This has got to be the most anticipated second season in HBO series history. The first season of "Game of Thrones" captivated its audience with its gritty and graphic depiction of monarchic hi-jinx in the mythical continent of Westeros. Practically every episode ended with an event that would shock the viewer, particularly Episode 9 which blindsided everyone (who did not read the book, of course) with an ending that no one could ever have expected. This important event sets the mood for political machinations in the second season. The season ended with a triumphant occurrence that lifts the series to another level of mystical fantasy, and therefore, setting up very high expectations for the season to come.
You really do need to watch Season 1 first before you can appreciate Season 2. I do not think you can get into the spirit without seeing how the various characters were in Season 1. You'd get lost in the names of places and people for sure.
Episode 1: The North Remembers
The first episode of the second season covered a lot of ground, basically showing us what is going on with the cast of characters that survived the first season. With the death of King Robert Baratheon and his Hand Ned Stark in Season One, two characters who kept the peace in Westeros were gone, and thus results a free-for-all for control of the Iron Throne. The tagline of Season 2 is "Five Kings, One Throne," and in this first episode alone we will see four out of the five.
Very bad boy Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) is now King of King's Landing, and he continues in his cruel style of dealing with his subjects. His devious mother and now Queen Regent Cersei Lannister (Lena Heady) is very much involved in his dastardly decisions. These unpopular acts have led the patriarch of the Lannister clan Tywin (Charles Dance) to send his imp son Tyrion (Emmy awardee Peter Dinklage, now enjoying first billing) to serve as Hand of the King, much to Cersei's dismay.
Robb Stark (Richard Madden), now called "King of the North," is waging a war of revenge against Joffrey, who ordered the death of his father Ned Stark in Season One. Youngest Stark son Bran (Isaac Wright) is left to administer Winterfell as its Lord. Stark bastard Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) is still with the Night Watch, who are now camping north with the crazy Craster who marries his daughters and kills his sons.
The Khaleesi Daenerys Targeryan (Emilia Clarke) is leading her people, roaming the wastelands in search for a place to settle. From the fantastic ending of Season One, we know she truly has dragon blood as Targaryans are known for, and she had three dragon offspring to show for it.
Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), being the elder brother of the late King Robert, is probably the real heir to the throne. Despite his good points, he is unpopular and is now enamored with his red-headed mystical priestess Melisandre (Carice van Houten). He explodes a major bomb about Joffrey's real lineage being a product of Cersei's incestuous relationship with her twin brother Jamie (Nicolaj Coster Waldau), who is now a prisoner and trading chip of Robb Stark.
The gory climax involves the killing of the bastards of King Robert, as ordered by Joffrey. At the end of the episode, we see Baratheon bastard Gendry (Joe Dempsie) escape from Joffrey's deadly henchmen along with young Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) who is disguised as a young boy named Arry.
Episode 2: The Night Lands
After the expansive first episode where we see the status of all of the major characters, Episode 2 takes more time in individual stories. This episode starts in the woods where Arya and Gendry are under the care of Night Guard recruiter Yoren (Francis Magee). King Joffrey's guards come and look for Gendry but are rebuffed by Yoren. Arya confesses to Gendry her real identity when he asks her why she thought the guards were looking for her.
The other major event was Tyrion beginning his manipulation of Kings Landing's court by firing and exiling King Joffrey's loyal head of the City Guard, Janos Slynt. However, Tyrion also has some private concern as Shae (Sibell Kekilli), the whore he brought with him to Kings Landing had been discovered by Varys (Conleth Hill), the eunuch of the Royal Council. Queen Regent Cersei reveals why she hates Tyrion as it was at his birth that their mother died.
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Meanwhile, in the Red Waste, we see Danaerys distressed when Rakharo, the emissary she sent to look for the correct path out of the wilderness, returns as a severed head. In the Iron Islands, Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) is caught in dilemma if his loyalty should be with his estranged family, the Greyjoys, or his adoptive family, the Starks. In Dragonstone, Stannis Baratheon finally succumbs and consummates his lust with witchy Melisandre right on the geographic relief model map they used for their combat strategies.
The episode ends with Jon Snow witnessing Craster leaving a baby boy in the snow to be picked up by a demon. When he takes a better look, someone knocks him out cold with a club to the head.
(TO BE CONTINUED...)
(TO BE CONTINUED...)