March 28, 2013

Game of Thrones: "The Night Lands"

I really don't think there's an actor on American television right now who's better than Peter Dinklage. He gives Tyrion Lannister such a tremendous amount of humour, likeability and depth. It's looking like, for his scenes at least, Game of Thrones Season 2 is going to be a joy to watch. Here he goes about securing his position as King's Hand, deftly removing the captain of the guard to install a new one likely to be more loyal. I also love how, despite their evil deeds and incestuous relationship, he clearly retains much affection for his siblings.

This is a series with a bit of a body count to it, and I have deliberately avoided spoiling myself by reading ahead or going through the books. I really hope Tyrion survives for a very, very long time - he is absolutely this cast's greatest asset.

So what else happens in this episode?

After two episodes, I'm pretty sure I hate Stannis Baratheon and his evil priestess girlfriend. She's visibly insidious and manipulative; he's dour, humourless and unimaginative. The highlight here continues to be Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham), former smuggler turned confidante of the wannabe king, who treads a narrow line between duty to his lord and fierce disapproval of what he's doing.

The Iron Islands
Theon returns to his biological father, and manages to make a ham-fisted attempt at seducing and feeling up a young woman who turns out to be his sister. There's something very slightly creepy about Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) that I can't put my finger on. Her screen presence is magnetic, and her sly disdain of her bluntly awkward brother is very enjoyable. In Theon and Yara's father we find yet another player in the titular game, as he announces his plan to ignore Robb Stark's request for assistance and raid the north instead. Patrick Malahide is yet another great actor to join the series, giving old Greyjoy a wonderfully sneering, mean-spirited quality.

In the Desert
Things continue to go starvingly and thirstily for Daenerys and her follows. Not a lot to comment on this week, so we'll simply move on. I think these scenes exist purely to remind us that she's over there.

On the Road
Arya's journey to the Wall gets quite a bit of coverage here, as she befriends Gendry (unknowing heir to the Iron Throne) and hides from Lannister troops. Ayra, and the performance by Maisie Williams) was a highlight of Season 1, so it's great to see her back.

Beyond the Wall
I absolutely adored this section, as Jon Snow continues to be conflicted over his incestuous, daughter-marrying host. One of the settlement's worst secrets, and also one that's fairly easy to guess early on, is that Craster murders his newborn sons to ensure he only has child-bearing daughters. The manner of the baby's death, however, was a surprise - and gives this episode a hell of a shocking ending.

This is another good episode, and I'd actually argue it is a more enjoyable one than the first ("The North Remembers"). It's easier to follow, and we're not playing catch-up quite so much. Two great episodes in a row - no real surprise there. The season score is a predictable 100%.

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