Game of Thrones 'The North Remembers' recap and review
Now that Walking Dead is done for the season, I’m gonna be recapping and reviewing each episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones, another show based on source material that I have a huge attachment to. Much like how I attempt to do in my Walking Dead write-ups, I will try to judge the show on its own merits, rather than just as an adaptation of the novels. However, at the end of each review will be the condescendingly named 'Reader’s Corner,' which will be a section just for those who have read the books. Here, I will ask questions and pose theories that may give away some future events.
With all of that said, let’s get to it! Sunday’s season premiere, ‘The North Remembers,’ had a ton of balls in the air, which it managed to juggle fairly well. We spent the entire episode checking in with faces both old and new, and laying the basic groundwork for the events of the coming season. Every few minutes, we would jump across the world, from a forest to a city to a desert to north of the Wall. As a result, the episode had a strange introductory feel, where it felt like they only had time to introduce stories, rather than tell them. However, the scenes we did get were all pretty great introductions, which set the tone for a more eventful season. It caused me to wonder how they are going to squeeze the book into ten episodes since they only had enough time to tell a few minutes of everyone’s stories.
The season picks up back in King’s Landing, where evil (and annoying and weird-looking, but admittedly pretty scary) King Joffrey is having a birthday party. It should come as no surprise that Joffrey’s birthday parties involve men beating each other to death, with small children mopping up the blood afterwards. We’re introduced to Ser Dontos, an oafish drunk who Joffrey attempts to have killed, until Sansa, his terrified wife-to-be, and the Hound, his personal thug, step in and convince him to spare Ser Dontos, making him his fool instead. It was interesting to see Sansa and the Hound team up like this, and I’m hoping this means that we’ll get more of the Hound this season than we did last, ‘cause he’s awesome.
And then Tyrion shows up and instantly out-awesomes everyone else there. He saunters into the King’s birthday party, with Joffrey frantically demanding to know why he’s there. He strolls into his sister’s Small Counsel meeting, whistling to himself. The thing I’m probably most excited for this season is lots of scenes of Tyrion giving Cersei a verbal smackdown, and this scene did not disappoint. I loved how Cersei immediately screamed for everyone but Tyrion to leave, and how totally bemused and unaffected Tyrion was by all of this. He loves being in a position of authority, even though he’d never admit it. Or actually, you know, maybe he would.
Tyrion’s the only character we really checked in on more than once in this episode, (well, Cersei and Joffrey too, but they were part of the same King’s Landing thread) and when we caught up with him again, he was enjoying the smells of the city with Shae, the prostitute who his father expressly forbid him from taking with him. Well, she’s here, and her and Tyrion seem to be greatly enjoying each other’s company, although we can only assume that she is still getting paid quite handsomely. It’s always interesting to see Tyrion in this mode, rather than in political scheming mode, because he’s so unused to being happy. In fact, that will be one ofthe most interesting things about Season 2 in general, as it’s a season where things mostly go well for Tyrion. He’s in power, he’s got a beautiful woman, his sister doesn’t have the authority to stop him from doing things, and for the first time, he’s something besides ‘The Imp.’ He continues to easily be the most interesting character on a show full of interesting characters.
The other big King’s Landing scene we got this week was between Cersei and Littlefinger, and it was one of my favorite moments in the episode. Littlefinger arrogantly proclaims that knowledge is power, and really, who knows more than him? Cersei, however, is quick to show him that ‘power is power,’ by having her guards nearly cut his throat. It was great to see Littlefinger overstep his bounds, but the true delight in the scene comes from knowing that no matter how much direct control Cersie has, Littlefinger is playing a much longer game, and probably has her exactly where he wants her. Littlefinger and Varys are some of the most fun characters to watch, because we’re never sure what they’re up to, but we know they’re up to something.
We also got a scene between Joffrey and Cersei in the throne room, which I’m only going to bring up because Joffrey got slapped in it, which brings me great joy. Hopefully that happens at least once per episode.
While we’re talking about my favorite scenes from the episode, let’s talk about Jaime and Robb. The actor that plays Jaime was excellent here, finding the perfect balance between Jaime’s inherent cockiness, and the shame he feels at having been defeated. Jaime is one of my favorite characters from the books, and it’s great that they’re going to give him more to do this season. (In the books, Jaime isn’t really in Book 2, but the writers have said that they are moving some of his Book 3 storyline, which is AWESOME, into season 2 of the show.) The direwolf still didn’t look amazing, but at least this time it wasn’t just a dog, right? And it was still pretty cool to see a giant freakin’ wolf running around.
Speaking of CG animals, Danaerys is lost in the desert with no food or water, but at least she’s got dragons! There’s not a ton to say about this scene, except ‘hey, dragons!’ Book 2 is pretty light on Dany as well, so it will be interesting to see where they take her character this season.
Meanwhile, North of the Wall, Jon and the boys of the Night’s Watch are crashing at the home of a creepy old wildling named Craster, who marries all of his daughters. He’s quick to single out Jon as a potential threat, and makes all sorts of threats about what will happen if Jon so much as looks at one of his creepy wives. The guy they got for Craster was great, and this scene had some really nice tension. The guy that plays Jon does a great Stoic Hero, and it’s nice to see him out of his depths.
We got to meet some new characters this episode, in the form of Stannis, Davos, and Melisandre. Stannis is Robert’s rightful heir, with Davos as his right-hand man, and Melisandre as his creepy witch advisor, who burns effigies of the old gods on the beach. This scene had a great, creepy quality to it, although I’m still not sure I love the casting of Melisandre. Stannis on the other hand is cast perfectly, and his personality is quickly and effectively portrayed with a scene where he copy-edits a letter, insisting that Jaime be referred to as both ‘Ser’ and ‘Kingslayer,’ since they are both technically correct. This scene also gave us another dose of magic, when Melisandre withstands drinking a glass of poison. This isn’t the last trick we’ll see ol’ Mel pull this season, as her fiery God has blessed her with all sorts of creepy gifts. Something I love about this show is how shocking it is when something magical happens, since most of the characters have never seen magic in their lives.
This brings us to the end of the episode, where they murdered a baby in a brothel, just in case you forgot you were watching an HBO show. This scene was disturbing and effective, as we witnessed all of Robert’s bastards being eliminated. All except for Gendry, who we see on the road with Arya. And then.... cut to black.
All in all, a pretty good premier, despite feeling a bit overstuffed. Hopefully later episodes will feel free to shift their focus to a few specific characters, rather than feeling like they need to constantly check in with everyone. Regardless, I know I’m looking forward to seeing how they squeeze it all in.
Readers Corner (SPOILERS)
- Hello fellow bookies. So... What did you guys think of Stannis, Davos, and Melisandre, since we know that they’re gonna be around for a while?
- Did anyone one else laugh out loud when Theon called himself an ‘honest man?’
- We probably get to meet Brienne and Margaery next week! I’m excited.
- Did anyone else think it was weird that they introduced Ser Dontos so early? I really like the guy they got to play him, though.
- What moments from the book are you guys looking forward to this season?