Game of Thrones Season 2 takes on the series from the outstanding Season 1, keeping it firmly as the best fantasy show on television and in competition for the best television show of any genre. Season 2 follows on directly from the previous season, building the various factions amid an outstanding world of intrigue, politicking, and battle.
What has set Game of Thrones apart is the sheer breadth of ambition. The best of US television shows have been ensemble. Nothing has come close to producing the range of cast assembled here. While one faction does disappear from Season 1 as those who inhabited the Eerie play no role but the addition of more groups just makes this so much more fascinating than traditional television for those with short attention spsns.
The factions are largeiy the same as in Season 1. The Lannisters retain control of the capital of Westeros, King's Landing. They are at war with the Starks who are pushing south from Winterfell following the execution of Ned Stark towards the end Season 1. Further north, beyond the wall are the Wildlings and the Knights Watch. Far away but still seeking to return are a faction of Dothraki led by the Targaryen claimaint to the throne of Westeros. New for Season 2 are two different factions of Baratheons angling for the kingship, the wealthy and ambitious Tyrells, and the warlike Iron Islanders.
With so many factions it can at times be hard to keep track. That is especially when seemingly important characters turn out not to have a real role. This is particularly the case with the very brief apperance of Lucian Msomati who viewers will recognise from No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency but who only appears in one scene. The arrival of a known actor seemingly heralds someone to follow so it is strange when that character is not referenced again.
It can also be a bit confusing when defining features of factions lack distinction. The Tyrells are described as being the richest family in Westeros. As the Lannisters were described in exactly the same way in Season 1 it makes it a bit difficult to follow.
Of course the continuing difficulty of the name Westeros which sounds far too much like Wester Ross spoils the suspension of disbelief.
Still, Game of Thrones sometimes gets it more right than anything that has come before. This is so amazingly the case in the form of the Iron Islanders. As a group of people living on islands to the west of the mainland and who make their living by raiding they demonstrate such incredible understanding of British history by Americans. The Iron Islands geographically seem to be the Isle of Man but more completely they are of course the representation of both the Kingdom of Mann and the Lordship of the Isles. That they have their own culture and beliefs is such a pitch perfect representation of those two raiding societies with a strong sense of independence from the mainland. Being so close to reality yet being clearly fantasy is such a spectacular success of this season.
Other quibbles include accents. The idea of using different British accents to represent different types of people is genious. It is not executed perfectly. The Wildlings for instance should surely not have the same accent as those of Winterfell. The accent of Theon Greyjoy was excellent in Season 1 because it clearly marked him as being from the North but not being of Winterfell stock. It turns out he doesn't have the same accent as all of those from his homeland in Season 2, most particularly his sister which is a bit of a shame. Also, Theon's actions in Winterfell receive scorn from his family yet represent exactly the success they claim to have wanted so it is never clear why his actions should be considered a failure.
Those quibbles are minor compared to the scope of excellence. Most particularly what works well is the depth of characterisation on show. So many of these characters are fascinating in their own right. There really are no weak links in either the characterisation or the acting. The leading characters are largely the same as in Season 1 and they remain excellent. Tyrion Lannister in particular is an amazing character. Peter Dinklage's performance is undoubtedly the best ever produced by a dwarf and arguably the most positive representation of a disabled person the television screen has ever bestowed. Tyrion's machinations and his brilliance are delicious. His clever moves to survive as The Hand and to fight off his enemies are just superb because they play so well into the story so far. The intenal feuding within the Lannisters, most particularly between Tyrion and Cersei is great. The moment in which Tyrion displays unbelievable leadership against the threat from Stannis Baratheon and then moments later sees Cersei's defining move is breathtaking. It really does take a couple of reflections from a viewer to grasp the gravity of what transpired. Almost no television shows have produced something quite so mesmerising.
