Sure, you’re excited that Game of Thrones is back for season 2, but this isn’t the type of show that you can just jump back into without some kind of preparation and guidance.
Fans of George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Fire and Ice” book series already know just how dense and populated the world of Game of Thrones becomes – and many fans of HBO’s TV series have already been daunted by the task of keeping up with all the names, places and plotlines introduced in season 1.
With so much new information and further developments in store for season 2 of Game of Thrones, here are 5 SPOILER-FREE tips that may just help you navigate your way through the show.
The world of Game of Thrones only gets bigger as the story goes on, and odds are you will need to keep a map of this fantasy world close by. As the story unfolds, it will become more and more important to know where characters are, where they originate from, where the different lands are in relation to one another, as well as their intersecting histories.
Free Tip: Pay attention to that opening credits sequence, as it provides the lay of the land. The good news is that the showrunners will be updating the opening with new locales as they are featured in the show.
If you want to see a good map of the entire world of Game of Thrones, go HERE.
One of the things that made Game of Thrones a mainstream hit is the fact that the characters and stories feel very modern in their complexity. Despite the fantasy genre tropes and trademarks, GoT ultimately feels grounded and relevant to the times we live in – at least it did in season 1.
If you were one of those people who were pleasantly surprised by the show’s palatable approach to the world of fantasy, consider yourself fairly warned: things are only going to get more fantastical.
Mysticism is very much part of this story, and even though the citizens of Westeros have by and large forgotten the old ways and beliefs, it doesn’t mean that magic has gone out of the world. Dragons and voodoo were only the beginning…
In season 1, we got a basic sketch of the polytheistic culture of Westeros in the disparity between the “The Old Gods” worshipped by those in the north vs. the newer gods – referred to as “The Seven” – worshipped by those who dwell in the south. Well, the idea of religion (much like in the real world) becomes a bigger and bigger deal in Game of Thrones – and like everything else with this show, there’s more and more to remember.
In season 2, we will learn of the fiery god, R’hllor Lord of the Light, who is worshipped by priests and priestesses of The Red Temple – including Stannis Baratheon’s close confidant, Melisandre. By contrast, The Drowned God is an ancient god of the sea worshiped in Theon Greyjoy’s homeland, The Iron Islands.
Monotheism will be making a comeback.
Do you even recognize the name of Theon Greyjoy? He was Ned Stark’s ward/hostage, and season 1. You probably only gave him a passing glance, if any. Well, Theon steps into center stage in season 2, and is a perfect example of something fans need to know about this show: Everyone has a role to play. Characters that seem minor may turn out to be important; characters who seem major may be killed off at a moment’s whim (see: Ned Stark and Khal Drogo).
For season 2, here are a couple of characters you’ve met, but may not remember well. Also be sure to look at our comprehensive season 2 character guide for further guidance:
- The Hound & The Mountain – Warriors of House Lannister, Sandor Clegane (“The Hound”) is Joffrey’s personal bodyguard whose face was burned by his brother Gregor (“The Mountain”), a savage marauder last seen terrorizing Catelyn Stark’s home (the Riverlands) by order of Tywin Lannister.
- Yoren – a Night’s Watch Brother who is friend to Benjen and Ned Stark. He was in King’s Landing recruiting prisoners when Ned was executed, and saved Arya from capture.
The biggest misconception one can have about Game of Thrones is that it follows the blueprint of a traditional TV show by centering on main characters who are predictably going to survive any dangerous situation.
The books have an advantage in that each chapter switches to the perspective of a different character; as it stands after 5 books, over a dozen characters have been given their own perspective. This approach allows the novels to spread their weight around in terms of character focus or importance – a foreign concept, within the formulaic confines of TV.
I say all that say: Be ready for anything and expect nothing. No one is safe in this game.
Game of Thrones season 2 promises to bring back the epic and compelling drama of the first season, with new twists in store that will keep viewers begging for more. At the same time, this show will test the boundaries of American television by challenging audiences to keep up with an ever-expanding world that is so densely populated you need a Wiki Website to keep it all straight. In that sense, Game of Thrones really is the new Lost.
Below are links to some other articles that might help you get (and keep) your bearings as season 2 unfolds:
- Game of Thrones Season 2 Character Guide
- Game of Thrones Season 1 Recap / Season 2 Preview
- The Houses of Game of Thrones Season 2
- Plot Summaries for Game of Thrones Season 2 Episodes 1-5
- Game of Thrones Season 2 Trailer
Game of Thrones season 2 premieres on HBO April 1st @ 9pm.