Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Game of Thrones 2.1: The North Remembers

Game of Thrones 2.1: The North Remembers

 With the much anticipated third season only two months away, it is time to rewatch and review season two of Game of Thrones in order to prepare for the third installment. Season two had a lot to live up to. The first season of Game of Thrones gave us an assortment of diverse characters, graphic battle scenes, political intrigue and even romance. The most important and shocking development of season one (especially for those who did not previously read the books) was the execution of the main character, Lord Eddard Stark. His death shifted the course of many characters and made certain that wars broke out between the different families with everyone staking a claim to the Iron Throne. Season two starts where season one ended with the main characters scattered all across the lands uncertain of their futures. Rob Stark is leading an army to avenge his father’s death and destroy the Lannisters. He has captured Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer, who is Lord Tywin Lannister’s oldest son and uncle to Joffrey Baratheon, King of the Seven Kingdoms. Rob’s mother Catelyn Stark rides with him and serves as his counsel. Bron Stark, Lord Eddard’s second eldest son and crippled by the Kingslayer remains at Winterfell serving as lord while Rob battles in war. Sansa Stark resides at King’s Landing with Cersei Lannister, Queen Regent, who masquerades her as Joffrey’s betrothed while really holding Lord Eddard Stark’s oldest daughter as ransom for Jaime’s safety. Arya Stark has escaped King’s Landing  disguised as a boy making her way north with recruits for The Wall. Jon Snow, Lord Eddard’s Stark’s bastard son and sworn brother of the Night’s Watch is about to embark with his brothers in black on a journey north of The Wall to try and stop whatever evil forces may be heading towards the Seven Kingdoms. Tyrion Lannister, Tywin’s dwarf son rejoined his father on the battlefield only to be commanded to return to King’s Landing and act as Hand of the King while Tywin continues his fight against Rob Stark. Finally Daenerys Targaryen and her dragon eggs survived being burned with her deceased husband on his funeral pyre. She now leads what is left of her people and her newly hatched dragons through the desert looking for a way to build an army and reclaim the Iron Throne.

The first episode of season two, “The North Remembers” basically reacquaints the audience with the characters and their storylines. From Rob being declared King of the North, to Stannis Baratheon in Dragonstone declaring himself as the rightful King of the Seven Kingdoms, to Daenerys, even though stranded in the desert, claiming that she is the rightful queen to sit upon the Iron Throne, the theme of this episode is described best by Catelyn Stark when she tells her son Rob, “There’s a king in every corner now.” This theme of everyone declaring themselves king or queen can even be extended outside of the fictional world of the Seven Kingdoms and into the real world set of Game of Thrones. The death of Lord Eddard Stark, who was portrayed by Sean Bean, left an opening for a new lead character. Bean, having come from the highly successful Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings, became of the star of the series. All of the other actors, though they excel in their roles, were not as well-known at the start of the show. Now that the series has critical acclaim and a large following, the actors now have recognition and with Sean Bean’s character’s demise, there is an opening for a new leading man or lady but who will ascend the ranks? One could think that Peter Dinklage after receiving the Golden Globe and Primetime Emmy for his performance as Tyrion Lannister would be the frontrunner to take Bean’s leading role place. Though actors who portray other strong characters such as Daenerys or Jon Snow could also lay claim to being the next big star of the show. Or will this series morph this season into what it truly is: an ensemble drama with brilliant actors of equal caliber shining through in their respective roles with no one single star?

Finally, besides reuniting the viewer with the characters they haven’t seen in many months and catching up with their storylines as well as leaving them wondering who, if any, will take Sean Bean’s place, this inaugural episode of the second season introduces the viewer to new lands and new characters they can expect to meet during the remainder of the second season. This starts in the opening credits, where a new land, Dragonstone, is added to the other places on the map that the viewer got to know so well last season. Also new characters such as Stannis Baratheon portrayed by Stephen Dillane, his high priestess, Melisandre portrayed by Carice van Houten and his second in command, Ser Davos Seaworth portrayed by Liam Cunningham are added to the extensive cast. Though little is divulged in this episode about the overarching storyline for these characters, one gets a sense that Melisandre is a femme fatale trying to exert her influence on Stannis, a man of power.

This episode, though not as dramatic or action packed as others during the show’s freshman year, was a good introduction back into the world of Game of Thrones. With so many characters and storylines, this episode was a refresher course since the viewer was away from the show for so many months. With nine more episodes left in the season, there is still plenty of time for action, deception, and plot twists to emerge.