First and foremost, if you haven’t seen my Season 1 review of Game of Thrones, click here in order to read that one first… Or don’t, whatever. But regardless, let’s get this bitch rolling and move onto to Game of Thrones Season 2.
The Seven Kingdoms
In the North
We start this season by advancing several months from the end of Season 1. Westeros is in an all-out Civil War, with Robb Stark of the North, Stannis Baratheon, Robert’s brother and Joffery’s “uncle”, entering the picture, along with Renly Baratheon as well.
Robb’s continued victories against the Lannisters begin to make him a viable threat to Tywin Lannister, after the young Stark earned the nickname “The Young Wolf”. In order to strengthen his position in the war, Robb sends out Theon to his homeland on the Iron Islands to gain an alliance with Balon Greyjoy. He also sends his mother, Catelyn, to talk with Renly Baratheon about forming an alliance, since Robb has no interest in the Iron Throne but only the independence of the North. During a battle, he also meets a young woman named Talisa.
After failed negotiations with Renly (Which I’ll go into later), Robb and Catelyn find out that Theon has betrayed them and attacked Winterfell. Robb agrees to let the bastard of his bannerman, Roose Bolton, capture Theon and bring him back so that Robb may execute him properly. He also insists that his brothers’, Rickon and Brandon, safety is paramount. While Robb and Talisa are out to gather medical supplies, Jaime Lannister kills 2 Karstark men, which results in his life being threatened by Rickard Karstark.
In order to get her daughters back, Catelyn sends Jaime along with Brienne of Tarth to secure her daughters’ releases. Robb is furious and has his mother kept under guard. During their time together, Robb and Talisa grow close to one another and Robb breaks his oath to the Freys in order to secretly marry Talisa.
The Iron Islands and Winterfell
Theon returns to the Iron Islands in order to treat with his father, but finds that his father, Balon Greyjoy, does not want an alliance. He reveals to Theon that he wants the North attacked and sends out his children, Theon and his sister Yara, to accomplish this. In doing so, Theon betrays the Starks by drawing out a garrison from Winterfell and claims Winterfell, which Bran has been named Lord of. He reluctantly surrenders Winterfell to Theon, who then executes a man, Ser Rodrik Cassel, although he does not cut his head clean off.
Theon is seduced by Osha, one of the wildlings who attacked Bran in Season 1, and she uses this chance to escape with Bran, Rickon, and Hodor. Theon is furious about this and kills 2 boys from a nearby farm, burning their bodies and displaying them as “Brandon” and “Rickon”. He is wanted by everyone in the North for killing the Stark children, but Theon refuses to give up Winterfell. When Winterfell is about to be attacked by the Bastard of Bolton’s army, Theon gives a rousing speech, but is betrayed by his own men.
Bran, Rickon, Osha, and Hodor are in hiding beneath Winterfell in the crypts, and emerge to see that their home has been all but destroyed, with dying flames and dead bodies everywhere. They then head north, to the Wall.
Stannis Baratheon, aka The King of the Narrow Sea, converts to the Lord of Light at the behest of the Red Priestess, Melisandre. He learned from Ned Stark that Joffery was the result of an incestuous relationship between Cersei and Jaime, and sends ravens to every corner of Westeros, spreading the truth. In Stannis’ eyes, and technically true, he is the proper claimant to the Iron Throne. However with Renly claiming the Iron Throne and Robb Stark wanting the North’s independence, Stannis refuses to align himself with either faction. While Davos, one of Stannis’ closest advisors, recruits pirates to gain their ships, Melisandre and Stannis have a night together, with Melisandre promising Stannis an heir.
It should be noted that Stannis does not have any sons, as they were all still-born. He has a daughter, but she has this rare condition that makes half her face look as though she has scales on them.
Stannis soon agrees to meet with Renly in order to parley a truce between the two, with Stannis allowing Renly to have his old position of power if he renounced his claim. Renly refuses and Stannis agrees to let Renly have the night to reconsider. However, Melisandre gives birth to a shadow creature that night, which kills Renly in front of Brienne of Tarth and Catelyn Stark. Brienne is framed for the murder and Stannis makes off with most of Renly’s forces, save for the Tyrell family’s forces.
Stannis then sails for Kings Landing, with the intent of killing Joffery and claiming the Iron Throne for himself. Melisandre stays at Dragonstone, at the behest of Davos.
