Game of Thrones season 2 episode 6 review: The Old Gods and the New

It's a particularly violent episode this week, even for Game of Thrones. Read Ron's review here...

This review contains spoilers.

 2.6 The Old Gods and the New

This season, Game of Thrones has been slowly upping the ante. The stakes get higher every week. The number of claimants to various thrones increases as various underlings get their leathers in a twist and start declaring independence. More tellingly, the violence gets more extreme every week. Game of Thrones, even in the quietest episode, is still full of killing, but this week’s episode featured more killing, and more graphic killing, than any episode of the entire series thus far.

The violence in this show is sudden and shocking, but when you add significant gore, what was once a grimace becomes very uncomfortable and stomach-turning. This episode had several uncomfortable moments, from the rioting crowds in King’s Landing apparently dismembering someone bare-handed to Sansa’s narrow escape from a band of rapey peasants (via the Hound, who brought the ultra-violence in defense of the auburn-haired Stark in a spectacularly-directed scene by director David Nutter), and Jon Snow’s adventures beyond the wall with the prettiest wildling possible (Ygritte as played by the gorgeous Rose Leslie, late of Downton Abbey)—which was uncomfortable in a completely different way from the other two, and also very amusing.

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This week’s episode was rich with the usual suspects excelling, but there was a stand-out scene featuring two of the show’s MVPs and one of the important characters from the first season. The triumvirate of Arya, Littlefinger, and Tywin Lannister was impressive this week, and the scene that the three shared was awesome. Arya’s careful dancing around Littlefinger somehow both amusing and tense at the same time, as was the way Arya called in her second death card from Jaqen. I laughed a great deal at the way that particular death was executed, and it was a polar opposite from all the other deaths this week. Much like the Jon Snow story this week, it went from tense to lighthearted, and was the polar opposite of Theon Greyjoy.

further reading: Game of Thrones Season 8 – Everything We Know

The unexpected character growth for the little-used Theon Greyjoy has been greatly appreciated and oddly satisfying (much like every time Joffrey gets slapped around or otherwise insulted; I swear, that kid is as obnoxious as Draco Malfoy). While he was popular enough at Winterfell when he was a ward of the Starks, his return this week was, ahem… far from successful. He’s a joke on the Iron Islands, and he’s hopelessly ineffectual as a conqueror with his boat full of scummy pirates. Granted, he took an undefended Winterfell, but it’s pretty clear that no one respects him in the North, either. Not Bran, who sleepily dismisses his attempts at conquest, and certainly not Ser Rodrik Cassel. It seems like the guy can’t win for losing; the way this character is going seems right in Alfie Allen’s wheelhouse as an actor. His expressions this week were very impressive, and I’ve considered him one of the weaker points of the show. He has a great “Oh yeah, I’ll show you I’m a man!” face, and it doesn’t matter if he’s bedding an odd-looking captain’s daughter or failing at being a prince.

further reading: Game of Thrones Season 8 – Predictions and Theories

I like what Greyjoy is trying to do, which is to impress his dad, and I like that no matter what he’s doing, he seems like he’s going to fail because he’s Theon Greyjoy and he kind of sucks at everything. He can’t intimidate a crippled boy until he goes way over the top, he gets outsmarted by a kitchen slut when his success goes to his head, and his smartest tactical decision was handed to him by his first mate and promptly bungled.

The plot in Westeros is definitely getting thicker, and it’s overshadowing Dany and her adventures across the Narrow Sea. Even with the events that transpired this week, I’m growing a little bored with Dany. Now that she lacks her horde of Dothraki, her Khal, and Viserys, she’s kind of boring. Even with her weird new friend Xaro Xhoan Daxos, there’s not a lot going on with Dany yet aside from the show showing off its set designers and weird-looking character actors. 

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Granted, Dany is the mother of dragons, but fire-breathing leather kittens aren’t enough to keep my attention when there are much more interesting games afoot in Westeros. 

Read our review of last week’s episode, The Ghost of Harrenhal, here.  US Correspondent Ron Hogan is waiting for a mega mix of Theon Greyjoy making Greyjoy face, to join the Joffrey being slapped mixes that are out there. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.  Follow Den Of Geek on Twitter right here. And be our Facebook chum here.