[Review] - Game of Thrones Season 2, Episode 1 "The North Remembers"


Photo courtesy of HBO.

"Stars don't fall for men," we're told. "It means only one thing. Dragons."

And so we find ourselves back in Westeros, in a cooler moment then when we left. Robb Stark (Richard Madden) is riding high off his three victories, which Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) seems not to hold in high regard, but his brother Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) thinks quiet impressive. The Imp has returned to King's Landing to take his place as hand, and not a moment too soon, as Joffery (Jack Gleeson) is showing a great aptitude in his complete bastard classes. For a moment, even Cersei (Lena Headey) seems unable to control him, and it is clear that thought frightens her. For the first episode back, it does a perfect job of doing what it must, namely reminding us of where we have been, and hinting at where we are going.

To read more, hit the jump. Assume spoilers, 'cause there are some.

Much like the pilot, this episode takes things slow, allowing us time to return to this world, which is good, because it has some serious work to do. Namely, introducing new friends.

Enter Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), elder brother of Robert and true heir to the iron throne. No, wait, hold on. Full disclosure, I have read the books, and thus try to divorce myself between the two mediums, with various levels of success. In some instances though, I cannot help but make comparisons, and this is one of those times. I felt that the books did a far better job introducing Stannis, and more importantly, his witch Melisandre (Carice van Houten). In the show, Stannis comes off almost reluctant, and thus less effective as a threat, which is how we are currently expected to view him. Alas, we were only treated to a single sequence involving Stannis, and so we hardly know him, or his witch, or his loyal Davos (Liam Cunningham). And this is where I'm afraid the show will start to show it's cracks.

Last season, we followed four basic story lines: Ned, in King's Landing; Cat, in the Aerie; Dany in the east; and Jon in the north. Towards the end these splintered into Tyrion's own story, and Robb raising an army. This season we will have, as introduced in this episode alone: Tyrion at King's Landing; Robb waging war; Cat, shortly to be sent to Renly; Stannis and his shiny new fire god; Bran in the north; Jon beyond the wall; Dany, still in the east; Arya on the King's road, and more yet to come, leaving each episode over burdened with story. A book can go on for a thousand pages, it's no matter. But a season is only ten episodes, and I'm worried that something will get missed, or worse, will be included but without the full attention it deserves. Save for Cersei, each character was basically given one scene in this episode, like a high school debate, where everyone gets two minutes. After waiting for so long, we want to spend more time back in this world, but the fifty five minutes flies by, and left me clamouring for more. A sign of damned good television, but a frustrating one as well.

Some highlights. The Jedi-like extermination of Robert's bastards, giving Gendry's presence on the King's Road some actual dramatic weight. Part of me had hoped this was anticipated and designed, part of a cunning plan by some of the capital's "great liars," but I suspect it's just an accident. The humour was still around, which is good. If you read my thoughts on The Walking Dead, you know how I feel about a little levity now and then. And it's not left to just one character to brighten the show; most get a corker in when the occasion calls for it.

The best part of the show? Now that Sean Bean has vacated the post as series star, it could have easily become a successful ensemble. However, and thanks, I'm certain, in no small part to his Emmy win, Peter Dinklage's name now appears first on the credits. Highly deserved, and I'm probably right in thinking that it's the first time a little person has been the front line star of a successful television program.

So, with Joffery letting power go to his head, Gendry being hunted by the King's Guard, and Kings preparing to clash, we wait for next week, and "The Night Lands."

Best line:
Tyrion, to Cersei - "You love your children. It's your one redeeming quality. That, and your cheekbones."

Number of Bitchslaps: 1, to Jofferey
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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