'Game of Thrones': Season 2 premiere has clever twists and dialogue
'Game of Thrones' began its second season with new characters, but didn't lose track of old favorites.
Omens, visions and rituals combine to herald the next chapter of HBO’s obsession-worthy fantasy series, Game of Thrones. After leaving the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros in the hands of a despotic boy-king, the series roars back to television, picking up right where it left off like a book opened to a dog-eared page.Skip to next paragraph
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From the start, it’s clear that, as much as season 1 followed the reluctant exploits of Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) and his ruinous turn as the Hand of the King, season 2 immediately begins gathering steam from the performance of Peter Dinklage. Yes, he was the break out star of season 1, but this season, awards and accolades aside, Game of Thrones feels very much like Dinklage’s program to carry. With his wit, charm and wry sensibilities, Tyrion easily handles the task.
At our first sight of Tyrion, it’s clear he is not taking the role of Hand of the King lightly, and knows that his family – particularly his sister and her son – are also the unscrupulous kind that, if they are to remain in charge, will require the guidance of one who – despite having many vices – is not ruled by them. That is to say: Tyrion has the mettle, and the smarts, to make the rule of Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) a long one.
And so we are introduced to the kingdom as ruled by a young tyrant – one beset by the unnervingly casual nature of extreme violence. The violence and utter disregard for human life serves a potent reminder that though the audience may favor one character over another, Game of Thrones refuses to guarantee anyone’s term on the program – especially now that war has broken out between Eddard’s eldest son Robb Stark (Richard Madden) and the Lannisters.
When last we saw them, the Lannisters seemed on top of the world, but now they’re faced with the real possibility that retribution for the beheading of Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) may be coming to the south more swiftly than winter. There is an air of resentment and disgust about King’s Landing regarding the unsubstantiated (but totally true) rumors of King Joffrey being the bastard son of his uncle Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). It seems as soon as they took power, the knowledge of the Lannister twins’ indiscretion was poised to be their undoing. As Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) demonstrates, though, knowledge may be a powerful tool, but only if it is used by those with a captive audience – which, at the moment, King’s Landing is short on. But power comes in many forms, and right now, Cersei and her family still wield the kind that could end a dissenter’s life.
Meanwhile, Jamie is still held captive by Robb, who has made a rather auspicious debut by handing the wealthy and immense Lannister army three consecutive defeats. While Jamie plays mind games with the young leader, Robb reminds him without a hint of subtlety that, for the moment, control – including that of the incestuous Lannister’s life – rests in Robb’s seemingly capable hands.
For Robb to be able to take King’s Landing, however, he must be able to broker some kind of alliance with the father of Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) – an alliance Robb’s mother Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) warns him against. But this is a time of war and uncertainty, a fact Robb makes clear to his mother by reasoning the conflict may have been born of his father’s execution, but it has now grown into a fight for independence for the northern people – and that may mean adding unstable elements like the elder Greyjoy to an already tenuous and risky undertaking.