Calling This Great Is Selling It Short
To put some perspective into how much I praise, “Game of Thrones”, this is my least favorite season out. Season 2, for my money anyways, is the weakest of the eventual eight season epic. I say that as a compliment. Even though I find this to be the weakest this is still near the top of Mount Rushmore for television. Season 2 marks another intriguing and even more intricate season than the last one. This greatly expands upon the mythology while still sticking pretty close to its source material. In some ways, Season 2 is actually a stronger and better season than the previous one. While the first season had its story mostly focused around Ned Stark as the king’s hand in King’s Landing (that’s of course simplifying it), this set of 10 episodes greatly spans it’s story and it’s cast of characters. The scripts have a lot more that is going on with them, More of the characters are split up, which makes for even more character arcs and storylines.
There is no way I could talk about this season without mentioning some spoilers from Season 1 and some mild giveaways from 2. So, if you’re not finished season 1 then don’t read this review. You should be able to tell that I love both seasons from the paragraphs above. If you haven’t even watched season 1….well go watch that……. like right now.
Now that we have that out of the way let’s dive into this. Season two opens where the last one left off (as if the series never went off the air for a year). King Robert is dead, Joffrey is King, Ned Stark was beheaded and the North is in open rebellion with King of the North Robb Stark leading the charge against the Lannisters and Joffrey. Jamie Lannister is captured by Robb, Arya is on the run from King’s Landing along with her friend (and Robert’s bastard) Gendry. Robert’s brother, Stannis is making claim to the Iron Throne while Robert’s other brother Renly also splits off and makes a bid for the throne. Meanwhile Daenerys and what’s left of her Dothraki army walk across the Red Waste with her Dragons looking for shelter. Jon Snow and the a large group of Night’s Watch head out beyond the wall to investigate what is going on and to maybe recover Benjen Stark.
Once again like Season one there is even more going then what’s listed above. Several subplots come into play here like with Sansa Stark and a new Royal house. We get to see some (what seemed like at first) unlikely pairings with Arya and Tywin Lannister. But, Tyrion as Hand of the King is one of the most entertaining and best parts of this season. His interactions with Cersei and the other political power players in Westeros is so intriguing and engaging. While Tywin is off fighting the war against Robb, Tyrion is trying to keep order in King’s Landing where Joffrey’s cruel nature is having a negative effect on the people of the city. Stannis though is looking to make a hard strike at King’s Landing and take the Iron Throne. Tyrion has to prepare the city defenses.
This leads to one of the most memorable episodes of the series with a massive, nearly hour long battle. This sequence is one of the most stunning scenes I have ever seen on TV. This doesn’t feel like it belongs on TV. This feels like it belongs in “Lord of the Rings”. It’s grand, it’s exciting and graphic. I wouldn’t want to be a part of it but it sure is glorious to watch.
This season also begins to introduce a lot more fantasy elements into the story. There certainly were some in the first season but there are far more in this season. This season expands upon the religions of Westeros. Introduced here is the Red Priest, and the character of Melisandre that leads Stannis into believing he is some pre-destined hero (or Azor Ahai). We also get to see more beyond the wall and the impending danger from both the Walkers and the Wildling army.
The problems for the season come towards the beginning. A few of the episodes have some pacing issues where some move a bit too slowly. As the series continues this becomes less of a problem. It’s just a tough juggling act between its massive amount of stories.
These are minor quibbles in another season of masterful Television. The season finale only hints at what is to come in later. This brings forth daring narrative choices that prove to be risky but pay off. This represents the second novel “A Clash of Kings” in grand cinematic fashion. But the quality of the series will be soon reaching bigger heights then it already had. But, that’s for another day.