There are all sorts of insane storylines playing out at the beginning of season 2. Sansa Stark, the calm, quiet, beautiful, stupid girl is betrothed to the boy who just ordered the beheading of her father, Joffrey. Even without this blight on his record, Joffrey would be about as good a choice for a husband as Ike Turner. Not good. Then there is Arya Stark, who is whisked away by a likeable man and told to conduct herself as a male rather than female. Robb Stark has captured Jaime Lannister and carries him forth to battle like a giant, god-like trophy. Tyrion, who you have by now fallen madly in love with despite his gaping flaws, is currently in Kings Landing, which means he has much better access to better booze, better food and better women, which only serves to increase his wit and humour. Daenerys strides forth, naked, from a fire with 3 dragons in tow, and all of a sudden you're googling 'Daenerys dragon porn'. The 'Winter is Coming' threat begins to ring true, as we are introduced to the White Walkers and their demonic capabilities. And Jon Snow finds himself in the midst of these creatrues, fighting a far greater and more important battle than anyone else in the entire realm.
The Second season progresses these stories slowly, yet with enough canter to keep your interest at its absolute peak for the entirety. The Stark's war, waged by Robb, the King of the North, marches on, and Robb proves himself not only to be a skilled tactician but also a man with far more intensity than he displayed in the first season. Catelyn, his mother, releases Jaime in to the care of Brienne (a random character really), with the orders of delivering Jaime to Kings Landing. Kings Landing has in fact told Catelyn that they will release both of her daughters if Jaime is returned safely. Arya isn't present, and Cersei is too intelligent to allow Sansa out of her sight, so this is a hiding to nothing, yet it is such a delightful strain of story. The interplay between Jaime and Brienne is hilarious, as the King Slayer finds all manner of different ways to insult his rather large protector.
"It's a long way to King's Landing. Might as well get to know one another. Have you known many men? I suppose not. Women? Horses?"
Eventually, as it is with these things, the two grow to respect each other deeply, and Brienne will come to the aid of Jaime and vice versa on more than one occasion. It's a slightly tacky result, yet one that fits wonderfully in to the dense despair that marks the show. It's a grounding in the kind of romantic comedy bundle that hollywood chokes out with regularity. On it's own it is interminable, however surrounded by all the death and destruction here it feels authentic and homely.
Robb Stark. An oddity. He is surely the least dynamic of the family. Catelyn is the strong, passionate, long-suffering wife. Eddard is the true hero. Sansa is the gentle dove who's stupidity infuriates, but this is still a feeling. Jon Snow, the warm hearted outsider longing for a purpose. And Arya, the aggressive, boyish run-about who is impossible not to adore. Robb mimmicks his mother most, an outwardly quiet man yet desperately intelligent, and with a hard edge that sees him imprison his own mother when she runs afoul of him by releasing Jaime. His traipse towards Kings Landing is dotted with battle insight and how-to's on leadership that see him emerging as a true hero of the story. His thirst for vengeance is something we can all relate to, especially when it comes to Joffrey.
Kings Landing becomes a trickier place than ever to navigate. Tyrion is the hand of the king, appointed by his father who is in the field masterminding the battle with the Starks, and is extremely concerned with the manner in which Joffrey goes about his business. We learn pretty quickly that Tyrion is the most intelligent character in the game, but this trait is often blunted by booze or prejudice. Most are loathe to take him serious due to his stature. His relationship with the former prostitute Shae who is a strong, confident women with a devilish accent, is enjoyable and fraught with danger. We like Tyrion very very much. He saves Kings Landing from a far superior and stronger force of Stannis Baratheon, who is incensed to learn of the incestual nature of Joffrey and is seeking his place on the throne, at whatever cost. Tyrion's cunning goes unrewarded however, and Cersei even attempts to have him killed during the battle. Such is the nature of the game of thrones..
The Tyrells also sneak in for a bit of action. Stannis proves our worst fears by employing the help of the dark force, the red woman, to murder his brother Renly, ensuring that he, Stannis, is the rightful and only claimant on the throne. It's a sad end for Renly who was a likeable character, and his death is a confusing one. We are never really presented with what this black force is, instead it appears and then disappears with little explanation or follow up which is a tad odd. It now clears the way for Stannis and his attack on Kings Landing.
