"Two Swords" is the first episode of the fourth season of Game of Thrones. It is the thirty-first episode of the series overall. It premiered on April 6, 2014. It was written and directed by executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
In King's Landing
Tywin Lannister has the ancestral Stark Valyrian steel greatsword Ice (held by the Lannisters since Eddard Stark's execution) melted down and re-forged into two smaller swords, after which he burns the wolf pelt scabbard the greatsword was held in. He presents one to his son Jaime as a gift. Jamie is impressed, as the Lannisters have never previously owned a Valyrian steel sword. Tywin tells him he acquired the original sword from "someone who no longer needed it" and then commissioned a Volantis blacksmith to re-forge it. He wants Jaime to be his heir and return home to Casterly Rock, but Jaime insists on remaining in the Kingsguard. Furious at Jaime's disobedience and lack of ambition, Tywin disinherits him. He tells Jamie to keep the sword anyway.
Tyrion Lannister, Bronn, and Podrick Payne wait on a road outside the city for the arrival of Prince Doran Martell of Dorne, who has been invited to the royal wedding. Tyrion quizzes Bronn on the sigils of the Dornish houses, none of which he knows, however Podrick answers perfectly. Lord Blackmont approaches them on horseback and says Prince Doran is in poor health and remained at Sunspear. Doran's brother, Prince Oberyn, will be attending the wedding in his stead, and arrived before dawn.
Prince Oberyn and his bastard paramour Ellaria Sand are examining prostitutes in a brothel owned by Petyr Baelish, but currently managed by Olyver, as Lord Baelish is now in The Vale. They choose the contortionist Marei, and Oberyn orders Olyver to get undressed also. Oberyn is infuriated when he hears men singing The Rains of Castamere. He confronts the two Lannister soldiers, who insult him. Oberyn moves closer and chastises them for being "pink little men who are far too slow on the draw" rather than being "golden lions". One of the soldiers reaches for his sword, and Oberyn quickly stabs him through the wrist with a dagger and tells the other that his friend will only live if he immediately gets help. Tyrion and Bronn enter, and Oberyn and Tyrion step outside to speak privately. Oberyn says he wants revenge for the murder of his niece Rhaenys, his nephew Aegon, and the rape and murder of his sister Elia in the sack of King's Landing by Lannister troops during Robert's Rebellion. He wants Gregor Clegane, who murdered Elia, and Tywin, whom Oberyn believes gave the order for Elia and her children to be killed.
Tyrion, Sansa, Shae, and another handmaiden are sitting in a garden. Sansa is still distraught over the deaths of her brother and mother. Tyrion attempts to console his wife but fails; Sansa has heard the gruesome details of the Red Wedding, how the corpses of her mother and brother were desecrated. Sansa then leaves for the godswood, not to pray but because it is the only place no one talks to her. Tyrion returns and finds Shae in his bed. He scolds her because no one can find out about their relationship. She attempts to seduce him but he resists. She accuses him of trying to bribe her with diamonds and ship her away to the Free Cities, but he doesn't know what she's talking about (Varys did this acting alone). She angrily leaves the room but is spotted by the handmaiden, who is hiding behind a pillar.
Jaime, Cersei, and Qyburn are in Cersei's chambers. Cersei has had a golden prosthetic hand made for Jaime, and Qyburn attaches it to Jaime's stump. Qyburn asks Cersei about her symptoms, and she says they are gone. After Qyburn departs, Jaime tells her that he will stay in the Kingsguard with one hand so he can stay close to her, then tries to kiss her, but she turns away, much to Jaime's confusion and anger. Cersei implies that she has taken other lovers and that their relationship has changed because of his lengthy absence, a statement that clearly wounds Jaime. The handmaiden suddenly enters and says she has important information for Cersei.
As preparations for the royal wedding continue, Margaery Tyrell and her grandmother Olenna are interrupted by Brienne of Tarth, (Olenna being delighted to see the truth of the rumors about Brienne) who requests a private word with Margaery. Brienne tells Margaery the truth of Renly's death and vows to one day exact revenge on Stannis Baratheon, whom she holds responsible. They walk past a statue of King Joffrey standing over a dead direwolf, commemorating the victory over the northern rebellion.
