Finally, after months and months of build up and that kick ass season ending shot, Game of Thrones is back with a vengeance. I desperately wanted to be done with this book prior to the season premier but alas, I’m still reading it. Luckily I’m ahead of where this first episode left off so nothing in the episode came as a surprise. There’s turmoil in Westeros and The North Remembers does a pretty good job and setting up the chaos as well as introducing a few new characters. There is so much going on in different parts of the realm and like last season, if you pay attention to the opening credits, you’ll know what areas the episode will focus on.
Last season left off with the aftermath of Ned Stark’s beheading. Robb has been declared King of the North, while Joffrey, the boy-king, sits on the Iron Thron in Kings Landing. Tyrion Lannister was appointed to the position of Hand of the King, and the surviving Baratheon brothers, Stannis and Renly both think the Iron Throne belongs to them. Meanwhile, Daenerys emerged from the fire (literally) with three baby dragons and what’s left of her khalasar.
The episode kicks off in King’s Landing with Joffrey, who is just as douchey as ever watching over a fighting match in which the Hound throws some poor bastard off a balcony. Sansa is made to watch and is living in her own personal hell. Tyrion shows up to inform Cersei that their father has appointed him as the new Hand and the news does not sit well with her at all. He tells her that he’s there to clean up the mess she created by not stepping in when Joffrey had Ned beheaded. In an effort to get Jamie back from Robb Stark, the plan was to trade him for the Stark sisters, but Cersei had to confess that Arya is missing.
Even though Cersei can’t control her father’s actions, she still holds some power. During a conversation with Littlefinger, in which he tells her that knowledge is power, she demonstrates that she still holds the cards by threatening his life at the hands of her guards, then suddenly calling them off and letting him go. For Littlefinger, this was a sobering moment and one he’ll not soon forget.
Later on Cersei has a confrontation with Joffrey while he’s overseeing the renovations on the throne room. He tells her that he’s heard rumors regarding her, Robert and bastard children, but in the process he oversteps the line and disrespects her, earning a slap across the face. Being the sniveling little douche-bag that he is, he hides behind his crown and tells her the act is punishable by death and to never do it again. His last order of business in this episode is to eliminate all of Robert’s bastard children. This show has never shied away from graphic scenes and it’s not different here. Seeing the guards follow Joffrey’s orders was a tough nugget to swallow….even for me.
The stop in Winterfell was brief, but no less important than any another place touched on in this episode. Bran is currently sitting as Lord of Winterfell, which all of those duties associated with the title are falling to him. Under the tutelage of Maester Luwin, Bran listens to the complaints and pleas for help from those sworn to his house and makes decisions accordingly. They did manage to throw in the fantasy element with Bran however. In his dream, he’s trotting through the forest to the godswood tree. However when he gets to the pond, the reflection reveals Summer, his direwolf.
Once awake, he had Hodor take him to the godswood with Osha in tow who questions him about his dream. They discuss the different theories about the red comet that can be seen from all parts of Westeros and what it could possible mean. There has always been a bit of a supernatural element with Bran’s character and it’s something the writers are continuing on with. He feels weak because he’s “broken” and can’t walk, but I think this aspect will come in to play down the road.
The Red Waste
Meanwhile, across the water in the lands of the Dothraki, Daenerys is traveling with what’s left of her khalasar. Since Drogo’s death last season, many of her people left to form their own khalasar and fight for the title of Khal. They are traveling an area in between cities that is nothing but a barren wasteland. After her prized horse falls and dies, she is forced to send her three strongest riders in different directions to look for any sign of civilization. While she’s still technically young and naive, her strength comes through here.
The Far North
Last we saw of Jon Snow he was accompanying the Lord Commander north of the wall to find Benjen and answers to just what lies out there. We pick up with the group as they make a stop at Craster’s Keep. Craster is a crotchety old man who takes his daughters as wives so he can have more daughters. There seems to be more brewing in the far north than what they originally thought.
Even though Mormont doesn’t seem to like Craster very much, he knows that the man has information that is vital to their mission. Craster tells them about Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall, who is amassing an army of wildings to take to war in the south. Craster offers the group lodging, but enforces a hands-off rule when it comes to his daughter-wives. This doesn’t bode well when it comes to an army of men.
Jon Snow is one of my favorite characters from the book as well as the first season of the show. I think Kit Harrington is a great fit, and I’m happy to see Jon becoming stronger. He’s a conflicted character who has a lot of strength and that’s starting to come out.
Dragonstone is a new location and with it comes new characters. Stannis Baratheon is Lord of Dragonstone and should be Robert’s successor to the Iron Throne since Joffrey isn’t actually Robert’s offspring. We are first introduced to Dragonstone in the middle of some type of ceremony. Stannis seems to be following the advice of the mysterious, and quite frankly, scary Melisandre. She’s like a priestess of sorts and she convinces Stannis to burn the statues of the old gods. She has Stannis’ ear, much to the chagrin of one of his men, Ser Davos Seaworth, and his long time Maester.
Stannis is a gruff, hard man who doesn’t sugarcoat anything, but has no lack of honor either. These qualities shine through in a letter writing scene designed to show his cunning ways and how there is thought behind each of his actions. Scared that he’s being warped by Melisandre, the Maester offers to make peace with her by sharing a drink. A drink which he poisoned. She knows what he’s up to, but drinks anyway and watches while he suffers from the poison and dies, yet nothing happens to her. She’s going to be a force this season and this scene does a great job of setting that up.
Stark Base Camp
Robb has had to grow up rather quickly since his father’s death. Determined to put the Lannister’s in the hurt box, he’s become a true leader. Robb pays his prisoner, one Jamie Lannister a visit and after a few quips between the two, Jamie seems to realize that Robb is a force to be reckoned with. Jamie gets real quiet when Grey Wind, Robb’s direwolf, makes his appearance. I will say this….they did a great job with the CGI wolf. Showing the wolves at the size they should be was something I was a bit worried about, but they managed to pull it off rather well.
Later on, Robb give his list of demands to Jamie’s cousin to take back to King’s Landing. After he’s done, Theon tells him that they won’t agree to his terms but Robb already knows that. Theon tells Robb that his father has ships that they will need in order to storm King’s Landing, but Catelyn doesn’t trust the man. She tells Rob that she wants to go back to Winterfell, but he tells her that she’s heading out the next morning to meet with the other Baratheon, Renly, who has crowned himself King. Robb is a born leader and this episode firmly sets that foundation.
On the Kingsroad
In the aftermath of Joffrey’s order to kill Robert’s bastards, there is one that they can’t find….an older boy named Gendry. Ned found him last season working as a blacksmith’s apprentice, but he was shipped off to the Night’s Watch. His former mentor is forced to tell the guards where he went and as this happens we see Gendry on the wagon, heading north to the Wall….accompanied by Arya.
While she never even utters a word, the ending of this episode was a perfect set up for where she is and what’s about to come. Arya is my other favorite character so I’m happy to have seen her for even a second.
There weren’t any groundbreaking revelations reveals this week, but that’s ok. The world laid before us is vast and I can’t imagine the task the writers have in trying to fit everything into an hour. This episode served as springboard for what’s to come and in that, it did a great job. Game of Throne is back, and I couldn’t be happier about it!Tags: Game of Thrones, Game of Thrones 2.01, Game of Thrones recap, Game of Thrones season two premier, Game of Thrones The North Remembers, GoT, HBO, Kit Harrington, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage