It's back, it's back, it's finally back! After waiting for what seemed like forever, the second season of the epic miniseries Game of Thrones premiered on HBO tonight. Fellow fantasy geeks, rejoice!
We were expecting much of the same in season 2 as in season 1, the stuff that made the first season so damn addicting: the complex characters, the violence, the sex, the wolves, the dragons, the play for power, a magical world in which to escape for an hour every Sunday night. So did the second season premiere, "The North Remembers," live up to the hype?
Of course, spoilers for both seasons 1 and 2 follow. And yet another disclaimer: I have read A Clash of Kings, but will keep the book/show comparisons to a minimum -- mostly because I won't even pretend I remember every detail from the 708-page tome.
To catch up a little bit, in the first season, King Robert Baratheon died, leaving many to lay claim to the throne of Westeros. The King's Hand, Eddard Stark, was beheaded, stirring up a war between the Baratheons and Starks, as it was Joffrey Baratheon's command. Joffrey, who is believed to be Robert's son but is actually a product of incest between Robert's wife, Queen Cersei, and her brother, Jamie Lannister, is now king (that knowledge got Stark killed). But now the secret is out!
Whew. I haven't even gotten to the premiere yet. So here we go: Joffrey is still the same sneaky little punk as he was in season 1, as he hosted a tournament to celebrate his name day and reveled in the brutality. Sansa, Stark's daughter, is betrothed to Joffrey and still must kiss his ass to survive. But I'm glad we didn't have to wait too long to see Tyrion Lannister, who had all the best lines ("You love your children. That's your one redeeming quality -- that and your cheekbones," he quipped to his sister Cersei). You couldn't help but smile as he strolled into a top-secret meeting and gave Cersei the news that their father named him Hand.
Magic also played a big part in the season premiere. Bran Stark, one of Eddard's sons, who was crippled after catching Cersei and Jamie getting it on in season 1, would dream of becoming his direwolf. Like we found out in the teaser trailer, these may not just be dreams.
And we got our first look at magical Melisandre, a red priestess and advisor of Stannis Baratheon, the dead king's brother. Stannis is yet another who claims to be the next king. (Renly, Stannis' younger brother, announced that he's king too! Jeez. Hard to keep 'em straight.) Melisandre's magic is apparent when Maester Cressen, an advisor of Stannis, is worried that she is corrupting Stannis' mind. When he tries to poison her and offers a toast, she drinks and remains unaffected, giving Cressen a smug smile as he immediately dies.
On top of all of this, Daenerys and her followers are wandering through the East, with her three dragons in tow, trying to survive. She may be desperate, but she's still badass. Jon and the Night's Watch advance North to figure out what is going on in the wild, having to stay with an old, creepy pervert along the way. Just a build-up to the action that is sure to come with these two storylines.
In some other fantastic scenes, we meet up with our old conniving friend Petyr Baelish getting schooled by Cersei, while Cersei in turn gets schooled by her son Joffrey (though I guess you're bound to have issues if there are rumors that your uncle fathered you). Did you notice that Joffery even looks taller than his mom now? Quite a contrast to the relationship between Robb Stark with his mother, Catelyn, Eddard's widow, who is leaving to try to establish an alliance with the dueling Baratheon Bros.
And the last few minutes were action-packed, stuff that makes Game of Thrones so awesome. An order was sent out to kill all of Robert's remaining bastard children. After a visit to a whore house, we see some very loud sex and a soldier killing a crying baby (off-screen) while the mother watches all in the same scene. Finally ... there's Arya on the run! She so happens to be riding along with Gendry, one of Robert's bastards we met in season 1. Two of Cersei's most wanted captives traveling together? Probably doesn't bode well for the two of them ... but we'll have to wait until next week to find out!
What did you think of the premiere? Can you keep up with all of the new characters?
Image via HBO