Arya and Gendry (Yes, they gets their own section this season)
Arya is travelling North to the Wall, posing as a boy, in order to be safe from Kings Landing. She’s travelling with Gendry, a blacksmith and one of Robert Baratheon’s bastards which he is not aware of, and a few other boys. They are soon attacked by Gold-Cloaks (Kings Landing soldiers), who want Gendry arrested. Another boy, who is holding a bull-head helmet that Gendry is very fond of, is killed and claimed to be Gendry. Arya and Gendry, along with the other captives, are taken to Harrenhall where Tywin Lannister takes Arya as his cup-bearer.
She also meets Jaqen H’ghar, a captive she freed from a burning cage when the Gold Cloaks attacked, now serving as a Lannister soldier. He thanks her for freeing him and offers the chance for her to name 3 people for him to kill, since himself and the two people he was locked up escaped death. Arya names 2 people, a man who tortured the captives and a man who would have outed her to Tywin. When Tywin leaves to battle Robb’s armies, Arya misses the chance to name him as the third victim to Jaqen, but later on names Jaqen as her third when he refuses to help her escape. He helps her escape by killing multiple men in a fashion that does not arouse suspicion. Arya soon asks him to teach her how to kill as he does, but he says that he would have to come with her to Braavos, which is across the Narrow Sea. He gives her a coin that will allow her to travel to Braavos upon saying “Valor Morghulis” to any man from Braavos. He then changes his face, stunning Arya, and bids her good bye.
Joffery’s ascension to power has resulted in Kings Landing essentially going down the toilet. Cersei orders that due to winter coming, no more refugees are to be allowed into the capital. Stannis’ letters of Joffery’s parentage reaches them and Joffery orders all bastards of Robert’s to be killed. Several children all over the city, even babies, are killed as a result. News of the attack by wights on the Wall and Robb Stark’s peace terms are ignored. Tyrion enhances his power by getting rid of Janos Slynt, arresting Pycelle, and gaining Lancel as spy for Cersei.
After Myrcella is sent to Dorne as part of a marriage alliance, Joffery is confronted by the angry people of Kings Landing and as a result, Joffery orders them all killed. A massive city wide riot occurs where Joffery, Tyrion, and Cersei manage to escape barely, with Sansa being saved by the Hound, aka Sandor Clegane.
Sansa during this season isn’t constantly tormented by Joffery, as she has learned to fake her loyalty to him. However, in instances such as Robb winning an important battle, she is publicly beaten and stripped by Joffery’s orders, having only Tyrion save her. During the riot of Kings Landing, she is nearly raped by 3 men, who are killed by the Hound. She soon receives her first period and the Hound finds out, informing Cersei about it. She and Sansa share a moment about this.
Tyrion discovers also that King Aerys had an entire store of Wildfire, a liquid that when ignited was said to have the properties of Dragon Fire, which he plans to use against Stannis, should he attack the city. It should also be noted that Tyrion has also brought a woman that he has fallen for in Season 1, back to Kings Landing named Shae, who is serving as Sansa’s handmaid.
Stannis soon arrives at the city, with Cersei and the women locked away in a tower to protect them from the battle. Joffery is sent out to battle, along with Tyrion. Stannis’ fleet far outnumber the soldiers at Kings Landing, but Tyrion sends a ship filled with the stores of Wildfire out towards Stannis’ fleet and blows it up, resulting in Stannis losing a large portion of his forces. Stannis still leads the attack onshore and it appears that Kings Landing will soon fall to Stannis. However, Tywin Lannister, aided by the Tyrells, soon attack Stannis’ forces, driving them away with Stannis being forced to retreat.
Joffery, having been summoned away during the battle, names Tywin Hand of the King and Saviour of the City. As a favour to the Tyrells for aiding him in a time of need, he breaks his betrothal with Sansa and agrees to marry Margaery Tyrell.
The Wall and Beyond
Jon is over the Wall as they search for Benjen Stark and the reason for the wight attack on the Lord Commander. Jon meets with Craster, an ally to the Nights Watch, although it is an unstable one. He discovers Craster giving a new-born to a White Walker, which Jon does not recognize, and as a result, the Night’s Watch is removed from Craster’s home. Jon and company soon reach a peak called the Fist of the First Men where they waited for allies to arrive. When they do, Jon asks to join these allies, which the Lord Commander grants. Jon goes with this new company into the pass below the peak where they ambush wildlings. Jon captures one, a woman named Ygritte, and after failing to get information out of her, is sentenced to kill her.
