‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 2 Premiere Review

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Game of Thrones The North Remembers Game Of Thrones Season 2 Premiere Review

Omens, visions and rituals combine to herald the next chapter of HBO’s obsession-worthy fantasy series, Game of Thrones. After leaving the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros in the hands of a despotic boy-king, the series roars back to television, picking up right where it left off like a book opened to a dog-eared page.

From the start, it’s clear that, as much as season 1 followed the reluctant exploits of Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) and his ruinous turn as the Hand of the King, season 2 immediately begins gathering steam from the performance of Peter Dinklage. Yes, he was the break out star of season 1, but this season (awards and accolades aside) Game of Thrones feels very much like Dinklage’s program to carry. With his wit, charm and wry sensibilities, Tyrion easily handles the task.

At our first sight of Tyrion, it’s clear he is not taking the role of Hand of the King lightly, and knows that his family – particularly his sister and her son – are also the unscrupulous kind that, if they are to remain in charge, will require the guidance of one who – despite having many vices – is not ruled by them. That is to say: Tyrion has the mettle, and the smarts, to make the rule of Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) a long one.

And so we are introduced to the kingdom as ruled by a young tyrant – one beset by the unnervingly casual nature of extreme violence. The violence and utter disregard for human life serves a potent reminder that though the audience may favor one character over another, Game of Thrones refuses to guarantee anyone’s term on the program – especially now that war has broken out between Eddard’s eldest son Robb Stark (Richard Madden) and the Lannisters.

When last we saw them, the Lannisters seemed on top of the world, but now they’re faced with the real possibility that retribution for the beheading of Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) may be coming to the south more swiftly than winter. There is an air of resentment and disgust about King’s Landing regarding the unsubstantiated (but totally true) rumors of King Joffrey being the bastard son of his uncle Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). It seems as soon as they took power, the knowledge of the Lannister twins’ indiscretion was poised to be their undoing. As Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) demonstrates, though, knowledge may be a powerful tool, but only if it is used by those with a captive audience – which, at the moment, King’s Landing is short on. But power comes in many forms, and right now, Cersei and her family still wield the kind that could end a dissenter’s life.

Peter Dinklage Game of Thrones season 2 HBO Game Of Thrones Season 2 Premiere Review

Meanwhile, Jamie is still held captive by Robb, who has made a rather auspicious debut by handing the wealthy and immense Lannister army three consecutive defeats. While Jamie plays mind games with the young leader, Robb reminds him without a hint of subtlety that, for the moment, control – including that of the incestuous Lannister’s life – rests in Robb’s seemingly capable hands.

For Robb to be able to take King’s Landing, however, he must be able to broker some kind of alliance with the father of Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) – an alliance Robb’s mother Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) warns him against. But this is a time of war and uncertainty, a fact Robb makes clear to his mother by reasoning the conflict may have been born of his father’s execution, but it has now grown into a fight for independence for the northern people – and that may mean adding unstable elements like the elder Greyjoy to an already tenuous and risky undertaking.

Through this conflict, the world of Game of Thrones is instantly more vast and complex than the already elaborate world detailed in season 1. Not only has the issue become the North rebelling against a fraudulent king, but the turmoil resulting from who sits upon the iron throne has set into motion many other men laying claim to such a perch. The ongoing dispute and expanse of the world is made evident through the journey of dragon-hatcher Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and the small group of Dothraki that still travel with her across the desolate expanse of the Red Waste. As her counselor, Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) elucidates the plight of the group by informing the Khaleesi that, given the hostile forces surrounding them, crossing the Red Waste is their only hope for survival. But in a fitting metaphor for the realm of Westeros, the unforgiving heath may spell doom for the small caravan, regardless what people lie beyond its breadth.

In regards to the expanded scope, it would only be fitting to mention the addition of Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), the oft-mentioned but unseen brother of the late king Robert (Mark Addy). He becomes an important player in the game, as he actually has a legitimate claim to the throne. However important, Stannis’ introduction is one that also cautions a certain amount of unease considering the company he keeps in Melisandre (Carice van Houten). Her unwillingness to fall victim to a poisoned drink is yet another portent that season 2 will be filled with all sorts of unnatural (read: supernatural) occurrences.

