Television Revision: Game of Thrones – Season 2

GameofThronesS21

By Andrew Williams
August 7, 2013

Television Revision is a weekly feature in which our tuned in TV critic trawls through the best the box has to offer, giving you a primer on some of history’s finest shows (and warning you away from the specific episodes – or even seasons! – that might have ruined their reputation).

Now, this is a story all about how… Westeros is plunged into war following the death of King Robert Baratheon. Five new kings seek the crown: the vengeful Robb Stark, the sadistic Joffrey Lannister, the religious zealot Stannis Baratheon, his charismatic brother, Renly, and Balon Greyjoy, the lord of the Iron Islands.

Game of Thrones S2

Happy Days? The shock and awe of Game of Thrones Season One resulted in the show transforming from cult hit to groundbreaking appointment television. Season Two wastes no time in picking up the jousting stick and riding with it; there would be no troublesome second album for showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. They even had the audacity to add more characters to a show that already had enough to fill a Tweet, with welcome newcomers including Carice Van Houten, Stephen Dillane, Gwendoline Christie, and Liam Cunningham lending additional gravitas to this already outstanding cast.

Season Two is very much of a piece with what’s come before, continuing the ‘travelogue’ style in which we check in with most characters over the course of an episode, providing the same benefits (scope) and the same drawbacks (a lack of depth) as before. Come the series’ conclusion, though, when we look back on Game of Thrones Season Two, there’s one episode that will likely stand above the pack, and that’s Blackwater. A ‘battle’ episode mostly taking place in a single location, it’s a thrilling example of what Game of Thrones could be if it tightened its focus and broke its format a little more often.

The final frontier? Game of Thrones’ sophomore effort is a majestic season of television with brains and brawn in equal measure. While it might lack some of the standout scenes of Season One, it remains complex, rewarding, thrilling TV.

Game of Thrones S2

Top three episodes: 9) Blackwater. Neil Marshall (The Descent) directs this superb outing; an episode that looks at the traditional boundaries of scale on television and smashes them to pieces. 4) Garden of Bones. I’ve always maintained that GOT is a show more concerned with great ‘moments’ than great ‘episodes,’ and Garden of Bones ends on quite a moment. 10) Valar Morghulis. A dense, satisfying season finale leaves viewers panting in anticipation for Season Three.

Worst episode: 8) The Prince of Winterfell. There are no shockers in Season Two by any means, but the eighth episode of the season seems to stall when it should be firing on all cylinders.

Season MVP: It’s a tie: Arya (Maisie Williams) & Tywin (Charles Dance) are superficially completely different: she’s young, female, and powerless, while he’s old, male, and in charge of every situation. But their primary shared trait – rat-like cunning – makes any conversation or interaction between them a barnburner, and Season Two contains many such moments.

4/5

Check out Andrew Williams’ previous instalments:

Television Revision: Game of Thrones – Season 1

Game of Thrones is available on Quickflix.

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