As shocking as this series can be (see the baby killings of the last episode), I find that sometimes it can rely a tad too heavy on certain aspects to get the point across. I don’t have a problem with sex being used in film but it seems that every once in a while this show uses it as a sort of filler. It happened again this week and even though The Night Lands can be considered a good episode, it wasn’t quite as strong as the premier, or a handful from last season.
One of the things I find interesting about this show is how the gender lines are drawn. In this world women are perceived as both stronger and weaker than men, depending on their place in society. Cersei wields power, and so does Melisandre and Daenerys, yet there are others who are looked upon as worthless, mainly the common woman, or those who work in the brothels. This episode toys with the gender lines, showing both sides of the coin.
The King’s Road
The premier episode left off in the best way by showing Arya and Gendry making their journey north. This final scene was so effective because there was no dialogue and we hadn’t seen them since the end of last season. This week picks up where last week left off. On The King’s Road. Arya, or as she’s known here, Arry, has to hide the fact that she’s A) a girl, and B) a Stark. The episode starts where Arya is off on her own “making her water” (i.e. peeing) then heading back to join the group. Soon enough, a couple of guards from King’s Landing show up with a warrant. Arya thinks it’s for her, but it turns out it’s for Gendry. This is all carry over from the slaying of all of Robert’s bastards last week. Yoren, being the bad ass that he is, doesn’t turn Gendry over, but instead subtly threatens one of the guards and sends them on their way.
Later on Arya has to listen to two of the other fellows go on about how they would have turned Gendry over to the guards. Disgusted, but also knowing who she can and can’t trust, she heads over to talk to Gendry. He tells her that he knows she’s a girl, and after unsuccessfully denying it, she instead confides to him who she actually is. The exchange afterwards is comical and sweet and the viewer senses the relief that Arya is able to let her guard down just a little bit. How that will play out later on has yet to be seen however.
The most prominent location this week was King’s Landing. You know when Tyrion is afoot because you can hear his whistle and that’s exactly how it started this week. Tyrion entered his chamber to find Varys conversing with Shae. The subtle power play at work here is pretty stellar with both Varys and Tyrion threatening each other without actually saying very much at all. This is a prime example of how there is more to every scene than what meets the eye. You can tell that Tyrion isn’t happy with Shae talking to Varys, but I think Shae is smart and wise enough to see through Varys veiled niceties.
As if the confrontation with Varys wasn’t enough, Tryion also has to deal with yet another council meeting. Cersei tears up yet more paper, a skill that Tryion compliments her on and tells her cousin who brought Robb’s terms to head back with a dismissal. The final order of business was a request from The Wall for more men. The letter mentioned the incident with the dead coming back to life and the attempt on Lord Commander Mormant’s life, but this issue is blown off by everyone except Tyrion. Having spent time with the Night’s Watch, he seems to take the threat seriously.
Littlefinger has to deal with the fall out of the Babygate when Ros can’t seem to keep it together. He comforts her, yet threatens her at the same time, telling her to basically suck it up and get back to work or he’ll have to find someone else. The threat is real and the manner in which he tells her is quite cunning and once again, we’re treated to another example of just how conniving Littlefinger can be.
Tyrion hosts Slynt (man in charge of Babygate) to a dinner and questions him about the order to seek out and murder Robert’s bastards. Slynt is loyal to Joffrey, but Tyrion seizes an opportunity afforded to him as the Hand of the King and strips Slynt of his title and sends him to the Wall to become part of the Night’s Watch. He also names his right hand man Bronn, as the new Captain of the Guard. He asks Bronn if he would murder a baby, no questions asked. Bronn replies that he wouldn’t, he would first ask how much. Ouch!!
The final scene in Knight’s Landing is between Tyrion and Cersei. This scene achieved what I figured was impossible. The hatred between brother and sister was taken to a new level when Cersei openly blamed Tyrion for killing their mother while she gave birth to him. It was brutal and bitchy and embodied all that is great about Cersei and showed Lena Headey at her best. Tyrion has never been one to show hurt or serious anger but both came through in this outstanding scene.
Davos calls on his pirate comrade, Salladhor Saan, to help with Stannis’ quest for the throne. After some crude talk about religion, Salladhor agrees and vows to “take the queen”. He’s crude and vile, but he is a pirate after all. Davos not only has to help plan the siege of King’s Landing, but he also has to keep his firmly religious son grounded. You can tell his son openly disagrees with their plan, especially after the burning of the idols last week.