Tyrion's foil Cersei is really unlikeable. She is clearly the bad guy in many ways and Lena Headey is so easy to dislike. She's not even likeable during the Extras when she takes part in a roundtable with several other actors and is the only person to try and use scorn to get her point across. The edge Headey has makes her scenes feel sharp, when she pushes Tyrion it feels impactful.
The men of the North are a bit less impressive during this Season. Rob Stark and Jon Snow are both gritty, reliable, and honourable. Stark and Snow both grow as people during Season 2, discovering more about the world around them and the people they can be. In Stark's case it is his leadership and the tough choices he has to make. He is a great leader, warm and engaging with his people. He contrasts so much with the unpleasant Joffrey Lannister. Snow loses his innocence in the harsh land beyond the wall, finding the compromises others put up with being too much for him and having his eyes opened to the potential horrors that lie beyond.
It is perhaps the second tier of characters that turns Game of Thrones from excellent into amazing. Daenerys Targaryen is a long way from Westeros and her story does not tie in with any of the other characters. The siloed story still works well because it is a reminder of this faction and also builds a sense of potential through the dragons. Not knowing whether they are likely to be a source for good or ill makes them fascinating. The experience of Daenerys in the city of Qarth is at times beautiful. The Qarthaginians have an interesting governance structure as a free trading city, a nice nod to the powrful merchant cities of European history. The magician of Qarth is horribly creepy and the reveal of the source of the wealth owned by Qarth's richest is really well structured. The lack of screen time and twist for Daenerys' assistant Doreah played by the very attractive Roxanne McKee is a disappointment. On the other hand the scene in which Daenerys has to choose between a life of comfort with the light of her life and her ambition is absolutely beautiful.
The new factions of Baratheons are very interesting in their difference. Renly is such a sympathetic character and seemingly quite popular with the ladies despite being gay. Perhaps Gethin Anthony has a charm that really works. He is so different to Stannis played by Stephen Dillane. Of all the characters in Thrones, Stannis seems the straightest - he issues not one moment of comedy and hardly any emotional scenes at all. The stoicism his chief assistant Davos in the face of the single-mindedness of Stannis is very moving, aided by Liam Cunningham's outstanding acting. Of the Stannis faction the most eye catching is of course the witch Melisandre, a devastating combination of exceptionally sexy and so very dangerous. For all the flesh on show, Carice van Houten is arguably the most eye catching woman on display.
In this reviewer's opinion the most eye catching male chatacter is Jaqen H'Ghar. Like Melisandre he has a very memorable turn of phrase that marks him out as foreign. Jaqen is a relatively minor character but is so very interesting in his own right. The interaction between Jaqen and Arya Stark is terrific. Arya the tomboy is seemingly defined by her companions - her fencing teacher in Season 1 was the source of Arya's characterisation then while Jaqen fills that role in Season 2. As an assassin, Jaqen is a potential cliche but his phraseology and value system are both fascinating.
With these and so many other engaging people on display, Thrones Season 2 is really interesting because of their interaction. Like the very best of US television it is mainly about the way those people react to one another and changes in their environment. Still, this is a fantasy show which means visual effects and battles. There are some draw dropping moments in Thrones Season 2 on that front. The naval battle scene with the greek fire followed by the sequence in which The Hound becomes transfixed by a burning man etch their way into a viewer's long-term memory. The use of sorcery by Stannis and Melisandre is disturbing.
There are surprisingly few battle sequences in the Season. It is mostly dialogue and actually very little action, just the way a great show should be. Unfortunately the lack of action is supposedly made up for by unnecessary repetitions of sex scenes. It becomes a little boring trying to work out which woman will be naked by the end of an episode. Pretty much all the female characters are on full or partial display which is fine but seems aimed at that less experienced segment of the audience for whom such visions represent something new.
The other visual elements are great. The scenery continues to be terrific. The scenery beyond the wall is Iceland and of course it is incredible. Iceland seems to just be one giant film set and it looks great here. The use of Dubrovnik makes a lot of sense as Kings Landing. Malta did a fine job in Season 1 but Dubrovnik is one of the great wonders of the tourist world.
