Arya’s identity as a Stark is unmasked, Margaery Tyrell enquires after Joffrey’s character, Theon Greyjoy is trussed up, and Jaime Lannister falls into the hand of House Bolton…
Nothing particularly spectacular happens in this instalment of Game of Thrones, instead a host of new characters are introduced, pieces are further moved around the board and several established characters get some nice moments: not momentous, but slow burning.
Among the most welcome of the new comers is Diana Rigg as ‘Queen of Thorns’ Oleanna, Margaery Tyrell’s imperious (but funny) grandmother. Hers is one of the fine character moments given room to breath in this episode, as she gets information from Sansa while denigrating her own son. Similarly, Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) laments her lack of care for her husband’s illegitimate son Jon Snow, a nice quiet emotional moment driven by the performance and the script, rather than any over-the-top action.
Among the other new faces are several comedy actors—MAckenzie Crook, Paul Kaye—putting their ‘unusual’ looks to good use as characters in Westeros. Perhaps most interesting is Thomas Sangster as Jojen, a young boy who has been sharing the same magical dream states as Bran. Along with Daenerys’ dragons (neither of whom feature in this episode), this is perhaps another indication of a return of magic to this world.
We’ve seen precious little of Ciaran Hinds so far, while the addition of a bunch of new faces further complicates an already difficult-to-remember number of characters. The fact that alternate episodes have to drop whole strands of the on-going story in an attempt to accommodate everything is a suggestion that even 10 hour-or-so long episodes is simply not enough screen time to do justice to even half of one of George R.R. Martin’s hefty tomes (as is being attempted here).
Verdict: Nothing spectacular, but some genuinely good character moments…
Episode 2 ‘Dark Wings, Dark Words’: 7/10
Brian J. Robb