The North Remembers
The Night Lands
What Is Dead May Never Die
Garden of Bones
The Ghost of Harrenhal
The Old Gods and the New
A Man Without Honor
The Prince of Winterfell
Game Of Thrones returns with a continuation of its ambitious, politically charged story in a second season that continues the ever-growing struggle for dominance in Westeros. With more characters this year and numerous sub plots intertwined with the main plot line, Game Of Thrones continues to surprise and impress with a stronger season that hits all the right notes. Boasting solid acting, a superbly written script and some breathtaking action, Game Of Thrones proves why it’s one of the best fantasy TV shows to ever grace the small screen.
With the world of Westeros still reeling from the shock of Ned Stark’s (Sean Bean) death at the hands of tyrannical bastard Joffrey Lannister (Jack Gleeson), the second season picks up right where it left off with the Kingdoms in turmoil and the fate of the crown hanging in the balance. As news spreads of Joffrey’s illegitimate bloodline to the Baratheons, various powers rise up around Westeros to fight for control of the Iron Throne. Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), King Robert’s biological brother, embraces a strange God called the Lord Of Light with a little help from red witch Melisandre (Carice van Houten) whilst his brother Renly (Gethin Anthony) and his Queen Margarey (Natalie Dormer) plot to seize the throne for themselves thanks to their allegiance with the Baratheon Army. Whilst the brothers wrestle for control of their forces, the scattered Stark children are split up and try to survive whilst their older brother Robb (Richard Madden) continues his crusade to march south and meet the Lannisters head on in battle.
Across the Narrow Sea, Daenarys (Emilia Clarke) and her newly hatched dragons continue to gain followers and her slow journey to claim the Iron Throne sees her take refuge in the strange city of Qarth for vast periods of this season, surrounded by schemers and shady characters. In contrast to the dry, choked desert surrounding Qarth, north of the Wall Jon (Kit Harington) continues his arduous journey with the Night’s Watch into the blistering cold where they find refuge with Craster (Robert Pugh), a solitary man surrounded by his own daughters whom he beds and marries to keep his bloodline pure. Later on, Jon finds himself face to face with the infamous wildlings as they venture into the vast unknown and one in particular, Ygritte (Rose Leslie), does a pretty good job of planting seeds of doubts at the heart of Jon’s moral compass.
Accompanying these plot lines is wild card Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) who sees his allegiance questioned as he returns to his homeland, the Iron Islands, to try and gain fealty for King Robb from his biological father. The Greyjoys snub his offer, instead seeing opportunity in the chaos to try and reclaim the North for themselves. With battles and wars raging all across the land, the season ends in a blaze of sickly green fire and bloodshed in a defining, epic battle for Kings Landing and dominance of the throne.
There’s no denying that the second season of Game Of Thrones has an awful lot going on. All of these plot lines include the same amount of political intrigue, plot twists, action and intricately woven storytelling that made the first season so endearing with higher stakes than ever before. The illustrious history for the various houses continues to be explored with the mystery around the White Walkers and the coming apocalypse becoming ever more realized. Westeros certainly feels much more like a world made up of Seven Kingdoms this year with a vast geographical spread boasting some unique art and authentic set design.
In true Game Of Thrones fashion there’s a return of high violence and sexually charged scenes that made the first season such a culture shock to those less accustomed to the books and of course viewers with a weak disposition. Everything from sadistic sexual exploits to blood-spattered violence is shown in visceral detail thanks in part to the continued improvements with the special effects. Whether this level of graphic content is needed in order to tell the story on the small screen is certainly open to interpretation but given the source material, it fits with the mood and realistic depiction of George R.R. Martin’s story.
Due to budget constraints there are some important scenes missing this season and the Battle For Blackwater isn’t quite as epic as it is in the books but there’s still a thoroughly enjoyable and impressive season of fantasy action here. Coupled with the dialogue, colloquialisms and exhaustive history of the world, Game Of Thrones is not just one of the best politically charged dramas on TV, it’s easily one of the best fantasy stories ever composed. The 10 episodes manage to effortlessly give enough screen time to each of the characters whilst furthering the plot around dominance for the Iron Throne. With the second season ending on a big cliffhanger, the future looks fittingly bleak for Westeros but decidedly bright for anyone who’s on board and watching this stunning show.
Verdict - 9/10