Game of Thrones: Season 2 starts off from where the first season left off. After losing Khal Drogo and his Dothrakis, Khaleesi is trying to make her way through the treacherous terrains with nothing more than her three newly born dragons and a handful of confidants. Robb Stark is making his move on the Lannisters and now has Jamie Lannister, the brother of Cersei and the biological father of Joffrey in his captivity. Joffrey is at his cruelest having heads chopped off; Sansa beat in public and more than anything being a vile king. Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) is sent by Robb to get his father’s allegiances to the Stark’s cause but instead, he gets sucked into his lineage and rises against the Starks and sacks Winterfell with just 20 men.
Tyrion Lannister, the new Hand of The King filling in for his father Tywin Lannister is trying to strike a balance between good and bad and at the same time trying to defend his city against the approaching threat of Stannis Baratheon, Robert’s brother and the one true heir to the throne. Arya Stark is making her way through tough times as she makes a death list of her own. She is aided by a mysterious man who promises her three kills in return for her having saved his life and that of his friends. Jon Snow ventures out into the northern snow lands where he meets a beautiful Widling. As he moves ahead with her, the ancient threat of the White Walkers come true. If all this was not enough, you also have the treacherous politics of the King’s Landing to content with.
Now that all the players and the topography are well set up, the story starts fleshing out the characters. We dwell a lot into the life of Arya Stark, Theon Greyjoy, Robb Stark and Jon Snow. Arya is getting more and more fearless and now has a new aid in Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha), a faceless man of whom we learn a little towards the end. The portion between Arya and Tywin Lannister is one of the most intriguing parts of the series. I loved their little discussions. It felt as if Tywin knows who Arya is but still lets her slip.
The Khaleesi reaches the city of Qarth looking for help but once there she gets entangled in a strange drama that not only threatens her freedom but also looks set to wrest her of her last three belongings, the dragons. How she deals with the situation is interesting to watch. It also marks the first time that the dragons are shown in action. It comes at the end of the season but is worth the wait.
Tyrion Lannister and the manner in which he conducts himself throughout the season is easily one of the highest points of the season. He is trying to save the city from the upcoming attack of Stannis Baratheon who has proclaimed himself king and has a powerful priestess by his side. We get a taste of her power in the manner in which she assassinates Renly. Tyrion finds himself as the last man standing between Stannis and King’s Landing.
Robb enjoys a larger part this time. We see a beautiful love story developing between him and Talisa (Oona Chaplin). While his love for her stands to destroy the promise that he made to get a passage, it also brings him in crossroads with his mother. After his mother decides to help Jamie Lannister Escape, the drama between the son and mother gets further complicated as the son now has to act as a King.
His half brother Jon Snow also gets his first tryst with Ygritte (Rose Leslie). The portion between the two is rather funny and it also keeps taking the story forward unlike in the first season when I felt the part involving Snow was rather slow and drab. By the end of this part, we finally get to see the dreaded white walkers and also learn that they are on their way to the North Wall.
There is just so much happening in this season that I almost got overwhelmed. But two things that really set this season apart from the first season was the Battle of Blackwater Bay and the supernatural angle that got more and more pronounced this time. The Battle of the Blackwater Bay was, in fact, a battle that had three aspects to it. The Naval Battle, the landing on the shore and then a huge siege sequence. I was blown away by the execution that the team brings to the fore. It was huge and almost better than many frontline Hollywood productions. There was such a raw physicality to the sequence that it got under my skin.
The first season hinted to battles here and there but this was the first time we actually saw a full blown battle sequence in the series and boy! It was good. The production values, the visual effects and above all the choreography of the action sequences was of such high standard that one can watch the whole season for this one episode alone.
The mythical and mystical elements are getting more and more pronounced. While Melisandre (Carice van Houten) the priestess besides Stannis has her way around the mystic arts, the Khaleesi has her own problems against a priest or so to speak of the house of the undead in the city of Qarth. Melisandre gives birth to something that is beyond human which goes on to kill Renly. The Khaleesi also is made aware of her powers when with the dragons. They quite easily get her out of a soup. The final reference to the mysticism is the arrival of the white walkers who till now were only a myth.
The performances in the series remain good throughout. Sophie Turner as Sansa and Maisie Williams as Arya were the high points easily. Sansa’s frustration is beginning to show and in two sequences Turner does exceedingly well to document it, Maisie is turning out to be one of the king makers of the future. The manner in which she interacts with the character of Tywin was heartwarming to watch. Carice van Houten does well too as Melisandre. Peter Dinklage is all over the series with his wisecracks and his charming act. Lena Headey does her bit as the evil queen.
The Story is warming up for a great season 3. The battle sequence showed the reach of the production team and also proved the point that they wouldn’t mind spending dollars if it meant bringing quality to the story. My appetite has been wet completely as I dive into the third season.
Rating: 3.5/5 (3.5 out of 5 Stars)