Well, that was . . . kind of quiet? If GoT's long-awaited season 4 premiere felt relatively restrained -- you could actually count the sex, death and verbal combat scenes on one hand! -- don't fret. As fans re-entered the sprawling world of Westeros after a ten month hiatus, HBO's fantasy saga took a hot minute to sow the seeds of many battles, alliances, affairs, betraylas and reversals of fortune to come. Here, recaps the five most pivotal moments from Sunday's episode, which began with the forging of one very important, fancy sword of Valyrian steel (Lord Tywin's wedding gift for his grandson) and the retrieval of another, more no-frills one (Arya and Needle, reunited!).
1. Incest is no longer best for the Lannister twins? As teased in the season three finale, Cersei (Lena Headey) has at last been reunited with twin brother-lover Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) after his long, nearly fatal journeys on the road that left him short one hand. And though Jamie is seen being outfitted with a handsome golden hand for his stump ("a hook would be more practical," he complains) and is hungry for reunion sex with Cersei, she's not having it.
"Everything's changed," she tells him, which is true: Their son King Joffrey (Jack Gleason) is about to wed Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), or the "little bitch from Highgarden" as Cersei calls her; Cersei herself is set to marry Loras Tyrell, a ploy by their father, Lord Tywin (Charles Dance). "You were't here," she tells the Kingslayer. "You left me. Alone."
Protests Jamie: "I murdered people so I could be here!" "You took too long," Cersei sniffs. But Jamie himself has also changed. Lord Tywin intends to banish him from the King's Guard and back to Casterly Rock, and a cruel dig from Joffrey has Jamie, a "one-handed man with no family," thinking about his legacy. "My honor is beyond repair," he says in an earlier scene. What will a divided Jamie and Cersei mean?
2. Sansa Stark has finally found her (fat, drunk) knight in (tarnished) armor. Poor, poor Sansa (Sophie Turner) is having the worst year ever. King Joffrey's jilted ex-fiancee is now married to dwarf Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and, amidst her miserable, sexless marriage surrounded by her father's killers, is also grieving yet more deaths in the family: Mother Catelynn and brother Robb's beyond-grisly fates at the Red Wedding. "I lie awake at night thinking of how they died," the redhead says. Although Sansa no longer bothers to pray -- you can't blame her! -- she still goes to a nearby Gods' Wood for peace and quiet. It's there that Sansa finally catches a freakin' break: finding a new ally in Ser Dontos Hollard (Tony Way), the disgraced, drunken knight, whom Sansa previously saved from death during a tournament. Dontos gives her a necklace and promises to help get her out of King's Landing. Things are looking up!
3. There's a very hot, very dangerous new hunk in town. Ahead of Joffrey and Margaery's nuptials, Tyrion nervously greets an unexpected wedding guest: Prince Oberyn Martell from Dorne (Pedro Pascal), who arrives from the far-off kingdom in place of his older, frail brother Prince Dorin. Also known as the "Red Viper," Oberyn is a formidable, bisexual warrior who's brought along his paramour, the equally exotic Ellaria Sand, for the wedding and his own agenda of vengeance (ve-genda?): Years ago, Lannister henchman Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane raped and killed his sister Elia; her son and daughter were also killed by another Lannister knight. At a King's Landing brothel, he casually impales the hand of a Lannister soldier. "The Lannisters aren't the only ones who pay their debts," he says. Wonder what his wedding gift might be.
4. Is little Arya Stark becoming a sociopath? Completely stoic after the Red Wedding deaths of Robb and Catelynn (and believing that her little brothers Bran and Rickon are also dead), Arya (Maisie Williams) continues traveling on the road with The Hound, who means to take her to the Vale to potentially get ransom money from her aunt, Lysa Arren. At a tavern, the pair encounter an old enemy, Polliver Payne (Andy Kellegher) and a grisly fight ensues -- with Arya once again killing with complete abandon. When Polliver (who has been on Arya's nightly "kill list") lies dying on the tavern floor, Arya gleefully slides a sword through his neck and watches him die. (The Hound was no slouch during this excruciating fight, either: Slamming down one foe's head on the point of a dagger again and again.) Arya gets back her beloved sword, Needle -- and her own horse. Warrior Princess!
5. Khaleesi's dragons are (almost!) all grown up. Somewhere on the outskirts of Yunkai, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) has a moment of Zen sitting on a rock overlooking the sea as she cuddles with one of her three dragons. The other two are soaring high above and sparring over the charred corpse of a cow-sized animal, which plops right beside Dany. As the trio continue to fight and spar (teenagers!) the so-called Mother of Dragons attempts to intervene, only to get a surly, scary hiss from one of her growing "babies." Warns one of her advisors: "Dragons can never be claimed, even by their mother." While Dany's interlude also involved a good-natured rivalry between Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman, who earned the role after replacing last season's Ed Skrein) and Unsullied Army leader Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), it's these growing dragons who generated the most heat.
Of course, even more went down on Sunday's premiere, with Jon Snow's sheepish explanations back at The Wall, lovelorn Ygritte (Rose Leslie) and the Wildlings encounter a new cannibalistic rival clan, bitchy asides for Margaery's grandmother the Queen of Thorns (Diana Rigg) and much more.