‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 2, Episode 2: ‘The Night Lands’ Recap

Published 3 years ago by , Updated April 10th, 2012 at 8:53 am,

Patrick Malahide as Balon Greyjoy Game of Thrones The Night Lands Game Of Thrones Season 2, Episode 2: The Night Lands Recap

While magic and superstition were largely spoken of in the past tense during season 1, Game of Thrones has put these various notions front and center in season 2.

It feels as though, with the expansion of the kingdoms of Westeros, there also comes a deeper understanding of where the beliefs of this world’s inhabitants lie. In ‘The Night Lands’ there is a distinct feeling that a separation between logic and mysticism has created a troublesome schism between knowledge and ignorance. As we see when Cersei (Lena Heady) once more engages in an ill-adviced battle of wills and wits with her younger brother, and newly appointed Hand of the King, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage).

The conversation reveals that Cersei belongs firmly to the camp that believes magic and the supernatural are relics of legend, not fact, while Tyrion has seen these unnatural things with his own eyes, so it’s no longer a question of belief, as far as he’s concerned. Of course, should Daenerys and her Dothraki ever make it alive through the Red Waste, such discussion over the existence of creatures thought extinct will certainly be rendered moot.

The notion of belief is further carried as Stannis’ (Stephen Dillane) right hand man Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) is urged by his son to take up worship of Stannis’ newfound god. However, Davos isn’t interested in worship, he’s more intent on following a man convinced of his own divine right to the throne, which is why he’s enlisted the help of the pirate Salladhor Saan, for the use of his ships against Joffrey’s illegitimate claim to be king – because in the end, no one can deny the power that gold wields.

This denial or acceptance of beliefs helps to not only differentiate the various kingdoms, but also give a decent glimpse at the personalities that lie within. But the notion of credence needn’t be relegated to a higher power or unearthly creatures; sometimes it’s as simple as where the other gender fits into the world.

Perhaps it was the excitement and sense of purpose felt by Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) that caused him to run from woman to woman with a sense of ownership and right on the long journey home. However, after the rather cold and certainly revelatory reception granted to Theon by his father Balon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide) and sister Asha (Gemma Whelan), perhaps Theon’s sense of place has been altered, or at least put back to where it belongs.

Certainly, the notion of women as second-class citizens is felt the most by the men of the night’s watch and their temporary host Craster (Robert Pugh). Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) and Samwell (John Bradley) are asked by Gilly (Hannah Murray), one of Craster’s daughter-wives, to help her escape, for fear that the child she carries will be a son – answering the question posed by Snow in the season premiere of what Craster does with the males born by his various wives.

Of course, by the end of ‘The Night Lands’ we, and a snooping Jon Snow, get a hint that there is more to the absence of Craster’s sons than immediately meets the eye.

Naturally, this being Game of Thrones, there is still plenty of maneuvering for various bits of power left floating around – mostly in the first of what will likely be many eloquently spoken showdowns in King’s Landing between Tyrion and Varys (Conleth Hill). The threats came quickly, as one would have expected from Tyrion, but Varys held fast and proved his determination to remain unyielding in the control he has over various decisions made by those who lead in King’s Landing.

Hannah Murray Game of Thrones The Night Lands Game Of Thrones Season 2, Episode 2: The Night Lands Recap

Perhaps the threat of upheaval is felt most by Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) – though he doesn’t appear in the episode – in his ordering of the murder of several children seen last episode. Joffrey’s quest to retain his power is, however unlikely, most threatened by the survival of Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and Gendry (Joe Dempsie), the bastard son of the Robert Baratheon. Should the pair make it to Winterfell, the Lannisters lose yet another opportunity at ransoming a Stark and, if the pursuit of Gendry continues to be as obvious as it has been, connecting the dots of Gendry’s true father won’t be too difficult for anyone to make.

