‘Game of Thrones’ Season 2 Episode 1 Review- ‘The North Remembers’

Written by Guest April 03, 2012

The wait is finally over. We are finally all back to a glorious ten-week period of time where we get to delve deep into the wonderfully twisted world of Westeros on a weekly basis. ‘Game of Thrones’ is back, and it is still great.

Just a bit of clarification: I have read the books but I will not be discussing anything beyond the content of the episode. Season two of ‘Game of Thrones’ is based off of the second book titled ‘A Clash of Kings’. ‘The North Remembers’ follows the first chapters of the book accurately and acts as setup for things to come.

Immediately we are brought back to televisions most loathed villain, King Joffery Baratheon, who is having knights fight to the death for his amusement on his birthday in King’s Landing. His poor betrothed Sansa is still the damsel in distress. Her heartbreak is amazingly acted by Sophie Turner, who is able to maintain a sense of loyalty while still under the trauma of having her family life shattered by the boy she is supposed to love. Two added scenes in the show, both featuring Cersei, are highlights in the episode. Her demonstration of power to Littlefinger was so well directed that I had a steep adrenaline rush. The second added scene where she gloriously slaps her son Joffery across the face is so satisfying and heartbreaking at the same time. It is amazing that HBO has managed to still make the show compelling to readers and non-readers alike. Everyone gets to take a part in this thrill ride.

Tyrion is now Hand of the King (as well as the lead character, according to the credits. Poor Sean Bean). He heads the council that runs the kingdom along with the untrustworthy Varys, Littlefinger, Cesei and Pycelle. Paranoia and fear surrounds them and by extension, the entire kingdom. The most disturbing scene in the episode, and possibly the show at this point, occurs when the Captain of the City Watch Janos Slynt executes a baby who is a child of the former King Robert. The monstrous political reality of this world is embodied in this scene.

In the North, Robb is newly named the King of the North and intends to get his sisters back and sever ties with the Iron Throne. Theon, that guy who is always with the Stark brothers but isn’t a Stark, offers to try and negotiate with his father for ships so that they can avenge Ned. Catelyn is sent south to try and negotiate with Renly, who has also declared himself king, so that they can together be a worthy foe to Joffery.

Renly and Robert’s brother, and by rights the true heir to the throne, Stannis Baratheon has his seat on the island fortress of Dragonstone. Stannis has begun to spread the truth of Joffery being born of incest across the kingdom and states that he is the true King. He is supported by the red priestess Melissandre and the loyal Davos. This segment is one of my favourites in the book and I was amazed at how the show was able to capture it’s atmosphere and characters.

More names and faces to remember. It will be worth it.

Jon and the rangers are now north of The Wall into wildling territory, a world that contrasts the chaotic order that exists in the Seven Kingdoms. They stay at the incestuous Craster’s keep where he and his many wife-daughters reside. The whole situation is disgusting and Jon does not understand it. If this is the first stop beyond The Wall, the rangers fear what is next.

Daenerys Targaryen and Arya are not given much screen time in this packed episode. Daenerys is famished and heading East with her dragons across the Red Waste. Arya, disguised as a boy, is with a band of criminals and misfits heading North to The Wall.

‘The North Remembers’ serves as a starting point for the rest of the season and puts the pieces into place without allowing them to be played quite yet. Like the first episode of the first season, introductions of characters take precedent over moving plots far ahead. It is still interesting, but like the very first episode, it is a bit overwhelming. If the season progresses like the first season did and if it follows the book as well as it has so far then the audience is in for a tighter thrill ride than what it is used to. Everything has been set in place, now it is time to watch it the events to unfold and the characters to clash.

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