Game of Thrones “The North Remembers”

Game of Thrones S2E1 “The North Remembers”

It’s a time of war in the Seven Kingdoms as tragic events that took place in season one have escalated already tense relationships into violent ones. With Robert’s brothers vying for the throne that their eldest brother held, Robb seeking independence for The North and the unpredictable Joffrey who is prone to changing the current situation at any given moment, there will be certainly be more violence to come. The world and cast that Game of Thrones explores was already pretty big but it only gets bigger with this second season. With so many familiar people we have to check in on and having to introduce some new others, “The North Remembers” doesn’t have a lot of time to delve deep into many plot lines, in fact, Tyrion and Robb are the only characters who get significant screen time. Much like the red comet in the sky unifies all of these characters who may seem to be doing their own things right now, I to will try to check in everywhere in an inch deep but mile wide episode of Game of Thrones. And away we go.

It’s rather rude to not introduce new guests so let’s start with introductions that need to be made. If you recall, Ned Stark got himself into quite the situation for claiming Joffrey was not the heir to the throne, it was Robert’s brother Stannis. You may have found it odd this guy that Ned supported to his death didn’t actually show up in season one. Your inquiry was duly noted as we meet Stannis Baratheon in this episode.

Stannis is on his island home of Dragonstone and has just recently received the letter that Ned sent him. Already being wiser than Ned, Stannis decides to send letters out to every corner of the Seven Kingdoms announcing his claim to the iron throne on account of Robert’s children actually being bastards. Knowing that it won’t just be handed to him, Stannis has aligned himself with the priestess Melisandre. Melisandre is a priestess of The Lord of Light, the religion in Essos but a minority religion in Westeros. Stannis’ maester, Cressen does not approve of Stannis’ conversion to the new religion which calls for the burning of the statues of his old religion, The Seven. Cressen asks Stannis’ right hand man, Ser Davos Seaworth to help stop the madness. Davos says now isn’t the right time. Cressen ignores this and gives his life to stop her, drinking poisoned wine himself before handing it to Melisandre. Cressen obviously dies but Melisandre is unaffected.

Let’s move on to the King claimant himself. Stannis was described in season one as having the personality of a lobster and you can really see it here. Stannis insists that he never loved his brother and that he will not consider any alliances, whether it be with brother Renly or King in the North Robb. Davos points out doing either would make their mission much easier but Stannis says these other kings are traitors and will be destroyed if they don’t bend the knee to him. Stannis certainly isn’t making matters easier on himself.

In the Riverlands, Robb finds himself having two conversations, one with Theon Greyjoy and one with his star hostage Jaime Lannister. In his talk with Theon, the two acknowledge that while they have started this war red hot, they’ll never win unless they take King’s Landing. King’s Landing is a port city so they’re going to need ships to take it, Theon’s father, Balon Greyjoy, has plenty of those as Lord of the Iron Islands. Theon asks Robb to send him to his home city of Pyke to convince his father to add his ships and navy to their cause. Robb is reluctant as Balon has a history of leading rebellions and has been known to screw people over in the past. He knows he needs ships though so he agrees to let Theon go home, much to Cat’s dismay. No one said war would be easy.

In his conversation with Jaime, Robb pieces the puzzle of Jaime’s involvement with Bran’s fall together, all the while threatening Jaime with the full grown and scary direwolf of his, Grey Wind. More importantly, Robb says he’s sending Jaime’s cousin to King’s Landing to bring terms of peace. Robb’s terms are the return of his sisters, the return of his father’s remains, and recognition of The North as an independent kingdom. Something tells me that the King’s Landing crew won’t be agreeing to that.

Speaking of King’s Landing, Joffrey is holding a birthday bash where people fight to the death in his honor! One poor fellow shows up drunk and Joffrey wants to drown him to death in wine but Sansa instead convinces Joffrey to make him his fool instead, receiving a nice assist from The Hound who points out that killing someone on your birthday is bad luck.

Before the fun can continue, Tyrion makes his arrival to King’s Landing in grand fashion along with Bronn, and the Hill Tribers. Tyrion takes a stab at Joffrey pointing out that Joffrey actually isn’t fighting in this war of his. He then says he has business to attend to, much to Joffrey’s curiosity. What business?

