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 28 October 2015
For some reason the UK steelbook does not include a digital download (Ultraviolet) code. In other countries, including some in Europe, the code is included.
This steelbook features a new internal design which stacks the discs on top of each other on the hubs. This allows five discs (three on the left and two on the right) to fit inside a standard steelbook. Whilst this results in a nice slim steelbook, it does make the discs quite tricky to remove, especially the bottom one of the three on the left side.
The sigil magnet does not hold it position very well and so will just slide off unless you keep the steelbook in the slipcover with the extra plastic packaging.
This release does include a Dolby Atmos soundtrack which will be a nice bonus for the few that have the required equipment.
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.
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 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.
on 8 February 2014
The magnificent Game of Thrones is back with another blood spilling, epic series. Introducing new characters and new story arcs it never drops the ball and remains thrilling from the very beginning to the dramatic ending.
As always the intrigue and deception is on high order. Every man is out for himself but this time the war is bigger. The death of the king and Joffrey’s unsolicited rise to power has unleashed a backlash like no other. This is a time when the Lannisters may have met their match.
It was a worry that this series could lose its way with the death of Ned Stark at the close of series one. As an audience it was Ned that we followed and connected with. There are so many characters coming into the story now that there is a risk of overkill but luckily the producers and writers have handled it beautifully.
Rob Stark is a stand out, forming and leading his army towards Kings Landing. However everyone else has their moments to shine. Stannis being one that builds upon his reputation by focussing on one and only goal. This leads to an almighty clash at Kings Landing providing the stand out episode from both series.
The world continues to be we drawn and it really feels lived in. The characters are sol well written that you feel like you are spying on their lives. There is always a sense of danger and you never quite feel your favourite character is safe.
An absolute thrill from start to finish and by far the most ambitious program on telly.
on 22 June 2013
I have seen this series as I was still reading the book - and sometimes I had to stop watching, to avoid inflicting myself spoilers. it is certainly a good show: the acting, the costumes and scenes are really good, absolutely above standard (and if you happen to be Italian, lime me, it is stellar compared to the pitiful products we have here).
Changes are to be expected when you adapt from a book: even in a long series such as this, you'll have to cut, so there'll be episeodes one loved in the book which are lost (to me, Meera and Jojen are the sorest cut), and characters or situations will be overlapped to avoid confusion. maybe it is even to be expected that someaspects will be simplified, but there I am not so happy with it: already in series one, some interesting elements in the book had been reversed in the tv show, so if the book Lady Catelyn insisted that Lord Stark should accept to be hand of the king, and therefore is responsible of all the disasters that will befall her family, in the seres, she is against it and he if in favour. And Drogo doesn't start his marriage raping his young wife, in the book. Maybe tv audiences are lazier than readers and what simplified situations and predictable characters, Anyway, the level of changes in series one was, I think, overall acceptable. In series 2 I do believe it goes too far. There are entirely made up characters, like the young lady-doctor that Robb Stark marries, and generally speaking, the simplification of situations and motive of the characters' action is much more evident than in series one. What's worse, it seems to me that while what may be shocking but obvious increases ( like the number of unnecessary sex scenes) so that both the witch Melisandre and poor virginal Margery Tyrrell become hungry sex machines, anything that may be disturbing to the average American viewer is tamed: Queen Cercei has "moments of doubt" on her incestuous relationship with Jaime, while in the book he is all she wants and needs. The warrior princess Asha, who obviously despises her brother Theon, here has a sudden tender memory of when he was a small baby (and why did they have to change her name?), and so on. Thankfully they didn't tame the Hound into a sweet Golden retriever. Anyway, it's still worth watching, and the amount of work in the filming, the effects, the recreation of this fictional world is admirable per se. Only, it made me want to read the book all over again, and i really can't afford that, there's still three I haven't read.
on 8 June 2013
Maybe not. Of over 400 reviews on Amazon alone, only a small proportion have complaints, and even of those some are more to do with the DVD quality or some aspect of Amazon's service (hardly fair on the story, but I suppose you have to complain somehow if you have a problem). However, being who I am, I always do read the low scores just to see if there is something I should be aware of, so a balanced view is helpful...just in case. My, what a (limited) chorus of disapproval!
