Winter is coming … which is really shitty news, because it means another season of Game of Thrones is in the books and we’re facing a long, painful wait until Season 3 finally hits our screens. Before the grief really sets in, we Thrones enthusiasts at PPC wanted to share our thoughts on a highly entertaining second season.
SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read this if you haven’t seen every single second of every single episode of Seasons 1 and 2. You’ve been warned.
1. Overall, what grade would you give Season 2?
BG: A-. If our endless obsessing was any indication, Season 2 more than lived up to its sky-high hype. It featured incredible dialogue, Emmy-worthy acting and one of the greatest battle scenes I’ve ever watched, replete with a legendary speech and a mind-blowing wildfire explosion. My only complaint? Dany was naked way more often in Season 1.
MR: B+. I’ll probably give it an A- after I watch it a second time, but I had a few too many issues with pacing and book discrepancies (don’t worry, folks: I’ve only read the first two books so far, so I don’t have any knowledge of events beyond what we’ve seen) to award an A-grade right away. That said, the dialogue was killer, the acting largely did it justice and the on-location shooting added an incredible element. Balancing so many characters and storylines is an unenviable task, but Team Thrones managed it pretty well. The “not enough happened” knock really isn’t fair, because even though the show exercises some license with canon loyalty, it’s still largely following a text. This season gave us one of the two best episodes of the series (“Blackwater,” second only to Season 1’s penultimate episode, “Baelor”), some of the most quotable moments in recent TV history and plenty of that sexposition we all love. All in all, a success.
CW: B+. I thought about the show at least once every day for the last four months. Yes, I’m aware that stretches back to before the season premiered. As BG notes, after all the hype, I’m totally satisfied. You know, like, after the risotto, satisfied. My main critiques of the season are more likely a result of being constricted by the narrative of the books. Some of the storylines just didn’t advance the way I’d hoped. Mainly the feud between the Starks and Lannisters and Robb’s failure to protect Winterfell. But apparently that holds true to Book 2 (which I’m reading now to confirm), so I can’t fault the show for that. And after all is said and done, only one episode disappointed me — “A Man Without Honor.” Solid season, through and through.
2. Which Season 2 storyline was most compelling?
MR: Tyrion’s. Peter Dinklage really stole the show in Season 1, but he had even more awesome material at his disposal in Season 2 and he owned every second of it. His ascent from loveable outcast to leader of men — and subsequent plummet to scarred castaway — was gripping on a weekly basis. He made a whore fall in love with him, sold his own sister’s daughter, made “fish pie” an integral part of the Thrones vernacular, used a historical haul of wildfire to dismantle Stannis’ fleet and delivered one of the most epic battle speeches in television history. I’m so glad he’s not going to Pentos.
CW: Definitely Tyrion’s. But MR nailed that on the head, so how about Stannis? The rightful heir to the Iron Throne really came full circle in Season 2 after being no more than a myth in Season 1. First he seems like nothing more than a hardass totally under the spell of a mysterious fire priestess. After the finale all that’s still true. But he’s also a man of honor and a fearless warrior. He’s ruthless enough to kill his own brother, even if he feels remorse for it later. With 100,000 men at his back, he sails right into King’s Landing. When wildfire destroys much of his fleet, he leads his men with a simple war cry: “Come with me, and let’s take this city!” No such luck, as Tywin showed up out of nowhere to play spoiler, but something tells me Stannis ain’t giving up that easy. Looking forward to see him try again next year.
BG: Tyrion, for the reasons MR cited and more: He played “the game” brilliantly (just ask Lancel Lannister), delivered an all-time great battle speech and showed genuine compassion for Shae, the latter a development that seemed unfathomable at the season’s onset. But since he’s already been highlighted, I’ll also give some love to Jaqen H’ghar. True, he’s not a leading character. But a man spoke in third person, forged an enthralling friendship with Arya and showcased his unbelievable ability to switch faces. He also emerged as the greatest assassin in Westeros, able to kill anybody in the realm on command. I went from knowing nothing about the guy to legitimately loving him. That certainly counts for something.
3. Least compelling?
CW: Robb’s sexcapade. His lady friend is probably the hottest chick in Westeros, but this was last on my list of Stark storylines that I cared about. If the King in the North would have been thinking with the head on his shoulders instead of the one between his legs, he could have beheaded the Kingslayer, defeated the Lannisters, rescued his siblings and returned home to save Winterfell by now. It was flat-out creepy to see Robb go from six to midnight while Talisa hacked off limbs, and courting her just seemed to drag on too long. Still, it’s not all that bad. We did get a killer glimpse of sideboob!
