12:15pm PT by Josh Wigler
'Game of Thrones' Podcast: The Best Single-Season Character, Revisited
[This story and podcast contain spoilers through seven seasons of HBO's Game of Thrones.]
Few characters have arrived in the Game of Thrones universe with quite as much impact as Oberyn Martell, the Dornish prince with a score to settle with the Lannisters.
Oberyn, played by Pedro Pascal, the actor who would go on to star in three seasons of Netflix's Narcos as DEA agent Javier Pena, is the first new face we meet in the fourth season of Thrones, entering the proverbial arena in memorable fashion. He's first seen at Littlefinger's brothel, about to embark on a long-awaited sexual adventure with his paramour Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma), among other participants, when a familiar tune fills the air from a few rooms away.
"And so he spoke, and so he spoke, that Lord of Castamere..."
It's a tune that should be easily recognized for Game of Thrones viewers at this point, given its prominence in season three at large, and specifically its most devastating event: the Red Wedding. Much of the season four premiere, "Two Swords," is devoted to the new status quo in Westeros, now that the Stark army has been wiped off the map. With the surviving sons and daughters in the thick of their hardships, it feels like there's no one left who can upend the Lannister power structure.
Enter: Prince Oberyn, aka "The Red Viper," who announces his hatred of the Lannisters with a dagger slammed directly into the wrist of the loyalist singing "Rains of Castamere." In the span of only a few minutes, an astounding and unlikely hero has arrived, someone with a deep-rooted score to settle against the veritable mob family ruling over the Seven Kingdoms with a golden fist. Surely, the one man who can defeat House Lannister has finally arrived, right?
Wrong. Very, very, very wrong, as we now know having watched through the fourth season and beyond. The Red Viper doesn't represent the last great hope against the Lannisters. He represents something else entirely: Game of Thrones' brilliant ability to drop fully formed characters into its universe, only to yank them away with alarming and sudden cruelty. If the lesson wasn't already learned through the death of Ned Stark, and the subsequent deaths of Ned's wife and eldest son, the lesson ought to be fully clear eight episodes into season four: Nobody on Thrones is sacred, not even the cool newcomer with the compelling revenge plot.
Oberyn's return is front of mind this week on "Winter Was Here," the THR and Post Show Recaps rewatch podcast covering every single Game of Thrones episode. Other topics discussed in this week's conversation of "Two Swords," the season four premiere:
• Why "Two Swords" stands out as the best season premiere of the series;
• Forecasting the fate of Daenerys Targaryen's dragons, based on their appearance in the premiere;
• The jarring nature of the new Daario Naharis, played by Michiel Huisman;
• How Jon Snow's confession to the Night's Watch foreshadows a very big mistake;
• A blow-by-blow breakdown of Arya Stark and the Hound's battle against the Lannisters;
• And more!
Listen to the podcast in the player below: