Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Game Of Thrones - Season 2 Review
US Airdate: April 1st – June 3rd 2012
Cold Winds Are Rising: It’s amazing how things can change in a series and with this show, it’s really the type of one in which you miss an episode and a lot of things can happen, well in some parts nonetheless.
Although there are some plots that start off a little slowly and take a tiny bit longer to engage than others, I think it’s safe to say that Season 2 for the most part managed to avoid the difficult second album syndrome that often happens to a lot of hit television shows. In fact, the show’s propensity to deliver water cooler moments only seemed to be in finer shape and that’s regardless of how versed you might be in the actual source material itself.
The battle of the five rulers for the Iron Throne definitely became the main focus of this season with each of our rulers having their moments to stand out, for better or worse. Let’s talk about Renly first shall we? The poor blighter might have had the kindest of hearts and married his lover’s sister for a stronger foothold but it didn’t stop him from being the first ruler to be taken out of the equation.
It’s a shame that we lost a prominent gay character so quickly on the show but at least we got one scene with Renly and Loras and at least the latter will be around in order to help his family’s other bid for the Iron Throne as the finale managed to show us with minimal effort. However, while Renly seemed to have the weakest stomach for battle, he did to a certain degree seem the more deserving of actually ruling.
As for the second ruler and keeping it in the family – there’s Stannis Baratheon. Great casting with Stephen Dillane aside, Stannis wasn’t the most easiest of characters to engage him with during the second season and while he had some able back up in Liam Cunningham’s moralistic smuggler, Ser Davos, it was the fact that he seemed to allow himself to be so taken in with the dangerous red priestess, Melisandre that seemed to cause him just as much failure as the Lannisters outsmarting him in the battle of Blackwater to be honest.
Then there are the Lannisters themselves. They might be the most morally bankrupt and dangerous family known to man but I’d rather be on their team than anyone else’s given that they mostly have retained their control over the Iron Throne with Joffrey on it (and nastier than ever as his treatment of Sansa and others have shown) while Tyrion managed to be a far better hand than Ned Stark ever could’ve managed to be in King’s Landing.
Seriously though, the Lannisters really are the best thing about this show. Cersei in particular may never get mother of the year and her toying with Sansa might be extremely cruel but there’s certainly a tragic side to the character than this season explored in great details and her scenes with Tyrion were an absolute joy to behold as well. I hate to admit it but I’ve actually grown to like the character, which is probably good considering how underused Jaime became this year, though the pairing of him and honour Brienne should be a lot of fun in the upcoming third season.
As for the Starks – this really wasn’t their year. Robb showed that he was great in battle but he also lost Jaime, didn’t see Theon’s brutal betrayal coming and by marrying Talisa has also managed to sabotage one of his own alliances while Catelyn’s distress over losing her family saw her making some reckless decisions herself.
In some ways, the younger Starks managed to be a bit smarter. Sansa’s done her best to play the game at King’s Landing and even inspired several allies (Tyrion, Shae, Littlefinger etc) while Arya’s wits alone and eventual alliance with the mysterious Jaqen managed to keep her alive at Harrenhal as did Tywin’s surprising sympathy for her to an extent. Then there was Bran and Rickon who managed to escape from Theon (the most useless traitor/would be invader ever) as Jon Snow found himself dealing with the likes of his own men, the fiery Ygritte and potentially White Walkers if that last scene is anything to go by.
Last but not least, this season probably wasn’t as strong for Daenerys as her first year was. The antics in the strange world of Qarth and her questionable alliances certainly became her undoing at times and there were too many scenes with her talking about her dragons and birthright whilst not actually doing anything about it. Thankfully the finale did the character an immense favour and forced her to actually take action, which in the end did the character the world of good.
As a whole, the second season might have had some tricky moments but with creepy shadow births and deaths, the appearances of the White Walkers, the development of the dragons, Blackwater as a whole and the wonderful cast as a whole, the one thing that can never be said about Season 2 was that it was dull. Some storylines might have taken longer to kick in but this was definitely an exciting season for a show that continues to grow so fearlessly.
Just like the first season, HBO definitely haven’t been stingy with the second season with an impressive slew of extras here. There are twelve commentaries from cast, crew and writer George RR Martin on nine episodes (episode five doesn’t get one, oddly enough) with at least two for three episodes. There are also some character profiles for the likes of Renly, Robb, Theon and Stannis as well as an in depth look at making Blackwater, the influence of religion with the various characters and a nice roundtable discussion with the writers and some of the cast as they discuss shooting the second season.
2x01: The North Remembers = 8/10, 2x02: The Night Lands = 8/10,
2x03: What Is Dead May Never Die = 9/10, 2x04: Garden Of Bones = 9/10,
2x05: The Ghosts Of Harrenhal = 9/10, 2x06: The Old Gods And The New = 9/10,
2x07: A Man Without Honor = 8/10, 2x08: The Prince Of Winterfell = 8/10,
2x09: Blackwater = 10/10, 2x10: Valar Morghulis = 10/10
Season 2 is currently available on DVD.