Elsewhere in the Red Keep, Jaime, Ser Meryn Trant and King Joffrey and discuss security at the upcoming wedding. Jaime is clearly irked by his Joffrey's arrogance as well as Meryn's sycophantic agreement with the king's bragging that he is responsible for keeping the people fed (Jaime notes that this is more the doing of the Tyrells) and claiming he singlehandedly won the war. Jaime (who had previously noted to his father that thousands in King's Landing alone still want Joffrey dead) points out that the war is far from won; Stannis is still alive and will probably raise fresh armies. Dismissive of the threat posed by Stannis following the Battle of the Blackwater, Joffrey leafs through the Book of Brothers, which details the history of the Kingsguard and those who served in it. He reads Jamie's brief entry and sneers that someone must have forgotten to record all of his uncle's great deeds. He also questions Jamie's ability to serve in the Kingsguard with one hand. Jamie defensively quips that using his left hand makes for more of a challenge.
Sansa prays alone in the godswood, where she is approached by Dontos Hollard, who thanks her for convincing Joffrey to spare his life and gives her his mother's necklace as a token of gratitude. Sansa's prayers are watched by Jaime and Brienne; Brienne expects Jaime to uphold his oath to return Catelyn Stark's daughters in return for his freedom, but Jaime counters by pointing out the situation is complicated by Catelyn's death and Sansa's marriage to Tyrion.
In the North
Ygritte and Tormund stand outside a stone ravine. Tormund chides her for failing to finish off Jon Snow. Suddenly, their scouts signal that someone is approaching. Styr and a band of Thenn approach them through the ravine. Out of earshot, Tormund comments about how much he hates Thenns. Styr says his party raided a village south of the ravine and gathered meat. He says the meat tastes so much better south of the Wall, and chides Tormund for losing their warg as well as Jon. He reminds Tormund how the Night's Watch are feasting and getting fat at Castle Black. Styr suggests that Tormund taste crow meat before he dies, as a human arm roasts over a fire.
At the Wall
At Castle Black, Jon Snow has survived the injuries inflicted by Ygritte and has largely recovered, though he still grimaces while getting dressed and walks with a slight limp. At some point, Jon has been told about Robb's death. He shares with Samwell Tarly that he had always been jealous of Robb for having more of their father's affection and for being better than him at riding and fighting and with girls. Still, he says he could never bring himself to hate Robb. Sam responds by saying he has felt the same way about Jon, that Jon is better than him at everything (except reading).
It turns out that Sam had been sent to retrieve Jon, who has been summoned to testify before a panel of five sworn brothers, including Maester Aemon, acting Lord Commander Alliser Thorne, First Builder Othell Yarwyck, and the exiled former Lord Commander of the King's Landing City Watch, Janos Slynt. Both Thorne and especially Slynt are openly hostile to Jon, disbelieving much of what he says. At the hearing, Jon admits to killing Qhorin Halfhand but says that it was not murder, rather Qhorin wanted Jon to kill him to give Jon credibility with the wildlings in order to get a spy into Mance's army. Slynt dismisses Jon as "the bastard son of a traitor" while Thorne, a friend of Qhorin's, reacts with incredulity that Jon would presume to act like he knew the Halfhand. Jon responds by saying that Thorne should know that Qhorin would have done anything to protect the Night's Watch.
When Jon refers to the wildlings as "free folk," Slynt accuses him of going native, to the extent he even talks like them. Jon snaps back, acknowledging that he talks like a wildling and also admits to living amongst the wildlings, eating with them, and climbing the Wall with them. He catches himself before admitting that he lay with one, but says it anyway. Slynt calls for Jon's execution for breaking one of his vows. Aemon points out the impracticality of executing every ranger who lays with a girl and says that "the Wall would be manned by headless men." Thorne says that there is a difference between sneaking off to a brothel and sleeping with the enemy.
Jon does not defend himself at this point. Instead, he says that Mance Rayder intends to attack the Night's Watch with his army of 100,000 wildlings and gives intelligence on Mance's plan of attack. Both Thorne and Slynt disbelieve what Jon has to say. Aemon, however, realizes that Jon is speaking the truth, and the hearing ends with Jon being allowed to keep his head.
In the Riverlands
Arya Stark and the "Hound" Sandor Clegane are still traveling through the Riverlands on a single horse. They pass by overturned carts and dead bodies, including those of children. Arya asks when she is going to get her own horse, complaining of the Hound's stench. He scoffs at the idea, noting that horses are hard to come by and that he wouldn't give Arya her own horse (even if one was available) as she is the only thing of value he has since he did not take anything of value when he left King's Landing. Arya assures him she has no plans to run off, saying that she would die by nightfall without him as she has no one to go to. The Hound reminds her that she still has an aunt in the Vale, Lysa Arryn, to whom he plans to ransom Arya.
