Game of Thrones: SE02 EP01 Review: The North Remembers


Game of Thrones
Season 2 Episode 1: The North Remembers

“Loyal service means hard truths”

And with that we begin another exciting season of “Game of Thrones”, starting in Book 2: “A Clash of Kings” of George R.R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire.

This episode focused on leadership and power. Cersei makes a miserable attempt to keep rumours at bay while Joff wantonly doles out cruel punishment for his amusment making season one’s’ Viserys Targaryen look like Mother Teresa. Littlefinger and Cersei struggle for power in a schoolyard-esque smackdown of ‘my stick is bigger than yours’ which ends in Cersei appearing the victor, yet really looking more like a panicked and desperate woman. Littlefinger may not have the king’s guard, but his astute observation that “Power is knowledge” is the cold hard truth. Cersei will see that her command only stretches as far as her perception in the public eye, because eventually, when enough people hate you, the tide will wash you away and you will be stripped of that power. Popular opinion is difficult to stem once rumours fly and she is desperately trying to make the Lannisters appear powerful amidst a swell of popular unrest and war.

Jamie is at Rob’s mercy and Bran tries to play Lord of Winterfell in his brother and mother’s absence. Rob grew a pair this episode and while Jamie might talk tough, he’s really not in postion to say anything. The Lannisters try to look powerful but their actions fall flat, from Cersei’s panicked “King Herod” move to rid King’s Landing of potential threats to the throne, to Jaimie’s witty banter while tied to a stake, and lastly, to Joff being made the fool in front of his servants by Cersei. They are utter failures in positions of power and cling to their power tenuously.

Tyrion, as always, has the best lines and manages to distance himself from his family’s failings by being able to point out the error of their ways. Of the Lannisters, he is the most clever and most underestimated character. This is a dangerous combination and one that will be interesting to watch over the course of this season.

Daenerys Targaryen, our favourite Khaleesi, is out in the blsitering heat of the desert figuring out her dragons and mustering an army. Meanwhile, in the frigid cold north of the Wall, the search for Benjen Stark continues and Jon gets a lesson in leadership, and social order from the Lord Commander. You can’t act on everything that displeases you, sometimes, you have to let it go and move on.

Stannis has converted to a new religion and risks alienating his retainers by aligning himself with a mysterious, and fanatical, red priestess. He too wrestles for control of the Iron Throne but is really grasping at straws along with the other 8 million claimants. Stannis’s character is weak, and he doesn’t make the impression of a powerful kingly figure while hiding behind the magics of a rabid witch. His priestess seems to be wearing the proverbial pants in this episode. Stannis needs to make an impact or be trounced by his younger brother Renly, Cersei and her insipid son or Rob Stark. It’s do or die for Stannis.

Lastly, each character notices the red comet in the sky and tries to construct a different interpretation of this portent. Is it a good or a bad omen? Will shall soon see….join us next week for episode 2 of “Game of Thrones”, Sunday at 9pm on HBO.

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Sharan Newman