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 V.23 No.14 | April 3 - 9, 2014 

Idiot Box

Return of the King

“Game of Thrones” on HBO

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The fourth season of epic fantasy sensation “Game of Thrones” gets underway this Sunday, giving millions of people a reason to fire up the old HBO GO app again. Whether you’re a rabid fan of George R.R. Martin’s book series, or you’re saving them to avoid spoilers on the TV series, the Season 4 premiere has got something to get you fired up. From the looks of it, this is going to be a great season for fans of all stripes.

After the bloody craziness of last season (topping out at the infamous Red Wedding), episode 1 comes as a bit of a “breather.” Most of the major characters are in a semi-stable place now, giving viewers a calm(ish) moment to reconnect with them. For starters Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) are back at King’s Landing after their hand-losing, bear-fighting, cross-country journey last season. Poor Jamie is actually starting to realize his family is a bag of dicks. (“What good is a 40-year-old knight with one hand?” needles his nephew, King Joffrey.) Is it possible he’ll spend this season completing his transformation into a semi-decent guy? Meanwhile, to the north, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) has made it safely back to The Wall and is busy trying to convince the Night’s Watch that the monstrous White Walkers are on their way. (Not to mention his pissed-off ex-girlfriend.) Outclassed by petty despots and tyrannical fathers, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) is just doing his best to settle into his forced marriage to underaged Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner). In one of the episode’s better moments, he tries to comfort his wife, saying, “I admired your mother. She tried to have me assassinated. But I admired her.”

“Two Swords,” as the episode is known, is full of self-referential humor aimed at longtime fans. There are loads of very funny jokes here, showing that “Game of Thrones” can be magnificently entertaining even when people aren’t getting slaughtered.

That line isn’t alone in its humor. “Two Swords,” as the episode is known, is full of self-referential humor aimed at longtime fans. There are loads of very funny jokes here, showing that “Game of Thrones” can be magnificently entertaining even when people aren’t getting slaughtered. Not that the season premiere is without its bloodshed. Pint-sized toughie Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and her towering kidnapper/bodyguard The Hound (Rory McCann) improve their fan favorite ranking by engaging in some very witty banter and then acting like total badasses by slaughtering a tavern full of stupid thieves. Basically the episode exists to remind us why we love these characters (or love to hate them, as the case may be).

Speaking of total badasses, we’ve got a new one this season. Readers of the novels will be well familiar with sexpot swordsman Prince Oberyn Martell (played by Chilean actor Pedro Pascal). Martell is a total charmer who loves the ladies (and the men), but he arrives in King’s Landing sporting a full-on Inigo Montoya revenge kick aimed directly at the Lannister clan. He’s a great character with a hell of an introduction, and his presence should really spice things up around the old palace. So far there’s a lot to look forward on “Game of Thrones,” and the season opener is more than enough to whet appetites for the next 9 eps to come.

Season 4 of “Game of Thrones” debuts Sunday, April 6, at 7pm on HBO.

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