Second episodes are hard. It’s easy to wow your audience in your debut hour, but convincing them to stick around with your show on a long-term basis? That’s the real test.
Thankfully, The Kingsroad maintains the quality of the pilot, and skillfully weaves together a top-notch hour of television. The aftermath of Bran’s fall gets a lot of forward momentum as Catelyn uncovers what is most definitely Queen Cersei’s hair at the scene of the crime and heads off to alert her husband. The episode also features Game of Thrones’ first truly thrilling sequence: Catelyn viciously trying to protect an unconscious Bran from an assassin (after Robb is distracted by a fire). The set-piece is tensely filmed and especially nerve-wracking as Catelyn fights with all her might until one of the direwolves saves her. Amazing!
The Kingsroad also sees the introduction of Prince Joffrey, a spoiled brat and an all-around terrible human being. For some reason, Sansa takes a liking to him (or maybe it’s because she just wants to be Queen so badly), and ends up hurting her family in the process. I don’t know if it was a purposeful writing decision, but the fact that she doesn’t stand up for Arya as Cersei relentlessly blames the Starks for Joffrey’s injury makes Sansa extremely unlikeable.
While Daenerys doesn’t get too much screen-time in the show’s second hour, her storyline takes an interesting turn: one of her handmaidens, Doreah, begins to teach her how to control Khal Drogo in the bedroom. When she finally does exert her power during their lovemaking session, it’s a wonderfully empowering moment for the character (and the blood-pumping music is perfect). Emilia Clarke is phenomenal here, conveying so much here with barely any dialogue,
Bits & Beheadings
– Tyrion slapping Joffrey multiple times is the stuff dreams are made of.
– Lena Headey gives a tremendous performance as she provides comfort for Catelyn by telling her the story of her dead son. It’s all so manipulative because we know Cersei is doing it out of selfish reasons (she’s worried Bran will wake up and reveal what he saw).
– Those direwolves really grow up fast huh? Adorable scene with Arya ordering Nymeria around to no avail.
– I abosolutely love the relationship between Jon and Arya. The scene in which he gifts her a sword (which she names “Needle”) is a true gem.
– A little history lesson this week: Daenerys’ elder brother Rhaeger Targaryen kidnapped Ned Stark’s sister Lyanna (who was engaged to Robert Baratheon). Also, the Mad King (the father of Targaryens) was killed by Jaime Lannister.
– Brutal scene with Drago raping Daenerys from behind. Interestingly enough, she gets comfort from staring at her dragon eggs glistening by the flames. Hmm….
– The fact that the direwolf saves Catelyn and then lovingly sits by Bran in bed. Can you say awwww?
– Haunting visual: Catelyn and her blood-drenched hands after the attack.
– Cheerworthy moment: Joffrey being a bully and Arya kicking his ass culminating with her direwolf coming to the rescue and biting the annoying prince.
– The fact that The Hound killed the poor butcher’s boy made me uncomfortable.
– Powerful final moment with Ned slicing Lady to death just as Bran’s eyes slowly open. Uh oh.
Kings & Quips
Joffrey Baratheon: (to Tyrion surrounded by dogs) Better-looking bitches than you’re used to, uncle.
Tyrion: I just want to stand on top of the Wall and piss off the edge of the world.
Tyrion: What’s your story, bastard?
Jon: Ask me nicely and maybe I’ll tell you, dwarf.
Doreah: Are you a slave, Khaleesi? Then don’t make love like a slave.
A superb follow-up, packed with suspense and intrigue.