'Game of Thrones' episode sets stage for second season
After the strong season opening with "The North Remembers," writers continue to bring George R.R. Martin's "Clash Of Kings" to life with episode two, "The Night Lands." Although sounding like the end of something great, "Night" essentially boils down the foundations of what the season has in store for everyone. Who will fight, who will run and, crucially, who will stand to take the crown and throne in King's Landing.
Starting things off, far past the few seconds we saw her at the very end of episode one, Arya is somewhere in the Northern Forest on the run from those who betrayed her family and killed her father. We get a good glimpse of how she was able to escape her estimated fate, as well as see a blossoming relationship with the former blacksmith Gendry (one of King Robert's children) when suddenly guards from King's Landing show up looking for him. After a confrontation, Yoren scares them off. From here on out, Arya is known to be watched, no matter where she goes no longer as a orphan "boy," but as a potential target.
Perhaps the best segment of the episode takes place, once again, at King's Landing. Tyrion chews up the screen both attacking the sanity of Varys (saying " I know how this game is played" and "I'm not Ned Stark") and for ensuring Cersei is cornered in her own fortress of lies and deception.
From every minute on, you firmly believe that Joffrey's rule on the capital is slowly fading away, and here comes the Imp to take the entire spotlight. Before leaving the golden paradise, we're reminded that Cersei's backstabbing ability can cause great distress, as the eventful death of the Lanasters' mother came forward to admit Tyrion was the cause for her death. Dinklage's reaction is just tragic, and for once in a long time, the action of having "actions speak louder then words" truly resonates here.
With so much happening north and south of the wall, the next best sequences took place in The Red Waste, where Daenerys gets the recently severed head of her former trustee in finding a possible way out of the desert. Now stuck, we're transported not too far in the Grand Sea as Theon sails to meet his father of the Iron Islands. For a good solid portion of "Night," Theon is finally given the recognition he so rightfully deserves.
Seeing the relationship with his father, Balon, and confronting his northern dress and style, his sister Pyke isn't any better in letting Theon become more familiar in all the wrong ways. The Iron Islands are far from anything we've seen in the Seven Kingdoms. Ruled with a metal fist like the Lanesters, but have the compassion for forgiveness like the Starks. In the same respect, we saw Stannis with the "red lady" Melisandre back at Dragonstone become more or less the monster that could plague the entire existence of everyone around them. Through "fire," she claims in his ears, is the purist death to purge the world. Man does foreshadowing in this show goes the extra distance.
Other then that, we have a great cliffhanger ending with how John Snow, still at Craster's Keep, is confronted to let a pregnant girl go with him and Sam farther north for the sake of her protection. Having no idea why, as much to the side of the audience, we're left with a distraught Snow that is still lured to battle and wants an escape from this winter hellhole back to his family. Off moment, we get a really sweet scene with Sam helping the same girl from one of the wolves that been known to be hostile. Curiously, I really like how Sam is growing on me to be perhaps the most sane and complete character of this series, even while the factor of the fear of being known as a coward does hurt his stamina just a tad bit.
No matter who I felt got the most scenes in the episode, or who never got the status in which Martin put in certain details the series has at this point in "Clash," what the Iron Island and the continuation of what the Red Waste are turning out to be is by far surpassing my expectations on having "Game of Thrones" season two rivaling the book in almost every sense. Standouts really include more character depth put in, especially for Arya and Sam, and the foreshadowing factor with Stannis and his new wife just brings a joyous smile to my face.
Finally, on Peter Dinklage, need I continue to ask what this man brings to the series? However, this time, I also have to tip my hat to Lena Headey (playing Cersei) in making Tyrion almost a puppet she could just slash the throat of. For the first time, we see Tyrion almost venerable, alone, and transfixed by the mother who has caused so much turmoil on her part. That's really what makes "Thrones" such a great series; you can root for the good or bad guys, no matter in what part of the show or whom we're following.
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