Tyrion heads off to the small council meeting room and when Cersei hears the news that Tyrion is Hand of the King while Tywin fights, she is irate. Tyrion assures her this isn’t some power ploy and he’s only here to advise. He starts the advising quickly saying that Cersei has done an awful job. They had three Starks to use as trade chips but Tyrion notes that they chopped one’s head off and let another run away. Tyrion is right to point out their incompetence. Joffrey and Cersei are in charge but they’re so bad at it that they’re really just waiting for Tywin to clean up their mistakes. While Tywin will do that in the battlefield, you get the feeling this season will be Tyrion’s to shine as he’s now hand of the king and politics is something that suits him very well. It should be fun to see Tyrion try to clean things up in the capital as we go along.

Later on Joffrey confronts Cersei about the contents of Stannis’ letter and asks why these “rumors” are even being spread. He correctly deduces that Robert had plenty of bastards. So while it’s not said who makes the next command, it’s likely Joffrey. The command? Someone has ordered the killing of all of Robert’s bastards and it gives us a brutal scene as babies are getting their throats cut open right in front of their mothers. It seems they got all of them, except a certain bastard boy who is finding his way to the Wall along with that runaway Stark girl. Now that the guards know this, it becomes a race, Gendry is immune from all crimes (even this non-crime of being a bastard) once he makes it to the wall, can the guards get to him before he makes it?

While Gendry looks to make it to the wall, most of the Night’s Watch is actually beyond the wall, as we check in with Mormont, Jon, Sam, and the rest of the crew on their northern expedition. They arrive to Craster’s Keep, a home owned by Craster, a wildling friend of the Night’s Watch. In exchange for wine and steel from south of the wall, Craster agrees to tell Mormont what he knows about the rest of the wildlings. It turns out that a former Night’s Watch man, Mance Rayder is now King Beyond the Wall and is gathering all the wildlings to form an army. When asked where it is that Mance plans on marching this army, Craster says there’s only one direction to go when you’re this far north. Craster agrees to let them stay the night but the whole situation is bizarre. Craster marries his daughters and when they have more daughters, he marries them and so on. Jon wants to say something but Mormont pulls him aside. He acknowledges that Craster is scum for doing what he does, but they need to play by his rules because they don’t have many friends north of the wall. He also tells Jon that if he ever wants to lead, he first needs to learn to follow. Wise words from Mormont and we’ll see more of this expedition later.

Other Thoughts

Summer is over and a long summer means an even longer winter. What about autumn though? We may still have a long way to winter depending on how long autumn is.

Bran was in this episode but he didn’t do much. He learned that being Lord can be boring and that some people don’t look too favorably at Robb for deciding to go to war. Weird Bran dream of the day is now a dream in which Bran is his direwolf.

Also making a not so exciting appearance is Dany. She, Jorah, her baby dragons and the rest of her khalasar are starving in a barren desert known as the Red Waste. She sends her best riders and remaining horses in opposite directions, hoping one of them will find civilization.

Going to be honest, Littlefinger completely changing accents this season is jarring. Also, he confronts Cersei to tell her that he knows of her incest, saying that “knowledge is power”. Cersei than makes a game of his life and says that “power is power”. She then tasks him with finding Arya.

Tyrion really threw shade at Joffrey with that battlefield comment. His trek from the Riverlands at the very least took a few weeks, it’s unlikely he wore that heavy armor the whole time. He probably put in on just before getting to the capital to further prove the point he’s helping more than Joffrey is.

Cat asked Robb if she can go home but he instead instructs her to go seek an alliance with King claimant Renly Baratheon. His army is 100,000 strong. Who wouldn’t want to form an alliance with him? (coughStanniscough)

Jon brings up a great point. If Craster marries his daughters, what does he do with his sons? No sons are present so that’s an excellent question that I’m sure we’ll get to later.

Last season Tyrion slapped Joffrey. Cersei does it in season two. Joffrey is king now unfortunately, the next slap will see Cersei get executed. Who will be brave enough to do it next?

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion replaces Sean Bean’s Ned Stark as the first name on role call after being last in season one with the “and” prefix ahead of his name.. Here’s hoping Tyrion lasts longer than Ned did there.

Quote of the Day comes from Tyrion, an absolute roast of his sister. “Disappeared? What, in a puff of smoke? We had three Starks to trade. You chopped one’s head off and let another escape. Father would be furious. Must be hard for you…to be the disappointing child.”

“The North Remembers” skillfully interweaves familiar faces and new faces as new plot lines begin to emerge.

Grade B+

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