Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Game of Thrones (Season Two)

Season two of Game of Thrones is based on the book A Clash of Kings (the second book of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire). It was filmed on location in Northern Ireland, Iceland and Croatia. Season two picks up almost immediately after season one. The psychopathic teenager Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) is now the king of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. However rumours are beginning to spread that Joffrey isn't really a Baratheon at all - and that he's really the child of an incestuous relationship between Queen Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and her twin brother Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). As a result the kingdom is now in the midst of a civil war. Both of the late Robert Baratheon's brothers are determined to take the Iron Throne from Joffrey and are preparing to wage war against the Lannisters. Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) has enlisted the aid of a mysterious priestess called Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) who promises Stannis the throne in exchange of certain favours. This greatly concerns Stannis's loyal friend Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham). Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony) is also seeking the Iron Throne despite his older brother Stannis having the better claim. Renly has a much larger army and believes that he would make a better king than his brother.

Robb Stark (Richard Madden), the newly crowned King of the North, is still waging war against the Lannisters and has left his enemies shocked at his military skills. Robb and his army have won every single battle that they've fought against the Lannisters and have even been able to capture Jaime Lannister. They are continuing to fight their way down to King's Landing in order to rescue Robb's sisters Sansa and Arya, avenge the execution of Ned Stark, and assert the independence of the north. Robb is considering the possibility of a Stark-Baratheon alliance against their mutual enemy and is also interested in securing ships from Balon Greyjoy, Lord of the Iron Islands (Patrick Malahide). He sends his close friend Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) to the Iron Islands so that Theon can negotiate with his family. Unfortunately Theon is desperate to impress his family and he decides to betray Robb. Theon decides to take part in his father's plot to capture Winterfell and conquer the north whilst Robb is occupied with fighting the Lannisters.

Robb's younger siblings are having problems of their own. Arya (Maisie Williams) has been successfully smuggled out of King's Landing and is disguising herself as a boy. She's now desperately trying to get back to Winterfell. Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) is now in command of Winterfell and is being troubled by visions and the appearance of a red comet in the sky. Sansa (Sophie Turner) is now being kept as a hostage in King's Landing and Joffrey is making her life miserable. Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) is also in King's Landing and has taken over the position of the King's Hand. And finally there are the storylines that are taking place outside of the Seven Kingdoms. Jon Snow (Kit Harington) goes beyond the Wall to go on a reconnaissance mission. There he learns that the Wildlings, the people beyond the Wall, have united behind a man called Mance Rayder. Daenerys Targayren (Emilia Clarke) is now travelling across the deserts of Essos along with her advisor Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), a few loyal Dothraki followers, and her three baby dragons. She then finds herself in the great city of Qarth. Daenerys and her dragons attract quite a bit of attention from the city's wealthy merchants and Daenerys tries to secure the merchant's aid in claiming the Iron Throne of Westeros.

Melisandre and Stannis Baratheon

Robb Stark

Tyrion Lannister

Arya Stark

Bran Stark

I've read that season two isn't as faithful to its source material as season one was and I know that not all of the book fans are happy with the changes that were made. I can't really rate season two as an adaptation though because I've only read the first book in A Song of Ice and Fire. But what I can say is that I loved season two of this show just as much as season one. The production values in this show are incredible. There's an increase in CGI this season - with Dany's dragons and the larger direwolves looking absolutely amazing. The producers also managed to convince HBO into increasing the budget of their show by 15% in order to stage the Battle of Blackwater Bay and it looks truly spectacular. With the story expanding and new characters being introduced we get breathtaking new locations as well. I really want to visit Iceland and Croatia now!

The acting in this show is just as fantastic as ever. The cast is just so brilliant that it feels wrong to single people out but I especially loved Peter Dinklage this season. He's absolutely hilarious in the role of Tyrion and many of my favourite moments in the season involved his character - like the gem below! :D I don't even care that Peter Dinklage can never quite get his English accent right. He's brilliant in the role and captures Tyrion's character perfectly. I especially love Jack Gleeson's acting in the show as well. No matter how much I might hate Joffrey, Gleeson is doing a phenomenal job playing him and I don't think he gets the recognition he deserves.

I enjoyed all of the various storylines this season but I think the one that I enjoyed best was Arya's. I loved all of her scenes with Gendry (Joe Dempsie), Jaquen H'ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) and Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance). Apparently Arya and Tywin don't interact at all in A Clash of Kings but presumably the producers just couldn't resist the thought of getting Maisie Williams and Charles Dance on screen together. I give them kudos for that :)  We also get quite a few interesting new characters this season such as Melisandre, Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) and Ygritte (Rose Leslie). I'm really looking forward to seeing more of them in season three.

I still think that there's too much gratuitous sexual content in the show and I don't like the fact that the Wildlings have northern accents. Surely the Wildlings shouldn't have the same accents as the Starks?! I've always really liked the fact that the show has given the characters from the south of Westeros southern English accents whilst giving the characters from the north of Westeros northern English accents. Given that the Wall seems to be based on Hadrian's Wall, shouldn't the Wildlings have been given Scottish accents? I know this might seem really nitpicky but it bothered me. Apart from that there's very little that I can criticise about this season.

Rating: 5/5
Film Certificate: 18

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