I’m a fan of the books and have the highest regard for George R. R. Martin and the world he’s created. If you like the TV show then you’ll love the books. If you happen to be illiterate then you may find it a bit of a slog.
On with the show… Season 2 opens with a bang as exposition and character setups are thrown around to such a degree that if you’re new to the show you’ll definitely want to time travel back to April 2011 and watch season 1…or just watch it online. We’re re-introduced to the main players and the three distinct storylines: the battle for the iron throne, the trouble in the north, and the cute white haired girl with her dragons. While we’re only treated to snippets of each storyline it was more than enough to quench the thirst that’s been building over the last several months.
King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) is still a tyrannical ass and Tyrion the ‘Imp’ (played by the fantastic Peter Dinklage who devours scenery and defecates an Emmy and a Golden Globe) shows up in a timely fashion to ignore him completely and take over running the Kingdom. Pretty much everyone in Kings Landing is an underhanded liar, especially the Queen Regent, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) who’s love of being evil is equaled only by her desire to ‘get it on’ with her family members.
In the north Jon Snow (the unfortunately named Kit Harington) and his brothers of the Nights Watch learn all about Wildlings who, as coincidence would have it, are also on board the incest wagon (it’s crowded). The Lord Commander tries to teach him some manners reinforcing that he means for Snow to lead one day.
Meanwhile Robb Stark (Richard Madden) continues his war against the Lannisters while his overbearing mother still tries to treat him like a child. One of the most beautiful scenes of this episode has an exchange between Robb Stark and his prisoner Jaime Lannister clearly showing the former as a smart, decisive King while allowing us to see just how big and badass the Stark’s dire wolves have become.
Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and her dragons are stuck in a desert with little food, dying horses and a small, ragtag bunch of followers. While the dragons are still a long way from playing a prominent part in this world it was still good to see how much the show’s producers are willing to invest in CGI to support the story. As more fantasy based and magical elements of the story emerge over the next few seasons it’ll be interesting to see how the show handles the changes.
Other notable pieces include Bran Stark’s ‘wolf dreams’, the introduction of Stannis Baratheon and his Red Witch, Theon Greyjoy’s inception (keep an eye on him), and the final montage of Lannister soldiers hunting and killing all of Robert’s bastard children (of which there are many). The only missing main character is that of Araya Stark who is travelling with one of Robert’s illegitimate kids and a group of scum bound for the Wall. Their presence is hinted at towards the end so it’s likely we’ll see more of them next week.
Overall this was a great opener for the season although I can still scarcely understand how they hope to fit the entirety of the second book into a ten episode arc. However I do look forward to finding out. So far the highlight for me is Peter Dinklage who’s two awards earlier this year were well deserved. Not to mention it’s super-fun to say his name: Dinklage. Go on, try it.
I give this episode 9 Dinklage’s out of 10.