The lack of Lannister discretion, and low regard for human life leads Tyrion to further tidy up things at King’s Landing by removing the commander of the city’s watch and placing Bronn (Jerome Flynn) in his place. Again differentiating himself from those who share his name, Tyrion addresses the ousted commander’s lack of character and involvement in the death of Eddard Stark, and the children from last episode, with the line: “I’m not questioning your honor, I’m denying its existence.”

The questions of morality held by Tyrion may soon find him even more at odds with his family, especially after he warns his sister the people may serve her now, but that won’t stop an uprising should this destructive behavior continue. After all, winter is coming.

Game of Thrones continues next Sunday with ‘What is dead May Never Die’ @9pm on HBO.

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. Loved this episode!

    And just to clarify, Asha has been renamed to Yara just to avoid confusion with Wildling Osha

  2. This episode felt much more contained onto itself than the previous one. The narrative stream lined through without superfluous additives (besides the gratuitous sex) that just tell the audience their characters are alive. Lots of foreshadowing intermixed (shadow!). Ghost looks great! Love Biter’s cameo. But really, Dany’s story needs to move along. Great episode!

  3. The actress playing Yara (aka Asha) doesn’t even come close to how the character is supposed to look in the novel. She’s supposed to be this exciting and beautiful pirate queen. In the show, she looked like someone’s backwoods, halfwit cousin. Disappointing. And what’s with Stannis and the Red Woman’s sex scene? In the novel, Stannis would never do anything that would go against his morals. The TV Stannis seems weak willed. Stannis in the novel is prude…that’s why he is so disgusted with the Jamie-Cersei rumour. Again disappointing.

    • In the novel Stannis does actually have sex with Melisandre. It doesn’t directly say it, but it is very strongly suggested given the events that will unfold later this season.

      • I know that the some of the men around Stannis believe he and the Red Woman are having an affair, but in a book with so much sex, we never see it. I think that, unlike Robert, Stannis isn’t a man driven by his lust, but instead driven by what he sees as right. Stannis’s certitude and rectitude are what set him apart from other men of Westoros. His principles and his unwavering certainty are also what may bring about his defeat.

        • *** spoiler alert below ***

          They have sex in the book. That’s why she is “with child” when her and Davos are on the boat, I thought.

          • You are right! I forgot that. I admit defeat. Although, I that moment of creation comes much later in the story and I think it is only after a lot of convincing by the Red Woman that this is the only way to defeat the person in the impregnable castle…right?

            Anyhoo, it’s a long trek to the Wall, so I better leave now.

            • No, Stannis and Melisandre aren’t sleeping together in the books. Yes, she does birth the two shadows, but that doesn’t mean they came from Stannis or anyone other than her magic.

              Also, Stannis sleeping with Melisandre goes against his character. He is an extremely stern man who most likely wouldn’t do something like this while he was married.

          • I’m not sure whether Stannis is sleeping with Melisandre. Just because she “birthed” a shadow in the boat doesn’t mean it came from Stannis. It could just as well have been how her dark magic, with her god, works?? But the book never gives any indication of sex between them, as portrayed in the show. Which also leads me to question the ending of episode 2 – Jon Snow does not spy on Crastor in the woods, and get caught, much less, hit by him. He finds out from Gilly and Sam, etc.

    • I agree about Yara/Asha, but Stannis, who was once proud, I think was already being “corrupted” by Melisandre (I mean, his will/honor was already being put in question in the novel for other incidents), and that sex scene will also make a later scene less confusing. Although I do think it’s a shame we didn’t get to see Stannis as he used to be before just to compare. But even in the novel, his character was mostly described by others as they thought of him, not necessarily by his own actions.

    • This is how Asha is described in the books:

      “lean and long-legged, with short black hair and a sharp nose in a thin face.”

      Yes, the actress playing her is not as beautiful as a lot of people imagine Asha to be, but this is a TV show. One could argue that Lena Heady isn’t beautiful ENOUGH to play Cersei.

      In reality, these are people living in an ancient age. Beauty is different in the era of no botox.

      Asha has to A) Look like she’s a hardened Iron Born pirate conqueror B) she is related to Balon and Theon, who aren’t exactly prize-winning beauties.