Jon is unable to kill her and she escapes, only to be recaptured by Jon. He is lost from his group and Ygritte and him attempt to find them, with Jon binding her like a leash so that she would not escape. However, after rejecting her sexual advances, Jon is captured by Ygritte and brought to The Lord of Bones, where Qhorin, the leader of the new group Jon had been with, is as well. He had been captured and begins to portray Jon as a traitor, so that Jon may get close to Mayne Rayder, aka The King Beyond the Wall. He insults Jon’s father and mother, to which Jon responds by killing him and gaining respect from the wildlings. He is then brought to their camp.
Across the Narrow Sea
Dany has lost most of her Khalasar after her husband, Drogo’s death, and they are travelling through the desert, hoping to find shelter. Her dragons are seen in her eyes as her children and she notices that they refuse to eat the raw meat that they have been given. She soon discovers however that Dragons only eat cooked meat.
Note: The names of the Dragons are as follows:
Drogon: The black/red dragon named after her husband, Drogo.
Viserion: The cream/gold dragon named after Viserys.
Rhaegal: The green/bronze dragon named after Rhaegar.
Dany sends out her three blood-riders to search for a place for them to go to. One comes back with his head in a bag, while another comes back with an invitation to a great city known as Qarth. Dany and her Khalasar arrive there, only to be told that she will not be given entry until her dragons are presented to her. One of the council member, Xaro Xhaon Daxos, vouches for her however, and she is let into the city. Xaro allows her to stay in his home, where Dany begins to teach her dragons to cook their own food.
It is here that she finds out about Robert Baratheon’s death and resists an offer from Xaro to marry him, in exchange for funds to go back to Westeros. She also meets a warlock named Pyat Pree who invites her to visit his order, which she does not. Upon returning from trying to gain ships from the nobles of Qarth, Dany discovers that Xaro’s home is attacked, her men are all dead, and one of her handmaids and the dragons are missing. Xaro hosts a council so Dany can ask for help, only for Pyat Pree to announce that he stole the dragons and Xaro means to control the city. Pyat uses his magic to kill the other 12 council members, and tells Dany that if she wants her dragons, she will have to come to his tower.
Dany goes and after seeing visions of the Iron Throne and of Drogo and their son, she finds her dragons chained. She is captured by Pyat Pree and told that since the return of the Dragons, his magic has also returned. He is stronger with the dragons there, and they are stronger with Dany there, so he plans to keep them all together forever. Dany simply orders her dragons to breathe fire and they do, causing Pyat Pree to burn alive.
She confronts Xaro about his treachery, and finds her handmaid in bed with him. She takes them both to the vault where Xaro’s wealth is kept, and locks them both inside to die. She then sacks his house, taking enough gold and possessions to buy herself a ship.
My Reaction to this Season
God. Damn. That’s all I’m going to say. I have to say that the inclusion of characters such as Stannis and Balon are a welcome addition. It’s also interesting to see how the War of Five Kings is affecting Westeros as a whole, especially on Joffery. It’s interesting that throughout the season, Tyrion referenced Joffery to the Mad King, and it’s quite apparent through Joff’s actions. He’s so drunk with power that he doesn’t understand the responsibility behind it. He finds out that rumours are going around that he’s a bastard, so he kills all of Robert’s bastard children, even babies, most of them in front of their mothers. He cuts out a bard’s tongue after he plays a mocking song about Joffery, and basically orders all 12 of his personal security to kill over a hundred civilians because one of them threw cow shit at him. But that last plan backfired for sure.
I’m really not digging the Jon Snow arc this season. I don’t know why, but I find his arc very boring. Having read the books though, it’s probably because I know what he’s capable of as a whole. It’s more or less just frustrating to have to wait to see Jon reach his potential.
Robb Stark’s story is certainly one that I enjoyed, as the books don’t really go into Robb’s character that much. We hear about how he’s constantly winning battles, but we don’t see the development of Robb as clearly as we do in the show, which as I’ve mentioned, is a welcome change. It is interesting to see the old “Youth vs. Experience” situation with Robb as he’s advised against certain actions and yet chooses to do them anyways. His marriage to his new wife, Talisa, was something that I wasn’t too proud to see, since Robb is a Stark and Starks have always valued honour and pride above all else. And in Season 3, you can expect this to bite him in the ass.
Once again, I’m REALLY digging Dany’s storyline. She easily has the most growth as a character and it’s a real shame that the series doesn’t focus on her as much as I would’ve liked it to. It’s interesting how she’s learning about life and how the game of power is played, and how she can still be a kind and loving leader, whilst being able to dish out the bad-ass when it’s needed. Over all… Dany… You go girl… You go.
Changes from the Books
There is WAY too many to list here, so once again I’m cheating by giving you this link here to read through all the differences: Game of Thrones Season 2 Differences.
This season gets a solid 9/10 from me.