So, is it any good? Too right it is! Those who have given the series a poor rating must be really difficult to please, with standards I can only dream of. Can the DVD version really be so poor? The Bluray is beautifully crisp and clear. I don't have a cinema sound system, but through the stereo it sounds great. The story moves on apace and characters develop or fall by the wayside (some most unexpectedly and, I have to say, much to my disappointment - but this is gritty fantasy with the realistic view that not everyone you want to will survive the telling).
I read the first book in George RR Martin's series before I saw the first season (also on Bluray) and enjoyed both very much. However, the viewing lost something because I knew what was coming, mostly. I started the second book in the series and then stopped, reasoning that if I was to watch the series on disc, I didn't want it spoiled with prior knowledge of what was to come.
So, unhindered thus far by novel-related baggage and information from my friends, I am working myself through season 2. It is a feast for the eyes and holds the attention, particularly if your friends have dropped vague hints that more big names are up for the chop - you don't know who might be next!
Admittedly there is what might be thought of as gratuitous nudity, sex and violence but I'm afraid in this day and age it would buck the trend if it didn't. And, of course, given the nature of the story, there's bound to be plenty of violence. That's why the majority of us enjoy it. ;o) Well, that and the complex relationships, political maneuvering, treachery and interesting characters and their motivations. It was certainly interesting to see the fleshing out of the main 'bad uns' that began to make a nonsense of the 2-dimensional baddie. In some instances you can almost, but not quite, sympathise and certainly understand why they are the way they are.
I will probably moderate my praise for the series when I read the rest of the books and understand what has been sacrificed to bring the story to the screen, but as a visual spectacle and drama, I happen to believe this is a top notch TV series. I certainly want more. Long may it continue.
on 8 May 2013
After watching and thoroughly enjoying the first series of the medieval epic Game of Thrones, I instantly got my hands on series two. While maybe not quite the breath of fresh air that the first series was, this second season still provided the perfect amount of laughs, tears, darkness and depth. It's become even more vast and complex of the course of series 2, and (if possible) more adult, with even more graphic violence/gore, sex/nudity and complexity.
Every single episode had me hooked, my eyes permanently glued to the screen. I love how the series has not taken a noticeable dip in quality after an outstanding first series (like what started to happen a little with THE WALKING DEAD). Instead, it's got more characters, more kingdoms, more battles and more...EPICNESS! Here is every episode in series 2, including what I would rate each episode on a scale of 1 to 10.
1. The North Remembers - 9.5/10
2. The Night Lands - 8/10
3. What is Dead May Never Die - 9.5/10
4. Garden of Bones - 9.5/10
5. The Ghost of Harrenhal - 9/10
6. The Old Gods and the New - 10/10
7. A Man Without Honour - 10/10
8. The Prince of Winterfell - 10/10
9. Blackwater - 10/10 (one of the best episodes of all time!)
10. Valar Morghulis - 9.5/10
I feel that series 2 was more daring and ambitious than the first series. The stunning episode 'Blackwater', written by A Song of Ice and Fire writer George R.R. Martin, featured a long, intense and utterly engrossing battle scene grander than anything TV has ever produced before. I loved this episode because while it showed how horrific and truly terrifying war is without being overly sentimental about it. It was a very powerful, moving episode and my favourite Game of Thrones episode yet.
Almost everything that I loved about the first series was present here again, with the exception of the always fantastic Sean Bean as the brooding Ned Stark. Now I've just got to wait for series 3 (I might just die!) If you haven't already, definitely check out Game of Thrones, fantasy fan or not.