The costumes of course are exellent. Whether that be the vivid red for Melisandre, the outstanding warrior garb of The Hound, Joffrey's regal attire, or any of the so many great costumes they really add to the sense of people and place.
Musically, Thrones is hard to recall. The main element is the opening sequence where attention is drawn heavily to the map. That map continues to be excellent.
The DVD Extras are good, not great. Some of the main players do not really give much. There is not a huge amount from Peter Dinklage for instance. The roundtable discussion is ok. There is extensive coverage of the naval battle which does make sense as it is the main set-piece in the series. Very interesting that battle is not the conclusion of Season 2, and a great piece of directing to avoid that result. There is a brief coverage of the religions but it acts more as a resume of what has already been seen rather than any additional insight.
Game of Thrones Season 2 is among the best of US television. It builds on the excellent Season 1 and is arguably better. The factions are riven with more internal dissention, the motivations and machinations of so many different aspirants are fascinating to follow. The acting is uniformly excellent. The pacing and focus on dialogue is terrific with the use of language and witty retorts filling the show with brilliance. Game of Thrones is fantasy but it could easily pass for altenative history, it really is one of the most interesting shows television has generated.
on 15 May 2012
I won't beat around the bush here, Season 2 is superior to Season 1. This show
is quite extraordinary and just gets better and better as it progresses. You know
you're watching something special when 50min episodes feel like 25min shorts - time
just flies by when watching Game of Thrones, and although the climax of each episode
means the end, it's not without some amazing cliffhanger which makes you crave for more.
Season 2 covers the whole of the second book, 'A Clash of Kings', and it progresses the
story forward at a decent rate whilst introducing plenty of new faces, making the battle
for the Iron Throne very intense. Not all of the people you'd expect to see in Season 2
are here yet, the show's creators stated that Season 2 introduced enough new faces, so
several key characters that appear in 'A Clash of Kings' have been delayed until Season 3.
We're at a good point now though, where most of the show's foundations have been set in Season 1,
so the story is free to steam forward. As always, the acting for the series is just top notch, and
the sets look superb, although the big battles usually have to fade to black because of budget and
man power issues i suspect, other than that the show is almost perfect. Just like Season 1 there
are some great twists, even more nudity, even more fighting and a little bit of love & laughter
with a splash of tears - it's the complete television show and right now, the best thing on TV.
If you watched and enjoyed Season 1 then this is an obvious purchase. For anyone new to the
series, pickup Season 1 and 2, clear your schedule and prepare to watch some damn fine
television, then join the rest of us in the year long wait until Game of Thrones Season 3.
P.S if you haven't read the books yet (like me), then the temptation to do this after watching
the show will likely be great. However i've personally found the show is infinitley more enjoyable
if i don't know what's going to happen next; the suspense and surprises are definitley a big part
of the experience for me now. So definitley consider this notion when watching the show, & before
embarking upon the books!
on 25 December 2014
There are two GoT: Season 2 Bluray listings sold through Amazon, this one and another that is currently a couple of quid more expensive. However, this one is a foreign DVD, it isn't the normal box set format (it's a standard DVD box) and the writing on the cover is in German, Swedish and a few other European languages. If this doesn't bother you then the product is fine, it's still region 2 and seemingly has English as the default language still. However, my DVD OCD means I'm happy paying £2 extra to have the proper English version to match my seasons 1 and 3.
Still rating 5 stars for the actual show, which is fantastic. Couldn't recommend it enough, just make sure to check which version you're happy with first!
on 26 June 2015
My husband loves Game of Thrones - and I quite like it too although I dont really know why. Its full of hateful cruel characters, obsessed with money power and sex. However its also really addictive. The story is about the families of Westeros all fighting for control over the islands by ruling Kings Landing and occupying the iron throne. They are all at war - or thinking about war or preparing for war. Its the back storys on all the characters that make it so addictive. I really like the imp Tyrion and the Stark family although they do have their issues. I think everone has a bit of a soft spot for Jon Snow and we are all hoping that the Dragons will come into their own. Its a fantasy adventure - well acted - well produced and well loved. If you dont mind bad language - explicit scenes of sex and violence and you like fantasy adventures ( lord of the rings - the hobbit etc) then have a go. Im afraid you will end up ordering the whole series and waiting for season 5 to be released with baited breath.