BG: Robb’s — and it’s not particularly close. The King of the North was stagnant outside of his courtship of Talisa, sitting idly as Stannis’ and Tywin’s armies fought to the death and Theon captured, and subsequently surrendered, Winterfell. Still, seldom has anyone looked so good doing nothing. Robb may have lacked any defining moments — other than cursing Catelyn and mounting his soon-to-be bride — but his hair looked perfect. And despite his inaction, his scenes were infinitely better than any with Joffrey in them. That guy really, really sucks.
MR: Uh, were we watching the same show? Robb’s storyline may not have mattered much in terms of the larger plot, but at least it was entertaining. Dany did nothing until the finale. Need I remind you two she was OUT OF OUR TOP 10 until “Valar Morghulis?” Let’s recap what our favorite fair-haired maiden accomplished prior to her admittedly awesome Episode 10 storyline: First, she wandered in the Red Waste while her loyal subjects dropped like flies. Then, she wandered into Xaro’s trap, allowing her precious dragon babies — the key to her power, her claim, her quest — to be stolen from her own chambers. All the while, she spurned Jorah. Damn fool. Getting her dragons back was pretty dope, but Dany had all three dragons at the beginning of the season, which means she simply managed to get back to where she started. Yawn.
4. Which scene was the best of the season?
BG: Where to begin? There are countless choices, from Tyrion’s scheming (you lose, Pycelle!) to Joffrey’s cowpie-in-the-face incident to Robb’s hacksaw-hormonal escapades with Talisa. However, I’m going with a series that were consistently captivating: Tywin’s interactions with Arya. From her ducking of Littlefinger to her observation that “most girls are idiots,” Arya proved to be a worthy intellectual adversary — making for TV that was both intriguing and unpredictable. Oh, and in a holy-shit-that-was-fucked-up-let-me-see-it-again sort of way, Melisandre birthing a murky shadow baby was pretty cool, too.
CW: Countless choices indeed, but is it really a question? The wildfire explosion and Stannis’ attack on King’s Landing! Maybe I’m fishing with too big a net here, but that was the only sequence in the whole season that I rewound and watched immediately following the episode. It had a killer CGI explosion, dudes on fire, cliffhangers (what happened to the Onion Knight and son? And Bronn?), plot development and good ol’ fashion steel-on-steel violence. As a fan of the Final Destination series, I thought the ridiculous deaths were fucking awesome. Stannis was in the splash zone for a boulder to the dome-piece, but then got even by chopping half a dude’s skull off. Tyrion chopped a leg off and delivered a swift axe to the face. Bronn had some target practice with a longbow and proved he can handle himself hand-to-hand. The Hound had a major defining moment when he tucked his tail and bailed. Bottom line: The attack was what we were all waiting for, and it totally delivered.
MR: The one-on-one exchanges are always the highlight for me, from the Tywin-Arya tea sessions, to the Jon-Ygritte flirty taunts, to the Bronn-Hound pissing contest before “Blackwater.” But two particular pairings topped the rest this season: Dany-Drogo and Tyrion-Cersei. As blah as most of Dany’s Season 2 storyline was, her brief moment with Drogo in the House of the Undying was simply tremendous. At once funny and sad, haunting and moving. Even that, however, couldn’t quite match the seething Season 2 showdowns between Tyrion and Cersei, where wit and venom were always in ample supply. They set the bar with their Small Council exchange in the premiere, matched it with the midseason Myrcella feud and surpassed it tenfold in “The Prince of Winterfell,” when Cersei got such pleasure out of showing Tyrion she’d taken Ros captive, and Tyrion replied with one of the best lines the show has given us to date: “I will hurt you for this. The day will come when your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth, and you will know the debt is paid.”
5. Which death impacted you the most?
MR: Renly’s. This season didn’t deliver any deaths on par with Ned’s Season 1 beheading, but Renly was a pretty major player (even if he didn’t get a ton of screen time) and his midseason death came right at the height of his relevance. In addition to the shocking timing, Renly’s offing takes the cake because a) his own brother ordered it and b) he got killed by a freakin’ shadow baby. There are a lot of ways to die on Thrones, but this one upped the ante and changed the, er, game.
BG: Renly’s death certainly was the most stunning, especially given that it came out of nowhere and at the hand of a mysterious black shadow creature. But the most impactful? I’ll give the nod to Ser Rodrik, for two reasons: He had arguably the best beard in the show and his beheading demonstrated just how delusional Theon really was. Renly’s death had a bigger effect on Westeros, but Rodrik’s demise served as a more telling indicator of one character’s true colors. It depicted Theon’s transition from a Stark ally to an utter and total scumbag, a sister-groper who unabashedly hates hornblowers. It also proved beyond all doubt that Theon really needs to hit the gym more.
