By Ryan Lattanzio | Indiewire March 31, 2014 at 2:07PM
First reviews are in for the Season Four premiere of HBO's sword-and-sandals epic "Game of Thrones." The episode, fitfully titled "Two Swords," debuts on HBO April 6. After such an apocalyptic conclusion to Season Three of the record-breaking George R.R. Martin adaptation, showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss have big, bloody shoes to fill. Reviews, so far, are positive, with more to come. Critics are simultaneously overwhelmed and overjoyed by the new plots and characters.
Variety takes issue with the "sheer number of subplots," but offers much praise:
Such criticisms, however, amount to nitpicking on a show that operates at such a consistently high level, from the spectacular cast to the sweeping and diverse backdrops, consistently conjuring a summer-tentpole feel. While the sword-and-sandal genre has no shortage of iterations in this teeming era of original drama, "Game of Thrones"' mix of serialized storytelling and sumptuous trappings makes it look, to borrow a sports metaphor, like a man among boys.
NY Daily News' four-star review says "it's the strong female leads who continue to steal this show," citing Emilia Clarke and Maisie Williams as series heavyweights. Brit outlets also chimed in, with GQ writing:
The series four premiere is a superb reminder of everything that's good about 'Game Of Thrones.' There are immaculately choreographed and brutally violent fight scenes, dagger-sharp dialogue, sumptuous visuals, scenes dripping with sexual tension." In other words, the works.
The Telegraph says fans are in for a "bloody treat" while talking up the new characters:
No "Thrones" season opener would be complete without new characters to replace the old ones. We met Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal), Prince of Dorne, who at once started to throw his weight around King's Landing. Your enjoyment of his scenes will depend on whether you find him to be a swarthy swordsman or a preening matador. We have been promised Mark Gatiss, he of Mycroft fame, but he has yet to arrive.
With "Boardwalk Empire" entering its fifth and final season this Fall, and recent seasons of "Girls," "True Detective" and "Looking" now over, all eyes are on "Game of Thrones" to fill our (blood)thirst for sterling premium cable dramas. On April 6, HBO airs the hilarious Season Three premiere of "Veep." Also coming up on AMC, April 13, is the final season premiere of "Mad Men." Here's what to expect.