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71
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Game of Thrones

HBO

60
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Viewer
67
/100

Episode 2 - The Night Lands

11 April 2012

Credit HBO

Synopsis: Tyrion replaces Slynt as commander of the City Watch (with Bronn) and questions his sister about the murder of children. Cersei rejects Robb’s peace overture. Theon arrives home in the Iron Islands to find that his Father has turned to his sister in his absence. Men from King’s Landing catch up with Arya and Gendry who learn more about each other. Davos recruits a pirate fleet to support Stannis’ bid for power while his son tries to convert him to the new religion. Melisandre seduces Stannis with promises of a son. Daenerys’ situation grows worse when one of her scouts is killed. Sam tries to help one of Craster’s wives and is rebuked by Jon Snow. Snow then follows Craster at night as he leaves one of his babies in the woods.

The Good: This was a brave episode from a TV perspective. We got precious little time with our established characters and instead had to start fresh with several new or more unfamiliar people. It made for a slow pace but the show earned my patience with how well season one came together.

Tyrion continues to hold things together at the centre as the only vaguely selfless man at the Council meetings. He is the viewer’s mouthpiece at the moment: feeling disgust at the slaughter of children and defending Ned Stark’s name and corpse. It’s easy to sympathise with his position as he eyes Varys and the other crafty men around him while receiving constant abuse over his height. His interactions with Bronn and Cersei were both pretty interesting. It does seem worrying that Bronn would be willing to kill babies for the right price. It’s become clear that King’s Landing is a viper’s nest and Tyrion’s concern for what the people might be feeling was the first time I remember hearing about them. Cersei’s comments about the death of their mother were strong and again reinforce just how hard Tyrion must work to wield power well.

Our outliers Jon and Daenerys both received chilling news which slowly furthered their stories. The continuing hostility of the other Dothraki makes sense and leaves her needing a way out of the wastes soon. Meanwhile Jon may have just glimpsed a White Walker’s blue eyes out in the forest. That was the right development to end on as the episode was again lacking in action or urgency.

Arya and Gendry were able to share a light moment as the search for both of them continues. The fate of those raised in Winterfell also expanded as we spent more time with Theon than we have before. We saw him getting aggressive with Osha last season and here he manhandles another girl and (unknowingly) his sister all while bragging about how one wife isn’t enough for men of the Iron Islands. While this doesn’t immediately make him likable it does differentiate him and his swagger is put to the test by his estranged father. Balon implies he may take up arms against the Stark’s which should give Theon something to think about soon.

We also got to know Davos a lot better as he struggles to raise forces for Stannis and deal with his born again son. Davos has no trouble coming across well surrounded by zealots, pirates and Stannis and fortunately he seems more flexible than Ned did in a similar position.

I enjoyed just how medieval the world of Game of Thrones seemed this week. The men of the Night’s Watch were positively innocent chatting about farts and discussing girls with very little practical knowledge of them. Then you had Daenarys’ followers weeping at the fate of men’s souls and we learn that Davos can’t read. I was also pleased that we got some numbers put to Stannis’ army so our picture of the coming war could become clearer.

The Bad: I didn’t think any of this was bad though I think casual viewers may have had a hard time with an episode which widened rather than deepened our story.

The Unknown: Again I struggled a little with Stannis and Melisandre. The seduction scene was swift and literal and threw out information about his wife with no prior context. The modern perspective was not well hidden either as pragmatic agnostic Davos rolls his eyes at the fundamentalist faith of his son. The purveyor of this faith of course is Melisandre who comes across as an opportunistic charlatan. If the Stannis story plays out with Macbeth-like failure then I will probably feel it was a story too well signposted.

The scenes with Little Finger setting Ros straight about her position and Varys warning Tyrion not to mess with him also felt repetitious. As with last week’s Little Finger-Cersei confrontation it feels redundant to just have these council members stare one another down. I would prefer we actually got to see them pursuing their goals. The “fish pie” dialogue felt a touch unnecessary too, or at least the fact that everyone played along with it so smoothly.

Best Moment: I hope this section doesn’t become the “Tyrion’s Best Moment” section. However as the only character being prominently featured who I have a strong reason to care about he is likely to dominate for the time being. I liked both Cersei’s wounding description of him as the biggest joke of all and his own amusing dismissal of Janos Slynt.

Conclusion: A strong season one coupled with the source material of the books leaves me confident that this is all going somewhere good. However this was a slow instalment which needed a little of that faith.  

