Game of Thrones Season 2 Advance Review – Bigger, Better, Bloodier, Boobier

"Game of Thrones" season 2
Hello, my little birds.

Many of you don’t know me from Addam Marbrand, so please, allow me to make my introduction. Tobias J. “Axechucker” McGuffin at your service, here to give weekly reviews of each episode of Game of Thrones‘ second season. Some of you may know me for my Sparty Parties here at TVEquals.com, or for the fierce yet troubled love I have for The Walking Dead. Others (White Walkers) know me for redefining the word FaBulous whilst writing for winter-is-coming.net, the premiere Game of Thrones fan site, and have followed me here just to get one more weekly Westerosi fix.

Those of you that don’t know me, I warn you: my opinions often fly in the face of book purists, and my lewd tongue can sometimes anger the more puritanical pundits. (My puerile pontifications and peculiar patter can produce piques, to be plain.) I am, in many ways, an acquired taste… but in the end, you will love me for legal service faithfully rendered. Oh yes you will.

TV Equals has sent forth the raven and laid down the gauntlet: let those within hearing know that all opinions here are of equal value and merit, and I judge that to be just. “All opinions are valid, to a man with a full purse,” I always say, meaning that you are allowed to disagree with me only if you are male and come with hefty bribe.

That, or if you are correct and I am not. I reserve the right to change my mind if I find a differing opinion actually holds more merit. I’m shifty.

As lord and master of the Game of Thrones reviews for this fine site, I am forced to set down certain laws. My roof—my rules. And my rules are simple: there are no rules. Speak whatever you think you need to say. Want to compare politics in the Seven Kingdoms to that of our world? Go for it. Want to discuss gender roles in the series, sexism, or race relations? Have at it! Religion? Sure—and praise the Lord of Light!

The only thing I ask is from the loyal book readers: CLEARLY MARK ALL BOOK SPOILERS.

Occasionally I will feel the need to point something out to fans of George R.R. Martin’s beloved series. If this is a spoiler from A Song of Ice and Fire, I will LOUDLY denote it as such. I would appreciate not having to yank an otherwise insightful response just because you accidentally let it be known that Hodor was actually the father of Jon Snow.

(Woops. See how easy it is? I’m sure most of you guessed that anyway.)

Know that if you break my one rule, representatives of TV Equals will come to your house, take your dog out into the back yard, and shout mean things at it.

(I’m kidding. Please note that my opinions and actions do not always reflect those of the fine smallfolk here at TVEquals.com. They won’t yell at your pet. I will.)

So let’s get to the bread and butter of this, eh? You’re here to read about Tyrion the Imp, the bastard Jon Snow, Daenerys Stormborn, Ros the Whore! How is this new season anyway? Does it stack up to the first?

I’ll speak plainly: It’s bloody fantastic. Granted I’ve only seen two episodes thus far, but the production value is over the freaking moon. What we’re getting in this season is, essentially, a 10-hour long epic movie. It’s dark, gritty fantasy at its best. We’ve never seen anything like it.

Does that mean it’s perfect? No. Nothing is. Each review will touch on various things I think could have been done differently, or things that changed drastically from the second book, A Clash of Kings. I have no asses to kiss nor axes to grind. (I chuck ‘em.) And I understand that, the further this beautiful series goes, the further it will be forced to deviate from the novels. This isn’t doom and gloom, it’s simple math.

And to be fair, I could give a rat’s hind end if Marillion the minstrel got his tongue cut out in the books or not. And this is where I differ from many fans. I own the books. I know the books. I don’t need to see each scene slavishly recreated.

I just want a damned good TV show. And man, thus far it looks like we’re getting the best.

You want blood? You got it. This show is bloody. Someone is killed within the first 6 seconds of the first scene of the first episode, and that’s only a taste of the brutality to come—especially with King Joffrey (we call him “Joffers”) on the throne. The Seven Kingdoms seem to be splitting, many of the lands formerly ruled by dead King Robert (and brought to yoke by the Targaryens before him) now attempting to carve out their own kingdoms, or planning their own epic grab for the Iron Throne. “A Clash of Kings” indeed!

The sex? The sex looks real, actually, which is in its own way either weirdly fascinating or altogether distracting, I haven’t decided yet. Things bounce appropriately, let’s put it that way; not in a Spartacus bullet-time sort of way, but in a fashion that makes most of the acts appear slightly perverse and perhaps a little painful. This is HBO, after all, not Skinemax. Sex isn’t always pretty.

But this series sure is. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have assembled a team that, simply put, just works brilliantly together. The acting? Also better than last season. Peter Dinklage is taking the momentum and confidence garnered in his Golden Globes and Emmy wins and bringing it fully to bear playing Tyrion Lannister—now bequeathed the “honor” of Hand of the King—as the seemingly sole voice of sanity in King’s Landing. And anyone who can’t appreciate the multiple layers Lena Headey has added to Queen Cersei is, to be blunt, blind. The stoic public mask is off, and Cersei’s emotions are allowed to run wild… and run they do. It’s bloody fantastic to watch.

Newcomers to watch for: Stephen Dillane as Stannis Baratheon just nails the part, and Liam Cunningham makes the absolute most out of nothing, taking a rather dull hand-wringer from the books—Ser Davos Seaworth—and injecting him with stout, empathic honor. Honorable mention goes to Hannah Murray (of Skins fame) as the wildling girl Gilly, who quickly and believably develops a nearly-wordless chemistry with—

Well, that would be spoiling things. Plenty of time to do that.

And finally can we talk special effects? Baby dragons and (nearly) grown direwolves? Yes. And they work. They really work.

I can’t wait to go on this ride with you all.

If you want to know Addam Marbrand, well, tough. All you get is me. But feel free to follow me on Twitter! That’s @Axechucker, you wildlings!

About The Author

Tobias J. "Axechucker" McGuffin is a writer who lives in Southern California. His past body of employment includes dog-walking, lawn-mowing, private investigating, script reading, coffee-fetching, cold-calling, and a stint in the United States Air Force which included more dog-walking and an "interesting" encounter with a three-toed sloth. He was once paid to be a dungeon master and readily adds that to his résumé. He has lived in more places than your mother would approve, is a serial monogamist, prog-rock enthusiast, and fantasy nerd. He says "Dude" preceding any statement he sees as even moderately important. He once had a blog, but now just writes for winter-is-coming.net, since all he ever really seemed to talk about was Game of Thrones. He considers World of Warcraft a disease, not a cure.

  • Ostia

    I find your lack of taste concerning one of Martin’s best characters disturbing, Ser.
    Davos Seaworth is A Song of Ice and Fire’s sole working class hero. What are you, Ser? Some bourgeois, no boubt!
    ;)

    • Axe

      I’m a Lannister!

    • Dashboard06

      I have to admit, I’m tired of all these reviews regurgitating the same portrayal of Davos as drab and dull. His chapters are missed when they are overly spaced out (his give the best [if only] and encompassing looks at Stannis, Dragonstone, and the Red Woman). He now mirrors his king in honor (although a former smuggler) and I hope the tv character does him justice.

      • Dashboard06

        *he gives

    • Rtpsj5

      I absolutely agree.  Ser Davos is a man who through courage and honor worked his way up to become what he is and is still looked down upon by those who were born into or given their titles.  The Onion Knight may be my favorite character in the entire series.

  • digtastik

    I really got a laugh out of that reference to the great sexposition scandal from season 1. Good stuff. I’m on vacation with no HBO tonight, so good thing I scored that screening last week. ;)

    • Axe

      Glad to have you on board, Dig!  Looking forward to your stuff.