Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Game of Thrones Season 2

by DionysusPsyche

I debated doing an episode-by-episode recap, but the head writer of the blog would've been disappointed that I took that from him, and also it would have been too disheartening a task for me to take on. Unless I videotaped the recap of me yelling at the screen, you really wouldn't get a lot out of it--and even still, I overestimate my credibility and importance when yelling at inanimate objects.

When I watched the first season of Game of Thrones, I hadn't read the series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” but I fell in love with the season propelling me straight into the novels. There I learned the more intricate lives of the characters I'd come to cherish while I waited with baited breath for the second season which was almost a year away at the time.

As I mentioned in one of my previous reviews, “the book is better” is a despised clichéd term avid fans use that makes me wince. Which is why I have a strategy of avoiding disappointment: to read books after movies, thereby circumventing any dissapointment when faced with quickening the pace, fragmenting information, and less character developed story lines. Everybody wins, and by everyone, I mean I do.

My sources that led me to Game of Thrones held the show in high acclaim. They respectfully pointed out the limited ways in which the two differentiated, coming to the conclusion that over all, the show did the books justice. Thus began my pledge to read as many of the books as I could get through before the next season. I also needed to clear up some inconsistencies between my confusion due to certain aspects of the plot/character development and my impatience waiting for the following season I decided to dive into the series. The first book is called Game of Thrones, and the television series is of the same name. The next book is Clash of Kings, followed by Storm of Swords, and fourth in line is Feast for Crows. There are more to come, but that's where I ended.

It's hard to explain how contrary Clash of Kings (book 2) is from the second season of Game of Thrones. I'll try to be as fair as possible. An improvement over the books is that the show cut a lot of extraneous back and forth where characters are on the map and a lot of the nobodies that were frankly going to die anyway are out.

A great example is Arya, who ends up traveling back and forth with loads of unimportant characters only to gain a new group who die or get captured. This happens every chapter of Arya's, and while she's one of the characters I consistently followed, this “didn't she just go there?” feeling gets old. The show takes all the fat and annoyance out of that by turning it into a more purposeful journey where she reaches the place where she needs to be and learns what she needs to know more quickly. Although they do cut out one of my favorite scenes with her which aggravated me to no end and her capture is less than exhilarating to say the least.

Tyrion never fails in any scene he's in and still proves his worth as the greatest, strongest character of the series. Across the board, his fandom spreads far and wide, and the show does a good job of portraying the predicament that he is in. He is Hand to the king. He initially doubts his capability to lead, but then sees a fortuitous advantage to keep his sister in one eye and his nephew, Joffrey the brat king, in the other. However, it's frightening considering the two former title holders died with it under the same family. His devotion to Shae is also put into question as Tyrion is equally intelligent and crafty as he is insecure in regards to his body. This also goes for his relationship with Bronn, his sellsword who is honest with him to a fault. Tyrion's motives often ride on money.

Tyrion's rise to the call, both in the city where the royal party is flogged and the wild fire scene where he inspires the troops, is very powerful. He is more than the sum of his parts. However, his battle wounds were not as horrifying as they could've been.

The Imp

Varys was wonderful as always, and while he was not in as many scenes as he initially was in the first season, he did prove useful and ever himself in each moment—especially those with Tyrion. They play better together than he did with Ned Stark and rightfully so.

Renly's episodes are almost exactly as I imagined them except for his night with Margaery—which was a welcome added scene to those at home not privy to the novel's ongoing gossip about the state of Margaery's innocence.

My unexpected grievance with the second season is Rob's untold, unwanted story of how he breaks his promise by marrying a woman he loves instead of the one he's betrothed to. This literally could've taken two scenes: one where the girl shows up and one where she leaves. It was surprising in the story, and I hoped that the episodes would focus more on the struggle between Rob and his mother, Catelyn, as opposed to Rob's love interest with a completely underwhelming, boring character. Seriously, if this was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she would be Tara. Catelyn, by comparison, stepped up to the plate. The show has a much better Catelyn than the books do.

Why the hell is Petyr Baelish everywhere? I understand that he is important in his own way and stealthier than one would estimate, but he has a number of pop-up scenes where I was literally searching for the Star Trek Enterprise to randomly beam him in and out.

Cersei is not scathing enough. In the books, she invokes a “mirror, mirror” evil queen type, and in the show she is a catty and beady eyed popular girl who won't give you the time of day but talks to you anyway, which doesn't make any sense. She often brings down all barriers to reveal a vulnerability that shouldn't be there, at least not yet. They bring up too much of her emotional waters to further her character among those she is supposed to view as enemies to be destroyed. She does increase her volume of alcohol as she does in the novels, which was nice, I suppose.

On the bright side, her inner dialogue in the show is preferable to those in the books. The books make her and Catelyn's character almost interchangeable at times, and the softer side of Cersei is more prevalent--less rageful. So far.

 Sansa is still Sansa, and I'm glad for that. Her humiliation by Joffrey, her panic when becoming a woman, and her scenes with the Hound were too short lived, but sweet. They also add a scene by cutting out more middle men where she speaks to Little Finger. I will say this, of the surprises that I hope to see in third season, they are setting up some good plot spins in terms of her character. I just hope they don't drop the ball.

Daenerys's scenes are less exciting than in season one, and once more I find myself wanting to skip over them. There are a few select moments in the season finale that I enjoyed which I was informed were not in the book.

Theon Greyjoy met my expectations. Alfie Allen, the actor playing him, becomes Theon moreso than any actor playing any character in season 2, and of them all, he is the best written—except for possibly Joffrey. He was precisely what he was supposed to be—nothing more, nothing less. His sister was not what I imagined, but Theon himself is self-righteous, arrogant, and finally admits he belongs to neither world—he is not a Greyjoy and he is not a Stark. He has to make a name for himself, but that name means nothing.

Jon Snow may be beyond the wall, but he is nowhere near the man he needs to be. He might as well be a walking zombie for all the on screen performance he lacked. His meeting and subsequent capture by Ygritte, is less than thrilling, although the actress is beautiful. I am pleased that so far she doesn't yammer on like a parrot with her catch phrase, but I hope if they evolve Jon Snow into the man he is in the books.

I was pleased with the lady in red and Stannis's characters even if their scenes dragged. You can feel her dark power. Her femme fatale works, and her sinister side is both prominent and hidden at the right times. She is in control and has Stannis exactly where she wants him, which is a feat knowing Stannis.

The scenery that they shoot on location is always gorgeous, and does provide a lovely backdrop for the show.

While the season didn't thrill me over all, I still enjoyed many moments and will continue to watch as I am awaiting some of my favorite scenes. I recommend the novel over the show at this point, while the last time I reviewed the show, I was torn.


  1. I thought I was the only one who felt that way about Snow, although I was inclined to blame my own interpretation of the character. Jon, like his silent wolf, was never really chatty or clever in the book, so I can almost see why the actor portraying him is left trudging around in the snow looking anxious and befuddled.

  2. It's true. He looks constipated the majority of the time. I did like first season Jon better than book character Jon though, and I was hoping that would continue.