Threepenny Thursday – Game of Thrones: Season Two

7 Jun

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD: SPOILERS.

PLEASE, FOR YOUR OWN SAKE, DON’T READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED SEASON TWO.

A caveat that emphatic must mean something. Since you’re a reasonable person and you take my advice seriously, that means you’re still reading because you’ve seen Season Two. That means I don’t have to go into any detail explaining what happens, who’s who, and all that junk – chances are, you’ve been watching this shit with exactly as much foaming fanaticism as I have. We’re a lucky bunch, you and I. We can clack our horns of ale and reminisce about what was pretty much the best season of television in recent memory, and laugh our bearded laughs about the gutter-trash who are stuck watching…ugh…regular stuff.

I’m going to state the obvious: Game of Thrones, because it’s an HBO show, is categorically better than anything else on TV. HBO programming revels in the splatters of juicy, delicious gore and all the tits, “fuck”ing and tit-fucking that regular TV is just too boring and obsequious to allow. It’s unrestricted, uncensored entertainment, and while I applaud the efforts of the many artists who find creative ways to tiptoe around the censor, it’s just so much better when you don’t have to worry about offending anybody. Isn’t it?

Yes. Yes it is.

Episode Four (Garden of Bones) and Episode Six (The Old Gods and the New) were, bar none, some of the best things I’ve seen on TV – ever. I mean that, ever – better than Firefly, better than LOST, better than Fringe – and I defy anyone to give me compelling reasons why I’m wrong.

I’ve only read the first of the Song of Ice & Fire novels, so most of what took place in the show’s second season was utterly new to me. Besides the many shocking revelations, however, I felt that the continued characterization was the strongest element on display. Season Two apparently had one of the largest casts on television, and I’m not surprised; we were introduced to so many new and awesome characters and – far from becoming bloated and hard to follow – the show made it a delight to learn about them and forge our own allegiances in our minds: stuffy Stannis Baratheon, the loyal Onion Knight Ser Davos, and the tasty-yet-untrustworthy Melisandre; new badassery in the form of the wily Jaqen H’ghar and the androgynistically terrifying Brienne of Tarth; and some scrumptious new talent from the chesty Margaery Tyrell, the slinky lady Talisa, and Jon Snow’s icy squeeze Ygritte.

But we also learned so much about all our favourite, well-established Westerosi miscreants. Joffrey is as delightfully nefarious as usual, even managing to up his already-ridiculous cruelty quotient, and we learned that all attempts to appeal to his shrivelled, flinty little heart are doomed to end in vicious bum-bashing and crossbows. Damn that kid is good at being hateable. Cersei, too, just eyebrow-dives right into her queenly malice – and what looks to be shaping into an impressive drinking problem. Look out, Ser Dontos Hollard.

Sandor Clegane continues to Hound it up in his amazingly brutal way, carving unwitting Stannis troops in half and savagely gutting unsuspecting rapers, singing a merry tune all the while. Okay not really. But we did see some actual development from him, including a perfectly understandable aversion to fire. Varys and Littlefinger continue to scheme their schemes, with incredibly whip-sharp dialogue and intimately skin-crawling performances. Both are people I wouldn’t want to meet, but who are absolutely riveting to watch.

Then we got Bran joining the Crips and fighting against the Bloods Theon Greyjoy, who finally cashes the douchebag cheque his creepy-ass face was signing all through the first season. Great to see Hodor get so much screentime, that guy is a living legend. Osha continually grows on me, and unexpectedly caused something else to grow on me when she copped for a full-frontal nudie. Nice one, Tonks!

You know how being a bastard is a really big deal in the world of Game of Thrones? As if it should be italicized every time they say it, like a foreign curse word. Bastard. I’d like to add that you are a cold, heartless bastard if this didn’t jerk a sloppy sob out of you:

NNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

And speaking of bastards, Jon Snow, of course, remains stoic and blandly dreamy in the face of the horrors beyond the Wall. He was nicely unperturbed about thrusting his steel into Qhorin Halfhand’s gut, which I really hope scores him some points with Ygritte. And the rest of the Wildlings, I guess, but I mostly just wanna see them two git wild. I like Samwell Tarly but I wish he had more to do – some way for him to prove his cowardly mettle. I dunno. But yeah! WHITE WALKERS AMIRITE?

This entire sumptuous entertainment pot roast really just boils down to a few choice taters, which I will list here for your convenience:

Favourite Relationship

Arya Stark & Tywin Lannister

Of all the little alliances and families, lovers and rivals, and friends and enemies on this show, this one struck me the most. Funny, because apparently it’s not even in the books. Yet another example of how the people who make this show have remained faithful to their source material in all the ways that count, while still taking the liberties that make for excellent television. There’s something about these two, something in the tension caused by Tywin’s ignorance of Arya’s true identity. He can see right through her, outing her as a girl the moment he first laid eyes on her. He is clearly a fiercely intelligent man, and also not necessarily a kind one. But he remains ignorant of the fact that really counts, and is impressed by Arya herself – her fierceness, her boldness, and her intelligence. He sees a bit of himself in her, I imagine. What a striking counterpoint she makes to her sister, who displays an entirely different sort of strength in the court at King’s Landing. And what an awesome set of scenes this unlikely pairing made, full of suspense, honesty, and mutual respect.

