Jeremy Likes TV

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TV Diary | Game Of Thrones – “The North Remembers”

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TV Diary | Game Of Thrones – Episode 2.01 – “The North Remembers” – Original Airdate: 4/1/12

Episode Grade: B+

It’s kind of interesting to see how perceptions of Game Of Thrones have changed since it ended its first season in June 2011. While it was airing last spring, there was a very vocal segment of the television community [1] that was solidly behind the show’s brilliance and scope. We knew how good it was and were willing to try to convert those who may have been skeptical. However, without airing a single new episode in the proceeding ten months, somehow GoT’s profile grew even larger. It was the centerpiece of HBO’s advertisements for its HBO GO service. People awaited arrival of the HBO GO app for Xbox Live simply so they could marathon GoT’s first season again, or for the first time. It set DVD sales records for HBO. Simply put, it became a phenomenon [2]. If it hasn’t become HBO’s flagship series [3] yet, there’s every chance that it will by the end of this, its second season. This is my way of saying that this is an incredibly crucial season for the show as more eyes are on it now than ever before, something borne out by its all-time best rating (3.86 million viewers) for the second-season premiere, “The North Remembers.” Just a little note before we get started – I come to GoT as a newbie who’s never read the books before. I kind of tend to agree with Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall in this regard – the show has made me much more interested in reading the George R.R. Martin series that the show is based upon, but I have no intention of doing so until the show has finished its run because, as Sepinwall says, if series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss can’t create a compelling series that’s accessible to everyone – not just long-time fans of the book series – then they have failed. And it goes without saying that the first season was a rousing success, leaving “The North Remembers” to pick up almost immediately following the action of the season one finale, “Fire And Blood.” Joffrey has been installed on and has taken possession of the Iron Throne. He’s still as much of a dick as ever [4] but there is no small number of those willing to challenge his authority. Robb is galvanizing his forces while using Jaime as leverage for his cause – succession of the North from Joffrey’s kingdom as part of any peace treaty – while sending his mother, Catelyn, out to try to secure an alliance with the deceased King Robert’s brother, Renly. Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) – Robert’s other brother – is finally introduced (and seems rather douchetastic) as he stakes his own claim to the throne while seemingly p-whipped by the mysterious Melisandre (Carice van Houten). Tyrion has been installed by his father as the Hand Of The King and will ostensibly be running things at King’s Landing mainly because Joffrey is an immature, impetuous little shit [5]. Littlefinger makes his own play for power in a deftly executed showdown with Cersei where he hints at the possibility of leaking the knowledge that Joffrey is the product of a little brother-on-sister lovin’ between Cersei and Jaime – “Knowledge is power.” – only to have Cersei respond by having her guards seize him, order his death, only to change her mind at the final moment – “Power is power.” Oh… and there’s also the small matter of all of those bastard children that Robert left laying around – bastard children that, in a very chilling scene, are ordered to death by Joffrey and Cersei in “The North Remembers’” final sequence. As is GoT’s wont, there’s a dizzying amount of both exposition and characters (both old and new) but I definitely like where things seem to be headed. “The North Remembers” is a strong kickoff to a pressure-laden season.

[1] Of which I most definitely include myself.
[2] I’d liken this raised awareness to something similar to what happened in between the third and fourth seasons of Breaking Bad. Again, Breaking Bad – much like Game Of Thrones – was beloved within the television community for its first three seasons, but prior to the fourth was when it seemed to hit the zeitgeist and everyone and their mother was talking about it.
[3] Sadly, True Blood probably holds this mantle presently.
[4] To the point that I actually referred to him as King Little Shit in my notes.
[5] And more on Tyrion later.

Miscellany:
*So… Tyrion. Just when you thought it maybe wasn’t possible to make him any more awesome, yeah… they did that. With his new prominent position as Hand of the King, Tyrion seems to be having a blast with the newfound power that comes with his position, whether it’s flaunting his (obvious) superiority to Joffrey or crashing a council meeting to generally make life more miserable for Cersei, it would appear that GoT is positioning him as the closest thing to a hero that the show has. Not to mention that almost everything that comes out of his mouth in “The North Remembers” is pure gold: “You love your children – that is your one redeeming quality. That, and your cheekbones.” He’s also brought Shea along with him to King’s Landing against the orders of Tywin, which is a detail that will surely bite him in the ass before too long. But, for now, let’s all rejoice at the pure, concentrated awesomeness that is Peter Dinklage in this role.
*I’ve heard cautionary tales of not getting too attached to any character on GoT because Martin is ruthless in how he dispatches characters on a whim, so I’m frightened to admit who I’m liking for fear that they’ll be killed in short order but, along with Tyrion, I’m starting to dig Robb. He seems to be developing into a kind of a badass who, while still honorable like Ned, has a bit more of an edge to him. Of course, that probably means he’s not making it through the season but what do I know?
*Also worth noting that all of Ned’s sons are in various stages of learning about leadership. Robb is leading forces against Joffrey and the Lannisters while trying to secure a throne for himself as the leader of a seceded North; Jon is apparently being groomed for a leadership position by Jeor in the Night’s Watch; and Bran is learning about the tedium of leadership back in Winterfell. Could be a theme that bears keeping an eye on as the season progresses.
*The first image of the new season is a battle staged at King Landing for Joffrey’s amusement. Yes, the first thing that GoT wants to remind us as the season kicks off is that Joffrey is still a little asshole. He later force feeds someone who shows up late to entertain him a barrel of wine using a funnel. Like I said… asshole.
*Other dickish Joffrey behavior: Threatening his mother with death after she slaps him in the face. Seriously – the day this little shit is finally killed will be my favorite episode ever. (And that’s no spoiler – there’s no way that the show can let a character this contemptible live.)
*Not much going on with Daenerys in the opener. She’s still recovering from Drogo’s death at the end of season one and is leading the Dothraki through the desert. Her story is still the one most removed from the overall narrative of the show but the reveal of the dragons at the end of “Fire And Blood” most definitely portends significance for the future, it would seem.
*So… it would appear that the return of dragons (signified by the red comet in the sky) is quite a big deal, especially after Bran notes that they’ve all been dead for years. (This would be where my ignorance of the books shines through like a flashing neon sign.)
*Without question that final sequence was hard to watch. Particularly the infant that was killed literally in its mother’s arms.
*I’ll admit – I have no idea what’s going on with Jon and Jeor and the gross dude who marries and impregnates his own daughters. Whatever it is… it’s a nasty situation with the potential to get nastier.
*Small criticism: The CGI on Robb’s direwolf in the scene where Robb threatens Jaime was – let’s admit it – pretty awful. Again, it’s small but it was noticeable.
*”Take him away. I’ll have him killed tomorrow, the fool.”
*”If I were capable of tricking Father, I’d be king of the world by now.”
*”We had three Starks to trade. You chopped one’s head off and allowed the other to escape.”
*”You’re prettier that half my daughters. You have a nice, wet twat between your legs?”
*”If not, I will litter the South with Lannister dead.”
*”I’m asking if he fucked other women when he grew tired of you.”

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