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!
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 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 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 10 August 2016
Season 2 of "Game of Thrones", doesn't disappoint. It's all here: great script, fantastic actors and epic battle scenes. I must applaud the work of actor, Peter Dinklage, (Tyrion Lannister) ;who continues in my opinion, to have some of the best scripted dialogue of the whole season. My favourite episode of the season was episode 9 - "Blackwater". I'm definately looking forward to continuing with future seasons of the series.
on 7 March 2013
Meanwhile in the kingdom of Westeros...
Tyrion Lannister finds himself in the position of the King's right hand man. Unfortunately, the King happens to be Joffrey, a pasty faced teen with a penchant for ripping out tongues and lopping off heads (tsk! That's teenagers today for you!). Plotting against the young king are his half brothers Stannis (aided and abetted by a rather sexy witch) and Renly (he of the gorgeous little beard). Unfortunately, they both want a seat on the throne - who will win the right to assault the city of King's Landing? In the North, Rob Stark is also set to march on the royal city, seeking revenge for his father's death at the hands of Bad King Joff, but why is Robb's best friend Theon looking so shifty? Surely he's not thinking of betraying Robb? Surely not! Even further north, Robb's bastard brother Jon has fallen in with the wildmen of the icy forests, one of whom is a rather fetching and feisty (and surprisingly well-scrubbed) red-haired lass. And across the Narrow Sea, Danerys (yet another pretender to the throne of Westeros), accompanied by her three baby dragons, a crusty, blood-stained old knight-of-the-realm and a rag-tag bunch of murderous, barbarian horsemen, is looking for somewhere to live. Seriously, if they turned up on YOUR road and knocked on YOUR front door, wouldn't YOU hide behind the sofa 'till they went away?
And so... the second series of HBO's epic adaptation of George RR Martin's equally epic tale of medieval-fantasy-political-soap-opera-drama, A Song of Fire and Ice. The word "epic" is a horrendous cliche these days, but there is no better subject, no more apt use, than this - ten episodes, each running to forty minutes and that only a seventh part of the expected (anticipated? hoped for?) full set. Martin has delivered five volumes and promises two more and HBO has dedicated a season to each of the first two books. If all goes well (dare I mention the word "Firefly"?) this series will still be running in 2020.
Season 2 carries on, as one would expect, where Game of Thrones - Season 1 left off, but appears to have built considerably on its predecessor's foundations; it is no less epic, no less wide ranging, no less ambitious by any stretch of the imagination. The canvas is broad and richly painted, ranging from craggy, arid deserts and warm mediterranean climes to sweeping grasslands, icy tundra and freezing forests. It looks magnificent and the accompanying sets are just as marvellous. Some considerable CGI will have been used to build the vast cities and ruined castles but it has been done so well that, for once, the computers' imaginations don't rule this world.
The cast is just as eclectic, with a broad admixture of fresh faces and old hands (playing many new characters and plenty of familiar ones too). The front liners do their job well indeed and there are some brilliant portrayals - my two favourites are Jack Gleeson's wonderfully 3D King Joffrey (he'd make an excellent Bond-baddie) and Peter Dinklage as "The Imp" Tyrion Lannister. The second line cast are rather more variable and it seemed to me that Danerys' handmaidens had all been to the same Hollywood School of Supporting Acting (TM) where they learnt to Act (with a capital "A"). The extras are also a little patchy with plenty of "Third Peasant, Rolling a Wine Barrel" or "Serf 6, Carrying Random Bushel of Straw" plying their thankless and monotonous trade in various castle keeps or military encampments. You can't have it all, I suppose.
The plot is a lot easier to follow now. Perhaps the familiarity gained from watching the first series and reading the books (I haven't got past Volume 2 yet) has helped to cement the faces and motives (frequently ulterior) of the bewildering dramatis personae. It is not a simple story, however and a second viewing is almost essential. Despite the demands of a televisualisation, HBO have remained very faithful to Martin's original story - the necessities of editing have trimmed it down quite a lot, but the books and the TV series remain very close in spirit.
Season 2 does struggle in terms of continuity. The structure of the book and the big geographical distances between some of the leading characters means that individual events and characters seem disconnected and isolated and in some episodes there are long periods between appearances of some of the main protagnists. The penultimate episode is a good example - the entire ep is (quite correctly) given over to the siege of King's Landing which means that the /last/ episode is basically no more than s breathless 50 minute canter around Westeros and outlying regions, catching up with everyone who wasn't at the siege but was clearly very busy doing other important stuff. This is an extreme example but most of the episodes do struggle (unavoidably) to keep us informed of everything that everyone is doing and some characters do indeed disappear for long periods at a time through out the series.
One big deal with the TV series and an aspect that HBO most certainly "beefed-up" is the nudity. There's just as much in S2 than there was in S1 and both are a good deal "saucier" than the books. You can be sure that (with very few exceptions) if a female character is introduced, somewhere along the line you'll get to see her perfectly formed boobs and exquisitely trimmed/waxed thatch. Now as a bloke, I won't complain too much about this, but the amount of shagging (and some rather explotative sexual violence) does render the series out of the reach of the younger viewer who may have read the rather less explicit books. Along with the copious amounts of gore, the 18 Certificate is very well deserved. Note that the series itself is rated 18 but the individual episodes carry their own rating - 15 and 18 - depending on the content. Also note that the 15 rated episodes are still fairly explicit. I've added some additional thoughts in this review's comments section, below.
There's a plethora of extras on this five disk set, including commentaries, character bios a couple of mini-documentaries and so-on. Even if the series does falter in later seasons, A Game of Thrones will inevitably remain an ambitious and breathtakingly well-produced piece of TV history. Great value at whatever price.
on 8 October 2012
For starters, to sharpen our appetites, we have the opening credits which, like the first series with The Eyrie and The Twins, introduces new locations seemingly interconnected by cogs and moving like some giant orrery. As the camera travels over the map we see the islands of Dragonstone and Pyke and the desert kingdom of Qarth and the ravaged fortress of Harrenhal. There are reminders in these sequences that the seasons are important to the story and that winter is coming...
The meat and veg of these ten episodes is the developing plot of the North and the battle for the throne at Kings Landing. At last we go beyond The Wall and get an inkling of what those Wildlings have been up to on those long dark nights. For me though, the best storyline and scenes are when Theon Greyjoy returns home to the Ironlands and the inhospitable island of Pyke. His story arc is unpredictable and enjoyable.
Well I say that, but Arya has a really interesting journey too. There are dozens of minor characters to enjoy from the kitchen lad Hot Pie to the female champion Brienne. Major characters are consolidated - I found Tywin Lannister, played by Charles Dance, almost likeable. On the other hand there is an illuminating scene where Tyrion hopes to get King Joffrey to lighten up a bit by losing his virginity with some prostitutes.
That reminds me, for dessert we have a bit of rape, infanticide, torture and general all-round deviousness and trickery. The icing on the cake must be the dwarf Tyrion Lannister who is catapulted to the top and somehow finds that he is not only quite capable of playing, but he enjoys, the Game of Thrones.
on 30 June 2016
I am giving it 4 stars because only watched 2 episodes but Amazon want me to review it. I decided too because of it been EU import. This is no different to buying it in UK you just select your language, no problems there. I do wish they would get Blueray right I hate motion judder and this is no fault of the actual disc it is a well known problem but does need sorting.