“Tell him the Lannisters aren’t the only ones who pay their debts.”

“Game of Thrones” is triumphantly back and boldly continuing its march on your spare time and nightmares. Once again, HBO is taking us through the exhilarating and terrifying world of George R.R. Martin, and I daresay the trajectory of the plot has never been more exciting as the fourth season kicks-off with the fantastic premiere, “Two Swords.”

As usual, the episode follows numerous interconnected subplots and switches non-linearly from one to the other. This is done exceptionally well in “Two Swords.” While almost all episodes focus on numerous diverse plots, this one, being a premiere, had to bring the viewers back to all the main characters and clearly comment on their developments post-season finale. Each sequence is fast-paced, highly engaging and, most importantly for an episode like this, concise in the sense that it does not adequately comments on where the characters are without drawing it out.

The performances, at least from the main cast, are, as always, phenomenal, however I had the strong impression that some of them were actually getting even better. I especially felt this with Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister) and Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister). After the Red Wedding, Sansa is now one of the most sympathetic characters on the show, still living the nightmare of her brother’s death. Turner brings Sansa’s anguish out excellently without bordering on melodrama and in a way that prevents the audience from simply pitying her. Coster-Waldau, on the other hand, brings new life to Jaime, which is somewhat ironic as Jaime is significantly less charismatic, as the characters struggle to deal with life back in the capital. Dinklage unsurprisingly steals the show with his ever magnificent, fan-favorite Tyrion who stays as charming and comical even in the face of numerous new intense circumstances while managing to reflect deeper sides of himself such as compassion, honor, and genuine anxiety.

One of the main focuses of the episode was the evolution of several characters’ relationships with one another and the complications they face post-Red Wedding. The mounting tension between the once intensely passionate, and quite incestuous, Jaime and Cersei Lannister was particularly gripping to watch as they struggle to rebuild what they have lost in their separation during the war. Similarly, the development of Tyrion’s bizarre relationships with Shae and Sansa was brought out seamlessly and one could just feel Tyrion’s growth as a character. And, of course, Arya’s peculiar position with the Hound, which continues to border on Stockholm Syndrome, continues to explore a fascinating connection growing between them as they, once again, find themselves taking on enemies together.

Hitting back hard with all of Westeros’ glory, gore, and guts, “Two Swords” excellently starts off this exciting new season of “Game of Thrones” that will ensure that even more of us despise George R.R. Martin. It signifies, more than anything, that if you have not been keeping up with the show, now is a really good time to start.

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