      I think they did a good job with that casting.

      And Stannis ABSOLUTELY has sex with Melissandre in the book. They refer to it CONSTANTLY. It is not explicitly laid out there – as it’s not EXPLICITLY said that Renly has sex with Sir Loras Tyrell – but there is multiple mentions that Melissandre is Stannis’ real queen, and a lot of the men whisper about how she owns him in a not-just-spiritual way.

      • See my comment above. In a set of novels where sex is everywhere, why would Martin play coy about this relationship. Stannis is NOT Robert. That’s the difference between these two brothers. Robert would have had sex with the Red Woman on the table. Stannis is too busy planning his ascendancy and being disdainful of the rest of the kingdom for not recognizing him as the true king (according to the laws of the land). In the novel, Stannis is a cold fish. He isn’t interested in sex. If you can quote a passage that says Stannis and the Red Woman are having an affair (not what the other men think is going on [because, of course, THEY would be having an affair]), then I’ll admit defeat, withdraw from the field, and make my way to the Wall.

        • Actually Stannis and Mellisandre had sex in the novel, altough it’s not described.

          It is how the shadows that killed Renly and castellan of Storm’s End were created.

          • That is a bit too spoiler-ish, Ravinius.

      • Good points about Asha/Yara, Kofi. I feel better about that casting too now.

      • Can somebody please list quotes that say stannis had sex with the red lady? I’m totally confused.

    • Gotta agree with you on the actress playing Yara/Asha. Read the books and I’ve always pictured someone like Olivia Wilde (with the Tron Legacy bob cut) playing the role. Still, I’ll give Gemma Whelan and the writers the benefit of the doubt. Might get better as the season progresses.

  4. I’m still angry for Eddard’s death. Hope someone will avenge him soon.

    • LOL. I was just saying this yesterday, that I’m still pissed Ned died! His presence sure is felt throughout the books following his death tho! Would have been nice to have a little more ned:(

    • Annie Parisse would make an excellent choice- she looks like the character described in the book, and has a powerful sense of intelligence, wit, sarcasm and sexuality that the story describes. I’d believe her in that role. Btw, I’m on book five, and the waiting is killing me ! Get a move on, HBO !

  5. Not wanting to wait for season 2, I went out and bought all the books.

    Some differences are quite subtle, others are really obvious.
    In the first episode of season 1, Aria is damn good with a bow, but in the books she has never used one and desperately wants to learn.
    I wont go on further, Martin is on the production team, so I guess he revisiting the material he wrote a while ago.

    The dire wolves look amazing!
    I was wondering how they were going to do them, I’m not disappointed!

  6. Spoiler for later novels

    Mellisandre strongly hints to Davos that she and Stannis slept together and then in the 5th book during her pov chapter she directly states that since Stannis left to attack Winterfell her bed hasn’t gotten much use

    • That doesn’t necessarily mean they were sleeping together when you put that quote into context. Here’s the passage:

      “Melisandre had spent the night in her chair by the fire, as she often did. With Stannis gone, her bed saw little use. She had no time for sleep, with the weight of the world upon her shoulders. And she feared to dream.”

      The way I took that to mean is with Stannis not there, it fell upon her to take charge of his troops there until he returned.


        Ah, but Melisandre tries to only drowse one hour a night, and hopes to one day not need sleep, as she very nearly does not need food or sustenance. I assume she’s been at it for years, so why would her bed get any less use when Stannis is gone, no matter how stressed she may be?

        But we have further evidence. When Melisandre and Jon Snow are walking on the Wall, Melisandre says to Jon:

        “The Lord of Light in his wisdom made us male and female, two parts of a greater whole. In our joining there is power. Power to make life. Power to make light. Power to cast shadows.”

        So we know that the shadows that killed Stannis’s enemies were the result of sex, not some mere sorcery. Now, maybe Melisandre could have had sex with anyone to produce that shadow, but we learn in Clash of Kings that Stannis had nightmares after Renly’s death in which he saw Renly’s throat get slit in Renly’s green pavilion, even though he wasn’t there to witness it. It stands to reason that he has the nightmares because the shadow that killed Renly was his own, made by his “joining” as man and woman with Melisandre.

