Re-watching and Re-living some of the great moments of the HBO series!
****SPOILER ALERT**** we assume you’ve already watched the series
(above: nice map, but not as nice as Stannis’s “table map” of Westeros at Dragonstone <below>)
The Old and the New
The home stretch of season 1 didn’t just leave viewers like me reeling. The whole kingdom of Westeros was rocked by the events we discussed in the last post. A vacuum of power had occurred with the death of the king and the elimination of The Hand of the King, and many rushed to fill it. This second season follows the events of the second book in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, “A Clash of Kings.” How many kings are there now? (Cersei even asks this question at a meeting of the small council, saying “I’ve forgotten.”) There’s the nominal heir, Joffrey, but rumors about his parentage are spreading quickly, there’s Robb Stark, the “King in the North,” Renley Baratheon and Stannis Baratheon, brothers to the dead king Robert. There’s a rumored King beyond the wall (that for now seems to only concern Tyrion and the Men of the Night’s Watch). And don’t forget about Daenerys Targaryen, as yet across The Narrow Sea, but not without ambitions of her own to sit on the Iron Throne of Westeros.
Those characters we loved (or loved to hate) in season one have returned (those that survived the first season, anyway) and we met some new characters to love or hate (Stannis, Brienne, Melisandre, Margaery, Tarisa, and Davos to name just a few). So, following are some mostly random thoughts and observations about the first half of season 2:
The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Cersei Lannister, as much as I love to hate her, had some great moments early in season 2. Why great? Because she puts a couple other characters – who I hate even more – in their place. Episode one treats us to oily Petyr Baelish smugly telling Cersei that “Knowledge is power.” How to deal with this upstart, she must have wondered. Her solution is to tell her guards to “Seize him,” and then to “cut his throat,” and only as they make ready to do so she, with an air of capriciousness stops them saying she’s changed her mind. She leans toward a still shaken Baelish and says, “POWER is power.” Point made.
Cersei also gets in a “Joffrey Slap” (& can we get this term entered into the lexicon?) in the throne room, which Joffrey is remodeling to a look more suitable to his arrogance and decadence.
Making Caligula Blush
Speaking of Joffrey, early in the season we see his sadistic brutality, now unrestrained, and its impact on those around him. Unfortunately for Sansa Stark, she takes the brunt of the abuse. In episode one, he walks her out to the place on the walls where her father’s head is displayed on a spike, mentioning that Robb’s will soon join it. (And who says romance is dead?) Tyrion’s efforts to calm Joffrey’s beast with a couple distractions from the brothel don’t turn out as well as he’d hoped either. I’ll not recount the unsavory details of that episode.
Later, Joffrey figures that, since he can’t reach Robb Stark, he might as well punish Sansa in his place. Having one of his lackey knights beat her for his amusement, sneeringly noting, “Leave her face. I like her pretty.” Yep, I still love to hate him. Fortunately for young Sansa, Tyrion arrives and puts a stop to her abuse this time.
(above: Joffrey sneers “I like her pretty.”)
Little Big Man
And speaking of Tyrion, in this part of the series he has risen to his zenith of power, serving as The King’s Hand as decided by his father Tywin. You can tell by that cool stickpin emblem again…
Tyrion is also one of the few man characters in the series with the brains to effectively play “The Game of Thrones” (It comes back to all that reading he does) even if he’s not that imposing a figure physically. He Executes an inspired stratagem in episode 3, wherein he tells three suspected informants within the small council (Baelish, Pycelle, and Varys) of three different marriage plans for his niece, stressing that “The Queen must not be told,” which smokes out his quarry.
A Clockwork Orange?
Let’s see, who else. Oh, Theon Greyjoy. I almost start feeling sorry for him in season two, but he makes it easy enough to dismiss those thoughts. (And am I the only one that Theon (portrayed by actor Alfie Allen) reminds of Malcolm McDowell (below) mugging his way through Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange?)
Theon’s homecoming to the Iron Islands showcases him at his pathetic best. Failing to impress everyone he meets, unknowingly feeling up his sister (maybe he has a Lannister in his family tree?) on the ride to the castle (where he is just further humiliated by his hard-nosed father Balon). Yep, I kinda felt sorry for him. Almost.
(below: even the commoners of the Iron Islands are not impressed with Theon)
New characters? There’re almost too many to mention, but I will say I am a big fan of Brienne of Tarth. We first meet her at the camp of Renley Baratheon, one of the pretenders to the throne, where she is besting the formidable knight, Ser Loras Tyrell in mock combat. Her role thankfully expands as we finish season two and head into season three.
Speaking of Renley, his expanded role includes his marriage (for appearances and offspring only) to Loras’s sister, Margaery Tyrell (and, although my research was unable to confirm this, I think margaery is also the word from the “High Valerian” language meaning “cleavage”)
The Lady in Red
The struggle between the Baratheon boys leads to the introduction of a new character I love to hate, Melisandre (a.k.a. the Red Woman). She uses her charisma and power as a kind prophetess of “The Lord of the Light” – an upstart among the religions of Westeros. Melisandre also possesses overt supernatural powers, and she is not afraid to use them, just ask Renley – or his survivors.
Speaking of supernatural powers, what’s up with Arya’s new “friend” Jacqen H’Ghar? The interplay between these two is great in season two. Saving Jacqen from being roasted alive may turn out to be the best decision she’s made thus far. “A girl” is smart. 🙂
I’d better wind this up if I’m going to get this posted tonight, and even so I know there’s a lot I haven’t talked about. I spent no time at “The Wall” (or beyond) and no time in Essos with Daenerys and her dwindling Khalisar, which has just gained admittance to the beautiful oasis city of Qarth (below). Fortunately, she will see her screen time expand as the series progresses.