Game of Thrones – “The Night Lands” Review [Warning: Spoilers]

“The Night Lands,” the second installment of season 2 of Game of Thrones, is a very strategic episode. There are no monumental events or ground-breaking twists, and even the insufferable Joffrey isn’t featured. There are, however, numerous moments that pave the way for high drama to come.

The episode commences with Arya and our first look at the caged Jaqen H’ghar. There is a great exchange between Arya and Gendry in which Gendry coaxes Arya’s true identity from her. Having only a brief spot in last week’s season premiere, it was great to see Arya on the screen again. There is a significant emphasis on The Night Watch in the episode as well – and not just Jon Snow either. Sam, the loveable loaf of the Watch, takes a liking to one of Craster’s wives (not to mention, daughters) and pleads with Jon to take her with them so Craster will not catch wind of the child she’s carrying. This would end up leading to the revelation of the episode: Craster has been giving his sons to the monsters from beyond the wall.

Tyrion Lannister once again steals the show with phenomenal exchanges with both Varys, who lead a slaughter of young boys in the prior episode, and Cersei. Taking full advantage of being the Hand of the King, Tyrion cleans house of Varys and teases the dirty secret of Cersei by stating that, according to Stannis Baratheon, Jaime has been “falling” on her repeatedly.

Speaking of Stannis, we are also given our first glimpse of Melisandre putting him in her back pocket. In an attempt to manipulate him, the Red Priestess seduces Stannis with the promise of a son – something his current wife cannot give him. Davos, Stannis’ loyal devotee, is also displayed as having reservations (and most certainly understandable ones) of Melisandre and the religion she promotes.

Theon Greyjoy, who we know as being a Stark by association (he was taken into House Stark following the failed uprising of his father, Balon Greyjoy, and raised as a close friend to Robb), is also featured in “The Night Lands.” Although Robb is not to be found in the episode, his work certainly is; Theon is travelling to his homeland of Pyke with the intention of persuading his father to aid Robb in his attacking of King’s Landing. The surprise here isn’t in Balon’s response, but rather that the young woman that Theon found himself groping, Yara, is not only his sister, but is proclaimed to be the true “Heir to the Iron Islands.”

No Joffrey, no Robb, no Bran, no problem for “The Night Lands.” The episode, while being merely a bridge for the high dramatics of which Game of Thrones is known for, is still highly entertaining. We are once again reduced to a mere two or three minutes of Daenerys’ story, but what we do see – Rakharo’s horse returning with his mutilated body – is quite the fantastic scene. The episode fails to live up to the intensity of the season’s premiere, but it’s just enough to keep the ball rolling with what has been a great start to the new season.

8 out of 10


Game of Thrones Season 2 Premiere: “The North Remembers” [Warning: Spoilers]

When we left off with Game of Thrones in the season 1 finale last June, we were left with numerous pressing questions heading into season 2. With a now significant fan base, all of which have surely read the novels at this point, would season 2 be able to live up to a new-found hype developed from the first season’s popularity? How would the introduction of Daenerys’ dragons be portrayed on television? Would there even be a season 2 at all? Thankfully the latter question was answered in the affirmative, thus allowing us to return back to Westeros for a second season, which promises to be just as dramatic as the first.

Season 2 wastes little time getting the ball rolling. We’re instantly returned to current reign of Joffrey, who at this point has seemingly brainwashed Sansa with absolute fear. It isn’t long, however, before the spotlight is stolen by Tyrion Lannister’s grand return to King’s Landing with the announcement that he has been granted temporary Hand of the King. Peter Dinklage, who took home an Emmy for his portrayal of Tyrion in season 1, is once again phenomenal in his dialogue with Joffrey and Queen Cersei. We then catch up with Daenerys, baby dragon on shoulder, as she leads her team through a desert known as the Red Waste. The one downside was that there was not more of her in the episode; Daenerys’ character development from timid dowry to bold leader was without a doubt one of the high points of season 1.

We then check in on Robb Stark, who has a very intense confrontation with the captured Jaime Lannister. Robb’s role in the episode, along with intimidating Jaime with his dire wolf, is centered upon his plan of attack as his army prepares to move South. He and his mother intend to find his sisters and extract revenge on Joffrey in the name of the fallen Ned Stark. Bran, another of the Stark sons, is still in Winterfell acting as Lord of the keep, and there is an emphasis in the episode on his reoccurring dreams and an ominous comet that flies overhead.

It has also become apparent that somewhere between the finale of season 1 and the premiere of season 2, the secret of Joffrey being siblings Cersei and Jaime’s love child has spread from Ned’s mouth to his son Robb’s ears. Littlefinger also implies to Cersei that he knows her dark secret and almost gets his throat slit by doing so. Things really pick up when Joffrey details to his mother that he has caught wind of the secret as well, and after Cersei slaps him when he shames the former King’s name, Joffrey reveals himself to be just as evil as ever when he threatens to kill her if she ever lay a hand on him again.

Of the many new characters lined up for season 2, one of them is Stannis Baratheon. Other than Stannis being the next Baratheon in line after the deceased King Robert, we don’t learn too much about him other than having taken up a religion that worships the Lord of Light, a fire god that supposedly speaks to the Red Priestess, Melisandre, another new addition to season 2. With the secret of Joffrey’s illegitimacy to the Iron Throne spreading like wildfire, however, expect a prominent role from Stannis this season. Melisandre adds a supernatural intrigue to the new season, as even though Stannis’ men have doubts about the Red Priestess, she survives a poisoned glass of wine while killing a doubter of her religious prominence.

“The North Remembers” is a fantastic start to season 2. We’re instantly reminded of the insufferable rule of Joffrey and the awesome wit of Tyrion right off the bat, and updates on characters such as Robb and Jon Snow don’t seem hurried or disjointed. It would have been nice to have more Daenerys in the episode, or to even have allotted more time for introducing new characters, but it’s understandable that only so much can be accomplished in an hour’s span. Nevertheless, the season 2 premiere is as intense as ever and wastes no time putting us back on the edge of our seats.

9 out of 10