I may be way behind everyone else, only just coming to the end of season 2 of GOT, but I can truly see why people were raving about it so much. The second instalment further cements GAME OF THRONES as one of the best, if not THE best, fantasy creations ever. My only regret, in a way, is that I haven't read the novels before seeing the series - Martin's imagination knows no boundaries. What I really like about it as a whole is that it is very realistic in the sense that all characters are fair game; just because one may be seen as being 'nicer' than another, doesn't mean that they won't be killed off. Death comes to all us all in the end, especially when people are battling for power. But, as some characters go, new ones come in to fill the gap that they have left. One really interesting character from season 2 is Margery, played by the fantastic Natalie Dormer. Dormer is a great actress with experience of playing strong, manipulative, power hungry women. Her betrothal to the murderous Joffrey really did chill my blood, surely no good can come of that pairing.
The only other element of this season that I will comment on is the superb ending. Without wanting to say too much, as I wouldn't want to ruin it for others, the sense of dread as the scene unfolds is epic. It is something which was introduced to us at the beginning of season 1, but then seemed to merge into the background. This, as well as the new characters and the new developments for existing characters all go towards the promise that season 3 will be just as good, if not better.
on 8 February 2016
With a portion of the main characters dead from last series, this series allows us to forget bout poor Ned and concentrate on the rest of Westeros and its people. First of all i need to dish out the first and probably the biggest compliment of this season. Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon, delivers one of the strongest acting performances i have ever seen, he literally forces you to hate him, there's is not a living sole in the world that says "My favourite character is Joffrey because he's so heroic and relatable". A performance that can turn an entire planet against you and make them forget that your actually just acting really deserves a special mention, his character is a spoilt, smarmy, cruel, cowardly and vicious little mummy's boy with a crown on his head and a host of loyal followers to use as toys. Really. well done Jack Gleeson, fantastic job, its just a shame that in real life people forget your just an actor sometimes, doing a job.
Not to forget the rest of the cast Peter Dinklage continues to step up as the ever underestimated Tyrion, traversing kings landing, the King and an impending war the only way he knows how, using treachery, but its an honest treachery, he,s still a loveable rogue with his heart in the right place despite the world being against him. Kit Harrington and Richard Madden also continues to carve themselves as the stories heroes, with their own and very different challenges to over come, Robb continues to fight his war against the Lannisters, facing betrayalfrom both those around him and from whithin himself while Jon marches out across the wall and finally see what it means to be a man of the nights watch and exactly what it is their fighting.
I felt Dany actually had the weakest arc this series, with very little going on as she arrives in the city of Qarth and begins looking for the means to get back to Westeros, Her story does have an amazing finale but shes very underused this series compared to the huge developments she made last series.
Overall another very strong season that builds upon the last, seeming like a very large chess game as the pieces move from place to place, with every major and minor move carefully planned. As the Starks have now become the essential heroes and the Lannisters becoming the villains (Apart from Tyrion), the two fight it out for westeros, with the addition of Stannis Baratheon, the rightful heir to the throne gunning for kings landing, and Renly Baratheon, attempting to usurp his brother and take the throne for himself, means theres plenty going on. for the first time this series we also get a glimpse at the real threat facing Westeros from the north, while the false kings fight amongst themselves, winter is coming.
on 23 January 2015
First series which My Wife, Daughter and I all watch together and are addicted. The import box set are more basic than the UK ones just containing the discs wheras the UK bx sets have paper booklets and maps in which I have not bothered with on Series 1 anyway, but the episodes and disc extras are all identical. Great visual quality 1080 and surround sound which you don't get with Now TV etc.