  7. There were a few differences from the book in this episode.

    1) Jon Snow didn’t witness a boy being sacrificed and also didn’t get hit over the head by Craster, either. The Night’s Watch in the book originally just left without any such event taking place, although they did feel the effects of Craster’s “protective magic” and knew how it came about. I can understand why they added in this sacrifice scene for the sheer drama though. It’s going to be interesting how they resolve that story tangent.

    2) There wasn’t any intimidation by Petyr in his brothel shown in the book. I’m a little annoyed by how they’ve added two Littlefinger scenes (the first episode had one, too) that weren’t in the books, where there were plenty of great dialogue between Littlefinger and Tyrion that they could have been working on instead. I understand the importance of the brothel as a setting later in the story, but it’s still a little annoying because I KNOW the real reason why they’re putting more focus on it: the sex. It’s HBO, after all.

    3) Bronn didn’t get promoted to Commander of the golden cloaks in the book after Slynt got sent to the Wall, another character did, Jacelyn Bywater, also known as “Ironhand.” This change I understand as that character did not play a very significant role, and I can see how they’re going to tie up the loose ends. There’s also no Podrick Payne either.

    4) Looks like Rorge has a nose in the show. I can’t say I’m too disappointed. Biter looks exactly how I imagined him though, but Jaqen seems to have hair all one color (in the book, it was half red, half white.)

    5) No Greyjoy uncles, and no Damphair, it seems, to welcome Theon home. The Asha/Yara scene was also infinitely more fun in the book. Again, I guess it’s for the sake of conciseness, but I would have enjoyed to see Damphair in the show. Pyke as a setting was powerful though and I loved the look of Balon Greyjoy’s hearth room.

    6) Stannis’ sex scene with Melisandre was, of course, only hinted at, not so blatantly written about – but I understand it as well, and it also makes a certain scene that happens later make more sense.

    7) It was left ambiguous in the novels as to who ordered the killing of the Baratheon bastards, but no mention was made of Joffrey making the orders. I always thought it had been Cersei spearheading the hunt for Gendry. I suppose since the operation WAS “poorly handled,” especially as it was shown to us in the first episode, it does have Joffrey’s stupidity and recklessness written all over it. But Cersei isn’t exactly subtle either, especially when she’s angry or afraid.

    That’s all I can think of at the moment, but yeah.

    • [SPOILERS]

      I think the Uncles are coming. You can only introduce so many new characters at once. The Asha intro in the book is also WAY creepy and incesty.

      Payne is in the scene between Tyrion and Janos – Tyrion thanks him but he’s walking offscreen. Tyrion and Janos then briefly mention the kind of Squire Tyrion got.

      Rorge’s nose actually bugged me a little. Don’t miss Bywater, and I suspect that Tyrion does mention somewhere that Joffrey orders the raid on the bastards – but I could be misremembering. I do like the Bronn promotion – makes more sense.

    • Actually, there is a Podrick Payne in the TV show. When the “servant” spills wine in the scene between Tyrion and Slynt, Tyrion mentions that this man’s name is Podrick and they can pour their own wine. Slynt then makes a comment on how the boy is Tyrion’s squire. Podrick’s not given much screen time right now, but he definitely does exist in the show right now.

    • I can see why Rorge had a nose; you can do a lot with makeup, but removing a nose seems tough. And Jacqen’s hair is colored properly, it’s just hard to tell because it’s so dirty.

      Totally agree about Damphair’s absence, but I’m sure we’ll become acquainted with Aeron, Euron, and Victarion in due time. I think the writers are trying not to overwhelm everyone with too many new characters at once.

