‘Game of Thrones’ Season 2, Episode 1 recap
“POWER is power!” – Queen Ceresi Lannister, evoking both the spirit of David Mamet and 10th grade geometry’s Reflexive Property of Congruence.
Ever since Game of Thrones stuck a spike in its first season it has occupied a great deal of my thoughts. For example I am unable to make love to my wife without shouting “Winter is coming!” (She, on the other hand, has a tendency to mutter “a Lannister always pays her debts.”) Sure, I guess I could have run to the nearest airport to buy book two, but I heard a rumor they don’t include any pictures. So believe me when I say there were few more eager to return to Westeros than I.
The first episode of Season Two, “The North Remembers,” serves up two reasons to applaud in the opening credits. Firstly, with the death of Ned Stark and Sean Bean off the show, the slot for top billing has been filled by Peter Dinklage. Seeing this marked the first time in my entire film/TV-watching life I ever cheered a contract negotiation. Also, the groovy, clockwork map presented a new principate in the Realm with the awesomely named Dragonstone.
What is Dragonstone? Just a seaside setting where a hot priestess in a red dress lights Burning Man-esque statues on fire. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
“The North Remembers” opens with King Joffrey (ptooey!) hosting a name-day ceremony for himself. Not more than 30 seconds in and The Hound bludgeons a man and sends him plummeting to a bloody demise. Much better than getting ice cream cake!
Joffrey’s cruelty does little to impress Sansa, who later is able to save a portly would-be challenger from being drowned in wine by suggesting he be named the King’s Fool. At this point, in struts Dinkage’s Tyrion and, as is always the case, the awesomeness is hard to contain.
He presents himself to his sister, the Queen, and the King Regent’s council as the King’s Hand-in-Absentia. (Father Tywin being hesitant to leave the field of battle while Robb Stark is campaigning.) At first, Ceresi is furious, but after dismissing the rest of the group she soon realizes that, indeed, her dwarf brother is the smartest man in the Realm.
Like us, she isn’t quite sure what his endgame is (if he even has one other than to maintain his life of drinking and screwing) but his promise to work to maintain Joffrey’s place on the throne is enough for her to agree to his advice. And his first suggestion is to find Arya Stark!
The scene shifts to Winterfell, where young Bran Stark sits with Maester Luwin, listening to the peasants whine about needing help to fix stone walls. With all the elders off fighting, Bran is now Lord of Winterfell, and it can be a bit of a chore.
In the sky above Winterfell is a red comet, said to mark the existence of dragons. We then catch up with Daenerys Targaryen who still likes to wear ripped suede (yay!) and now keeps one of her three li’l dragons on her shoulder like a parrot.
Her band of followers are having a rough go of it, though, so she sends three of her riders off in search of civilization. One she refers to as “blood of my blood” and they share a longing glance? Is this foretelling of a future love affair? I certainly hope so, because part of the reason I’m paying for HBO is to see more of those Dothraki lovemaking sessions.
Next up we go “Beyond the Wall” where the John Snow and the Black Riders start their investigation of the White Walkers and all the strangeness up there. They take refuge in a house run by a creepy old dude who has dozens of daughters that are also his wives. If you need a pee break, this is your time – although I’m sure all the foreboding talk that goes on in this sequence will be real important later.
Even though we haven’t checked in with all of our characters from last season we next take a trip to Dragonstone. You’ll know it is Dragonstone because there is a big stone in the shape of a dragon. A hot chick (Carice van Houton, looking nothing like Louann van Houton) is rambling about the New Gods and how the true King is among them. Cut to: Stannis Baratheon.
This is the guy they talked about a bit last season. He’s the brother of the King – not the armpit-shaved one schtupping the Knight of Flowers – the other one. His followers are religious zealots, and he is presented as having a furious respect for the truth. In a pronouncement he edits out a description of his brother being “beloved” (he didn’t love him) and demanding that Jaime Lannister be called both “king slayer” (not nice) but also a “Sir” (nice.) I immediately recognize that Stannis Baratheon would have no place in modern American politics.
After some power plays within the Baratheon camp (one that includes sending ravens all over the realm declaring Jaime Lannister the true father of Joffrey) we then head up to the Lannister camp to check in on Jaime.
He doesn’t have it so good. He’s tied to a stick and Rob Stark is sticking his dire wolf all up in his grill. He is growing some handsome facial hair, so those who worried about not enough blonde beards after the death of Ned Stark can breathe a little easier.
After some alpha male posturing the action turns again to King’s Landing. His girlfriend Shae (remember her?) is at the balcony of the King’s Hand’s suite and gets the quote of the night. After describing the peculiar scent of the city as a mix of dead bodies, shit, cum, garlic and rum she states “I love the stink, I love the noise. Cities make me want to fuck.”
Elsewhere in this odious town, Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish bumps into the Queen. He tries to get the upper hand on her, tipping his hand that he knows of Joffrey’s true heritage. “Knowledge is power,” he says. The Queen orders her guards to have him seized and his throat slit, then quickly stops them. She then tells them, essentially, do a dopey dance. With that she cuts Baelish down by reminding him that “power is power.”
Love-15 in Cerisi’s court for sure.
Her victory is short lived, however, when she is quickly faced with how much of a prick her son is becoming with his regal power. He makes the first of what I’m sure will be a series of escalating threats on her life, and then announces that all of King Baratheon’s bastard children must be found and destroyed.
In Baelish’s brothel, a team of soldiers interrupt another of those awesome lessons in carnal delights (one of those per episode, please) to murder the child that is stashed there. What follows is a wave of infanticide across the realm, and a suggestion that the King’s men are also hot on the tail of Arya Stark.
By Game of Thrones standards there isn’t that much killing or screwing, but the show does a phenomenal job of not just picking up the pieces of the previous season’s plot, but setting new action in motion. I left out the part where Robb Stark confronts his mother over the expanding focus of the war, and his desire to join his armies with the navy of House Greyjoy. (I left that part out because I had to consult Wikipedia to remind myself who the hell they were talking about.) Even still, moments where Robb is saluted as “King of the North” filled me with icy pride.
Despite not much action, the ability to weave this immense story into an under-60 minute tapestry rates “The North Remembers” 7 Stabbed Infants Out of 10!
Photos courtesy of HBO