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Game of Thrones Rewatch – Season 2

The eighth and final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones premieres in April so I thought this would be the perfect time to rewatch the series. I will be writing about each season as I finish watching them with what is going on and some tidbits on what I noticed this time around. Warning: There will be spoilers for all seasons of Game of Thrones and these articles assume knowledge of future events.

The end of Season 1 left a lot of people in shock with the death of Ned Stark and the fracturing of the Stark family. Joffery is sitting on the Iron Throne and looking to be an awful king. Daneayrs has three small dragons and a small number of followers, and the Night’s Watch is getting ready to go North of the Wall. Let’s jump into the second season.

The Story in Westeros

As in Season 1, the bulk of the action takes place in Westeros, but this season we have even more groups to follow in the main continent. The stories in Essos and in the North move, but not as much as in Westeros.

King’s Landing

Tyrion in King's Landing

Joffery is the new King and Tyrion has become the Hand of the King in place of his father, Tywin. Tyrion is tasked with trying to control Joffrey as well as keep the kingdom in line. This is one of my favorite parts of the season since we get to see what Tyrion is capable of when let loose. He was fun to watch in Season 1, but really comes into his own as a character, and fan favorite, in Season 2. He is able to get the better of most rivals in King’s Landing, even if these victories are only temporary until his father returns.

Tyrion also shines in the penultimate episode, Blackwater, when he leads the defense of King’s Landing against Stannis Baratheon. This is the first episode of the series to stay with only one location. We spend the entire episode in King’s Landing while moving between the perspectives of Tyrion, Cersei, Sansa, and the Hound. The episode is amazing in its cinematography and scope. This is the first time we see a real battle on the show and it is brutal at times. It also starts a trend of having fantastic ninth episodes with season finales being more like setups for the next season. Blackwater is probably overlooked now that we have other fantastic episodes, like The Watchers on the Wall, Hardhome, and The Battle of the Bastards, but this one showed how intense the battles can be.

While Tyrion is the focus in King’s Landing, we also see Sansa try to deal with the death of her father and the prospect of marrying Joffery. She has a miserable season of being attacked and humiliated by Joffery and the people of King’s Landing. Cersei has more trouble controlling things with Tyrion around but still manages to cause trouble and keep her position when Tywin shows up in Blackwater. The members of the Small Council (Little Finger and Varys specifically) are seen running around trying to figure out Tyrion. Varys and Tyrion start to become friends which will become one of the better pairings on the show in future seasons.

The Starks and The Baratheons

Robb Stark contemplating the war

Robb Stark is still causing trouble for the Lannisters and starts the season with Jamie Lannister in captivity. Jamie tries to escape midway through the season in a scene that is just brutal. One of his cousins is thrown in the cell with him and Jamie has a heartfelt conversation with him prior to killing him. We get to see more of the Kingslayer and what motivates him. Seeing him then kill his cousin who he seems to connect with, even if it is only briefly, really gets to you. This escape attempt will also lead to trouble in the next season as Cat ends up freeing him to try to get Arya and Sansa back. The freeing of Jamie sets up yet another pairing that works really well over the course of the series, Jamie and Brienne of Tarth.

We first see Brienne in Renly Baratheon’s war camp defeating Loras Tyrell in a sword fight. This earns her the right to become a member of Renly’s Kingsguard. After the death of Robert, Renly tries to make a claim for the throne even though he has the weakest claim. Renly is Robert’s youngest brother and Stannis, the eldest brother, is still alive and vying for the throne. Loras’ sister, Margaery, is married to Renly even though Renly prefers Loras. This union makes Renly’s army the most formidable even if his claim is weak. Early in the season, Cat goes to visit Renly to try to ally the Starks and Baratheons. This ultimately fails when Stannis has Renly killed and Cat flees the camp with Brienne. Brienne pledges her loyalty to Cat and is tasked with bringing Jamie to King’s Landing to trade him for Sansa and Arya.

Wildfire in the Battle of Blackwater

Stannis Baratheon has the strongest claim to the throne as he was Robert’s eldest brother. He is also not very well loved and very stiff/stern. He has turned away from the seven gods most worship in Westeros to worship the Lord of Light. Stannis is very formal and not very well liked but by allying himself with a red priestess, Melisandre, he has a powerful weapon. She is able to create a demon that takes the shape of a man and kills Renly. This pushes most of Renly’s forces to Stannis, with the exception of the Tyrells. With the additional forces, Stannis attacks King’s Landing in the Battle of Blackwater. Loras and Margaery join with the Lannisters to help break the siege of King’s Landing. Stannis is broken after this and is in a dark place to start Season 3.

Along with Stannis, we are introduced to one of my favorite characters, Ser Davos Seaworth. He is a Stannis low-born, Stannis loyalist who rose to prominence during Robert’s Rebellion. A former smuggler, he has earned Stannis’ trust and shows he has more common sense than most in Westeros. He becomes more important as the series moves on, but this is where we see him for the first time.

Arya Stark

At the end of Season 1, Arya has fled King’s Landing with the help of Yoren, a recruiter for the Night’s Watch transporting a group to the wall. She is hoping to make it back to Winterfell to join Bran and Rickon but things do not go as planned. The group is pursued by the Lannisters and Yoren is killed. They are all taken to the Harrenhall where Tywin has set up shop. Arya becomes the wine bearer for Tywin, who has no idea who she is, and has some great exchanges with him. The relationship between Arya and Twyin is one of the highlights of the season.

