IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE EPISODE – DO NOT READ. SPOILERS APLENTY!
Game of Thrones is back, and it’s back in a big way! I attended the national premiere on Tuesday in Denver and saw the first episode of Season Two, the highly anticipated follow-up to last year’s Emmy and Golden Globe winning HBO masterpiece.
Season Two begins with the world of Westeros in turmoil. At the end of Season One, Lord Eddard Stark is beheaded by new King Joffrey in an act of rebellion (Jack Gleeson). We pick up with King Joffrey amidst his celebration in honor of his name day. As Joffrey toasts himself, his uncle, Tyrion Lannister (Emmy and Golden Globe winner Peter Dinklage), arrives at King’s Landing. Once again, Dinklage is the standout of the cast, filled with confidence, the proper amount of arrogance, and plenty of humor. It’s clear that despite the heavy underpinnings of fantasy drama that’s inherent to the series, Season Two is lighter in tone, even humorous. Humor is a welcome addition to a show that at times is so steeped in treachery, it’s almost frustrating.
Tyrion enters King’s Landing in a light-hearted and humorous affair, gently teasing his nephew and new king. Soon after, Tyrion enters the inner counsel and explains to his sister (and Joffrey’s mother) Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) that their father has named him Hand of the King. The scene the follows is amusing: Cersei and Tyrion verbally spar, with Tyrion naturally coming out on top. Tyrion is just so fun to love (and Dinklage is incredible in the role).
Where the episode gets complicated is the background of the war and the armies of Westeros. After Robb Stark (Richard Madden) – son to Lord Stark – has successfully defeated Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) in battle and taken him prisoner, he has been proclaimed King of the North. He’s now the second king in the story.
The others are the late King Robert’s brothers – Lord Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony) and Lord Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane). Additionally, there’s another threat beyond the Wall, where Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and his fellow brothers in Black investigate the Wildlings and White Walkers.
In the land across the sea is the fan-favorite hero Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), who struggles to keep her people and newborn dragons alive. The episode doesn’t devote too much time to Daenerys, but this lack of attention is meant to be a tease. After seeing her character develop from a forced bride, to the new queen of the Dothraki, and to a leader for her new people, it’s no surprise that the writers have decided to keep her story at a distance while the wars in Westeros heat up.
It’s a complicated story, which introduces new characters, such as the perceived wicked Melisandre (Carice van Houten), who is the spiritual guide to Stannis. It’s an exciting prospect to discover where all these roads will lead.
After the success of Season One, HBO has upped the ante and the budget for Game of Thrones. The sets are bigger, the landscapes more exotic, and the visual effects even better.
Visually stunning and exciting, Game of Thrones is back with a vengeance. It will premiere on Sunday, April 1, at 9:00 PM EST/ PST on HBO.