Daenerys continues her march towards the throne. Despite losing her husband Drogo, she retains the services of his army and becomes the Khaleesi, the leader. Her rhetoric of 'No one will take my dragons' and 'These are my people!' begins to wear quite thin, however. Her naivety in becoming entrapped in Quarth is only matched by her latent power, the that of her dragons, after she vanquishes those who set to take them from her and makes off with a large amount of money to buy a boat and an army, with plans of heading to Westeros and laying her claim on the iron throne. Daenerys is an odd character. She is very one dimensional, her strength and self-belief appears to be her only personality trait. Her faithful right hand man is a tad depressing, his love for her apparent and undying, yet his loyalty burns fiercely. You wonder what kind of Queen she would become. COnstantly under siege, her only option is regular violence against those seeking to take her dragons from her.
Stannis Baratheon is probably the dumbest of the characters in the entire show, and that is saying a great deal because with people like Joffrey causing mass mayhem with childish errors there is stiff competition. His intent to take what he deems as his, the Iron Throne, leads him down the path of witchcraft. The Red Lady has already accounted for Renly, his only other blood competition, and now he seeks to use her powers to overcome Kings Landing. His trust in her leads to the Battle of Blackwater, a part of the war that his new confidante has promised victory in, yet ends in a brutal and embarrassing defeat for Stannis. It remains to be seen where his character will next tread, and whether he will cast off the illogical trust in this cult-like power. His right hand man, Davos Seaworth, is a constant source of intelligence and grounding, and it's through Stannis' rejection of him that we can see how far he has fallen in to the depths of insanity.
If the males have Daenerys, the ladies have Jon Snow. Those dream boat, puppy dog eyes belie an inner strength that continues to grow and flourish. The Nights Watch are well beyond the wall by now, having set out to discover what happened to a couple of lost Rangers and to get to the bottom of the White Walker problem. It's a cold and dangerous existence, and one that takes the viewer the furthest from their comfort zone. The constant juxtaposition between the luxury of Kings Landing and the violent winter of the men who are working to protect it, men who will never recieve the true heroes reception they deserve, is staggering. It's hard to believe that these men can endure such hardship and continue to have personalities that endure, but Jon Snow and his friend Samwell prove that humans are a deceptively adaptable breed. Samwell especially is the loveable one, the most in tune with our values and day to day life. He finds beauty in small things, and his inability to match it physically with his fellow watchmen only serves to heighten his likeability. Jon Snow of course meets a girl, who is both enigmatic and exciting, and his interplay with her, she is his captor, creates much needed sexual tension, distracting from the ease in which cast members in other areas are able to find gratification. Those White Walkers.. They provide such a lovely anxiety.
Then there's Theon. Ok, so we hate Joffrey and we are confused by the stupidity of Stannis. But we plain despise Theon. He turns on those who raised him, the good people of Winterfell, and in an attempt to please daddy and do what his father never could, he siezes Winterfell whilst Robb and Catelyn are marching on Kings Landing. Theon is a snivelling, keniving character who wins little favour. At the end of the season though, once he has disgusted us enough with his murder and pillage, his comeuppance comes and we are left to stew in the question of whether he will recieve what he deserves for his betrayal of trust.
Season 2 is more of the same really. Tyrion's wit, Cersei's descent in to alcoholism, Sansa's submissiveness, Snow's smouldering good looks and Robb's tactical nous. It is a triumph of contesting and competing stories, each with their own separate effect on each other, and each with its own individual charm. There are whispers of the dragon lady heard in Kings Landing. She seems so far removed yet always in the fore. There is fear at the Stark boy's intelligence. The odd thing is the way in which the Nights Watch is portrayed, and by odd I mean it is masterful. As all these competing forces battle for the throne, you are bundled up in to the war, the back stabbing and the games. Yet the real battle is being fought out past the wall. In a possibly unintentional metaphor for life, it is such a truth that we adhere to these smaller worries, these tiny inconsequential battles that we conjure in our heads that we lose sight of the real beauty surrounding us. Joffrey wouldn't last 30 minutes beyond The Wall, yet we are led to believe he is in the fight of his life to keep his bum on the throne. In the end, the White Walkers may lay claim to the entire kingdom, rendering the game of thrones a completely null event.
But really you just want to see sex, booze, wealth and violence. Well, you've come to the right place!