Lena Headey Game of Thrones Season 2 The North Remembers Game Of Thrones Season 2 Premiere Review

It is a lot to take in, but writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss artfully point the audience in the right direction, even when being introduced to a character for the first time. This is why when Jon Snow (Kit Harington), and his other wall-watchers come across the hatefully possessive northerner who marries his daughters, we feel a notable amount of disgust and need for retribution on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves. It may, in some small fashion, help make up for all the wrongs that have gone without retribution since the series began.

But that is how Game of Thrones works: the just are often punished while the wicked find delight in the gratification of nearly every whim. This concept is not modern, but still feels very resonant in today’s society; a testament to why this series is so easily accessible and consumed with such ferocity by its legion of fans.

Throw in some truly quote-worthy lines of dialogue, clever twists, and the scattering of hints and nods to events that will later leave the audience reeling as they did in season 1, and you have a mindful adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s books that dares build upon the world he has crafted, rather than be a shallow, visualized mimic to the printed word.

Game of Thrones gets off to a fantastic start with its second season premiere. Though it will take some time to regain the kind of velocity felt at the end of season 1, the seeds of an epic season have certainly been planted.

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Game of Thrones continues next Sunday with ‘The Night Lands’ @9pm on HBO.

TAGS: game of thrones

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  1. So glad this is back on the air, I love how faithful it is to the novels. The only thing I am a little confused about is the exclusion of the Tully’s, but I can’t wait for Jaqen H’ghar and the Battle of the Blackwater (I really hope they keep a certain character’s disfigurement)!

    • Rorge? I kinda hope it’ll be hidden before his helmet most of the season, though. I don’t want to look at it too much haha.

    • As for the Tullys, they weren’t in last season either. Neither was Riverrun. Instead we just see Catelyn and Robb at their war camp out in who knows where. I am guessing Cat’s family got cut out because even though they had a very important part in the books especially the fighting, I think Robb is taking their place in the show because he was featured so little in the book, and I do like the actor. Sort of a shame, but I’d understand it.

      • Good point Phil. Rob taking the place of the Tully’s is a nice touch. The other Tully branch, where Tyrion was held prisoner, will probably come back into play much later. I have read the books, and I am very interested to see how the HBO screen authors compress the action. I saw a lot of potential for that, so would love to see them catch up to the current literary state of affairs in less than 5 seasons. I am pretty sure they will.

      • I’d hazard a guess that they skipped Riverrun and the Tullys due to budget reasons. A set big enough for Riverrun would be very expensive to make considering the design which incorporates the river. And as to the Tullys they will include them more later when they are needed and yes it gives Rob a bigger role and confuses the audience a little less.

  2. It’s awesome to see this show back. Great to see everybody back. As the review mentioned and is 100% accurate on, last season was Ned’s year, this season is Tyrion’s year. It’s going to be fun.

    I do have a few quibbles, though, as somebody who’s read the book (don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything if you’ve seen this episode).

    I think the scene with Craster could have been better done. It was a bit too brief, too sudden. I didn’t like who they cast for him, either. Or maybe it’s more like I didn’t like how he was dressed. He’s a wildling. I didn’t think he would look like a guard, ya know? And a fat one at that.

    Also, The Old Bear being angry with Jon Snow was REALLY off-base. In the book, he never did anything of the like to him and was always kind to him (especially considering Jon saved his life – heck, he even gave him a sword). It made me cringe a bit and wonder why they did that… I’m guessing to remind the audience that Jon Snow is still… a bit unhappy that he’s a steward, not a ranger? But I thought we were done with that.

    Also, Melisandre and Cressen. I didn’t see the sense in Melisandre taking a drink right after everybody has already noticed Cressan was starting to die from his own poison. I did like how they made the gem on her necklace glitter afterwards, just like in the book. Still, I was thinking of Princess Beauty a bit when I saw that scene (fans of the movie will know what I mean), and I actually think it was better done there.

    Loved the table in Stannis’ council room though – just like in the book.

    And finally, Arya at the end. It made me chuckle to think anybody could think of her as a boy – so I gotta suspend my belief there a bit. I suppose they did the best they could, though.

    Overall, a really good show, though. I especially loved Robb and the direwolf threatening Jamie – that was an awesome scene, and I think that wolf actually stole the show in this episode.

    And Emilia Clarke is just awesome as Daernerys. They really couldn’t have cast her any better. It’s kind of a shame she’s going to probably have less scenes this season than she did last season but I’m sure she’ll be great in them.