CW: Rodrick and Renly both had a major impact on the show, but my boy Yoren was a tough one to swallow. He grew on me exponentially in each of his brief appearances until taking a sword down the spine when fighting off the Gold Cloaks by himself. Even after getting shot and facing sure death, he was a total badass: “I always hated crossbows. Take too damn long to reload.” On the opposite end of the spectrum, Maester Luwin’s demise came out of nowhere too. I hate Theon and the Iron Islanders even more after that.
6. Which character(s) do you most to see die? And how…
MR: Joffrey. Duh. I want Cersei to pay for putting a hit out on Tyrion, but she’s too entertaining to kill (yet). I want Theon to rot for causing Winterfell’s destruction, but I confess I have a bit of a soft spot for him. I want Stannis to die because he sucks at life, but the dude does have a legitimate gripe. Joffrey has zero redeemable qualities. He’s a smarmy sack of shit. Speaking of shit, maybe the people of King’s Landing will stone the Bitch King to death … with cow pies. If not, here’s hoping Dany’s test in the House of the Undying was actually a prophecy, and that King’s Landing will be turned to ruins by dragon fire. And here’s hoping Joffrey is doing his causal lean-and-pout in the Iron Throne when it happens and is either burned to a crisp or bitten in half — or both! — by one of Dany’s babies.
BG: It’s gotta be Joff. I could try to get cute with other options — Littlefinger is a sleaze; Varys has no penis — but the Bitch King has to die. He simply has to. This question would actually be better reworded to read “What are your three favorite ways to murder King Joff?” For me, it’s as follows: 1) Tyrion strangles him while screaming “Where is your God now?” 2) The Hound disembowels him with Sansa clapping in the background and 3) Tywin’s horse poops on him so frequently and so viciously that Joffrey actually drowns in a hot, steamy pile of shit. Actually, let’s just go with No. 3. That definitely needs to happen.
CW: Yep, this one is definitely unanimous. Joffrey has to go. BG, your No. 3 will be hard to top. MR, if the dragons are going to off him, I’ve predicted a pretty solid way for Joff to get killed (twice!) in my season three predictions below. But let me throw this out there: What if Sansa does the deed in the ultimate self-sacrifice? She almost got the nerve to do it in the first season after Ned was beheaded, a simple shove and he’d have plummeted to his death. Too bad the Hound intervened. The Hound left King’s Landing with a ceremonious “Fuck the King!” so who’ll stop her this time? Here’s to hoping Joffrey tries some of the bullshit Littlefinger laid out, Sansa rips Hearteater from his sheath (the second time a Stark girl will have taken his sword), and makes him cry like the punk bitch he is before lopping his head off in one clean swoop.
7. Which character(s) do you most want to bang? And how…
CW: Margaery Tyrell on the Iron Throne. OK, maybe not on the Iron Throne, that might get a little dangerous. But at least in the Throne Room. Oh, and Joffrey is locked away somewhere nearby, spending his final few hours before death listening to the soundtrack of me taking his new bride to a boneyard he’s never visited. So… Obviously a lot of factors going on here. Let’s start with the obvious: Joffrey fucking sucks, so I’d like to make him miserable any way possible. Second: She’s hot. Not the hottest in Westeros (see No. 3 above), but still pretty darn fine. Lastly, and maybe most importantly: This chick is down for whatever. She didn’t bat an eye when suggesting her bro join in on the fun with Renly. I probably wouldn’t go that route, but you know she’ll get funky.
MR: I mean, have you seen Jorah’s jawline? His tanned, manly skin? His soft, sad eyes? Have you heard the way he says “bean” instead of “been?” Whispers encouragement? Shouts “KHALEESI!” He is, quite simply, walking sex. I’ll win him over by presenting him Longclaw, his former sword. He’ll respond in kind by showing me his longclaw. After we make sweet, passionate love, he’ll turn to me and whisper: “Sometimes I look at you and I can’t believe you’re real.” Sigh.
BG: Let me set the scene: It’s a crisp winter evening, moments after Dany has captured the Iron Throne. Her now medium-sized dragons have just set fire to King’s Landing, torching the city and melting Joffrey into bitchwax. She stands triumphant — everything that a queen should be. Then she turns to me. Dany slowly struts over. Her dragons crawl up her spine. They disrobe her, and we’re just about to begin when … wait, who’s that? Robb? What are you doing here? And why does your hair look totally impeccable? You know what, you guys go ahead. No really, I insist. It’s better that way. I’ll just watch.
8. Fly your banners: Which house would you align with?
CW: Ask me this question before the finale and it would have been a different answer. But I’ve always thought I’d be a damn good zombie killer if the shit ever hit the fan. So fuck it, I’ll take the black and join up with The Night’s Watch north of the Wall. Now let’s just hope we find another way to kill the White Walkers besides death by fire.
