Game of Thrones 2.2: The Night Lands
The second season of Game of Thrones continues to be like the beginning of a chess game. Just as the chess players make strategic moves to set up their attack on the king so is each of the story lines continuing to build exposition for an upcoming clash of events. Though this episode was a relatively docile story, what it lacked in violence the episode recovered in nudity and sex. It seems like the director, Alan Taylor, deliberately included nudity and pornographic scenes to hold the audience’s attention through the huge amounts of exposition. This was perfectly illustrated in the scene that took place in Lord Baelish’s brothel in which Littlefinger deals with one of his prostitutes who will not stop mourning the murder of the baby of one of his other prostitutes. Joffrey’s ordering of the death of all King Robert’s bastards is mentioned several times throughout this episode, so this is an unneeded reminder. The only other purpose this scene serves is to remind the audience of Lord Baelish’s evil nature, which is superfluous for his treacherous character has been solidified in the first season. The choice to include this scene is just to increase the sensationalism of the episode by providing an excuse to showcase more nudity and more sex.
Besides the nudity and sex, this episode did begin to lay the groundwork for some interesting story developments. Tyrion, now acting as the Hand of the King, shakes up King’s Landing. He will not fall victim to the same fate as Eddard Stark and knows how to play the political game. Threatening Varys, Tyrion warns him that he is not to be underestimated. Tyrion also replaces the head of the city’s guard, Lord Janos Slynt, with his own man Bronn since it was the head of this guard that slaughtered Eddard’s men in the Throne Room. Tyrion, with the smarts and political savvy to play this deadly game will really be able to shake up the power structure at King’s Landing. Also it is refreshing to see someone with power in the castle who also has a moral conscience. There is a heartening moment for the viewer where Tyrion remarks on the cruelty of murdering babies in their mother’s arms illustrating that not all Lannisters are pure evil.
This episode also marks the introduction of Theon as his own character and not a supporting player to Rob. He returns home to Pyke for the first time since being taken as a ward of Eddard Stark. Though, his homecoming is less than ideal and it exposes Theon’s “daddy issues.” His father does not recognize him as heir to Iron Islands and ridicules him for not being one with the sea. Lord Greyjoy also mocks Theon’s relationship with Rob Stark and refuses to help Rob in his war against the Lannisters. To make matters worse, Lord Greyjoy recognizes Theron’s younger sister Yara as the heir to Pyke and the Iron Islands. Though that would be bad in its own right, Theon has to handle his lost inheritance while grappling with the fact that he fondled his sister on the way up to the castle. Theon’s homecoming lays the groundwork for him trying to do everything in his power to regain his father’s love and his inheritance of Pyke and the Iron Islands.
This episode also follows Arya, Daenerys, Stannis, and Jon Snow; however, very little happens to advance the plot in their stories. Arya does share a heartwarming moment with Gendry, King Robert’s oldest bastard, where she reveals her true identity. This seems to foreshadow an unconventional partnership between these two characters. Daenerys features a setback when one of her blood rider’s heads came back on a horse. Though it is obvious that Daenerys as the mother of dragons will play a big part in the remainder of this series, at this point of the episode her constant ranting about getting revenge on all of those who hurt her and her people is becoming tiresome as she remains helpless in the desert. Though Stannis’ story did not occupy a large amount of time in this episode, he does succumb to the seduction of Melisandre (adding yet another scene of nudity and sex). It will be intriguing to see if her control over Stannis increases after their liaison.
Finally, the least eventful story of the episode seems like it might lead to a hectic episode next week. Jon Snow’s story this episode remains stagnate since The Night’s Watch is still camped out at Craster’s house with all of his daughter wives. Though Sam wants to help one of the pregnant daughter wives escape the captivity of her father husband, Jon wisely refuses to help for fear of losing a hand as well as inability to care for her as they travel further north past The Wall. However, Jon’s hero complex shines through when in the middle of the night, he hears the sound of a baby and awakes to find Craster carrying the child into the woods. Curious, Jon follows wondering where Craster could be taking this baby. To his horror, Jon sees the baby abandoned and carried off by a White Walker, the same type of undead creature that tried to kill him and Lord Mormont last season. Just as he turns to head back to camp, Craster clocks him over the head ending the episode. Though this episode contained a lot of exposition, the season just started and is building towards bigger events. And with the ending of an episode on the cliffhanger of Jon being knocked out, next episode seems to bring the promise of more action.