Game of Thrones “The North Remembers” Review

'Game of Thrones' Season 2
Welcome, wildlings, to our review of “The North Remembers.” Keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times, and try your best not to be one of King Robert’s bastards.

Were I not already predisposed to liking Game of Thrones, I would feel inclined to love any show that kills a man 6 seconds in. “Well struck” indeed. I like that we are immediately reminded of the Hound’s brutality and skill, seeing as how Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann) will be featured much more prominently this season than he was last, or so a little bird told me.

From the Hound we go to Sansa (a fragilely radiant Sophie Turner); this poor girl looks luminous in her sorrow, and I like that she is already showing a glimmer of backbone. (For the record, I am Team Sansa. You’ll all just have to accept that.) Sansa cleverly saves the drunken Ser Dontos Hollard (Tony Way) from execution by wine via the petulant wrath of King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), then saves him again from certain death the next morning by suggesting he be made the court fool. Hey, it’s not a bad thing to have a friend in the fool, right?

“Joffers” can’t seem to get the pissy look off his face, and on his Name Day no less. You kind of don’t want to be the guest who flubs that Name Day gift. And what the hell do you get that kid anyway? I would go with new torture devices and count myself lucky he didn’t use them on me.

Tyrion Lannister (Emmy and Golden Globe winner Peter Dinklage) made his fine entry, and I was only a little disappointed he didn’t have the “You.” “Me.” trade-off with Joffers he had in the book. Though this was a nice substitute:

“This one doesn’t like me.”

“Can’t imagine why.”

(Bronn vs. the Hound? I don’t think that one goes quite so well for the sellsword.)

Tyrion gets all the good lines, and I think Dinklage’s close friendship with Lena Headey must have made those scenes with Cersei all the more enjoyable to shoot. “You love your children. It’s your one redeeming quality. That and your cheekbones.”

I have a feeling I’m really going to love their interplay this season. The strange flicker of sadness Tyrion had, warring with his smug amusement when he delivered the line, “Must be odd for you. To be the disappointing child”

Can Dinklage win the Emmy as lead actor? That’s the question on my mind. Because it’s hard as hell to get a win as the lead when you’re surrounded by a sprawling ensemble cast. But he may be good enough to do it.

At Winterfell, we caught up with Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), playing Little Lordling for various smallfolk, aided by Maester Luwin (Donald Sumpter), and we get the smallest inkling that Bran’s connection to his wolf may be more than just master-to-pet, which I’m pretty stoked about.

BOOK SPOILER:

There was brief worry within the fanbase that parts of the Stark mythology—and “warging” especially—had been completely removed. I’m glad to see this as proof that it’s not! Boo yeah!

END BOOK SPOILER!

Aside: I love the red comet scene transitions, which is also very much in keeping with the books. (I’m like, “Well it’s what I would do. Clearly the show-runners are almost as smart as I am.”)

So we go to the Red Waste, where Daenerys Targaryen (the emotive Emilia Clarke) is trying to figure out how to feed a dragon whilst Doreah (Roxanne McKee—looking appropriately starved) watches. Part of me at the time was like, “Yo, Doreah, all that sexposition with Viserys last season and he didn’t tell you how to feed them? Sexfail.”

Dany gathers her three bloodriders (an honor only previously given to khals) to her side! On Kovarro! On Aggo! On Rakharo—

Rakharo! Good to see rumors of Elyes Gabel’s departure from the series were just rumors! We’d been fearing that Kovarro (newcomer Steven Cole) had basically been brought in to do body double work, as Gabel was now doing other things. But apparently dude can juggle.

North of the Wall, we join Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and his ragtag band of Nights Watchmen. Knowing a little about the filming of this season, I was impressed to learn Craster’s Keep was built from scratch, all wood. Like you could literally shoot it from any angle. I hope the production got their money’s worth!

Craster (Robert Pugh) seems Craster-ish, growling the word “bastard” as if it were “bast’d.” I always pictured him a little dirtier looking; Pugh could pass for any northern lord, really. But you can’t say he’s not memorable.

