Episode Reviews Feature Reviews

Feature – The Eye of Newb – GoT Season 4 Episode 1

Editor’s Note: “The Eye of Newb” contains spoilers from the episode listed. If you have not watched the episode written about, you have been warned. But as Matt has not read the books (as of yet), you do not have to worry about future spoilers


The Eye of Newb (Return of the Newb)
Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 1: “Two Swords”

“Something wrong with your leg, boy?” – Arya Stark


 So-o, how ya been?  It\\™s been a year and a half (or roughly 39 significant deaths in Westeros).  I know, I know.  It\\™s me.  Not you.  The Newb ran off mid-season somewhere back in the mists of time.  But, let\\™s not quibble and argue over who killed who and who ran off leaving who holding what bag. 

Life, Friends\\¦ (at least the three of you who have a faint notion, once in a half-remembered fever nightmare, of who I am).  Life, she can be a bitch, at least as it relates to having time to actually, y\\™know, do things.  Things one loves.  That elusive target known as \\disposable\\ or \\discretionary\\ whatever.  Income.  Time.  Insert your noun of choice.  Suffice it to say that somewhere along the way about halfway through Season Two, my employer decided that I had become too stable and sedentary in life and to cure that condition, I should be encouraged to take my show on the road.  Travel as remedy.  Business travel.  I would not recommend it as balm or salve to anyone, or at least anyone I liked.  Possibly some that I loathed, just out of common decency.

Anyhoo\\¦ enough of my kvetching.  The Newb is returned (triumphantly?) upon request and strong suggestion of the ever-forgiving Landlord.  Bygones, we shall let them be bygones, and know this only, Friends.  In the sage words of Bob Mould:  I apologize. (If you, Dear Reader, were born after 1990, have been culturally starved, perhaps buried beneath an oversized boulder, or consider the CMAs \\˜quality entertainment\\™\\¦ {shudder}\\¦ please look him up \\“ you won\\™t regret it. And if you do regret it, you were probably a lost cause anyway.)

In the interest of a smooth re-entry, especially mindful that while we are about to become good Friends, some of you may have never been here before, are curious how you got here, why you should stay, and/or how you might escape this raving lunatic as expeditiously as possible, I will spend approximately 5-6\\ of virtual ink on who and what I am and am not:

  •  Am I a writer?  Perhaps.  You\\™re the one reading \\“ you be the judge.
  • Am I a critic? No, just inherently grumpy and cynical.
  • Am I an animal, vegetable or mineral? Most would say animal, some vegetable, and no takers yet on mineral\\¦ but I\\™m willing to learn.
  • How would I describe myself, in four sentences or less? 

Fair question. You\\™re good at this, Dear Reader.  You may have a future in investigative journalism.

Here goes:

  • I am a casual writer and voracious reader, husband, father and generally harmless weirdo.
  • A very fortunate friend of the Landlord, one Mr. P.G. Holyfield, I\\™ve read a fraction of a single George R. R. Martin book, and was cajoled \\“ okay, okay, went willingly\\¦ after a few drinks \\“ into writing a recap and reaction column to Game of Thrones from the perspective of a neophyte to Westeros.  Thus, well, all of this, here.
  • I am not much of a pure fantasy fan, tending more toward David Drake, Joe Haldeman and Elmore Leonard than anything involving elves, wargs or L. Ron Hubbard.
  • Have I been a regular viewer of Game of Thrones?  Not so much.  The word I\\™d choose would be \\semi\\.  I watched religiously through the end of Season Two, and then dropped out, only to binge my way through Season Three over the last week or so.  Up to and including the beautiful, blood-drenched atrocity that was the Tully-Frey nuptials.
  • Am I sane?  Highly unlikely, but then I\\™m not really qualified to make that assessment.

So, there you have it.  The Newb in a nutshell.  And with that, we\\™re off!

So, fittingly enough, ‘Two Swords’ starts with a sword.  Apparently a big-ass broadsword.  Nice!  That appeals to my darker proclivities.  But, but, now Tywin is handing it off to someone who chooses to break and melt it.  Dammit! What is with this dour-faced, demanding schemer and his penchant to mess up everyone right and good in this (albeit fictional) world?

Ah, yes, of course.  Now I see.  The wolf pelt being cast upon the flames makes clear that old Tywin is smugly erasing all signs of Ned Stark and (in his limited knowledge – wink, wink) the last remaining vestiges of Family Stark.  Oh, you poor, sweet, deluded Machiavelli wannabe.  I’ve no doubt you’ll get yours soon enough.  I mean, c’mon, even this green-as-grass fool knows what Mr. Martin does to those who get that smug and certain.  If only there were some Stark boys still alive to avenge their brother… oh, wait…

And roll title sequence.  Very nice, a new city – Mereen.  I’m assuming, based solely on map location that it will play into Dany’s story line, but then, I’ve never been the sharpest tool in the shed, and this series has been full of surprises thus far.