    I also like Stephen Dillane as Stannis. Seems to fit the role well. Likewise with Carice van Houten as Melisandre. Still wanting to see more of the guy playing Davos before I decide on him, but he seems like a good pick, too.

    But yes, looking forward to seeing more of Peter Dinklage the rest of this season.

    • Melisandre drinks at that moment just to show any other dissenters in the room how true her power is, and how strong her faith is. She is proving the power of R’hllor to discourage any other would’be challengers.

  3. Very diappointed with Episode 1. I am faithful and sure it will get better. Too rushed; to much detail cut for brevity’s sake. I know the books are extremely detailed but I loved them! I hope newcomers to the Series don’t lose interest due to the confusion and jumping of scenes.
    Keep Watching!

    • I don’t know to whom you are referring to but I am a new comer to the show and I love it along with all the other new comers that I know. But you know that the books are always better. There is only so much you can but on screen but what I have seen so far is awesome. Don’t know what you are talking about.

  4. This premiere was awesome. I am so glad they were able to keep up the vastness and the epic feel the show had throughout season 1. Really cool!

  5. I thought the show for the most part was spot on. However I did have a problem with the seen with jeoff and cersei regarding the rumors of incest. I don’t remember Cersei ever slapping joffrey, or him threatening to kill her. Also I was displeased with the actor cast as Craster, he is a wildling he should be dressed as one. Also The actor that plays Stannis should have a close cropped beard. He just doesn’t fit the picture of Stannis in my head. Other than those few minor things I thought the show was awesome!

    • Aaron, I totally agree on Stannis. He is nothing like I imagined. I envisioned a darker hair guy, with a dark beard, and dark beady eyes. The current actor is too mild for me.

      I personally feel alot of the stuff was rushed in ep. 1 compared to the great pace season 1 showed. Hope it gets better.

  6. I know I’m in the minority here , but for me this episode really dragged at times and felt like a middle of the season episode rather than an actual premiere. I know that Game of Thrones has always been more slower, more grandiose than the wall to wall spectacle of Spartacus, but i still expected a more lasting impression from this episode. The last couple of minutes felt tacked on – there s no build up or tension leading to the children’s massacre.

    I just hope things pick up next week as this is a good show with high production and a great concept.

  7. I actually agree its like they tried to put too much in the show too fast and the pacing differed from the books moreso than any previous episode I’ve ever watched. I’m a hardcore fan tho I got much of the hbo store stuff and even the comic series

  8. In response to the last entry, it is not staying true to the book, and that is what is bugging me already. What is this conversation between Littlefinger and the Queen, the one in which she threatens him? While it is possible that such a conversation happened out of earshot of the book’s narrators, I don’t buy it. Also, the scene in which Joffrey threatens his mother — don’t buy it. Then there is the conversation between CRaster and Jon, and then JOn and the Lord Commander; these conversations do not occur in the book. Meanwhile, they do not properly handle other scenes. Why are we adding so much useless conversation at the expense of better stuff that IS in the book? And, I hear that Margery is going to be an integral character in season two; this is totally wrong! In fact, she doesn’t really show up until book three. Until then, we only hear about her. So far, I don’t know if I am pleased by the new season or not…

  9. First off, wow what a premiere. Things Id like to note;

    The first scene with Joffrey, wow what a spectacular view, thats how you start a season premiere.

    The scene with Robb Stark and Lanister, when the BEowulf calmly cirlces the cage, those things are now massive.

    Little finger almost went at the hands of Cercei in this episode, and I like him. You have to love the fact that in GOT anyone can go at anytime, and you cant be suprised.

    As premieres go I was truly blown away. Ive been watching justified and expected a slow build to the new season of thrones; but the very first scene saw a man being bludgeoned with a hammer, I was unprepared. So good to have this show back.

  10. Thanks Kevin for the wonderfully wrote review.

    Games of thrones was easily the best thing on TV by a mile last year, would love to know why it didn’t win hardly any awards. Did someone do something to piss someone off I wonder????

    Tyrion was my favoutite character from last season, his wit and humour more than made up for his terrible english accent. So if this is his season… yippee!!!

    Another of my favourite characters who gets little to now mention, is the King’s dog. The way he stopped (can’t remember her name lol) the King’s young wife from stepping over edge of the bridge when she was showed her fathers head on a spike, was very subtle, but extremely well done.

