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Monday, April 9, 2012

Game of Thrones 2x2 - "The Night Lands"

It's been almost a year since I read "A Clash of Kings". Of the five "A Song of Ice and Fire" books, it's the one I read the fastest and for some reason, the one with the details I remember the least (until the events that conclude the book, which I remember very well). So season 2 of Game of Thrones feels kind of new to me, like I'm constantly rediscovering things I'd learned and then forgotten. But as such, I'm less capable of pointing out the details of what is new/different on the show from what was in the books.

One thing I was aware of from the outset was the show changing the name of Theon Greyjoy's sister from Asha to Yara Greyjoy. Theon is in full horny swagger mode, but he seems to me now like a full-sized Warwick Davis from Life's Too Short - a self-deluded asshole who's more convinced of his own importance than anyone he meets ever is. Plus his groping and molesting his sister, though he was unaware at the time that was his sister, takes that kiss Luke and Leia shared on Hoth to a far, far more disgusting level. But then, incest is old hat in Westeros.

Not to belabor this point, but Theon went to second and third base with his sister while they were riding that horse. Now, Theon didn't know who she was. But Yara did know who Theon was, and she let him finger mow her lawn and reacted with pleasure to it. Even on this show, with Jaime and Cercei and the Targaryens, I find that messed up. 

And how about that Balon Greyjoy, huh? What an a-hole. Not quite a Walder Frey-level a-hole, but he's right up there. I've never cared much for the Ironborn in the books. You can already see the wheels turning for how he's going to screw Robb Stark over. I do like the implications that the Northmen are "dressed like whores", that they wear "skirts" since the Northmen are kind of analogues for the Scottish.

I loved the scene with Davos Seaworth (has he been referred to as The Onion Knight yet? I don't recall from last week) and Sallador Slan the pirate. "You Westerosi are strange. A man cuts off your finger and you fall in love with him!"

No Robb Stark, Catelyn Stark, Sansa Stark, or Bran Stark this week. Very, very light on Starks, but a lot of mention of the dearly departed and sorely missed Ned Stark.

Speaking of Starks, the interplay between Gendry and Arya/Arry is spot on, especially his teasing her about being a lady. Considering the lifelong friendship between Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark, I really dig a similar friendship being forged between Ned's daughter and Robert's bastard. Plus the formal introduction of Jaqen H'ghar. Just so.

Tyrion is fantastic feeling out his power as (acting) Hand of the King, banishing Janos Slynt to the Wall and installing Bron as lord commander of the City Watch. Best line in the episode for me: "I'm not questioning your honor. I'm denying its existence." Tyrion's scenes with Cercei are also great. "You've perfected the art of tearing up papers." Tyrion is so very smart and Cercei is so very not smart. The Tyrion/Varys/Shae stuff was also very good.

Not much for poor Daenerys this week, or last. The Blood of her Blood she sent off to scout come back with his head in his horse's sack. No sign of the dragons this week, either.

But my, Ghost has grown. Grey Wind was huge last week when he stared down Jamie in Robb's camp, but Ghost might even be a bit bigger. There weren't enough of the dire wolves last season, so it's great the show has worked them in these first two episodes.

The episode also made time to show us the trials and tribulations of Littlefinger trying to run his brothel. And Stannis banging Melissandre on his Map of Westeros table, with action figures dropping all over the floor.

Finally, above the wall, Sam and Jon Snow met Gilly, whom I seem to recall is kind of important. I wasn't clear if that was her baby that was left out as a sacrifice to the White Walkers at the end. I don't think it was; but again, I'm really soft on the details of the third and fourth tier ancillary characters in this saga.