Game Of Thrones: Season 2 - TV Review

'the tantalising, subtle, promise hung out by the writers is that, at some point in a future series, Arya might dispatch the increasingly sadistic whine-bag Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) herself'

With the second season wrapping up on Sky Atlantic in the UK, Game Of Thrones showed enough to retain its crown as the best thing TV has seen since the Band Of Brothers mini-series arrived, some ten years ago. There's still nothing out there that rivals the production design, the labyrinth yet involving plots, the seamless introduction of, not just new characters, but entirely new races, species and types. The second season has been, like the first, a landmark moment in television, a compelling treat to tune to each week.

And yet, unlike its first outing, this season has seen series heads David Benioff and D.B. Weiss struggle to keep on top of their narrative. Chief offender amongst the characters is still the steadfastly anonymous Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) who maintains her character arc of going nowhere fast. If you thought the end of Season One would signal some movement for her, then prepare to be underwhelmed all over again. Others suffer not from nefariously obtuse plotting but from a stunning lack of focus which looks occasionally like oversight. Jon Snow (Kit Harington) starts strong but then disappears for episodes at a time. Robb (Richard Madden) seems destined to take over from his father as the series' focus but then gets bogged down in a love arc before disappearing for episodes at a time. In Garden of Bones (S2E4), Melisandre (Carice van Houten) makes a biblical play to become part of the main throng but then - stop me if you've heard this one - disappears for episodes at a time. The sidelining of most of this group doesn't help Game Of Thrones to compel you from week-to-week.

The focus of attention, in terms of screentime and having an arc worth bothering with, is formerly left to a familiar face and latterly held by a clever piece of plotting, not quite given the attention it deserves. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) has long been the series' high-point and in the first two thirds of Season Two, he proves it again, the elevation in position he is given allowing lovely scripting twists of phrase as his political moving replaces Eddard's (Sean Bean) political meandering. Elsewhere it is Arya who claims second billing, especially from The Ghost of Harrenhal (S2E5) onwards, where a brilliantly setup alliance with Jaqen (Tom Wlaschiha) pushes the series into newly-exciting territory. His offer to Arya during Valar Morghulis (S2E10) - and elements that have gone before - hints deliciously at how Arya's character might develop. The tantalising, subtle, promise hung out by the writers is that, at some point in a future series, Arya might dispatch the increasingly sadistic whine-bag Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) herself.

As the series ends - with as little certainty as the first, this isn't a franchise concerned with ending on definitive notes - Valar Morghulis struggles to live up to the budget-breaking splendour of Blackwater (S2E9), although we do finally get an explicit glimpse at an element teased for far too long. Other notable successes include the crippling character turnaround of Theon (Alfie Allen), whose manipulation by the writers is a masterclass in character deconstruction. Spare a thought though for Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), one of the first season's best characters, who sadly becomes merely a topic of conversation for far too long, Series Two sorely missing his uber-villain-like, invisible moustache-twirling, charm.

Look further...

'Filled to the brim with underhanded stage settings, backdoor wartime politics, and fractured tales of redemption both extremely personal and emotionally wide-ranging, the altercations depicted in the second season of Game of Thrones are significantly more intimate than what came before.' - Slant, 3/4

No comments:

Post a Comment