The two eventually come upon a tavern. Both hungry, Arya suggests that they attack the men there, to which the Hound expresses reluctance as there are five men. Just then, two men exit to relieve themselves. Arya recognizes one of them as Polliver, the Lannister man-at-arms who had previously taken Arya's sword Needle and killed her friend Lommy. She also notices that Polliver still has Needle and runs off to get it back. The Hound chases after her, stopping her at the tavern's door, but they are seen and choose to go in anyways.
It is clear that Polliver and the other men are making trouble and intend to rape the tavern owner's daughter. Arya and the Hound go to a table far away from everyone else, but Polliver still recognizes the Hound and walks over to Arya and the Hound's table and strikes up a conversation. He does not recognize Arya, who he thinks is just the Hound's latest sexual conquest. Polliver implies that he and his men intend to rape and pillage on their way back to King's Landing and invites the Hound to come along. Polliver says that he and his men wear the King's colors and can do whatever they like, to which the Hound leans forward and states emphatically, "Fuck the King."
The conversation then becomes tense and turns into a standoff. They eventually draw their swords. At first, the Hound fights the five men alone while Arya stands in the corner. He easily dispatches two of them and fights off the rest, stabbing one in the groin. Another, however, gets him on the ground, holding a dagger to his throat. The Hound is able to fight him off, stabbing him repeatedly in the head with his own dagger.
Arya then joins the fray, smashing a pot over the head of one of the men and stabbing him with his own long sword. She then slashes Polliver's leg from behind, causing him to fall to the ground. Arya takes Needle from Polliver and stands over his prone form. She echoes what he had said to Lommy just before he killed him, though Polliver still doesn't recognize her and has no idea what she is talking about. Arya then repeats what he had said to her when he took Needle: "Fine little blade. Maybe I'll pick my teeth with it." It is at that point when Polliver recognizes her and becomes frightened. Arya then kills Polliver in the same way he had killed Lommy by driving Needle slowly into his throat. Arya and the Hound then leave the tavern, taking with them a horse for Arya and a chicken the Hound wanted.
Across the Narrow Sea
Daenerys Targaryen sits near the sea with her three dragons, each one about the size of a small horse. Daenerys strokes Drogon's head, while Rhaegal and Viserion fight over a dead lamb, Drogon joins the fight. As Daenerys tries to calm him down, without warning, Drogon snaps at her with a hiss, a warning to not interfere. He then roars and goes to contest the kill.
This act, that her own children would threaten her, and that they are outgrowing her influence and ability to rein them, leaves Daenerys visibly shaken. Jorah Mormont approaches and tells her that dragons can never be tamed, not even by their mother.
Daenerys returns to her Unsullied army to resume the march to Meereen. She notices Grey Worm and Daario Naharis are absent and sets out to find them after being told they are "gambling". She finds the two men sitting face-to-face holding their swords in front of them; they have been contesting their strength since midnight. Daario explains they are deciding on which of them will ride up front with her in the vanguard. Frustrated, Daenerys states that the honor goes to Ser Jorah and Ser Barristan as they did not keep her waiting all morning. She orders the two men to ride at the back with the livestock. Daenerys also adds that the last man holding his sword shall find a new queen to fight for and both men immediately drop their weapons.
On the road to Meereen, Daenerys speaks with Missandei, who tells her queen that Meereen would be wise to fear her approach. Daario meets them on the cliff side, and Daenerys expresses her annoyance when he shows her flowers he has picked. He reveals that the flowers represent a portrait of the landscape, and serve various purposes, chiefly that knowing her surroundings is important to Daenerys' strategy.
The marching army halts, and Daenerys goes to the forefront, discovering a slave child crucified upon a cross. The child is dead, her hand pointing the way to Meereen, and Ser Jorah tells Daenerys there is one for each mile to the last of the great slave cities, 163 in total. Ser Barristan offers to have outriders go ahead to bury them, but Daenerys refuses, ordering that each of them be buried, and their collars removed, but not before she has looked upon each and every face.
- Main: Two Swords/Appearances
- Prince Oberyn Martell
- Ellaria Sand
- Lord Blackmont
- Lord Dagos Manwoody
- Ser Deziel Dalt
- Ser Endrew Tarth
- Styr, Magnar of Thenn
- A Thenn Warg
- 18 of 27 cast members for the fourth season appear in this episode.
- Starring cast members Aidan Gillen (Petyr Baelish), Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth), Stephen Dillane (Stannis Baratheon), Carice van Houten (Melisandre), Isaac Hempstead-Wright (Bran Stark), Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), Conleth Hill (Varys), Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Snow) and Hannah Murray (Gilly) are not credited and do not appear in this episode.
