2. The Kingsroad
So then. Bran has discovered that the Lannisters like to keep it in the family, and has been thrown from the top of a tower for his troubles. Ned Stark has accepted the position of the King’s Hand, and Danerys is getting tired of being roughly taken from behind by her new husband. Welcome back to the land of Westeros!
The second episode of Game Of Thrones picks up a few days after the events of the first, allowing the producers to keep the story moving, while skipping over a few parts that can be left up to the audience’s assumption and intelligence.
For example, Jon has now ‘taken the Black’, and has signed up to become a member of the Night’s Watch. Then Ned and his two daughters are preparing to leave Winterfell for King’s Landing, while Bran has been in a coma for at least a week, allowing Tyrion to physically chastise his arrogant nephew, Joffrey (if he looks familiar, he was the random blonde kid in Batman Begins), for not paying his respects.
While some fans may gripe about elements like these being omitted or skimmed over, considering what the show has to fit in its eight remaining episodes, it has to be expected. Game Of Thrones is not going to be able to fit in everyone’s favourite scene, it’s as simple as that.
It does however mean that we have to have it explained to us what the Night Watch is, after Jon has already committed himself to the cause. Considering that life as a member of the Night Watch involves chastity, a life defending The Wall and living with thugs and ‘rapers’, it does make us wonder why he would want such a life in the first place.
Anyway, Bran’s survival has caused the Lannisters a bit of a problem: their secret could be revealed, spelling doom for the Queen and her twin brother, Jaime. Tyrion, who clearly knows what’s going on with his siblings, but doesn’t seem to really care, has opted to go and see The Wall with Jon Snow, and ‘piss off the end of the world’. Meanwhile Catelyn Stark is beside herself with worry about Bran’s condition, but still takes the time to coldly ignore Jon as he bids farewell to his beloved half-siblings.
Of course, for fans of the book, you know Jon has to bestow a gift upon his tomboy half-sister Arya before he leaves, and his gifting of Needle is a nice scene
It is a shame that we don’t get to spend more time with the Stark siblings. In the brief scenes we’ve had with them, you can tell they’re close (well, except for Sansa and Arya), but considering they’re now going to opposite ends of the world, you don’t quite get the emotional punch you’d expect from their farewells. It’s a shame, but as I’ve previously said, the producers have a lot of ground to cover.
And so our characters go their separate ways. Jon and Tyrion north to The Wall, and Ned and his daughters, south with the King. However before Ned rides off into the sunset, the Lord of Winterfell gives an emotional (well, as emotional as two Northern men can get) farewell to his bastard son. “You are a Stark,” he tells Jon, who has been told he is anything but his entire life. “You may not have my name, but you have my blood.”
Considering what lies in the future for these two men, it is a touching scene and shows the love Ned has for his children, bastard or otherwise.
This is later put to the test when arrogant prince Joffrey decides to exercise his royal privileges by bullying a butcher’s son. Of course, he didn’t count on Arya standing up to him, much to Sansa’s horror, or the fact that the Stark’s direwolves will do anything to protect their young masters, including savage the hand of young royalty. Of course this leads to Arya having to banish her direwolf, Nymeria, in order to save her life and the execution of Sansa’s wolf, Lady, as punishment.
Large protective wolves are always great entertainment, and it was one element I thought might have been omitted from the series, but I’m glad I was wrong. As a result, you have Bran’s wolf, Summer, protecting him from a potential assassin by ripping out his throat, and Robb’s Grey Wind and Rickon’s Shaggydog patrolling the grounds of Winterfell. The only wolf that seems to have been forgotten is Jon’s Ghost, who we haven’t seen since he was found as a pup. Considering the role he plays later, I hope we will soon see the return of the albino wolf.
Meanwhile amongst all the throat ripping and limb savaging, plots and conspiracies are being sown. Catelyn, convinced her son was pushed and didn’t fall, and having just fought off an assassin, launches her own investigation in to the matter. And after some CSI: Winterfell work, which sees her find some long blonde hair in the tower, she sets off for King’s Landing to confront the Lannisters about her son.
King Robert meanwhile is convinced that a war is coming and that peace lies in the killing of young Daenerys. Ned is of course horrified by this idea, as she is merely a child and besides, what threat is she on the other side of the sea?
While she may not yet be a threat, Daenerys is quickly learning how to gain as much as power as possible. In her case, it’s through sex. With the aid of a ‘well educated’ hand maiden, she quickly learns that while Khal Drogo may rule outside the tent, at night she has the power to bend him to her will. To be fair, if I was the Dothraki warlord, her feminine wiles would probably work on me too. Considering this is her first acting role, Emilia Clark is rather excellent as Daenerys, conveying both her naivety at so many things, and her growth from merely being a pawn of her brother to the Dothraki’s khaleesi.
Like Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones is taking its time in establishing itself and its characters. However, unlike the prohibition-era show, it is moving at a fast enough pace that by the end of the episode, the audience won’t be in any doubt about what has occurred.
With all the characters, locations and plotlines established (with more to come later), the scene is now set for Game of Thrones to kick it up a notch and truly ensnare its audience…
Read our review of episode 1, Winter Is Coming, here.