Back to King’s Landing.  What the hell?!  Jaime’s all clean-cut and whatnot.  Is he interviewing?  Did Daddy force him to get a haircut and a real job?  Well, he gets a new sword, anyway (thanks, Ned), but will have to use it left-handed from here on out.  Let the Inigo Montoya jokes fly, Friends!  Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue… Oh, wait!  I, too, would like to see Joffrey’s head on a pike, Jaime, and I’m not even from your fair city.  Could we make that happen this season, maybe, so I can move on to loathing someone new?  Interesting.  It appears that, of all the Lannister clan, Jaime is the only one who can actually pull off saying no to Daddykins without being yelled down or forcefully belittled.  Instead, the best Tywin can manage is some backhanded mutterings about one-handed men with no families.  No families?  Whatevs, Tywin.  You won’t disown Jaime now that you’ve asked everyone else about him non-stop for like an entire season.  Just give it up you sad, scowling man.

Off to some wooded glen, and Imp!!  Yes, bring on the Tyrion and Bronn show.  Captain Dour and the One-Handed Golden Boy were getting old.  Okay, now just when I figured out who all of the characters were, and could even spell most of their names right (sorry, Ygritte), they bring in some new prince on me.  The Prince of Dorne?  I thought they only made wine in Dorne.  Ah, well.  New season, new corpse, I always say.

Heh. Bronn needs a sigil.  I can see it now, but I shy away from describing it, because I think too many genitalia references may get me in trouble with the Landlord.  But in my mind, it’s funny as hell, I assure you, Friends.  Maybe that’s the Landlord’s next poll, right there – If you could design Bronn’s sigil, what would it be?  I’ll show you mine, if…

Apparently, despite his masterful ambassadorial skills, nobody in Dorne gives a crap about Tyrion either.  Their loss.  The more they overlook him now, the sweeter it will be when he crushes them beneath his teeny feet.  So, this Prince Oberyn,,, I need to know more.  Clearly the Imp has a bad feeling about this.

Aaaannd, requisite nudity 15 minutes into the new season.  Prince Oberyn the Swarthy and Brooding (what, producers, Sno-Tep wasn’t enough?) enjoys himself a whorehouse or two, and apparently so does his lady friend.  It appears that Oberyn combines al the worst parts of Jon Snow and that idiot Greyjoy kid (the young one, who still has all his, ahem, faculties).  He’s mysterious and frowny while swaggering and a bit of a boor all at the same time.  Yeah, I think I’ll enjoy watching him die.  it appears that he is sexually demanding, somewhat ambivalent about the gender upon which he places the demands and also randomly violent.  He’ll fit right in.

Heh, heh… Bronn’s on a roll tonight.  First, the sigil, then “Killed the right people, I guess.” and lastly the exaggerated nod in counterpoint to Tyrion’s flat ‘no’ to the offer of more girls.  I love this sell-sword.  Have I mentioned that?

After a quick alleyway chat between the new boy and the Imp, I/we (well, those of us who haven’t read ahead – frickin’ overachievers) learn that Oberyn has a bit of a hard-on for Tywin, and not the good, clean fun kind either.  So-o, maybe this new pompous brooder will put an end to Captain Dour and his alleged gold-sh*tting ways.  One can only hope so, and then for a quick, painful, bloody death for the new boy.  I don’t ask for much, right?

Off to somewhere we go… and, what ho, them dragons got all big all of a sudden.  I understand why, when even Mama Dany can’t get in the way of mealtime.  Seems a relatively pointless scene, aside from establishing Daenerys’ continued respiration, and the size of her army, by way of a gratuitous Spielberg shot.  Dany has amassed herself quite an impressive battalion, and even secured an extra couple of tools to fight for her, Gray Worm and some new guy inclusive.  Tools.  To the back of the line with you!  Yawn.

Fortunately, we’re back to King’s Landing with some haste, and straight to poor, poor, pitiful Sansa, the new Mrs. Imp.  If anyone, and I mean anyone, in all of Westeros deserves a happy ending more than this sad girl, I’d like to meet them.  And kill them.  Just to ensure that Sansa gets the happiest ending of all.

Her new husband tries very hard to calm her tears and anger, but it does feel as if Tyrion has spent most of his screen time saying some version of “I wasn’t there” or I don’t know” or “It’s not my fault”.  Sad, really – I want Impen barbs, dammit!  Witticisms!  Snark!  Disappointment, thy name is a chastened Imp.

And now, to the bed-chamber and a delicious Shae-in-waiting, who, despite moistened digitalia and hefted hems will not get her man today.  Shae is angered, and Tyrion is in pain.  This scene sucks, all the way around.  Ah, but to whom does this Princess Leia-esuqe spy belong?  Some mystery and intrigue at last!

Cut to Jaime and Cersei.  It appears that Cersei has gift for Brother-Lover.  A, new golden arm.  Bypassing the obvious heroin joke, aside from Bronn’s antics, Jaime and his little Queen Elizabeth wave bring me the first chuckle of the evening.  Until the fight begins.  I mean, Good Lord, friends, I thought a jealous mistress was bad enough in the last scene, but a jealous Sister-wife, especially turned up to full ear-bleeding Cersei, is the worst.  But, oh-ho… Leia belongs to Cersei!  This could get interesting.

