The music opens; the folksy but dignified violins guide us as the broad map of Westeros focuses in on the machinations of the realms in the game. Season one of HBO’s fantastic ‘War and Peace-esque’ series Game of Thrones warned us that winter is coming. In season two, they have portended the end of summer, but it seems that a great war will be taking the vanguard before winter.
After the fallout from Ned Stark’s (Sean Bean) beheading, the realm is in chaos as four kings have laid claim to the iron throne. The boy Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson), a little blonde sociopath actually sits on the throne, but apparently possession is nine-tenths of jack squat in this world as others challenge his rule.
Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) is one of several new characters, and the older brother of the former king, and thusly has the best claim for the throne due to his correct affirmation that Joffrey is the product of incest between Queen Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and her twin brother Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Stannis is a man whose resolve is inversely proportional to his sense of humor, which is why his younger more charismatic brother Renly (Gethin Anthony), fancies himself to be king as well.
Stannis appears to have a wild card in ‘the lord of light’ as prophesized by the beautiful red priestess Melisandre (Carice Van Houten). In season one, religion was a side-note as they were only touched on briefly, and even opposing religions seemed amicable with each other. However this lord of light appears to be a jealous god with no room in this cosmos for anyone else. The religious overtones will underscore deeper sentiments within the characters that care about more than just their personal successes. Davos Seaworth (played by the excellent Liam Cunningham) is one such character, whose beleaguered loyalty to Stannis is tested by the heresy of Melisandre’s aggression towards the old gods.
Moving south from Winterfell and winning every skirmish is Ned Stark’s capable son Robb (Richard Madden), the king in the north, the ‘good guy,’ if you will, though all have blood on their hands.
Times such as these blood mostly flows from the innocent, as we see the former king’s bastard’s hunted down, being tracked by the dark hair that seems to be the true Baratheon signature as decisive towards parentage as a cleft chin or matching eyes. Apparently the former king and Wilt Chamberlin had a bet going.
This indicates a hierarchy reminiscent of Nazi Germany. It appears that in this show blonde is not beautiful but evil, being fair of hair also means that you are the bad guy, i.e. nearly every Lannister. The previous dynasty was also blonde and incestuous, with apparently only one surviving member, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clark). She is making due without an army on the other continent with only a rabble, a dishonored knight, and the only three living dragons in the world. Despite the fact she is wandering the desert like Moses those fledgling dragons give her quite an edge, even as just a bargaining chip.
Incredible, I have gone on this long without even mentioning my favorite character: Though diminutive in size he is a lion (Lannister joke) of wit and ladies of the night, he is also starring as hand of the king to his psycho twerp nephew Joffrey, lords and commoners I bring you the one and only Tyrion Lannister (Emmy and golden globe winning actor Peter Dinklage)! He is the pariah/saving grace of his family, hated due to how he came into this world (mother died giving birth), as well as his stature, though he is still a Lannister and expected to act so. Tyrion is the best of them, whose familial loyalty, like most, will eventually bite him in his squat ass.
As rewarding and incredible ‘Game of Thrones’ truly is overall, this show can be difficult to follow, even slow at times. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind during these idle times in this world:
1. George R. R. Martin, who wrote the books, is not afraid to kill off major characters. Doesn’t even have to be a climactic moment. He’ll just off them.
2. There are WAY too many kings right now.
3. Never forget how imperialistic and contagious religious fanaticism can be.
4. Tyrion should be king. That’s just a personal preference.
5. What the Night’s Watch is searching for beyond the wall is more horrifying than anything that any Lannister, Stark, or Targaryen can muster.
6. War is most certainly coming.
I can’t wait.