Season one of Game of Thrones ended on a rather dark note for the people of Westros, and season 2 starts no better for them. Season one ended with Ned Stark, his son on the warpath and his daughters is jeopardy and the threat of thier whole continent falling into chaos, no less. Oh, and we also got see Danaerys naked again. This time standing in the ashes of of her husbands funeral pyre holding a baby dragon over her private parts, for I guess, modesty’s sake?
And how will this year start with ep one, The North Remembers?
First, I just want to address the mocking of the show that the NY Times has engaged with for a second year. They sneer at Game of Thrones, suggesting that its is both two complex (read intelligent) and two ridiculous for the general public to care to watch. The review brings up a slew of HBO triumphs such as The Wire, The Sopranos, Rome and The Borgia’s and still has the temerity to wonder what a show like Game of Thrones has in common with them. Yes, it is a goofy review meant to raise hackles more than anything else.
On the other hand, fans of the show really cant’t stand being mocked either. last year they railed against being compared to D&D (I will point out that the point of D&D is that a group of disparate characters get together to cooperate to achieve a common goal, generally a positive one. Game of Thrones features a series of brutal would be tyrants who can’t stand each other and happily betray and kill each other and will happily scramble over the mountain of corpses of their followers and enemies to sit on a spikey throne. Yeah, exactly the same.)
All the rage amongst fantasy fans really merely shows that they don’t have there here, George R. R. Martin’s sense of humor. Seriously, we have a book series that is devoted to torturing and killing off it’s characters in a claim of gritty ‘realism’. It’s truly a medieval fantasy Saw franchise writ epic large. Adding to the fact that George feels the need to expand every iteration with countless characters to introduce and kill off in horrible ways, the series comes across as more like a black comedy of errors than anything else.
Apparently his fans don’t get the joke.
But enough of my take on the series as a whole, how does the introductory story launch us into season two (HBOs adaption of A Clash of Kings?)
*only quasi-spoilers warning as actually nothing much happens this ep*
Mostly we get shown how spread apart the narrative is. While there is a decent enough amount of time spent in King’s Landing where we have alternately brutal and surprisingly self-aware King Joffery engaging in some bloody redecorating while he enjoys his newfound power (he’s had quite enough of being slapped, thank you very much.) he’s a concern to his mother (still pining for her lover-brother), who seemed to have thought she was going to rule Westros through him. Surprise! Dad Tywin, when he isn’t losing battles to Rob Stark, is so disappointed in Cercei that he’s sent previous least liked child Tyrion to clean up her mess. Emmy winner Peter Dinklage offers some witty comments, but little else this ep, while Leana headly engages in some melodrama and soap opera level histrionics.
So far so good. Oh, and keep your eye on that red comet. I’m sure it’s up to something, I mean other than looking both pretty and ominous.
In the mean time, to cater to those who’ve been following the whole polygamist sect thing, we get to visit with Jon Snow in the north, where his team of Watch (men) get to spend time with a creep who sleeps with his daughter and “marry’s” their ofspring. A comment about what happens to his sons goes unanswered.
The other Stark sons aren’t really up to much either yet. Little crippled Bran in unhappy that the leige lords are complaining about all their men being called away to fight for the honorable memory of poor beheaded Ned. And Robb is thinking about alliances (which his mother isn’t too impressed with) and learning to trash talk with master (and still prisoner) Jaime. Oh, and his wolf has gotten quite big pretty quickly.
Lack of interest in forming an alliance to take down Joffrey seems rather the rules, as previously mentioned, but not seen last season, Stannis Baratheon (a likeably gruff Stephen Dilane), is claiming the throne like his brother. But unlike his brother, he seems content so far in posturing and sending off letters, hand with his weird sorceress (Dutch actress Carice van Houten adopting a bela-lugosi style accent) from the east, and refuse to form any alliance either. Apparently younger brother Renly has raised an army of 100,000 but is yet holding them back, seeming content to watch from the sidelines while Robb and Tywin Lannister fight it out.
Oh and as for Danaerys and her remaining dozen or so followers? She’s led them into a rock quarry on Malta (standing in for the Red Wastes) and they are wandering about with no actual goal, just the fear that If she goes anywhere semi-civilized, someone will take away her baby dragons (oh,no!). In desperations, she sends her last remaining horsemen north, east and south in hopes that her motley band will find a place where they can survive. Hmm… seems familiar, oh yeah, I saw something like pulled in the classic seventies thriller Capricorn One. Although I doubt that Elliot Gould will show up to save them.
And finally, we get the killing of Roberts bastards, baby or even suspected. Sure this is supposed to appear evil, but really, even King Arthur engaged in this sort of preventative killing to ssure his throne wouldn’t be threatened by a bastard (although good lot that did him in the end.)
All in all a decent start to the new series, and rather necessary, given the vast number of players on the field. Everything is still pretty and all the acting is (mostly)fine. And, hey, the writers still can work in some brothel lessons to appease their ‘lessons how to be a happy prostitute’ obsession. But if you think this is an actually an effort at legitimizing fantasy television, you have to be kidding. Our writers clearly way to self indulgent to be treated seriously.
For instance, we are provided a scene where Littlefinger mocks Cersei, claiming ‘knowledge is power’ by telling her he too is aware of the content of Stannis’ letter to everyone. Yeah Petyr, but common knowledge isn’t. Man, the narrative should have killed him off then and there. But I guess some criminally stupid acts in Westros go unpunished if the writers say so.
But that’s not to say the start of the new series wasn’t entertaining. Justn as noted, not much happened in this ep. but I’m sure things will pick up.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5