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Game of Thrones Season 2 is finally here! After months of waiting, we finally get to continue the story in the flesh! But how good was the premiere, according to the critics? Check out our review round-up below for the answer to that question, and be sure to leave your own opinion in the comments!
Winter is coming, but war is here.
That was the succinct message of the first episode of the second season of "Game of Thrones." And just as the story has advanced significantly from where we found the residents of Westeros when "GoT" debuted, the show itself has made a great leap forward, not just in ambition, but in execution.
It's not only good to have "GoT" (and its fabulous opening credits) back; it's heartening to see that the show has held on to the improvements that elevated the second half of Season 1 over the first half of that debut season. As I noted in my (very positive) Season 2 review, the exposition that had to be unloaded at times landed with a thud, and the drama's energy was sometimes drained by an overly reverential fidelity to George R.R. Martin's novels. Not that Martin's novels aren't wonderful -- they certainly are -- but television is a different medium with different requirements.
In the middle of the first season, "Game of Thrones" came alive in a new way, once the introductions were out of the way and executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss grew more confident in their own interpretation of Martin's dense saga of knights, kings, bastards and outcasts. That confidence is very much on display in the first episode of Season 2, which was masterfully directed by Alan Taylor (who also directed next week's hour).
Devout readers of Martin’s novels will quickly realize that there are clear instances of the plot of the television series diverging from that of the books, but it’s a good sign that Benioff and Weiss’s choices here both strengthen the narrative and streamline it—it’s only a 10-episode season, after all. Tangential characters are combined into composites or eliminated entirely; the same holds for certain events. But their approach to the source material—reverence for the world created by Martin as well as a willingness to play loose with elements while remaining true to the spirit of the words—pays off spectacularly. (I’m curious to see just where the show is going with Esmé Bianco’s haughty prostitute Ros, a character created specifically for the show. At first just window-dressing, she becomes an intriguing and well-placed entity within the power games here.)
Game of Thrones gets off to a fantastic start with its second season premiere. Though it will take some time to regain the kind of velocity felt at the end of season 1, the seeds of an epic season have certainly been planted.
What I find so interesting in the adaptation of the novel to the screenplay is where the latter chooses to cut. When you see it played out, it makes perfect sense, but there is so much character essence and understanding of the worlds in which they travel that is missing. Part of what makes the telling of the tale difficult is that each book is told through the view of several particular characters.
In this installment, we hear from Arya, Sansa, Tyron, Bran, Jon, Catelyn, Davos, Theon and Daenerys and the chapters are named as such. Everything else is learned from their understanding of the situations while they live them out. Still set in the third person, each chapter is distinctively theirs. The prologue was told through the perception of Maester Cressen and set the tone for what was to come.
Because of the limits set within the books, the screenwriters have to choose how to make the most out of every line written. For just 10 hours this season, I don't envy them, and yet it's fascinating watching it unfold. Dany's first chapter in the book is told only partially in the first hour. Jon's first two chapters are skipped completely and they delve right into the middle of his journey. They held Arya, with whom the book opens, to the very end to capitalize on Gendry's escape from King's Landing as Robert's other bastards are being slain.
With Mark Addy and Sean Bean having their characters going with the gods last season, when the opening credits for Game of Thrones roll this time around, it’s Peter Dinklage, playing Tyrion Lannister, whose name comes up first, and it’s only appropriate as he is the strongest part of the first two episodes of the highly anticipated second season. But that’s not to say the rest of the premiere is weak; far from it. In fact, the second season is merely more of the same in the best way possible as it picks up almost immediately after the end of the first season as war begins between the Lannisters and the Starks and the stakes and drama have never been higher. And along with all the familiar faces fighting for their families honor and respect amongst the rest of the kingdoms, there’s plenty of new characters to keep things interesting.
Thought it was okay
So far as we could find, no critics gave The North Remembers a mediocre review. If any mediocre reviews appear, they'll be added to this section.
So far as we could find, no critics gave The North Remembers an unfavorable review. If any unfavorable reviews appear, they'll be added to this section.
Now it's time for Wikians to review The North Remembers. If you've already seen it, post your thoughts in the comments or post your own blog! Let us know what you thought while experiencing the season 2 premiere!