Monday, April 2, 2012

'Game of Thrones' recap: 'The North Remembers'


Jamie Lannister is on the chain
gang. Courtesy HBO
"Death is so boring, especially now that there's so much excitement in the world!" - Tyrion Lannister

Yes Tyrion, but the excitement is all ours! After a 9 1/2 month wait, fans can once again submerge themselves into the Seven Kingdoms. The season 2 premiere of HBO 's hit series Game of Thrones was a whirlwind that took us to new lands, introduced us to new cast members, and satisfied us with expanding on the familiar characters we know and love (or hate). This episode was filled with scads of set-ups and scene jumping.  

Hold on to your bycockets...

The episode opens with King Joffrey's (Jack Gleeson) "Name Day" (aka birthday) celebration in the Red Keep's courtyard. Yes, he's even more excruciatingly evil. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) appears to a much surprised Joffrey and announces that he is now back to serve as his Hand. Cersei (Lena Headey) is none too pleased about seeing Tyrion when he crashes her small counsel meeting, let alone learning that he is now Hand of the King. Cersei's main concern is getting her brother-lover, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), back from the Starks. For this is to be successful, they need both Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and the missing Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), for the trade. Must. Find. Arya!!

The next scene introduces Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) as the Lord of Winterfell and we also witness the omnipresent comet for the first time. Bran's wilding companion, Osha (Natalia Tena, aka "Tonks" from the Harry Potter films) clues us in that, "A red comet means one thing, boy: Dragons!".

The comet then leads us to the barren Red Waste and a weary, in-need-of-soap-water-and-Chapstick, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). The newly widowed khaleesi is feeding one of her three dragons on her shoulder, and then witnesses the collapse of her precious white horse. This horse was a wedding gift from her barbaric, but surprisingly loving husband Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) and this gesture had originally softened her with his kindness. Could the horse's demise represent the need for the khalessi to be an even tougher leader to her down-trodden tribe? She sends three of her men to different directions to find new, viable land and water to set up her new kingdom.

Oh look! It's the red comet again! Bastard Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and his fellow soldiers of the Night Watch arrive at a village populated with a sleazy northerner and his daughter-wives. Apparently the wildlings led by Mance Rayder are gathering an army and marching south? Yet another scene that quickly tries to cue us in to an impending plot line. Commander of the Night's Watch, Jeor Mormont (James Cosmo) advises Snow, "You want to lead one day? Then learn how to follow."

A series of fires on the beach of the island of Dragonstone then introduces us to the beautiful sorceress, Melisandre (Carice van Houten). Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), who, as the late King Robert's (Mark Addy) eldest brother, believes he is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, draws a fiery sword and plunges it into the sand.  Melisandre will prove to be an interesting character this season as she will most likely be advising Stannis on how to acquire the Throne.

The episode begins to wrap up when Robb Stark (Richard Madden), large direwolf by his side, confronts Jaime about Joffrey being his bastard son and that he had Ned Stark (Sean Bean) killed because he knew. Peace terms are then discussed and Robb wants the Lannisters ordered to release his sisters and his father's bones.

Cersei puts the smack down on Joff and Baelish
Courtesy HBO
Back in King's Landing, Cersei asks Lord Baelish (Aidan Gillen) for a favor to find Arya Stark and not only is a little former crush between Baelish and Cersei alluded to, but Baelish makes the mistake of revealing his "knowledge is power" of Cersei and Jaime's love affair. Big mistake! She threatens his death but then reminds him that "power is power" and he is ordered to find Arya. Cersei's day gets better when she encounters Joffrey redecorating his lair and he asks her about King Robert's bastard children.  

Threatened much Joff? A good slap to his face after a disparaging remark to Mommy Dearest, makes Joffrey's delightful personality shine through. He orders all of Robert's bastard children, slaughtered. This really puts a damper on the only sex scene in this episode. Even though the whore was merely being schooled on how to please a man, nothing is more of a buzz kill than having an infant get slaughtered in a whore house.  The episode finally ends with Arya Stark and dead king Robert's bastard son being carted away to safety.

Whew! Well this was certainly an episode chock-full of medieval mayhem.  It definitely would have been difficult for new viewers to grasp but fans are no doubt going to be greatly satisfied with Season Two! 

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9pm ET/PT on HBO.