HBO, 26 April 2012
One of Westeros’ would-be kings dies, while another begins to see her future path clearly…
After a few episodes of getting various characters (and their entourages) in place, Game of Thrones‘ second season is beginning to lift off, with plenty of intrigue and promises of more to come.
As ever, it is Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion who is the master of scheming and the purveyor of fine wit, although he’s almost trumped by the near-Monty Python comedy moment that sees Edward Tudor-Pole turn up as a vocal anti-Lannister protestor… Keep an eye open for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him cameo from Roy Dotrice (a friend of George R.R. Martin from their Beauty and the Beast days) as a befuddled pyromancer.
However, it is the surprise death of Renly (Gethin Anthony) in the first five minutes that really launches this episode. Killed by his brother’s supernatural ‘shadow creature’, Renly’s death quickly alters the balance of power in the fight for the iron throne. His death also has the immediate effect of putting Catelyn Stark and Renly’s guard Brienne on the run as prime suspects.
Information and neat character moments come thick and fast in this episode, such as the wildlings being under the command of a former ranger and the rise to responsibility of Bran Stark back in Winterfell. Arya Stark finds vengeance to be rather satisfying, while Daenerys Targaryen uncovers something of her old fire as ‘mother of dragons’.
Verdict: A lot happens here—and it is a very satisfying episode—but this is only a taster of what is to come…
Episode 5 ‘The Ghost of Harrenhal’: 9/10
Brian J. Robb