This post contains spoilers for the first two seasons of Game of Thrones.
I should preface this post by saying that I have not read A Clash of Kings, the second book in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire & Ice saga. I made the decision a few months before the season started that I would read each book after the corresponding season. While I did enjoy the first book, A Game of Thrones, I would rather be surprised by the HBO show than the books. I would rather care about what’s on the screen than constantly be thinking about what’s different and what they left out. I don’t want to hear, “It makes sense in the book.” The show should be able to stand alone.
While the second season had a lot of strong episodes and performances, I don’t think it was better than the first. The last two episodes, “Blackwater” and “Valar Morghulis,” contained the best and worst of the series. Spending all of “Blackwater” in one location for Stannis’ (Stephen Dillane) attack on King’s Landing was a wise decision that led to a tense, well-plotted episode. I think the price of that great episode was paid for in “Valar Morghulis.” That episode was a mess, bouncing from place to place in five to seven minute bursts. Even the extra ten minutes didn’t help as everything still felt rushed. I kept hearing that A Clash of Kings was the worst book. I didn’t believe it until I saw that last episode. The reveal of the White Walkers at the end wasn’t enough to salvage it.
That said, I still enjoyed this season. There were a lot of great things. Peter Dinklage had another Emmy-worthy season as Tyrion. Without Ned Stark, there wasn’t a defined lead of the show. That said, Dinklage is clearly the star. Watching Tyrion take over King’s Landing and put Joffrey and Cersei in their place was the most entertaining aspect of the season (granted, they got the last laugh).
Lena Headey really showed me something this season. I always felt that she was a wooden performer in 300 and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles but she proved me wrong, especially “Blackwater” when Cersei drunkenly decided to strip Sansa of all her illusions about being queen.
I could watch an entire show of Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) verbally sparing. It was an inspired pairing. Williams has really grown as an actress this season and Charles Dance is just his normal awesome self.
I think was surprised me most was how much I hated Daenerys “Dany” Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Jon Snow’s (Kit Harington) stories this season. After the end of season one, they were two of my favorite characters but this season, they were poorly handled. Jon Snow just kept making mistake after mistake proving that he truly was a Stark. Dany crying for her dragons every other episode was reminiscent of Michael crying for Walt in Lost. By the end of the season, I dreaded every time we went to Qarth or beyond the Wall. (Quick question: where did all of those Dothraki come from to raid Qarth? They made it seem like Xaro Xhoan Daxos (Nonso Anozie) and the warlock Pyat Pree (Ian Hanmore) killed everyone Dany brought into Qarth – sans Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) – when they stole her dragons. She spent the last few episodes with just Jorah and the Dothraki redshirt and then all of the sudden, there was a whole army of them.)
I can’t wait until season three starts. It gives me a long time to read the second book.
Please don’t spoil the future books of A Song of Fire and Ice. Please?