Beware: here there be spoilers regarding the premiere episode of the Game of Thrones television series’ second season.
Okay, so I’m a little late on this, considering this show is in it’s second season, but I’m just going to assume that anyone reading this article has seen the first season. So off we go!
This is the debut post of something I hope to make a regular feature: The Oracle TV Club where some writers can get together to talk about one my favorite subjects (the wide world of TV).
Looking back at the first season of Game of Thrones, one quickly realizes just how many devastating acts of valor and vengeance this show has left in the wake of last year’s finale. The biggest is easily the decapitation of the Stark family patriarch, Ned Stark, whose death came as a shock to the cast and audience alike. How could a show that so centrally focused on Ned Stark turn tail and snip the very same thread holding the conflict together? Well, so go the limits of sticking to the story outlined in the books written by George R. R. Martin—which is not a criticism whatsoever. Last season, as a rule, followed the plot of the first novel, and now the second season of this sweeping epic will parallel the story of A Clash of Kings, the series’ second novel.
Thus the show’s twists and turns should be apparent to anyone who’s read the books—and this was a series largely hyped by the fans themselves—leaving almost nothing to chance (save for a few differences). And so it goes that the TV show with a predictable story, common high fantasy tropes and a startlingly large cast of characters all with their own fears, desires, motives and relationships would go on to become one of the most-watched and most-beloved shows of 2011.
Lightning doesn’t strike twice very often. This goes for sequels to movies and sophomore albums from bands; the very same applies to critically acclaimed television shows.
A storm is brewing, though, and the follow-up season premiere of Game of Thrones has brought to the table an astonishing appetizer which has set the pace for the remaining courses in the season. Though the master chefs in the Game of Thrones kitchen, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, have a knack for settling us into a comfortable zone of expectancy only to rip us away with one ruse after the other—the deceased king has an illegitimate son, the boy wearing the crown is a phony and Arya Stark is disguising herself as a boy to escape capture. Though this post is being flooded with information we already know, the show dished insanity at us with such a deliberately brooding pace that reflecting on it all seems overwhelming. But that leaves the final question: what does it all mean? Two questions actually: what does it all mean, and what’s going to happen next?
Sadly, this season premiere casts only a dashing glance on what is to come. It finds itself more preoccupied with smoothing out the rough patches of where the story left its jaw-dropped audience. Tyrion Lannister (the brilliant Peter Dinklage) revisits the palatial and sinister King’s Landing to announce that the patriarch of the Lannister family named him the Hand of the King to Joffrey (the whiniest character on TV) who has effectively turned his rule into a farce of jesters, exhibitionist slaughter and child’s play.
Meanwhile in Winterfell, the kingdom of the North where the Stark family resides, is left with the disabled Bran learning the ins and outs of being a lord and coping with the monotony of pandering to the politics of the kingdom. He too gets his own existential trip in the form of a dream where he embodies his direwolf, Summer. Though the other Stark brothers are hard at work trying to claim independence from the Lannisters who hold the crown and bringing the true king to power—whose own escape from King’s Landing bookends the episode.
There are more tortuous turns of fate like the emergence of Dragonstone, a new region to be visited in this season, where we see the wife of the deceased king’s brother desecrating idols to the “old gods.” The briefly visited subject of mythology is finally touched on, and it’s taken even further with every sorcerer and his mother trying to interpret the appearance of an ominous comet in the sky. An omen of victory, of doom or of dragons?
I find that this season premiere is shaping up to play out like World War I. We’ve got our very own Franz Ferdinand—in this case Ned Stark—we’ve got our power-hungry usurpers—the Lannister family—and I predict that a menacing trial of allegiance awaits as alliances are set in stone and skirmishes eventually erupt all over Westeros. Though I believe everything will be put on hold or at least everything will culminate into the appearance of a mighty dragon swooping in from the heavens to mark an exclamation point smack dab at the end of the tribulations in store for this season. Episode Score: 7/10.
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Kyle Dunn / Editor in Chief