Game of Thrones season four premiere: heads will fall

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The much anticipated wedding of Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) and Margery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) occurs in “The Lion and the Rose,” the second episode of the season, which is filled with its fair share of murder, incest, and treachery.

Rami Chaudhry, Staff Writer

George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series is a masterpiece of modern fantasy.  Combining the best the genre has to offer, the series is filled with magic, intrigue, romance, and mystery.  All of this is set in a unique mythical world.

In short, it tells the story of nine noble and power hungry families in the mythical land of Westeros, a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime (said winters having prompted the introduction of the popular Internet meme, “winter is coming”).

After the book series gained a strong fan-base following the release of its first novel in 1996, it was destined for an engaging television adaptation.  HBO ultimately stepped in to tackle a televised version.

The result is arguably one of the best series to grace cable television: Game of Thrones.  The premiere of Game of Thrones’  fourth season earned record ratings of 6.6 million viewers and comes at a critical time for fans of the fictional epic. The premiere comes during a pivotal time in Westeros, following the devastating deaths that occurred during the final episode of the previous season: “Red Wedding.”  The episode managed to shake the original foundations of the series.

The premiere is fittingly titled “Two Swords,” as it begins with the melting of Ned Stark’s (Sean Bean) incredibly large and “indestructible” Valyrian sword.  The molten golden liquid is then molded into two swords, one of which is given to the evil Lannisters.  Symbolic, no doubt, of the indelible effects of the Red Wedding and the shift of power in Westeros,  but also, a perfect indicator that this is not the Game of Thrones of the first three seasons.

This premiere successfully creates a distinct separation from the last season by changing the pace of the series.  It makes clear that all challengers to the iron throne are now defeated.  However, just as the events of the previous season violently ripped the carpet from under fans who had not read the books, this illusion of peacetime will undoubtedly be shattered by whatever else creator George R.R.  Martin has up his unpredictable sleeves.

Despite the fact that nothing particularly earth-shattering occurs during this season premiere, the episode serves justly as a solid character based episode.  It picks up the stories of the majority of the main cast, including fan favorites such as Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) without being a series of completely monotonous events.  This is due to the abundance of passionate dialogue between the well-written characters for which the series is known.

But this meandering of playing catch up with characters should not be much of a problem for too long, since the episode sets up what may be Thrones’ most violent and action packed seasons yet.  It also successfully accomplishes filling the void the Red Wedding left viewers last season.

For those who have not yet endeavored into the rich world of Westeros, there is no better time to start than right now.  From the enticingly rich way the fourth season begins and the violent and vengeance-fueled conclusion, the show may actually be on course for its most compelling season yet.  Winter is coming, indeed.