Runner-Up: Tyrion & Shae

Favourite Storyline

Danaerys Targaryan in Qarth

There are many reasons why, whenever I watched an episode, this was the setting I hoped the next scene would transition to. Qarth is so lush and extravagant! The sets, costumes, and art direction are all just mesmerizing to look at. It had an air of perfumed venom; clearly a place which was deceptive in its beauty. So did its residents, who were polite and affable, but with an air of deadly seriousness lurking just below the surface. I think Xaro Xhoan Daxos is impeccably cast, even though I gather his character is entirely different in the books. I really like how he’s portrayed: elegant, calm, and powerful. Also the actor’s muscle to fat ratio is just fucking raw. I wouldn’t mess with that guy.

The main attraction, of course, is Danaerys. I’ve heard some people whine about her portrayal, saying that she’s too whiny and insistent and unlikeable, but those people seem to forget who this character is: she was a courtly princess, ripped from her home and thrust into a brutal and alien culture, through which she found the strength to rise and begin to dominate. Just as things were beginning to go well, she loses everything. Everything. Her asshole brother, her unborn son, her awesome husband, her khalasar. Lost to the wind, leaving her with a clutch of creatures the likes of which the world hasn’t seen in eons, and this guy:

…who might just be my favourite character on the show. There’s something about Ser Jorah’s loyalty, his stately demeanour, his calm competence – he strikes me as the most knightly of all the knights in the show. And yet, he is exiled and outcast, lost in a hostile world which he knows is too dangerous for this girl under his protection. Still, he senses a fire in her, and respects her more than anyone. He loves her, but he’d never admit it, even to himself. He just wants to keep her safe. What a boss.

And now they’re poised to ravage the world in a tsunami of flame, the underdog coming in at the eleventh hour. Nobody in Westeros will see this shit coming.

Runner-Up: Robb Stark & The War of the North

Favourite Everything, Ever, Always

Tyrion “Impin’ Ain’t Easy” Lannister

I mean, how could I not, right? Tyrion is the biggest scene-stealer since Brad Pitt in Snatch. Every time he appears onscreen I clamp my fist in my teeth and try not to giggle. In addition to his usual impish (oh HO) shenanigans, Season Two really let the dude loose, giving Peter Dinklage some juicy material to sink his teeth into. And sink, he sho ’nuff did.

His rousing speech to the Lannister men at the Battle of Blackwater Bay (“Those are brave men knocking on our door. Let’s go kill them!”) was just incredible, definitely a season highlight. When Joffrey, mad at Robb, was torturing Sansa in full view of the court, and Tyrion strode in and broke it up (“I’m not threatening the King, Ser, I’m educating my nephew. Bronn, the next time Ser Meryn speaks, kill him. That was a threat – see the difference?”), I just about lost my mind with excitement and adoration. The ultimate scene for me, though, showed Tyrion’s true power, and the crux of his character: when he told a different lie to each of the members of the Small Council, in order to find out which one of them was spying on him to his sister. To paraphrase Jerry Holkins: this fresh awesomeness overwhelmed my brain’s available bandwidth, causing my back to arch while my left foot slapped rhythmically against the ground, the way a rabbit might warn its fellows of danger.

Definitely one of the best-written, best-cast, and best-performed characters on television. Period. End of goddamn discussion.

And I don’t have to extol the production any more than I already have; if you’ve read this far then you already know exactly how off-the-chain this whole show is, from top to bottom.

If you don’t, that means you’ve reached this sentence without having seen Season Two of Game of Thrones. And the media elitist in me would be annoyed by that, because you’re ruining something amazing for yourself. But, see, the bigger issue is that you still haven’t seen it. And I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.

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2 Responses to “Threepenny Thursday – Game of Thrones: Season Two”

  1. Sonia Vaillant June 8, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    Dude. Awesome post. I can’t agree with you more on pretty much anything, except that I wish Danaerys was less one-note. I don’t blame it on her or nothin’ but I’m excited to see what happens when she gets the opportunity to do more than meet a roadblock, grow as a person, overcome it, proclaim her right to the throne and that her people are waiting for her (again) and then immediately run into another roadblock. It’ll be cool to see how that progresses. And Tyrion! Holy fuck. I mean he’s wiley, but I’m intrigued to see how he intends to get himself – and Shae- out of this current pickle the are now in. And finally, other favourite storyline… Arya and Jaqen H’ghar. Now there’s a coin and code phrase? And he just shape-shifted that shit! Balls to the walls, yo. Balls to the walls.

    I wish we lived close enough to each other that we could watch this and bathe in its undeniable deliciousness together. There will be geeky texts heading your way in the future.

  2. Your Father June 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    Excellent. With that kind of ringing endorsement I think I might have to pay more attention from now on.

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