Game of Thrones 2 (2012)
Reviewer: Charity Bishop
Never get too attached to anyone in
G.R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones series. You may
find yourself mourning the loss of your favorite
characters, while waiting eons for the ones you hate to
die off... if they ever do die off. Some of
them seem to live on indefinitely, just to spite us. The
second season of HBO's take on bringing the series to
life on the small screen deviates more from the series
than the first season, but is still an entertaining ten
The king is dead. Long live the contenders for the throne!
As the “son” of the king, the young and sadistic Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) is
the major claimant, but word has spread that he is not the heir to the throne
rather the result of an incestuous relationship between his mother (a
scene-stealing Lena Heady) and her
brother. His eldest uncle, Stannis (Stephen Dillane), is determined to take it
from him with the assistance of his priestess advisor, Melisandre (Carice
van Houten). She promises him the throne in exchange
for certain favors, an agreement that greatly concerns his loyal friend Ser
Davos (Liam Cunningham).
In the north, Robb Stark (Richard Madden) and his armies fight their way southward to reclaim
his sister Sansa (Sophie Turner) and avenge their father's death, but no word has been heard on the fate of
their little sister, Arya (Maisie Williams). His crippled brother Bran (Isaac
Hempstead Wright) is in command of Winterfell and troubled by visions of direwolves and ravens. The sinister appearance of a red comet in
the sky also proves troubling. Only Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) knows what
it signifies, for she travels with three newly hatched dragons, thought extinct
Meanwhile, Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj
Coster-Waldau) is held captive by Robb Stark, leaving
his elder brother Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) to take on the position of the “King’s
Hand” over Joffrey in the absence of his grandfather (Charles Dance). And the
ever-scheming, untrustworthy “Littlefinger”
(Aidan Gillen) has been given the task to find Arya… at all costs.
Season two has its ups and downs. The ups include
some scene-stealing (and Emmy-worthy) performances from
major and minor players alike. One of the highlights of
this year's offering are the scenes between young Maisie
Williams and veteran actor Charles Dance. Though we are
meant to hate his character, it never quite happens ...
and part of the reason is the shine he takes to Arya,
without ever knowing who she is. The banter between
them, as he takes her in much like a doting but stern
grandfather, is the stuff brilliance is made of.
Likewise could be said of Stephen Dillane's take on
Stannis, a figure in the books cold and unwelcoming but
that becomes fascinating on screen, thanks to Dillane's
somewhat sarcastic take on him. Alas, one of the "downs"
this season is that we don't get to see nearly enough of
him -- or, for that matter, of Natalie Dormer in her
role as one of the new leading ladies. Daenerys also
suffers from a lack of screen time, while characters I
had no interest in and happen to dislike featured
heavily in several episodes.
It's hard to pin down what makes Game of Thrones
work so well. Is it the characters we love to hate?
The dread of waiting to see which one of them is going
to die next? But, and I cannot emphasize this enough,
there are times when HBO seems determined to make the
series more about "adult entertainment" than
storytelling, and the writing suffers as a result. I
don't think toning down the content would hurt it any.
In fact, it might kick up the class factor a notch.
If there is a woman around, she has her clothes off. All but one of
the episodes have nudity in them of some kind, sometimes in a
sadistic light (such as when Joffrey,
rather than taking advantage of the whores his uncle has
sent to him, forces them to abuse one another), others
in a creepy light (such as the fully nude scene of a
woman giving birth to a shadow-creature); all but two of
them have sexual content that leaves nothing to the
imagination. Among consensual scenes is one of Sansa
nearly being raped. Conversation revolves around the fact that she
has started her period.
Among the common uses of "whore," "bastard," and
so on are frequent uses of c**t and f**k.
dismemberment, explosions, implications of infant homicide, and the
occasional severed limb.
Emphasis is placed on the gods,
and Melisandre calls upon them to bring Stannis the
victory. She convinces him to impregnate her with a
shadow creature who is then an assassin. Elsewhere,
references are made to dragons and their magic, and