Game Of Thrones Season 2 Episode 2 ‘The Night Lands’ review

Game Of Thrones Season 2 Episode 2 ‘The Night Lands’ spoiler free review, the hit HBO fantasy series continues 9 April 2012 on Sky Atlantic HD.

Game Of Thrones The Night Lands

Into the second episode of Game Of Thrones Season 2 and we’ve got a measure of its weaknesses.

In all episodic drama, some characters inevitably lose out as the focus pans across the roster like a stalag searchlight, but Game Of Thrones – now encompassing a geographical range that dwarfs Middle Earth (lol), with Jon Snow in the frozen north, Renly Baratheon in the South, and Daenerys Targaryen in the hot and dusty lands to the far east of Westeros – is facing this on an unrivalled scale.

Taken as a whole, there’s no doubt that Game Of Thrones will be a four star event, at the very least, across its second arc – perhaps even a five star one – but taken in isolation, ‘The Night Lands’ is beginning to creak under the weight of the material as characters vanish entirely, or else pop up for one scene at a time and then disappear in a puff of dissatisfaction.

Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) clearly takes the bulk of the narrative here, as we’re introduced to Pyke, the seat of House Greyjoy on the bleak and unforgiving Iron Islands – so evocatively rendered that you can almost smell the salt in the breeze, and hear the distant caw of gulls and creak of wood, just thinking about it. Frustrated and self-entitled across all of Season 1, his battle to be recognised as something of worth propelled him closer to Robb Stark’s orbit, and now there’s a clear sense that he’s about to attach himself to a far more malignant planetoid, and set off down a path that will drive a wedge between him and his adopted family – to put it mildly.

Obviously Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), the fan favourite, has to get some limelight, and here he transforms into an avatar of our – the viewers – wrath, beginning a campaign to put those complicit in Ned Stark’s (Sean Bean) undoing to rights, not out of any selflessness or sense of justice, obviously, just on the basis that as Hand of the King, he can hardly trust this conniving bunch of petty political players if they had a hand (lol, again) in offing the last two. As self-serving as it is, there’s a lot of satisfaction for those still outraged at Ned’s betrayal and beheading.

Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) also gets some screen time, another fan favourite, the return of focus to one of the show’s few genuinely pleasant characters is welcome, but in ‘The Night Lands’ she’s something of an oasis of decent female scriptwriting, with almost every other woman on screen dropping her robes for the lads. It’s consistent with the heavily patriarchal world that Game Of Thrones is supposed to represent – where sexuality is often the only power a woman in this environment can wield – but in isolation it’s unrepresentative of a show that has some incredibly strong and inspiring female characters.

When critics slam Game Of Thrones for its perceived attitude to woman, it’s episodes like this that they’ll take out of context to offer up as evidence.

We know of course that it’s better than that – just as we know that all this scene-setting and meandering is going somewhere spectacular – but on its own, ‘The Night Lands’ looks like one of John Norman’s embarrassingly juvenile Gor books come to life.

Game Of Thrones Season 2 is showing now on Sky Atlantic HD.

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