Davos meets with Stannis and tells him that they will have 30 of Salladhor Saan’s ships at their disposal. Stannis then dismisses everyone, except Melisandre, who whispers a veiled threat to Davos’ son. Stannis meanwhile seems to be fully under Melisandre’s spell. After they’re alone, Melisandre chides Stannis on how his wife hasn’t given him a son, but she will. The scene ends with the two going to town on top of his war table. Stannis is a by the book, keep his word kind of guy, but Melisandre works her magic over him to cheat on his wife. Clearly we know who’s in charge here.
We’re introduced to another new location this week with the introduction of Pyke, aka the Iron Islands. After telling Robb last week that he could get the ships they need from his father, Theon heads back home after being away for nine years. Taken as a fosterling by Ned, when he and Robert stormed Pyke, and being his fathers only remaining son, Theon expects a warm welcome. What he finds instead is anything but. After a rather tired bit of “sexposition” (sex fueled exposition), Theon arrives home to no fanfare at all. While trying to find a way to his father’s castle, a woman shows up and says she’ll take him. As they ride (on the same horse), Theon makes all sorts of moves on her, all of which she mainly rebuffs.
Once he arrives, his father basically tells him that he’s gone soft while under the Stark thumb. Theon informs him of Robb’s plan and tells him that it was actually he who came up with it. Balon Greyjoy isn’t convinced and tells him that he will pay for his crown with iron. I assume that means he’ll kill for it but funnily enough, there was no mention of taking it from the Lannisters.
The big reveal here is when the gal who rode with Theon enters the chambers. He scolds her, but then to his shock, she stands side by side with Balon. It turns out the woman in question is actually Yara….Theon’s older sister. EWWWWWWW! Balon informs Theon that Yara will be the one to lead the ships into battle and she serves as the head of his forces. The look of shock on Theon’s face is both humorous and painful. Theon was just served a massive helping of humble pie and I don’t think he likes the taste of it at all.
The Red Waste
If there was any part of this episode that could have been left out, it’s this part. Perhaps if they aired the first and second episode together as a two-hour premier it would have meshed better, but here it made no impact at all. Dany’s khalasar is starving and dehydrated. After sending out three riders last week, they sit and wait for their return and news of their findings. Jorah sees one of the horses approach, minus its rider. Well, the head of the rider was shoved in a sack, but that’s it. Seems that Dany has some enemies on the road.
North of the Wall
Meanwhile, at Craster’s Keep, the boys keep themselves occupied talking about farts. Because I’m a juvenile, I found it kind of funny. Sam goes to the aid of one of Craster’s daughter-wives when she’s approached by Ghost. Of course Sam being Sam, decides to try to help her when she asks him for it. Even though they aren’t supposed to even talk to Craster’s women.
Knowing he can’t help on his own, Sam takes Gilly to Jon for help. Gilly tells Jon that she needs to run because she’s pregnant and if she has a boy…. Jon tried to get more information on that topic, but she doesn’t say anything. Jon tells Sam that there isn’t anything they can do for her, and that Mormont won’t hear of it. They’re headed further North and they can’t have a pregnant girl tagging along.
Later that night, Jon sees Craster head into the forest with a newborn. He spies Craster leaving the newborn in the woods, and he also sees something take it away. The white walkers maybe? Seems to be something of a sacrifice if you ask me. However, before Jon can do anything, he’s knocked unconscious by Craster.
With each passing episode Jon is becoming stronger and stronger. He’s not the scared young man trying to put up a brave front anymore. The time he’s spent away from Winterfell and all he’s experiences so far have hardened him and Kit Harrington is doing a great job showcasing Jon’s transformation.
While this was a decent episode, it didn’t have that punch to the guy that other episodes have. It’s still laying the foundation for the new season so I won’t rake it over the coals too harshly. As far as power goes, we saw a few women who wield a ton of power. Cersei is a bit of a contradiction however. She waves a hand of power, but when Tyrion asked her about the order to kill Robert’s bastards, it seemed she had no power in that. Her lack of power is where her son is concerned. That’s going to pose a bit of a problem.Tags: Game of Thrones, Game of Thrones 2.02, Game of Thrones recap, Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 2, Game of Thrones The NIght Lands, Kit Harrington, Peter Dinklage