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  • Hi guys, i just watched the first two episodes of the new season and listened to your first review of 'Pod of Casts'.
    i enjoyed the first episode 'The North Remembers' i expected to find some new characters such as Stannis and Melisandre
    and am willing to wait to see how they develop.
    i enjoyed the second episode even more than the first because it blurred the lines of morality that i felt
    were being drawn a little too hard in the first season with the 'moral compass' swinging in favour of the
    Starks with the Lannisters, with the exception of Tyrion, were being cast as the bad guys.
    This episode showed in the scene between Theon Greyjoy and his father upon Theon's return to the iron islands that Ned stark executed Theon’s
    elder brothers and took him i presume as 'hostage' to ensure the peace when x was about the same age as Bran is now, i know
    it was mentioned in the first season it was good to see it and feel Balon Greyjoy's disappointment regarding the whole affair and the
    type of man his son had grown into.
    i also like the way the word got out about the true heir to the throne and the consequences it is having in the seven kingdoms

    Tyrion arrival in King's Landing was great and i liked his scenes, it does seem that he is not a serious character with
    his light-hearted attitude but as i know what will happen to him this is fine with me and probably needed.

    i give the second episode 70 out of 100 but 10 of that 70 comes for the introduction of a character of African decent.
    it was a nice sentiment and i know the producers don't want minority groups to feel left out but i am of African decent and
    have never felt left out or unable to enjoy or relate to the characters in the show because they are so well written and portrayed- for the most part.
    i feel in trying to do something good they may have done something offensive since now the only black character in the show
    is an over-sexed pirate (criminal) with a fetish for blond white women.
    i am not offended but i am very amused as it feels like something David Brent from The Office would do, but then maybe i'm
    wrong and the character will turn out completely different, still it made me smile.

    i am keeping this comment as short as i can but i just want to give my opinion of ' A Pod of Casts', i liked the format
    but i think Roberto should give his round-up and views of each location and maybe you could say what you thought
    the good, bad, and unknown were concerning each location after Roberto has reviewed it, that would give you a chance to
    bat your views and opinions back and forth, and play to both your strengths as i enjoy both your styles of reviewing.

    looking forward to what you think of episode 3, take care.

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by Charlie, 10/04/2012 10:14pm (7 years ago)

  • Thanks for the correction.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 10/04/2012 7:01pm (7 years ago)

  • I for one am totally fine with the Best Moment section becoming the Tyrion's Best Moment section. In fact, I mostly expect it.

    I enjoyed the episode. Highlights = Everything in King's Landing, north of the Wall (it's Craster, by the way...both in the show and book), and I thought they did a relatively good job with Theon's story. I agree with Derek that Yara was not as charismatic and flirty, but I don't think it took away from the Pyke story which is obviously that Theon was greeted with a most cold welcoming. I still feel like he was pretty well humiliated.

    The Arya/Gendry stuff was fine. I really like the portrayal of Davos Seaworth...I think he's going to become one of my favorite characters on the show.

    I think both episodes so far have left me feeling like Stannis and Melisandre are getting the short end of the stick a bit. I know it would be very hard to have them dominate the screen time when there are so many stories to tell, but they're definitely lacking characterization, which lends to a lack of import or interest from a viewing perspective.

    Posted by Brando, 10/04/2012 6:16pm (7 years ago)

  • I agree that this episode widened rather than deepened the story. The Melisandre and Stannis seduction was a little wonky for the reasons you mentioned but I did get a deeper sense of Stannis, Davos and Melisandre from the scenes we spent with them.

    What I didn't like about this episode and why I'm giving a lower score than last week is everything on Pyke. Now I won't contain any book spoilers but my picture of Yara (named Asha in the books) was completely different from the one presented in this episode. That scene with Theon groping her actually happened but Asha was much more clever and playful than Yara. That actress was completely flat in delivery of all her lines, I didn't feel any playfulness or the fact that she allowed Theon to grope her to humiliate him. That was just plain bad in my opinion and brought the whole episode down because it dragged everything down.

    I really enjoyed Jon, Dany and especially Arya and King's Landing but there was something really off about Pyke in an unsettling way.

    If that was cut out I'd probably give this in the low 70's but for now it's at a 64.

    Viewer score: 64 / 100

    Posted by Derek, 10/04/2012 4:41am (7 years ago)

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