Which brings me to pretty much my sole complaint thus far for this year’s new crop of casting, and the role in question is Dolorous Edd Tollett, played by Ben Crompton. Now… I don’t know if it’s just my own take on the character—and please note this is purely a personal impression I had—but Dolorous Edd is basically the Eeyore of Westeros. He’s perpetually gloomy, put-upon… a walking example of living misery. And I always imagined him with this rather slack-jawed look, and a deep, almost monotone voice. Basically a British Steven Wright.

Crompton’s Edd seems much quicker, sharper. To me he feels like a Pyp replacement, really. Pyp (Josef Altin) and Edd seem strikingly similar to me, at least just from watching Crompton this episode.

Hey, he could grow on me. But I was clearly expecting a different character.

Next we go to Dragonstone, an ancient Targaryen island citadel currently ruled by the iron-handed Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane). Stannis’s right-hand (er, half-hand) man is Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham), and his left-hand woman is the Red Priestess Melisandre (Carice van Houten). Rarely has the devil-and-angel-on-each-shoulder dynamic been so surely placed. Bloody impressive trio. I said it in my pre-show review: Dillane and Cunningham are outstanding, and van Houten is no slouch herself, wearing the role of the mysterious sorceress as though she were born to it.

And that table! I wanna know what it took to make that freaking table. And I want one in my house.

At the Stark camp, the newly crowned King Robb (Richard Madden) holds the Kingslayer, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) prisoner. I noted a little tip o’ the hat to canon, when Jaime remarks that he’s been dragged from camp to camp but never placed in a holdfast or keep—which is a far cry from the books, where Jaime is kept in the dungeons of Riverrun, Catelyn’s childhood home.

Again—stellar acting. No one can do raised hackles like Madden, and no one can slip in an insult (or five) like Coster-Waldau, who apparently just becomes more charming the dirtier he gets.

Back to Madden—I really think he did his homework this season, because it feels like Robb’s put a little bit of Ned into himself, guarding his outer emotions with greater skill. And Robb has always been an emotions-on-his-sleeve kind of guy; Madden is putting a lot more under the surface this season. As befits the King in the North.

(“…The King in the North…”)

(Echo…. echo…)

And how can I even talk about Jaime and Robb without mentioning Robb’s almost-fully grown direwolf? Season 1’s “behavioral issues” with the canines—as well as a need for larger beasts—necessitated real-wolf (CGI enhanced) replacements, and my god. The hair stood up on the back of my neck. (And to Coster-Waldau’s credit, all he had to play off of was a “ferocious-looking tennis ball.”)

Back at King’s Landing, Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aiden Gillen, playing the polar opposite of Tommy Carcetti) verbally jousted with Queen Cersei in a scene that has been panned by some as being “heavy handed.” And I can’t completely agree. You could argue Baelish might be smart enough not to try and bait the queen, but it felt as though he didn’t really realize his dire situation until the words had left his tongue. Like he was just going on instinct, like this was just another back-and-forth with Varys. He was clearly amused rather than threatening.

“Knowledge is power,” purred Baelish.

Apparently not!

I can’t wait to see what decor King Joffrey has decided to put up in the throne room. Torture implements perhaps. (See? His Name Day gifts!)

Of course Joffrey earns another slap, this time from his mum. (Do we get one good quality Joffrey slap per season? I kind of live for that shit.) Lena Headey was fantastic the entire episode; she literally looked like she had three different emotions playing across her face, each one warring with the other, while her boy Joffers was giving her the Stare o’ Death.

Gleeson was good too. Cripes, they’re all freaking good. In Nina Gold we trust.

So as the show winds down we meet with the ubiquitous Ros (Esmé Bianco), a few pounds rounder and playing the role of madame, running Littlefinger’s brothel. I wasn’t expecting that!

Enter the Gold Cloaks led by Lord Janos Slynt (Dominic Carter). Murdering babies? Childs play.

And that was just the beginning, as that signaled open season on bastards! Best not be black of hair and lacking a proper surname!

Transition from the bastard-slaying rampage in King’s Landing over to king’s bastard Gendry (Joe Dempsie), accompanying Arya (Maisie Williams) on the Kingsroad north…

“Shit just got real” could be the subtitle to just about every scene heading on this bloody show.

What a great re-entry episode. And with the promise of more great things to come?

You had me at “Well struck!”

If you want to get me that awesomesauce carved table map we saw at Dragonstone, follow me on Twitter! That’s @Axechucker, ser.