The first two episodes of “Game of Thrones’” second season have been slow but steady, and full of exposition, mostly thanks to Ros, the red-headed whore who seems to be written specifically for this reason (she’s not a character in the book). With that said, creating this foundation is necessary for what’s coming, and tonight’s episode, “What Is Dead May Never Die,” showed why.
Finally, we get to see what Renly Baratheon is up to. He’s been mentioned a couple of times this season, but we’ve not had the chance to see what his army looks like. Of course, he’s plotting his ascension to the Iron Throne, and we hear some of his plans when Catelyn Stark pays him a visit to parlay an allegiance.
The best part about catching up with Renly is being introduced to Brienne of Tarth. To say she’s an interesting character is an understatement. She’s somewhat shrouded in mystery, but she’s a brick shithouse of a warrior. She’s comparable to Jamie Lannister in terms of her skills, and she’s going to be exciting to watch this season.
Like last episode, “What Is Dead May Never Die” has some fantastic dialogue going on. There’s a scene where Queen Cersei is eating dinner with her children (sans Joffrey) and Sansa Stark. Myrcella Baratheon asks questions about Sansa’s marriage to Joffrey. Of course, this is uncomfortable for Sansa, and Cersei relishes in it. When Tommen Baratheon brings up Robb Stark’s fate, Cersei rubs it in Sansa’s face for kicks. It just further shows Cersei’s vile nature, and as the audience to this drama, we can’t wait to see her get what she’s owed.
Luckily we see it this episode when Cersei confronts Tyrion Lannister after he’s promised Myrcella’s hand in marriage to another family. Of course, this is just a plan of Tyrion’s to fish out those working against him. It’s another stroke of genius on his part, and Cersei’s feelings and emotions are just small victims in the game. But what’s great about the scene is the acting by Lena Headey. I found myself feeling sorry for Cersei, as she lamented about having her only daughter given away. You can tell Cersei wants her children to be innocent in all of this murder and deception, so when her daughter is used as a bartering tool, Cersei flips.
Theon Greyjoy’s emotional scene with his father was also solid. Alfie Allen does a fine job, but has the tendency to overact during dramatic scenes. He has deep and full expression, and sometimes it comes across as comical. He did fine in tonight’s episode, especially in his outburst toward his father. The scene set up Theon’s fall from grace pretty well: He desires his family’s acceptance to the point he decides to turn his back on Robb and the Starks. Theon is now to lead an attack on a town in the North, cementing his decision.
Speaking of the Starks, Arya is clutch this episode, saving Gendry’s life (and her own). Bran continues to have dreams where he’s his wolf, seeing things as his wolf sees them. This will be explained later on, but for now just roll with it. The entire situation sort of sticks out like a sore thumb because it’s so mystical and there hasn’t been much room for mysticism in “Game of Thrones,” so far. But just you wait…
Now, we’re getting somewhere. We have seven episodes left and a lot to cover. Either the writers will pace things better than I thought possible in seven hours, or they’ll cut things out considerably. Really, fans of the books need to prepare themselves for the latter possibility. The third season has been confirmed, but as of right now it won’t encompass everything in “A Storm of Swords.” The fourth season will more than likely wrap up that book, and if that’s the way things are going, then I say bring it on. The more of the books they squeeze comfortably into the show the better.
Tonight’s episode was the best of the season so far. It had sexuality, but there was a purpose to it, unlike last episode’s sexfest. It has powerful dialogue and performances, and it had a considerable amount of action. Let’s see if next week’s episode keeps it up.