Review: Game of Thrones 2.02: The Night Lands

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

[spoilers ahead]

Episode two of Game of Thrones continues the machinations and plotting, but, most importantly, introduces us to House Cthulhu. I don’t care if it’s supposed to be the Iron Islands and House Greyjoy; you can’t tell me that, with their motto and a gigantic squid above the fireplace, this is not supposed to be Vikings in R’lyeh.

Theon Greyjoy is happy to be headed home after nine long years as a captive/ward of House Stark. However, his joy is short-lived once he sees his dad and his sister, Yara, who has taken over the role of leader of the house while he was away. Essentially, the people of the Islands view Theon as a total pussy. His dad quickly rejects Lord Stark’s offer for an alliance and the restoration of the islands’ independence. Theon’s dad promises to get his crown back the Ironborn way: killing for it. This really puts a damper on Theon’s plans.

Back in Kingslanding, it’s all-Tyrion-all-the-time. And can we blame the writers? If there’s someone who rightly gets this game, it’s him (as he tells the royal eunuch). Tyrion gets rid of the old commander of the city’s watch and installs his mercenary, Bronn, in the position. This causes some friction with Cersei, who accuses Tyrion of killing their mother at birth. Cersei’s position may seem pretty damned stupid: Her brother is a brilliant man and he had nothing to with a bad labour. However, if you see it through the eyes of characters in this world, there is a certain logic to it. Tyrion is a dwarf, an abnormality, a curse, even. Cersei’s disgust at Tyrion is the same disgust most people feel about him, probably magnified because he is her own kin. Tyrion’s lot in life is not easy and it ain’t getting easier.

At the Wall, Sam wants Jon to help one of Craster’s daughters. Jon points out the stupidity of Sam’s plan to take the girl, Gilly, with them as they head further into Wildling territory. More level-headed than Eddard Stark, Jon may have what it takes to lead, but will he be able to stomach it? The answer comes later on when Jon has a chance to learn what happens to Craster’s sons when he watches as Craster leaves a baby in the snow, only for it to be picked up by a shadowy figure with blue eyes. Yes, it’s a glimpse of the zombies! Rats, Jon gets whacked on the back of his head before he can do anything useful. Lesson of the day: Don’t be a hero.

At Dragonstone, Davos Seaworth convinces a pirate and friend of his to aid Stannis in an attack against King’s Landing. But first, Stannis needs to get more men and his younger brother has them. How’s Stannis to get that extra edge? The Lord of Light will provide, Melisandre promises, and then she seduces the King.

We also get a glimpse of Dany (She’s still in the desert), Petyr threatens a prostitute (He’s not earning Westeros’ Employer of the Year award) and Arya meets Jaqen H’ghar (He’s one of the prisoners being dragged to the Wall) while bonding with Gendry.

So, thoughts: The Iron Islands look nice and damp. Yara (Asha in the novels) is no Miss Universe, and looks tough enough to command a ship and kick her brother’s balls. However, the show seems to have lost an opportunity to expand on Yara and Theon’s conversation, which could have easily been done by chopping off the sex scene with the captain’s daughter (I know it’s in the books, but it might have played better if Theon and Yara talked about his hopes, making it even more uncomfortable for him to discover she was his sister).

In King’s Landing, Tyrion continues to be a magnificent character: Here is a guy who doesn’t want to be ruthless, but understands he is surrounded by sharks. Whether his sister will listen to his public relations advice is the real question.

I am unsure about Petyr’s scene. The brothel seemed to be written in so we could get more breasts and to underline Petyr’s magnificent-cunning-bastard status, but does it really need to be underscored? The only other purpose of the scene is to demonstrate how shitty women’s lives can be in Westeros, but we got that, already. Unless you are Yara or Arya, you’re looking at a slice of rape and/or abuse. Maybe it’s because Yara or Arya have the same letters in their name. Sucks for Sansa. In the end, it would have been best to leave Petyr and his prostitutes be for this episode.

The scene with Davos was very nicely done, but Stannis’ getting it on with Melisandre completely missed the mark. Stannis is tight-laced and I appreciate him as that. The sex seemed to cheapen the character and Melisandre’s remark about giving him a ‘son’ seemed to make him into a second-class Henry VIII. Plus, the symbolism of them fucking atop a map of the Kingdom was just…eh.

The worst part is that, had Petyr’s scene been chopped off – and Stannis and Melisandre also left in the cutting room – we might have had more Daenerys. She gets to do nothing this episode and runs into the danger of being completely forgotten. Is Dany getting the short end of the narrative stick because CGI dragons cost too much dough? I’m not sure.

The producers seem to be having too much fun with the sex scenes (Let’s do another brothel scene and everyone is peeping on everybody!), but Game delivers an okay second episode. Love the octopus, Daddy Greyjoy!

About Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia lives in beautiful, rainy British Columbia with her family and two cats. She writes fantasy, magic realism and science fiction. You can read her stories in Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing, The Book of Cthulhu, Evolve 2 and Tesseracts 13. She is the co-editor of Candle in the Attic Window, Future Lovecraft and Historical Lovecraft.

Silvia Moreno-GarciaReview: Game of Thrones 2.02: The Night Lands