Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Game of Thrones, Season 2, Episode 1: the North Remembers

I will begin by again linking to HBO’s most excellent guide to the 10,000 characters on this show, to help people keep up with who is who.

Game of Thrones is back. I expect so much from this season. Dragons and breasts and kings and prostitutes and brutal murders and breasts and politics and prostitutes and war and breasts. Ok, probably more snarky than intended – I actually expect a lot of great action and story in this series – but I also think it’s going to be told against a backdrop of a thousand naked prostitutes

So without further ado, let the gratuitous jiggling – err, story - commence

In Kings Landing Joffrey is continuing to be the hateful little worm he is – now indulging in blood sports while Sansa tip-toes around his torturous, sadistic and petulant demands – including cleverly manipulating him into saving Ser Dontos’ life. At least Joffrey’s siblings are pleasant.

In Queen Cersei’s council the Maesters has confirmed that the summer is finally over. Cersei’s way of dealing with the many refugees in this time of war and coming winter is to have them evicted from the city

Except now Tyrion is here as well, with his all encompassing awesome. He sets Joffrey down most wonderfully, provides what comfort he can to Sansa in her awful predicament and to show Cersei that Tywin has appointed him hand while he’s away. Tywein takes the chance to poke Cersei perfectly (particularly the “it must be hard for you, being the disappointing child) with all her many varied failures. Alas for the Starks, now Tyrion is making the decisions.

Tyrion has brought Shae, despite his father’s orders.

While Cersei is hoping to find Arya to fix one of her mistakes. She approaches Baelish (her advisors don’t trust Varys being a eunuch) and she exchanges battles of wit with him which she loses – but she then has her guards hold a dagger to Baelish’s throat and show the true power she has. I have to say, the Lannisters do have style.

Joffrey starts emulating the Targaryen decorations and even steps over the line with Cersei – even Cersei is seeing what a disgusting little toad he is and how little he cares about anyone but himself – including her, Jaime and Tywin.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be Game of Thrones if we didn’t have some jiggling breasts in a brothel. I was beginning to think we wouldn’t see one this episode and I’d have to edit my opening. The guards are hunting and killing all of Robert Baratheon’s illegitimate children, even the babes in arms. That also sets them on the trail of Gendry – who has joined the Nights Watch and is travelling north with Arya

In Winterfell Bran and Maester Luwin are holding council as the lord while the other Starks are away which looks both dull and cold. Bran continues to have vivid dreams – dreaming of being a Dire Wolf and seeing a comet in the skies. He follows it up with Osha and Hordor (treated as a pack animal again) walking through where he walked as a Dire Wolf – and Osha and Bran discussing what a comet portends. Osha says it means dragons.

Daenerys has merely a handful of followers left, few supplies and few horses – and 3 baby dragons. They’re heading east across the red waste, a desert, with so few supplies. It’s the only way they can go and protect the dragons – south and west both have too many enemies. Her horse, the one Drogo gave her, founders and dies but Daenerys has to be the strength  for the people and their leader. We also focus a little more on one of her bloodriders, Rekharo.

In the North, beyond the wall, the Night Watch has ridden forth and are at a Wildling camp – where a wildling man has many daughters who are controlled by him – and he has more daughters incestuously by them – which is appropriately regarded with disgust. He’s the last wildling encampment for miles around, the others have allied with Manx Raider, the King of the Wildlings. He’s gathering a huge army and it’s speculated he’s going to lead them south – and he has more men under arms than any of the Seven Kingdoms.

Of course, Jon Snow is pouty and undisciplined and a bit whiney. Which is pretty standard.

Stannis Baratheon, the second Baratheon child and the legitimate heir to the throne is watching a woman in red, Melisandre, burning the statues of the gods (the New gods, the seven). She’s a priestess of a different religion – a lord of light and shadows. She gives Stannis a burning sword and they kneel to her god. Not everyone is happy about it – but they are loyal to Stannis.

Stannis is a harsh but very honest man and has a letter sent across the world proclaiming that Cersei’s children are illegitimate and fathered by Jaime, her brother (which is true). He won’t ally with Renly, his younger brother, because he has declared himself king and he won’t ally with Robb Stark because he has declared himself king in the north – but it leaves Stannis with few forces.

His Maester objects furiously to Melisandre and tries to poison her while sacrificing herself – the poison works on him – but not on her.

At the war, Robb Stark gets to talk to Jaime about Stannis’s letter, now he knows why Bran was pushed from the wall and why Ned was killed. And even the cocky Jaime is unnerved by Robb’s Dire Wolf which has grown considerably in size. Robb also sends peace terms to Kings Landing – an independent North.

His terms will be ignored, of course, and Theon Greyjoy points out that the only way he can take Kings Landing is with ships – which they don’t have. But which the Greyjoys have in abundance and some of the best sailors as well. But the Lords of the Iron Isles were rebels before and even with Theon, Lord Greyjoy’s only son, Catelyn doesn’t trust them. Unfortunately Catelyn the Spunky has more pressing concerns – exchanging Jaime Lannister for Sansa and Arya and being angry with Robb because he won’t agree. While I can understand her emotion, it unfortunately follows her poor decisions of the last series to again make Catelyn look short sighted, emotional and not very intelligent. Something made worse when she decides she wants to return to Winterfell to be with Brann but Robb wants her to go to Renly Baratheon – who has managed to raise a huge army – and negotiate and alliance with him. Cersei, Lady of Winterfell, is not thinking as a leader.

That was well done, we quickly reacquainted ourselves with all the main characters and the plot lines where they lie as well as introduced the new plot of Lord Stannis.

I wish we could have seen Arya – especially since without her the women we have are Sansa (cleverly using whatever means she can but still a victim), Cersei (a devious manipulator who isn’t even all that good at it) and Catelyn the Spunky (who is, well, Catelyn the Spunky), Melisandre (mysterious and dangerous witch) and a double passel of prostitutes. At least we still have Daenerys, strong, noble and brave.