    • A couple of the mysteries from Season One that have not been answered yet is who sent the killer to finish off Bran while he was in a coma and who is Jon’s real mother? In contrast, the mystery of what happens to the newborn sons of Craster’s daughter / wives is quickly discovered by Jon as he sees Craster leaving a baby for the White Walkers. This leads to another question of what exactly are the White Walkers doing with the babies.

  8. Bronn becoming Commander of the City Watch is a nice stroke. His character (actor) really took off in season 1 so he is getting rewarded. I think the reason things are moving so slowly with Danerys is to give her dragons time
    to grow. Tiny dragons are cute but adolescent dragons start to make her a real player in the GoT.

  9. Talk, talk, talk, prolonged dialogue scenes – a whole multitude of characters some again who dont seem pivotal to main events. I really hope things pick up soon this season.

    Thank god for screen rants reviews – which prove useful a guide to what is actually going on each episode

  10. I dont remember one of Dany’s Bloodriders being killed either. She had all three with her throughout all 5 books. This was a change from the books.

    • I did think one of the Bloodriders was killed in the desert. They changed a lot of other things in her story around but I thought that was right.

  11. The second season seems a little rushed to me. The first went almost hand in hand with the novel. This already seems like it’s trying to get somewhere without giving the character development its due. I’ve seen a lot pointed out already, but the whole deal with Arya and the Queen coming after Gendry, skipped way too much. There was major character development before this all happened.

    Stannis does seem weak.

    Also, in the book, Tyrion keeps Shae at a distance. He doesn’t dare bring her into the castle. And though he respects the Night’s Watch, he thins it’s ridiculous that anything besides wildlings are beyond the wall.

    • I think the decision to keep Shae in the Tower of the Hand is probably a budget concern; why create a whole new setting and location just for Shae scenes, when there’s so much else to cover? I think it makes Tyrion look a little bit careless, but I understand the reasoning.

      As far as Arya and Gendry, I don’t mind so much that the beginning of their story has been shortened, mostly because there’s still so much to cover.

  12. The secret of Bran’s killer doesn’t come out until book 3 and I believe the book 3 also reveals the Wights & the Craster babies. I’m almost done w/ this book & it’s been great.

    I know the directors have a lot to put into the story & need to pick & choose, but it seems like season 1 just went almost word for word of the book and this season is just scattered. Since I already know what’s going on I enjoy it, but I think it may not grab the viewer the way the first season did.

  13. I understand most of the changes made but I think the Melisandre/Stannis scene was too explicit (the concept not the actual sex) in showing their relationship. In the books you are allowed to see their characters develop before and a sexual relationship is merely rumored. It should have remained more ambiguous. At the very least Stannis should not have been so passionate but more detached and begrudging. He should only be doing it to make the shadows. One of the main components of his character has always been his overly rigid sense of justice and morality and an incapability of experiencing joy or any strong emotion other than a seething self-righteous anger. Seeing him turn, unhesitatingly, into a hot-blooded loverboy really struck the wrong note and just got his characterization off on the wrong foot. It just makes him seem like a cheap, weak-willed hypocrite rather than the inflexible character who makes any compromise extremely rarely and unwillingly. Also having Melisandre strip-down so soon robs her of some of her gravitas and mystique.

    I understand the dramatic necessity but it still irks me a little when things that were very hush-hush in the books, like the Jaime/Cersei incest “rumors”, are spoken of explicity and more openly. I may be wrong but I don’t remember Joffrey ever having an inkling or suspicion about his parentage or Tyrion so directly speaking to Cersei about it (and definitely not to Janos Slynt). I also find Varys and Littlefinger to be FAR less subtle than in the books.

    They need to slow down the cross-cutting between the threads and let some of the subplots stretch out a little before jumping to the next one. They also need to scale back the pimp aspect of Littlefinger too and focus more on his court influence.

    Still lots of good stuff though. The Slynt scene, and the whole Tyrion thread in general, was very satisfying and the direwolves are finally starting to look as intimidating as they should.

  14. I don’t like, that they killed Rakharo. He is actually present in all the books. Dany always had three bloodriders with her…

  15. i’ve read all 5 books and they r js amazing