It's been long enough since we've endured the trauma of the Red Wedding. Let us waste no more time getting back into the groove of Westeros.
In the cold open, Tywin Lannister melts down Ice, Ned Stark’s sword of Valyrian steel and forges two new blades out of it. This is because Tywin Lannister is a stone-cold bitch.
Intro time! Gods I’ve missed this. The song has been playing in my head for days.
Tywin gives one sword to Jaime and informs him that he will leave the Kingsguard to become Lord of Casterly Rock. Jaime disagrees, defying the stone-cold will of Tywin Lannister. This is a big moment for Jaime, guys. Let’s all give him a hand. (Too soon?)
Tyrion, meanwhile, has the duty of welcoming the Dornish prince Doran to King’s Landing for Joffery and Margery’s upcoming nuptials. Unfortunately, Prince Doran has decided he has better things to do, and instead sent his brother Oberyn, who didn’t even have the decency to come with the rest of the Dornish bannermen. Tyrion, Bronn, and Podrick (who, by the way, should all have their own spin off because it would be fantastic) have to find Oberyn before he fucks shit up, which he is wont to do.
And lo, he is getting into some trouble, at the local whorehouse! (I assume whorehouses are to Westeros as Starbucks is to NYC.) We’re treated to some gratuitous nakedness as he and his paramour Ellaria Sand (played by the lovely Indira Varma, for all you Luther fans out there) choose their sex pets for the day, because this is the premiere and HBO is not one to disappoint its viewers (unless it’s by overcharging them or not having their streaming service up at 9/8c). Before we can get to the real sexy times, Oberyn is distracted by Lannister bannermen singing our favourite little ditty, “The Rains of Castamere.” There is some light threatening and a dash of hand-stabbing (Oberyn isn’t called “The Red Viper” for nothing) before Tyrion finds the Dornishman and intervenes.
We get a brief backstory on why the Dornish don’t get along so well with the Lannisters. Elia was Raegar’s queen, and when the Lannisters overthrew the mad king (anyone remember this stuff from season one? Didn’t think so…) Gregor Clegane raped and murdered her and her two children. Turns out that is not the way to endear yourself to a family.
Daenerys hangs out with her dragons. They’re pretty wild because, y’know, dragons. She checks out her unsullied, but Daario and Grey Worm are missing, because they’re having a dick-measuring contest over her. Yeah, there’s a certain amount of irony in having a dick-measuring contest with a eunuch. Also, the actor who plays Daario is new and not even remotely similar looking to the old one.
Sansa is busy not eating because she’s still pretty salty about the whole “brother and mother getting brutally murdered at the Red Wedding” thing. (You and the Internet, Sansa. You and the Internet.) Tyrion tries to offer her some measure of support, but she’s not having it. Man, Tyrion just can’t catch a break with all the families his father keeps murdering. Sansa goes off to the Godswood to be left alone.
Shae tries to seduce Tyrion, but he’s a little stressed out on account of the “everyone in the world wants him dead” aspect of his life. They get in a fight and another maid overhears.
Jaime’s getting a shiny golden hand fitted on his stump. Once that’s done, he tries to get it on with his sister, but Tyrion isn’t the only Lannister not putting out. Cercei yells at him for taking too long to come save her. Jaime’s response to her somewhat absurd demands of him is basically, “What the hell did you want me to do?” The maid who saw Shae and Tyrion together interrupts to rat out the secret to Cercei.
Update: the wildings are still around, plotting their attack on the wall. There are multiple clans getting together for this little soiree, and they don’t like each other, but they like the Crows (i.e. Night’s Watch) even less.
Sam delivers news about the death of Robb, and Jon mourns by recalling that Robb was always better than him at everything. Jon must then face the Commander and castle heads of the Night’s Watch to explain why he was fraternising with the enemy. (When it rains, it pours.) Though the Commander is quite willing to hang him for killing Quorin and sleeping with Ygritte (both big no-nos as part of his vows), Maester Aemon recognises his honesty and understands the direness of the situation. Mance advancing with 105 wildlings is no joke. Jon keeps his head another day, which I guess makes him better than Robb in at least one regard. (Too soon?)
The Queen of Thorns is unimpressed with the possible necklaces for Margery’s wedding ensemble. Margery suggests wearing whatever Joffery picks, which is likely to be a ring of dead sparrows’ heads. Brienne comes by to tell Margery what she saw the night of Renly’s death. Unlike most people, Margery doesn’t immediately dismiss the absurdity of a shadow Stannis. We’re treated to a shot of a hideous statue of Joffery slaying a wolf. Subtle, Joff. Subtle.
Another breaking update: Joffery is still a cunt. He insults Jaime to his face, because he is no longer even keeping up the appearance of not being a shit-rag.
Daenerys plans to march upon Meereen, a major slave-holding city. Daario flirts with her a bit by giving her flowers (under the guise that she must “know the land”). However, her self-esteem boost is quickly tempered by finding out that the slaveholders of Meereen have crucified a slave on all 163 mile-markers leading to the city.
Brienne admonishes Jaime for not taking care of Sansa as he promised Catelyn, but as he points out, it’s not like there are a whole pile of options for that at his disposal. Ser Dontos, whose life Sansa saved way back in season one, follows Sansa through the godswood and gives her a necklace as thanks. Minor spoilers from an insufferable book-reader: this is not as random as it seems.
In the final, most kick-ass of scenes for the night, Arya is complaining about still being stuck riding bitch on Sandor Clegane’s horse. (Not a euphemism.) They find an inn, but Arya espies Polliver and other nefarious characters from Harrenhall there, molesting the innkeeper’s daughter and stealing all his chickens. Clegane tries to stop her from going into the inn, unsuccessfully, because Arya is a tad wilful. Polliver sits down with them and rambles on about travelling with The Mountain and serving the king, two people pretty far down on Sandor’s friend list. After a beautiful exercise in dramatic tension building, a fight ensues, in which Clegane wastes everyone fairly handily, despite being outnumbered ten to one. He manages to stab someone in the nuts and forces another guy to knife himself in the face a few times. However, when it looks as though he may get overwhelmed, Arya slices through a few people, retrieves Needle from Polliver, and ever so gently forces it through his throat. She then gets her very own pony, so really it’s a happy ending all around.