Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 2 – ‘The Night Lands’ Review and Synopsis

Please note: Spoilers ahead.
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Arya opens this episode with her usual feisty behavior, hitting a caged felon with her wooden sword when he rudely demands she get him a beer. The queen’s men come upon the party of the Night’s Watch and present a warrant demanding Gendry be remanded to them. In continuing the massacre of Robert’s bastards shown in the last episode, the axe is to fall upon his head even though Arya ¬†mistakenly worries they are looking for her. The guards are refused and the standoff promises to resolve itself violently later.

Tyrion finds Varys with his whore recently turned girlfriend, Shay. It is always hard to gauge where Varys stands but his quote to Ned Stark from series 1, that Varys serves the realm, carves out a particularly unique niche for his character. Cersei holds a meeting of the King’s Council and brushes off a raven from the Night’s Watch warning King’s Landing that the wildlings are uniting and that the ‘white walkers’ are nothing more than myths.

Sam wants to help out Gilly, one of Craster’s many daughter wives, because she is pregnant and, if it is a boy, Craster will kill him. Jon tells Sam that he is mad, and, indeed, the audience can’t help but agree with Jon. Did Sam fall asleep during Craster’s threats about the Night’s Watch’s men even daring so much to look at his daughters? Given that, why would Sam think it is a good idea to help this one random girl that Jon’s wolf happened to threaten?

Daenerys’ scout’s head returns in a sack carried by his horse. Her trials in the desert are endless and increasingly tedious. Hopefully when the dragons are grown we are rewarded with some awesome Daenerys moments.

Theon returns home to the Iron Islands to convince his family to join in Robb’s rebellion. The world of Game of Thrones is filled with endless bacchanalia, whether on board a miserable ship or in a whore house owned by Petyr Baelish. It all gets a little much after a while but if you’ve read the books then this is just a small sample of what is contained in those novels. Tyrion meets with the chief of the City Watch to find out who ordered him to kill Robert’s bastards. Tyrion, after being called an imp, dismisses him to the Wall, once again demonstrating the nearly omnipotent power of the Lannisters.

Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray]

The show is cutting rapidly between different story threads in this episode, and the Arya/ Theon thread is the most interesting because we can learn about new characters and locales. Arya figures out roughly who Gendry is and she tells him who she is. If anything they know that they share the King’s ire together.

It has been nine years since Theon was last home and his father is more than suspicious of his return. Accusing him of becoming one of the Stark’s ‘ravens,’ Theon’s father rejects Robb’s offer. Theon is shocked to discover that the girl he attempted to seduce on his way home was none other than his sister, throwing a little bit of the incest spice on this episode.

Ever the martyr, Cersei has an emotional episode during her dinner with Tyrion, claiming that everything has fallen upon her shoulders. Of course, the people be damned and all that nonsense. Why has all this been left on Cersei’s lap and no one takes it seriously? Seriously, her father is supposed to be a tactical genius and thus far he has placed his highly emotional daughter in control of her sociopathic son and we saw last season what excellent choices he is capable of making. Inserting Tyrion into the equation to try and temper the situation only throws parafen on the flames.

Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray]

‘You’ve always been funny. But none of your jokes will ever match the first one will they. You remember, back when you ripped my mother open and she bled to death. Mother gone. For the sake of you. There’s no bigger joke in the world than that.’

Stannis worries that he cannot defeat his brother Renly on the field of battle. Melisandre tells him he needs to have faith in the Lord of Light. Of course, the religious ceremony that brought Stannis to the Lord of Light must be completed by his having sex with Melisandre – this is the world of Game of Thrones after all. She claims that Stannis despises his wife and she will give him a son. I don’t actually remember any of this from the books but then again I could be mistaken. Stannis as depicted in the novels was cold, aloof and stoic. Not one driven by lust.

Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray]

Beyond the wall at camp Craster, Jon is awakened in the night by Craster leaving his tent with a newborn baby in his arms. The episode ends with Jon getting knocked out after watching some humanoid creature take the baby away.

 

All pictures courtesy of HBO.com.