BG: Dany, without question. The Lannisters and Starks may possess more power and resources, but Khaleesi is Christ-like, literally. After nearly being crucified in the House of the Undying, she managed to send Pyat Pree to a shocking and fiery death, a turnaround that should convert even the fiercest Dany-atheists into believers. While she has a tendency for over-the-top proclamations (WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS?!?), she routinely lets her pint-sized pets climb all over her semi-clothed body. If I’m likely to die anyway, I’m totally cool with that being the final image I see.
MR: The Starks. What can I say, I’m a sucker for heros. I love Tyrion, but I want pretty much every other Lannister to die a horrible death. I want a dragon, but I still can’t decide if Dany is going to be the beloved savior Jorah predicts or a terrible conqueror. The Starks are fighting a noble fight. Robb doesn’t even want the Iron Throne! He simply wants justice for his father’s death and freedom and independence for his people. Plus, the Starks have the best house words with “Winter Is Coming.” AND they have direwolves! We’ve gotten a glimpse of the magical properties these animals possess, and the special connection they share with the Stark children. Dany’s not the only one with a badass pet. Say it with me now: The King in the North! The King in the North! The King in the North!
9. What cliffhanger was most intriguing?
BG: This one’s a no-brainer. The most compelling cliffhanger is the UNSTOPPABLE GIANT ZOMBIE ARMY that’s sure to play a pivotal role in Season 3. We only caught a glimpse of the White Walkers, but they scared the living crap out of Sam’s Night’s Watch pals. And though they’re quite the lengthy walk from King’s Landing, imagine just how awesome it would be if they came face-to-face with Joffrey…
MR: Like BG said, this is a no-brainer. There’s a reason the creators elected to move up the Walker reveal from the Book 3 prologue to the Season 2 finale. But I’m equally intrigued by the other cliffhanger beyond the Wall. What happens now that Jon has killed the Halfhand to earn his place among the Wildlings? Will Mance Rayder accept him, or see through Ned Stark’s bastard’s ploy? What’s really been going on in the valley of the Frost Fangs? The Wildlings have lived as free people; what did Mance sell them in order to get them all to rally to his cause? How far will Jon have to go to build his cover? And where the heck is Ghost? I’ve always liked Jon and the action in the North. I’m excited to see where this all goes.
CW: So, yeah, the dead have mobilized. And I can’t stop thinking about that zombie leader. IS THAT BENJEN STARK?!?! Or is he with Mance north of the Wall? But since my esteemed partners in crime have covered that, here’s a sleeper pick for ya: Stannis looking into the flames. Sure, the scene might have been a little corny and overly dramatic, but since Shadow Baby stuck a shadow blade through Renly, I haven’t stopped wondering why Stannis hasn’t utilized that weapon more. Did staring into the flames move Stannis further toward the Lord of Light? Will he fully embrace Melisandre’s dark magic and enlist Shadow Baby to start stabbing cats in King’s Landing? Is Stannis the Lord of Light, as Melisandre suggests? So many questions, no Radio Shack geeks to answer.
10. What are your early predictions for Season 3?
CW: Since the line between predictions and aspirations is often thin… BG got me thinking: Joffrey gets slayed, twice! First, zombie Benjen Stark makes it to King’s Landing and has a hunger for royal brain, so he chows down on Joffrey, thus converting him into a Walker. Then Dany comes riding in on her dragons, butt-ass naked with hair flowing in the wind. Close-up on zombie Joff, pan to city’s liberator, and wham-o, torch that zombie Bitch King with dragon’s flame. More realistically, I can also only assume Tyrion will plot and scheme (this time both are required) his way back up our Power Rankings list, hopefully at the cost of his sister’s life. And Robb will ride north to rebuild Winterfell.
MR: Jon bones Ygritte (please). Jorah bones Dany (double please). Joffrey tries to bone Margaery with that golden telescope, but she turns the tables and really makes him the Bitch King (TRIPLE PLEASE). Bran starts admitting his dreams are a gift instead of viewing them as a curse. The direwolves start exhibiting more magical powers. Robb suffers the consequences of his hasty marriage by losing the Freys as his bannermen. Stannis falls completely under Melisandre’s control, and the Lord of Light officially becomes a contender for the Iron Throne. Arya finds Winterfell in ruins and sets back off on the road to rescue Sansa. The Hound rescues his little bird first. Dany secures a ship, but won’t arrive in Westeros until the Season 3 finale. Tyrion realizes having a huge scar across his faces makes him a badass like Omar Little, not a monster. Mance Rayder becomes a major character. We find out Benjen Stark is head of the Icicle brigade, which means the Night’s Watch’s two biggest enemies — the Wildlings and the Others — are under the charge of former Black Brothers. Jorah bones Dany. Wait, I said that one already.
BG: Zombies roam free, Dany looks hotter than ever and Joffrey suffers a twisted and excruciating death. What more could you really ask for?