Snip to Ygritte and the Wilding army somewhere south of the Wall.  Friends, I am happy to say that I’ve never had cause to use the “how many arrows did she shoot into my battered body” scale to determine whether she loved me or loved me not.  Well, not yet anyway.  {Shudder}.  Mmmmm… monosyllabic scarred cannibals, dramatically presented.  That was all grunty, disgusting and useless.

Cut to Castle Black and, Oh Gawd, Nooooo!  Bubba Sno-Tep engaged in dialogue with Tub O’ Goo Tarley, who still fires up my rage zones even after being the first to actually kill a White Walker.  He’s just so bulbous, simpering and whiny.  Gaahh!   Make it stop!

At least there’s Maester Aemon to liven the festivities.  “The wall would be manned by headless men.”  Heh, heh, heh.  And I’m forced to observe, yet again, that unless Martin has a strange sense of justice, Jon Snow is just too damn honorable, dull and all-round Nedly to live much longer.

In contrast to that grinder of scene, we shoot back to King’s Landing, and the joyous Dame Tyrell gettin’ down with her jewelry-hurling self.  Love it.  And cap that scene off with the sheer presence of Brienne relaying what she saw in Renly’s tent to the new Queen-to-be, who appears to no longer care.  Her eyes are on the real prize now, even though that sparrow-headed sadist Joffrey comes with it.

Effing Joffrey.  Junior Sadist League President and Founding Member.  Punk who killed my sweet and sultry Ros.  Dumbass.  Can we put him in a pit with Ramsay?  Like now?  If anyone deserved a dose of his own medicine at the hands (and knives) of someone much, much sicker, it’s Joffrey.  And now the little prick has managed to offend every single member of his family, even his dear Uncle Jaime, who seems awash in remorse and self-doubt upon reading his entry in the Book of the Brotherhood.  Maybe there’s still hope for Jaime – if he lives long enough.

Back to the Middle of Nowhere, population one big-ass army and three dragons.  Ooooh!  The bearded tool is a new Daario Novartis, or whatever that guy’s name is.  Just got that.  Not that the Newb is the sharpest fork in the drawer by any stretch.  Ah, well… onward.  Daario sure does like him some perty flowers.  Nothing like a boring prettyboy to put me off my lunch.  Yawn.

Oh, yippee, and there’s a whole bunch of dead slave kids.  Well, one actually.  And apparently 162 more where that came from.  So, 163 new reasons for Dany to get all pissy and righteously indignant before she takes it out on Mereen.

Back to King’s Landing we swing, and to an interesting thrust and parry between Brienne and Jaime over the future of poor, poor pitiful Sansa.  It does bring me some glee to watch forceful character in the body of Brienne meet headlong on fields of verbal battle with simpering quibbles and half-hearted shirking borne forth by Jaime.  And all of that pales in comparison to the next little ‘The Shining comes to RenFest’ sequence with the ambulatory Wine-Flask and Sansa.  At least the Wine-Flask Who Lived presents Sansa with a gift and a moment of joy and self-worth.  But the suspicious, cynical side of me can’t help but feel that she’s been marked with that necklace.  Somehow.  there will be no happy ending for this sweet girl, will there?  (No, don’t tell me!  Dammit.)

And we’re off to somewhere wooded.  The Hound and Arya (Yes! Arya!) are off to the Shire or some such place.  Finally a wildly interesting story line.  The Hound, it seems, despite all outward appearances, has himself a ‘Code’.  All else being equal, I’d like a Hound with a Code on my side in a war, Friends.

Heh, heh, he, heh… “What the f*ck’s a Lommy?”  That said, if I did have a Hound with a Code on my side, I’d probably charge into a random inn full of killers, too – just like Arya.  Especially if one of those little, bald killers had iced my friend Lommy with my sword.  That little, bald cockney man is going to die… and I’m going to watch… and how I will laugh!

“You’re a talker…”  Words you never, ever want to hear emanate forth in your direction from a 7-foot tall, 350-pound wall of meat and murder like Sandor Clegane.  And, here we go!

“Something wrong with your leg, boy?”  I am yours, Arya.  Body, mind and spirit, you have captured the Newb.  That is the best revenge killing I have seen this side of Fredo Corleone.  I will follow you, and your new horse, anywhere.

Well, Friends, it was touch and go tonight – the Daario and Dany show damn near lost me a couple of times – but leave it to a pint-sized Stark with murder in her eyes, ice in her veins and Needle in her hand to bring it home for good.  I’m in, and will be here next week with the next installment.  As always, I remain your faithful Newb.


By P.G. Holyfield

Founder of SpecFicMedia, author of Murder at Avedon Hill, and host of several podcasts.

2 replies on “Feature – The Eye of Newb – GoT Season 4 Episode 1”

I'm glad the Newb is back. But I have to give him fair warning.

Arya's not going to like the things the Newb is saying about Her Favorite Person, Jon Snow.

Just sayin'

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