NOTE: This review/recap contains spoilers for “Game of Thrones” Season Two, Episode Six. I have also added a batch of three images from this episode at the bottom of this post.
The cost of power is often steep. Episode six of this second season of “Game of Thrones” emphasizes this on a near continual basis, and it’s an effective technique overall. However, we start this particular episode with an idiot. Hi, Theon (Alfie Allen)! While Joffrey is tougher to watch, Theon is neck-and-neck when it comes to overall annoyance level, if only because Joffrey has never pretended to be loyal to anything other than his sadistic whims. Theon makes decisions the way one orders pizza — without much thought and adding up to little material gain. Regardless, Theon’s schemes pay off and he’s the new Lord of Winterfell. It’s no happy occurrence, with one blunder after another coming from the new boss.
Then we’re off to the great white north to learn lessons about wildlings, though thankfully this lesson involves a great new character in the form of Ygritte (Rose Leslie). The only unfortunate part of the introduction to Ygritte and Jon is the cinematic genesis of said relationship. It all starts when Snow’s fellow Crows ambush a wildling crew, only to have the old “You kill her and we’ll meet you later” plan presented, also known as “the easiest possible writing method”. It’s what folks go to when the assignment is due in ten minutes. Still, I’m grateful for the wildling woman, she embodies true grit. For now, Jon has “power” over Ygritte, but he’s slowly losing all he used to hold dear.
In King’s Landing the scope of King Joffrey’s ineptitude is fully exposed as he basically starts a riot through his inability to think even five seconds ahead. Joffrey’s tenuous grasp on leadership is undermined by his deep lack of empathy. Sansa is saved from disaster by “The Dog,” another in a long line of characters who show depth and complexity that belies our first impression of them. This is a hallmark of the series, just when you think you know someone …
Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) shares a nice scene with “The Spice King”, who does his best imitation of Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) from The Princess Bride as he schools Princess D on the finer points of leverage. She points out that one day she’s going to burn everything to the ground (she’s gone this route a few times), and he responds exactly like every other rational person has thus far, with a shrug. Right now our favorite Princess is long on threats and short on resources.
The episode drags when Robb Stark takes time out of making war to romance a young (lesser known) Lady. It’s clear from the direction of the books that these are crucial scenes, but the show can’t help but to play them in a lesser manner as they lack context. A shame, that. Lady Stark also remains a shadow of her season one work; she’s being used merely to tie a myriad of geographies together.
Events at Harrenhal remain exciting, with Arya continually on the verge of discovery. Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) again chews up the precious few moments he’s in the episode, and we’re now two names deep into “the list”. The show is very fun when Arya is in peril, if only because she’s always (seemingly) in firm control of her own destiny, the very opposite of her sister, dearest Sansa.
The episode ends with a whole host of “whoa!” moments. Big D’s dragons aren’t exactly under her care any longer, and Bran and Rickon are busting out of Winterfell! Scoreboard, Game of Thrones. Way to finish strong.
All in all, a very satisfying episode. A new character, plus plenty of solid action and pacing make for an enjoyable watch. What’s the takeaway? That the price of power is indeed steep, but it’s nothing compared to the cost you can pay for losing it.
Below is a gallery of three images from this week’s episode. Click on any one of them to begin browsing.