Warning: This article contains Game of Thrones spoilers from the show and the books.
In this behind the scenes video released by HBO, Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss discuss the significance of the show’s opening scene in Two Swords, the introduction of Oberyn Martell, and Arya’s reclamation of her sword Needle. For people who haven’t yet read the books, it may be a welcome explanation of the intricacies of Game of Thrones’ multiple character arcs.
At the start of the Thrones episode, Twyin Lannister is shown as he watches the Stark family greatsword Ice, which is made of Valyrian steel, melted down and reforged by one of the few remaining blacksmiths in the world able to forge Valyrian steel. The metal is prized because in the Game of Thrones universe, the secret to the creation of the magical alloy was lost with the Doom of Valyria. “The melting down of Ice seemed to us one of the symbolic moments that really showed the Lannisters taking power for themselves,” said Benioff. “It’s very evocative, we really wanted an opening that was word free, you know. Just let the images tell the story.”
“[It’s] the kind of total obliteration of a family that’s immortalized in the Lannister family song The Rains of Castamere,” explained Weiss. The Rains of Castamere is a song detailing an event in which Tywin Lannister descended upon Castamere and slew the entire Reyne family line.
Flashbacks to Game of Thrones season 1 remind us that Ned Stark used the sword to exact his justice upon a Night’s Watch runaway and eventually met his demise at the hands of his own sword. When Tywin gifts one of the swords to his son Jaime, it’s easy to assume that the “Two Swords” episode title refers to the two forged from Ice. However, Weiss and Benioff say it instead refers to Ice and Needle, which Arya Stark is finally able to reclaim from Polliver after a brutal inn fight.
New to the Game of Thrones family is Pablo Pascal, who plays Prince Oberyn Martell from the country of Dorne. When Oberyn arrives in King’s Landing, it makes Tyrion uneasy, mostly because he knows well the story of Princess Elia that has circulated the Seven Kingdoms for years. What is easily missed by pure Game of Thrones show watchers is that Oberyn’s tale relates to the rise of King Robert. Elia was the wife of Rhaegar Targaryen, Danaerys’ brother, and was in King’s Landing when the city was sacked by Tywin Lannister.
When Oberyn mentions that Rhaegar cast Elia aside for another woman, he doesn’t mention that this other woman was in fact Lyanna Stark, who was to be the wife of Robert Baratheon, and the sister of Eddard Stark. Lyanna being whisked away by Rhaegar, whether by choice or by force, is what sparks Robert’s Rebellion against the Targaryens and eventually leads to their defeat. Add in that Ned Stark’s father and brother were both killed by the Targaryen King and you have a recipe for war.
Game of Thrones will air episode two, titled The Lion and the Rose, on Sunday, April 13.