War rages across Westeros as five Kings battle for the right to sit upon the Iron Throne. The young King Joffrey continues his reign with his uncle Tyrion Lannister taking the position of Hand of the King and attempts to bring his sadistic nephew under control. Meanwhile Daenerys Targaryen, along with her new-born dragons, attempts to lead her remaining people to safety and rebuild her power base, arriving in the mercantile city of Qarth. North of the Wall, John Snow and the men of the Nights Watch search for the Wildlings who have been massing under the banner of a traitor.
I really like the first season of 'Game of Thrones' and I am glad to say that this second season is even better. I still haven't gotten around to read the Song of Ice and Fire novels that the show is based so I cannot say how close the season sticks to its source material unfortunately but watching season two has definitely motivated me to read the books at some point.
The plot of this second season is just as convoluted as the first and if anything this is the only real problem with the series as a whole as there is so much happening in various places that some events and characters don't seem to get the focus that they probably deserve. Despite this however, I still found the series engaging enough to keep watching and I will definitely be getting season three when I have the chance. Most of the characters in the series remain interesting but Tyrion Lannister remains my favourite character in the series by far as he tries to do the best job he can as substitute Kings Hand while navigating the politics of King's Landing. The season also introduces a number of new characters with the female knight Brienne Tarth played by Gwendoline Christie easily being my favourite of these.
The action in this series remains good, if quite bloody, with the Siege of Kings Landing in episode nine probably being the best part of the season as a whole. With the language used in the season remaining somewhat course, along with some sex and nudity, the season probably won't be to everyone's taste but personally I found it very engaging and entertaining.
This second season of 'Game of Thrones' sees the series improve on an already entertaining first season and is well worth a full five stars.
on 15 May 2012
I totally agree that this is a 'must see' series that captures the harsh realities of human nature, despite its fantasy setting. It is uncompromising in cutting down key figures whom you have grown to like and admire, so that others may be introduced in their place. However, your enjoyment will be enhanced by reading the books first. We live in an age that increasingly craves instant gratification with little effort, but the books of Geirge R.R. Martin are brilliantly crafted with a prose style that draws you in and deals with the characters with even greater deftness than the T.V. series. If you are having withdrawal symptoms the books have reached number 5, so you can see how the story develops - and I guarantee you will still enjoy season 3 next year!
on 12 June 2013
Game of Thrones continues to receive overwhelmingly popular reviews (heading the yearly "best of" lists of Time and The Washington Post among others) while its plot lines make the front pages of the newspapers.
DVD sales are stratospheric: 241,00 copies of this second series box set sold on the first day of release. On television millions anticipate the next episode on Sky.
"Arya" is the fastest growing girl's name in the States and indeed "Game of Thrones" itself has now become a widely used term for political power-play.
Why? What is it about this cod-medieval drama which has hit the spot for so many people?
Locations are unusual and somewhat unlikely, ranging from Northern Ireland to Dubrovnik; the cast contains few stellar names; the budget, though massive, doesn't allow for grand action scenes on the scale of the movies.
However, underpinning the series are the books, the as yet unfinished collection of fantasy novels by George R.R. Martin. The narrative drive which the books provide means the viewer is gradually immersed in the world of Westeros, and once hooked is then a captive witness to the unfolding drama.
The pace of the storyline is deceptive and unpredictable; long periods of dialogue will be interrupted by a sudden and occasionally shocking event. Characters which one has come to know will meet a brutal end seemingly before their time. The endless capability to surprise means that the story maintains a strange kind of reality, despite its somewhat melancholic other-worldliness.
Production values are beyond those which one might think strictly necessary for a TV epic. A whole new language was created for the Dothraki, entailing months of linguistic development. Costumes and sets reference the medieval and are at times exquisitely beautiful, helping this make-believe pageant to become a functioning totality.
The on-screen detail is such that I at least am content to watch one episode several times before moving onto the next.
If you've resisted so far then I envy you. A fantastic journey lies ahead.