal Dress Eyebrow range!
  • Speaking of Tumblr, the mashup site Arrested Westeros is a goldmine of Arrested Development quotes very aptly captioned to GoT screencaps.
  • With this in mind, I’ve half a mind to take relevant screencaps and append Mars Volta lyrics as captions: “Maybe one day you’ll stop and realise/the throne that you serve is dead”.