Game of Thrones (Season Two)

Written by  //  April 7, 2012  //  Media & Popular Culture  //  No comments

Spoiler Warning:  If you have seen Season 1 but have not read the books, keep  reading.  No spoilers for you.   If you have not seen Season 1 or read the books, there will be a few spoilers towards the end of the post (I’ll warn you beforehand). And honestly, you really ought to get with the programme and watch the show! 

For those of us who have been waiting with bated breath for the second season of one of the most critically-acclaimed television shows in recent times, it was thrilling to see new places added to the credit sequence.  And better still, to see that Peter Dinklage got top billing!  With two episodes out, I already know that this season is going to be as amazing, if not better than the last season.

The success of Season 1 surprised me, in the sense that a sizable portion of the audience was comprised of people who had never read the books.  In my post from before the casting for Game of Thrones and my post about Season 1, I didn’t really address the non-book crowd. I assumed that such a intricate plot with a few dozen POV characters, each with their own story line would be inaccessible to those who hadn’t read the books.  And yet, I find that the non-book fans are as, if not more excited about Season 2.  This just confirms my suspicion that GoT is a superbly crafted show.  Besides, us book fans know all the plot twists and while  we are dying of anticipation,  it won’t be with that fervor of wondering what will happen next.  For those thrills, we have to wait on His Highness George pRocRasinator Martin’s pleasure.  This is the first time I find myself recommending the TV adaptation over the books.  If you haven’t read the series so far, don’t feel like you have to.  The TV show does full justice to the books and rises about the status of a mere adaptation.

I even find myself slightly envious of those who haven’t read the books.  They haven’t had to endure George R. R. Martin’s cringeworthy dialogue, terrible prose style and endless descriptions of sigils and mottos (“Hear me roar“? Seriously? That’s what Catwoman said in Batman Returns).  They haven’t had to endure the interminable delays between books (according to optimistic estimates, the next book will take at least two more years. Chew on that). How shocked they must’ve been when that terrible, terrible thing happened at the Sept of Baelor! How gobsmacked are they going to be when That Certain Thing happens later this season?  The second book “A Clash of Kings” is probably the best in the series so prepare to have your mind blown.

(If you haven’t seen Season 1, skip the rest. Spoilers ahead).

Season 1 ended in on this manic high/low note. The sort-of protagonist, Ned Stark is beheaded by the despicable King Joffrey at the Sept of Baelor (tell me you didn’t want to bitchslap the hell out of him after this).  The Stark household in King’s Landing is destroyed, Sansa captured and Arya is in hiding. Young and inexperienced Robb Stark calls his banners to prepare for war. He does have a trump card after all– the prisoner, Jaime Lannister.  The Northmen won’t take this lying down.  Down South, the irrepressible Tyrion Lannister is appointed Hand of the King by his terrifying father while Cersei is busily getting drunk on her power.  Jon Snow shivers on the Wall; the only thing protecting the ungrateful people of Westeros from the terrors that walk the night. And we’re not talking about the Wildlings here.  And far away in the Dothraki Sea, Daenerys Targaryen cremates Khal Drogo and with him, her dreams of conquering Westeros.  But not all hope is lost– she becomes the mother of three dragon hatchlings. Dragons, which had not been seen in the world for centuries now.

The new season opens with new characters, new lands and strange portends.  The white raven is sent to King’s Landing– a symbol that the long summer is over and winter is indeed coming.  A red comet is seen by all in Westeros– what could it mean? War? The blood of Ned Stark? Dragons? The coming of the Lord of Light?  In Dragonstone, Robert’s brother, Stannis Baratheon burns his Seven Gods and turns to the red priestess, Melisandre to give him the strength to overthrow Joffrey and take the Iron Throne for himself.  Tyrion shows up in King’s Landing as the Hand, determined to make his sister’s life miserable and to straighten things out before the people rebel. Meanwhile, Daenerys is struggling to keep her khalasar together.  She’s too weak and her dragons are too little to become a force to be reckoned with. Yet.

This season is definitely more focused and darker in tone.  Season 1 spent a lot of time introducing characters but Season 2 doesn’t waste time on that. Even new characters are effortlessly introduced without too much exposition.  Daenerys Targaryen’s acting  has marginally improved– she is no longer that expressionless little girl.  There’s a heartbreaking aura of sorrow and determination around her now.  While the Starks are the obvious good guys, Tyrion is the one that really catches your attention. After Peter Dinklage’s much-deserved Emmy win,  I’m glad he’s getting a lot of screen time. He has  excellent dialogue and he delivers them with style.  The Starks haven’t had too much individual time so far but the scenes are so well-crafted that they tell us everything we need to know. And then there are those hints and clues about the impending war.  WAR!

This show cannot go on without showing at least one major war.  I know war scenes are expensive, but war is becoming far too integral to the story line to avoid them any longer (which the makers of the show seem to have realized seeing as all their promos promise WAR!).  There is the troubling fact the GRRM doesn’t write war as well as some other fantasy authors. That said, one sequence in the second book is nail-biting.  If the makers of the show pull it off, the world will have no choice but to declare Game of Thrones as the Best TV Show Ever.

For those who are having trouble remembering characters and plot lines from the first season, this a great source for some hilarious and useful GoT links.  Social butterflies, here’s how you throw the World’s Greatest GoT Party (Hint: it involves inviting a horrible person, calling him Joffrey and then slapping the bejeesus out of him).

WINTER. IS. FREAKING. COMING!

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