The Season 4 opener is everything that you expect from Game of Thrones - its gory yet beautiful, dark yet riveting. Two Swords opens the show on just the perfect note.
Winter may have been over but for Game of Thrones, darkness and gloom has just descended this season. And Two Swords is one hell of a way to kick-start a much-awaited series.
DB Weiss and David Benioff have managed to meet the mountain of expectations of the series' fans, regardless of whether they've read the books or not. Besides, if you haven't seen naked women, blood and guts - all within the span of an hour - for the last nine months, boy are you in for a treat.
Opening on a nefarious note, the season 4 premiere brings back the haunting memories of the Red Wedding as Tywin Lannister melts Ned Stark's sword - Ice - for its Valyrian Steel to the tune of Rains of Castamere… and that's the only spoiler I plan to give.
Not much has changed in Westeros since Robb Stark was reduced to a corpse with a wolf's head.
The inhabitants of King's Landing still spend their time eavesdropping, seducing and plotting against someone or the other, oh and of course, tossing pieces of jewellery off balconies. Tywin Lannister is still vile as ever, Sansa has only become more depressed, Cersei hasn't managed to cap her drinking, Joffrey is still a spiteful moron and Tyrion hasn't managed to get his mojo back.
Re-introducing ace characters in the same stead isn't an easy task but GoT almost nails it.
As far as the new characters are concerned, there's Prince Oberyn of Dorne who's a mix of the old, snappy Tyrion and the fierce Arya. And there's his companion Ellaria Sand, played by the gorgeous Indira Varma, who seems pretty charming. The way, however, GoT has developed each one of its characters in the past, one doubts if she'd be just that.
The only problem with the episode is that it seems to flail in the middle. With the Stark threat supposedly dead and gone, it seems as if there's a lack of a punch in the story line. Not so much that you get bored, but enough to make you wonder what's the point of it.
But the ending makes up for all of it. It is gory and yet beautiful, giving the premiere an almost perfect symmetry. It will leave you dumb-founded for a few minutes, guaranteed.
What one loses in the beginning, the other one gains at the end - this will make sense to you once you're through with Episode One.
You will wait for Arya Stark all through the episode. You will wait for her to play the role that has become almost her identity and when you will see her step into those shoes, it will leave you reeling. This kid is growing up too fast and she's doing it well.
Considering any element of the episode pointless would be a rookie mistake given the fact that Martin's story-telling has the capability to blow your mind in the most unexpected way.
In fact, there are a bunch of surprise moments in the season-opener. The ever-so-fearless mother of dragons - Danaerys - for a slight moment is caught off-guard by her flying beasts (which have grown up a LOT, by the way), the perpetually sad Sansa can be seen smiling for a fleeting moment, and the fierce Arya has a moment of fear, or maybe concern, for her life and that of the Hound.
Enjoy the premiere and if you have any questions about it or anything to say, tweet to @gypsyandtonic