Arya and her friends, Gendry and Hot Pie, escape Harrenhall with the help of Jaqen H’ghar, a Faceless man from Bravos. Arya may not move much this season, but she is starting down a dark path that will lead her to Bravos to learn how to become a Faceless man. It also gets her a step closer to her arc with the Hound.

Arya’s friends will also appear again later in the series with Hot Pie making a quick cameo and Gendry helping out Jon in Season 7. Gendry is also important since he is one of Robert’s bastards and may have a claim to the throne.

Winterfell and the Iron Isles

The Greyjoys in Season 2 of Game of Thrones

As part of his campaign against the Lannisters, Robb sends Theon back to Iron Isles to enlist the help of his father. When Theon gets there he does not get the reception he was hoping for. He is seen as weak and not able to lead the Iron Born. When Balon decides to attack the North instead of help Robb, Theon is given one ship to raid the coast. His sister, Yara, on the other hand, receives a fleet to command. He wants to prove his worth so instead of raiding he takes Winterfell.

Bran and Rickon are the only Starks left in Winterfell and have become bored by the time Theon attacks. The boys escape with the help of Osha and Hodor and survive the fall of Winterfell. Theon takes the stronghold, but cannot hold it as his men are not loyal to him and Robb sends forces North to retake it.

This season marks the beginning of a sharp fall for Theon who is in for a rough couple of seasons before starting his redemption arc. It also gets Bran out of Winterfell and starts him on his path towards becoming the Three-eyed Raven and his journey north fo the Wall.

The Story in Essos

The throne room covered in snow

After the death of Khal Drogo and the birth of her dragons Daenerys and her followers are out in the middle of the desert about to die of thirst. She sends a few riders out and they end up in the city of Qarth which is ruled by the 13. The story in Essos is a little weak this season but gets Daenerys where she needs to be in future seasons. She is stuck in the city for most of the season and is trying to decide who to trust. Xaro Xhoan Daxos initially acts like Daenerys’ friend but betrays her by trying to take her dragons so he can rule Qarth. This obviously backfires and we get to see an awesome scene where the dragons show they can breathe fire and be a devastating weapon.

One of the more interesting scenes in this arc is when Daenerys is in the House of the Undying looking for her dragons. She has several visions, including one with Drogo, as she progresses through the tower. The interesting part of this is when she visits the throne room in King’s Landing. It looks like it has been destroyed and is either covered in snow or ash. Based on where she heads next (beyond the wall) I think we are seeing snow. The fact that the room looks burned out though is interesting. Will she use her dragons on King’s Landing? Or will Cersei burn the Red Keep down to keep it from Daenerys? Will the White Walkers have a hand in destroying it? Or will it just be a terrible winter? I can’t wait to see if what she saw will come to pass in Season 8.

The Story at the Wall and Beyond

Jon Snow in the 2nd Season of Game of Thrones

In Season 2, the men of the Night’s Watch are headed north of the Wall to see what the Wildlings are up to. There were reports of them gathering in larger than normal numbers so the Lord Commander wanted to see what was going on. We don’t actually see a lot of the Night’s Watch in this season since the show focuses mostly on Jon Snow. What we do see of the rest of the watch has reverberations across the rest of the series though. Sam meets Gilly for the first time, we see the White Walkers take a baby boy from Craster’s keep, and Sam finds a cache of Dragon Glass. The end of the season also has an impending White Walker attack on the Night’s Watch that will change things in the next season and beyond.

Jon Snow goes on his first Ranger mission with Qhorin Half-hand and his rangers. They come across some wildlings and kill all but one, Ygritte. Jon is tasked with killing her while his brothers go on ahead. This proves disastrous and leads to the capture of Qhorin and Jon. After seeing how desperate their situation is, Qhorin forces Jon to kill him and pretend to defect to the Wildlings. We also see the start of Jon and Ygritte’s relationship after he fails to kill her. During his time with Ygritte, it is clear the Jon Snow knows nothing about the wildlings and is in for an interesting time next season as he is being brought before Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall.

Final Thoughts and a Look Forward

When beginning this rewatch, I wasn’t looking forward to much of Season 2. It feels a bit like a forgotten season as there are no shocking deaths and just a few big moments. What it lacks in big moments, it makes up for in deep conversations and character building. The relationship between Twyin and Arya is fantastic and we get to see Tyrion find his calling as a political advisor. This season also features one of the best episodes of the series, Blackwater. It was great to see what type of battle can be shown in a TV series. It was also great to see a very focused episode. The show seems more realistic and brutal in the early seasons versus the more spectacular sequences in the later seasons.

The end of Season 2 sets up a lot in Season 3:

  • Bran is heading North.
  • Jon is joining the Wildlings.
  • Tywin is in King’s Landing.
  • Daenerys has growing dragons and is looking for an army.
  • Robb has broken his pact with Walder Frey and will pay for it dearly with the Red Wedding.
  • Arya is on a collision course with the Hound
  • Brienne and Jamie are on their way to King’s Landing, but will not get there quickly.

I’m excited to move on to Season 3 and beyond.

Nate has been playing games for as long as he can remember. He enjoys playing most genres from sports games to FPSs to RPGs and action-adventure games. He also loves diving into data and making visualizations to help tell the data's story. While not gaming, Nate can be found outside hiking, walking, running, and just generally enjoying life.

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