    • The Hound’s name is Sandor Clegane…his brother is Ser Gregor Clegane aka The Mountain that Rides, a Lannister bannerman.

      Sansa was not only going to jump off the parapet…she was going to bring Joffery down with her! Sandor not only saved his sworn King’s hand but also Sansa…which is what he really wanted to do.

  11. Fans of the books are always going to be nitpicky. The scenes that some are complaining about like the Cersei/Little Finger scene creates incredible drama, tension, and dialogue that makes this series so remarkable.

    • In the first season they really stayed true to the book, this is not what is happening now!

      What Superbadmcluvin says is true; such scenes do create a lot of tension and drama, but what you do not know is that there are better parts in the book left out. Instead they made up stuff which is pretty annoying.

  12. Great review of the first episode. In my opinion, i think some of the new actors were spot on while others…well not so much. Stannis and Davos were exactly as i imagined them in the book while melisandre and craster were way off of what i was thinking. Does anyone else think melissandre is too (for lack of a better word) white? I imagined here way more exotic looking. Cant wait to see the iron islands and all they have to offer though. Overall a really well mapped out premiere setting the stage for events later on.

    • She’s described in Clash of Kings:

      “Her hair was not the orange or strawberry color of common red-haired men, but a deep burnished copper that shone in the light of the torches. Even her eyes were red . . . but her skin was smooth and white, unblemished, pale as cream”

      Pretty spot on I’d say!

  13. All I hear from you people is “waaah its not the same as the book” or “waaaah that never/wouldn’t happen”. George Martin is a major part of the series script approval process. If its in the show, he okayed it.

    As for Crastor wearing nice clothes – he trades with the Wall for armor, weapons, and clothes – it make sense he isn’t dress like a wildling and more like a soldier of sorts.

  14. I haven’t taken the time to read the previous comments to I could be repeating alot! I felt the first season was very true to the book! But this series has really let me down. There are small things, such as when Yoren was killed, the battle happened alot different in the book. Also, the way Arya etc were captured happened different. I can understand this, as they will need to cut certain things out to fit it all in. However, as far as I remember, Renly was never gay in the book. Joffery didn’t have one whore beat another. There were a few things at crasters which confused me also, mainly Jon being targeted by craster! ALSO, regarding danerys, they stopped in a dead city and one of her blood riders brought back some people, they were taken to Quarth by three people and let in straight away. If you havent read the books I am sure its great, but read them, and then watch, then you will see the flaws. All the same, I still look forward to each episode!

  15. It was hinted at in the books that Renly was gay and Loras was his lover, but it’s hard to see if you’re not looking for it, which I was since I didn’t start the books until well after the TV show started. Most of the clues come in later books, though. I believe many fans of the books suspected it before it was made explicit onscreen. It wasn’t crystal clear, that’s for sure.

    Joffrey and the prostitutes did happen, but off-page. It was actually pretty close to the book how it happened. Tyrion thought some fun in the sack would mellow out Joffrey, but it went pretty much as it did on the show, only it’s just passingly mentioned and not discussed in detail or anything. Can’t find the passage just now, but it’s in there. I do like how the show has utilized Roz in putting her through the wringer as collateral damage with every new scheme of the major players at King’s Landing, most recently being mistaken for Shae. She kind of symbolizes the “smallfolk’s” suffering while lords and ladies play their games. It’s like Ser Jorah said: “It is no matter to [the smallfolk] if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are.”

    As for Daenerys’ storyline, wow, was that ever a departure from the book. I had no idea where that was going. After the last episode, I think she’s still on track to see visions in the House of the Undying (man, I can’t wait to see what they do with those…I hope they show them, because that is one of the most important chapters in the entire series) and end up in Astapor, but that little diversion was odd. It probably would have made sense to me had I not read the books, however.

    I recently listened to an interview of another writer involved in turning his own books into screenplays, Russell Banks. He said that often, what makes the story a good book is not what ends up making it a good film/television show, and that’s why adaptations rarely follow the novel exactly, even when the novel’s own author is involved, as is George RR Martin. I think it is important to remember this when watching Game of Thrones and to remember that the two portrayals are separate entities, and not to get too upset when the story takes different turns. I know how hard it is not to let the books drive your impression of the series, though.

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