The second season of Game of Thrones has ended, and I wasn’t sure how to talk about it. As a book-reader, discussing the show without discussing the books is a little difficult for me, especially because the show is starting to affect my perception and memory of the books. My understanding of the timeline is now completely off; I’m used to reading a Jon chapter followed by an Arya chapter followed by a Bran chapter, but sometimes the events in the Bran chapter took place before the events in the Jon chapter, and I don’t know that until later. I can’t tell if the writers of the show are trying to make the linear timeline clearer, or if they’re speeding up some storylines while dragging out others because they realize that certain characters’ stories (*cough* Daenerys *cough*) involve a lot of wheel-spinning for several books ahead.
Keeping all of that in mind, I’ve decided to write about my general impressions of the season and talk about the aspects of season two – positive and negative – that stood out to me. (Massive book spoilers ahead.)
– The Onion Knight, The Red Woman, and the Wannabe King
In Game of Thrones, the characters who advise the kings are often more interesting than the rulers themselves, and this couldn’t be more apparent than in the Dragonstone scenes. This isn’t a criticism of Stephen Dillane, who did an excellent job as Stannis Baratheon. But just like in the book, I look at loyal, noble Davos Seaworth, and wild, brilliant Melisandre, and wonder why both of them are so committed to a wannabe king who’s just kind of there. The battle of the Blackwater showed that Stannis is brave and skilled in battle, but he’s not very inspiring. Meanwhile, Melisandre is mysterious and creepy, and Davos is wonderful and noble, like Ned Stark if Ned Stark were smart. All of these scenes were well-played.
– Those scheming Tyrells
Again, the king’s subordinates are more interesting than the king himself. I enjoyed seeing more of Loras and Margaery, their dynamic with each other, and their different dynamics with Renly. I loved that Margaery was so blase about her arrangement with her husband. “Would you like my brother to come in instead? Or do you want both of us?” The screentime devoted to them was just enough to remind us that the Tyrells are a powerful, important family, but not too much to distract from the rest of the story. Now I really can’t wait to see the Queen of Thorns.
– Daenerys Targaryen is Homeless Dad
Ah, so this is how they’re going to drag out Dany’s plot for the rest of the series. Arrested Westeros had a joke about Catelyn Stark being Thomas Jane in Homeless Dad, but this year, the Homeless Dad honor went to Dany, who spent half of the season whining, “I just want my dragons back!” The House of the Undying was a huge letdown, and I really dislike seeing half of Dany’s people slaughtered, including one bloodrider and one handmaid, and she makes everything worse by locking up poor Doreah in Al Capone’s – I mean, Xaro’s – vault so the girl can starve to death. I guess this is supposed to make us see how cold Dany has become. Well, I prefer book Dany, who sang Doreah to sleep as she died of starvation.
– Robb Stark, stupidhead
In the book, Robb was no great master of the game of thrones, but he was at least better at understanding it than his father was. Show Robb is now officially dumber than Ned, and I really don’t care at all about his made-for-TV love interest. The writers seem to be trying to inject some romance into the show, but I honestly preferred Robb in the books, who slept with Jeyne when he was grieving for his brothers and then married her because it was the honorable thing to do. Robb marrying this Valyrian lady who doesn’t even exist in the book in a misguided attempt to create a “love story” in the show is misguided and incredibly boring.
– Jon Snow, stupidhead
Speaking of stupidheads, let’s take a look at Jon Snow, who chains Ygritte to him but lets her outwit him at every turn. And we’re supposed to believe that he’d make a good Lord Commander by the end of season four (since book three is being split into two seasons). Again, I get that the writers want to set up the Jon/Ygritte affair for next season, but we didn’t need two straight episodes of her taunting him and him trying not to have a boner. Fortunately, Ygritte is already more interesting on the show than she was in the books, thanks to the actress making her less of a medieval pixie dream girl and more of an actual wildling.
– Catelyn Stark still exists, kind of
I’m cynical, and I believe that Catelyn had so little to do this season because the producers aren’t planning to make her naked anytime soon. She’s not my favorite character, but I appreciate her perspective as a mother who simply wants her family to get together, and as a character who can be both incredibly dumb and clever, often at the same time. I’m disappointed that her confrontation with Jaime was chopped up and spread over the season instead of in one great scene, because it’s absolutely my favorite part of A Clash of Kings.
– Bran and Rickon “died” and no one cared
Catelyn’s decision to free Jaime and Robb’s ill-advised wedding both make much less sense when neither of them “know” that Bran and Rickon are dead. The characters are simply dumber instead of acting rashly out of grief.
– Tyrion Lannister is awesome
And so is Peter Dinklage.
– Arya Stark is awesome.
And so is Maisie Williams. I hope she gets an Emmy nomination this year. I liked her scenes with Tywin but thought there were a few too many of them, because at a certain point, I can no longer believe that Tywin wouldn’t figure out that she was Arya Stark.
– Yara/Asha Greyjoy and The Maid of Tarth
I was really excited to see both of these characters and neither of them disappointed. I liked that Yara wasn’t a typical brassy “badass,” but just rather sly and relaxed, like she didn’t even have to try to prove that she was a tough warrior because everyone already knew it. Meanwhile, Gwendolen Christie was perfect as Brienne, showing her soft heart and loyalty AND her ability to break people in half without sweating. That’s right, Jaime, you’d better look impressed and frightened.
– The Others are attacking!
I wonder if the producers are planning to accelerate or invent a larger plot with the white walkers. If not, then ending a season with a white walker attack, only to have virtually NOTHING HAPPEN with this plot line over several more books, isn’t really fair. I already feel bad for the non-book readers who expect something cool to happen with this event.
– Women still used as decoration and props
Yeah, I know that everyone complains about the sexposition, but what can I say? This is a feminist blog, and I’m tired of the sexposition. I thought seeing a confrontation between Bronn and the Hound was pretty cool. Did we really need a naked prostitute on Bronn’s leg during that whole scene? Did we really need to see Joffrey abuse Roz and the other prostitute so we could get a better understanding of what a worthless, vile little shit he is? Because I’m pretty sure everyone on the planet, EVEN CERSEI, was already aware of how much of a worthless, vile little shit Joffrey is.
I have other thoughts on this subject that I might talk about later in the week, but ultimately, I’m tired of seeing women used as props and decoration to prop up or establish male characters. It’s really not necessary, and in some cases, the show encourages objectification even while intending (or pretending) to condemn it.