- Kristofer Hivju and Gwendoline Christie are both added to the main cast with their names appearing in the opening credits, starting with this episode. They both previous appeared in recurring roles, Hivju in the third, and Christie in the second and third season.
- The title is a reference to the two swords Ice and Needle of the Stark family. Ice has symbolized the Stark family as it has been a heirloom to them for many generations. When Tywin melted down the Valyrian steel sword, he thought it ended the Stark line and legacy. When Arya later retrieves her own sword Needle from Polliver, she finds another Stark sword which rebirths the Stark ability to act in the world through her.
- The wolf pelt scabbard that Tywin burns in the opening scene was used to carry Eddard's greatsword Ice during all of its appearances in Season 1. It most notably appeared in the opening of the first episode of Season 1, "Winter is Coming", when Theon Greyjoy held the scabbard as Eddard unsheathed it.
- Elia Martell, wife of Rhaegar Targaryen, has not been mentioned by name in previous seasons (though her story is detailed in the "Histories & Lore" animated Blu-ray featurettes). After Rhaegar was killed and Tywin's army sacked King's Landing, his soldiers killed Rhaegar's young daughter and infant son (Daenerys's niece and nephew as well as Oberyn's), and Ser Gregor Clegane personally raped and killed Princess Elia. Ser Gregor was never punished. In the books, what happened to Elia and her children was fully explained in the first novel. In the aftermath of the Red Wedding (corresponding to the Small Council scene in the Season 3 finale), Tywin is surprised that the Freys killed Catelyn Stark, because he wanted her taken alive. Tyrion then brings up that Elia Martell was also supposed to be taken alive when Tywin's army sacked King's Landing. Outside of the animated featurettes, the TV series itself has only mentioned it in passing on a few occasions: in Season 1's "Baelor" when Maester Aemon explains that he was a Targaryen and his outrage that the Lannisters killed his family, "even the little children", and then in Season 3's "Kissed by Fire" when Thoros of Myr remarks that he saw the butchered royal children in the aftermath of the sacking of the city.
- Despite appearing in the opening credits, Dragonstone, the Dreadfort, Winterfell, and Meereen do not appear in the episode; Meereen's associated storyline (Daenerys') is the only one to be featured.
- When Arya takes back Needle, she repeats what Polliver had said to her previously when he took Needle from her in What is Dead May Never Die. She also kills Polliver the same way he had killed Lommy in that episode, stabbing him in the throat as he lies prone on the ground with a leg wound.
In the books
- The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Clash of Kings:
- Chapter 65, Sansa VIII: Sansa meets Dontos in the godswood. He gives her a jewelled hairnet and tells her to wear it at Joffrey and Margaery's wedding.
- The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Storm of Swords:
- Chapter 38, Tyrion V: Tyrion greets the Dornish envoy on The Kingsroad. Oberyn Martell brings up the story of his sister Elia's brutal death at the hands of Gregor Clegane.
- Chapter 57, Daenerys V: Daenerys and her army find a crucified slave child at every milepost between Yunkai and Meereen.
- Chapter 62, Jaime VII: Tywin gives Jaime a Valyrian steel sword following his return to King's Landing. Jaime refuses to give up his role as Lord Commander and return to Casterly Rock.
- Chapter 67, Jaime VIII: Jaime looks through the White Book in the White Sword Tower.
- Chapter 73, Jon X: Jon is brought before Janos Slynt to prove his innocence.
- Chapter 74, Arya XIII: Arya and Sandor Clegane fight Polliver and The Tickler at The Inn at the Crossroads.
Tywin Lannister: "If serving as a glorified bodyguard is the sum of your ambition, go serve."
Jaime Lannister: "I suppose you want the sword back."
Tywin Lannister: "Keep it. A one-handed man with no family needs all the help he can get."
Prince Oberyn Martell: "The King's own uncle Imp, Tyrion, son of Tywin, Lannister. And what are you, his hired killer?"
Prince Oberyn Martell: "If the Mountain killed my sister, your father gave the order. Tell your father I'm here. Tell him the Lannisters aren't the only ones who pay their debts."
Alliser Thorne: "You always know when a man's telling a lie? How did you acquire this magical power?"
Maester Aemon: "I grew up in King's Landing."
Arya Stark: "You're fine with murdering little boys, but thieving is beneath you?"
Sandor Clegane: "A man's got to have a code."
Arya Stark: "He killed Lommy..."
Sandor Clegane: "What the fuck's a Lommy?"
Polliver "You don't seem to understand the situation..."
Sandor Clegane: "I understand that if any more words come pouring out your cunt mouth, I'm gonna have to eat every fucking chicken in this room"