The first season of Game of Thrones certainly lived up to the hype. It did a fantastic job adapting the material of the first book onto the screen. The question is: did season two do as well?
Season two is an adaptation of the second book of the Song of Ice and Fire series, A Clash of Kings. After the deaths of King Robert and Ned Stark, the Seven Kingdoms are thrown into chaos. Kings are waging war for the right to sit upon the Iron Throne and the whole land is being caught in the madness. All the while, Daenerys Targaryen, mother of the last three dragons in the world, struggles to survive and build an army to win back her birthright. Many now play the Game of Thrones. But who will win and who will die?
This season introduces some of the best characters and plotlines in the series, just as the book did. Brienne of Tarth, Davos the Onion Knight, the Red Lady, Tyrion as the Hand of the King, and the Battle of the Blackwater. Some of the best scenes and characters from the books are brought to life to fantastic effect!
That said, not every plot is a winner. Everything to do with Arya and Sansa is pretty weak (save for Arya’s interactions with Tywin, which are great), featuring annoying characters and worse dialogue. This season gives us Jon at his peak stupidity, which is more frustrating to watch than anything else. Are these frustrating scenes necessary for their arcs?
Not according to season eight, they’re not. But let’s ignore that for the time being.
Thankfully, the dialogue is just as amazing as it was in the first season. Each exchange is filled with so much energy and character that it’s impossible to look away, even when it’s just shot-reverse-shot. The actors all bring these lines to life so perfectly that it’s easy to get sucked into the story and fully believe that all of these characters are real people. Complex, emotional people with depth that characters in other stories could only wish for!
The excellent set designs further help with that sense of immersion. Each setting feels ripped almost straight out of the books. From the ruins of Harrenhal to the Warlock’s Tower of Qarth. It’s not all perfect; you can’t exactly make the Iron Throne as it was described in the books. Still, it is close enough as to not be infuriating or unfaithful.
It certainly helps that the budget clearly went up. The CGI looks better and the practical effects are even more impressive than before. In terms of visuals, this season is a definite upgrade from the first.
Even if most of the cinematography is just shot-reverse-shot. But again: the dialogue is so good that it’s hard to complain.
I still personally enjoy season one more than season two. But it’s hard to deny the quality. This show continues to be as good as everyone hyped it up to be back in the day. As a viewer, I’m happy. And as a reader of the source material, I’m also happy.
Can’t wait to reach the later seasons and feel that happiness seep away from me.