The North Remembers is an exemplary season premiere. It methodically lays down the pieces for the year, while concealing just enough to keep us wholly intrigued all the way through.
When we last saw Daenerys she was in a place of immense power (the three hatched dragons and all). But now? Her people are starving, the horse Drogo gave her is dead, and her dragons are weak. Although we only get one measly scene with the Targaryen princess, the narrative sets the stage for an unpredictable year; Game of Thrones won’t be taking the easy route, and Dany isn’t going to be victorious that quickly.
Most importantly, the season premiere finally introduces Robert Baratheon’s older brother, Stannis Baratheon. As the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, Stephen Dillane is imposing right out of the gate with his steely resolve and fanatical beliefs. This brings us to the introduction of an even more compelling character: the red priestess Melisandre. With just the right dose of elegance and mystery, Carice Von Houten is a revelation as the flame-haired vixen. A devout believer in a being she refers to as “The Lord of Light”, Melisandre orchestrates the burning of a number of statues (for the Old Gods), and urges Stannis to wield a sword called Lightbringer. It’s all so nutty and insane (as most religions are), and we’ve got yet another new character to ground the story: Stannis’ advisor, Ser Davos. Yup, it’s a whole new world people!
In my review of the season one finale, I noted that Cersei got all of two seconds of screen-time. Thankfully this egregious error was rectified in the season two premiere. Lena Headey got a whole lot of material here, squaring off against Tyrion (who is now Hand of the King), putting Littlefinger in his place, and then suffering the wrath of her own son who threatens her with death. I loved watching Cersei slap her bratty offspring, but his threat was necessary in order to convey just how unpredictable and volatile Westeros’ new leader is.
The premiere’s final sequence is also one of the most chilling things this show’s ever done. Janos Slynt carries out a city-wide massacre of Robert’s bastards, and it’s extremely unsettling every way. From babies being murdered to teenagers getting drowned, it’s all extremely brutal. Of course Gendry is the next target, and he’s with Arya en route to The Wall. Exciting things are coming!
Bits & Beheadings
– In case you thought Joffrey wasn’t evil enough, he almost killed a man by stuffing him with wine.
– Hilarious moment: Tyrion kissing a pissed off Cersei, and then recapping season one (see below).
– I love that everyone analyzes the red comet differently and we never get a proper explanation. My money is on Osha’s analysis (the red comet means the Dragons have returned).
– It was a small scene, but I enjoyed watching Maester Luwin guide Bran with answering the demands of Winterfell’s residents.
– Did Bran dream that he was his direwolf Summer? Freaky stuff.
– How unsettling is Craster, a Wilding that sleeps with all his wives and daughters. Yuck.
– Spooky moment with Maester Cressen trying to poison Melisandre, only she doesn’t die and he does!
– It’s awesome to see Robb so forceful and aggressive this year. His confrontation with Jaime is great, and his direwolf Grey Wind is now HUGE.
– Heartbreaking moment: Robb promising his mom that the family will be reunited soon as she tells him Ned would be proud of him. I just love the Starks. Now Catelyn has a new mission: convince Renly Baratheon to join their cause. Hmm.
– I still love Shae, and think her dynamic with Tyrion is oh so amusing and heartwarming.
– The highlight of the hour: the scene between Cersei and Littlefinger in the courtyard. I love how she hints at his love for Catelyn, while he hints about her and Jaime. And then like the boss that she is, Cersei teaches him a lesson about power by giving the guards petty commands. It might be my favorite Cersei moment yet.
– Interesting to note: Greyjoy wants Robb so use his dad’s ships and forces to avenge Ned.
– Superb cinematography with the shot of Joffrey rising up the Throne steps and leaving Cersei down below. Talk about symbolism.
– How great is it that Ros is now basically running Littlefinger’s brothel? See, even supporting characters get character development on Game of Thrones.
Kings & Quips
Varys: We have enough wheat for a five-year winter.
Littlefinger: If it lasts any longer, we’ll have fewer peasants.
Tyrion: (to Cersei) More ravishing than ever, big sister. War agrees with you.
Tyrion: (to Cersei) You love your children. It’s your one redeeming quality. That and your cheekbones.
Tyrion: (to Cersei) We had three Starks to trade. You chopped one’s head off and let another escape.
Sam: Nothing’s killed me yet.
Grenn: Your ass killed the sledge.
Craster: (to Jon) Who’s this little girl? You’re prettier than half my daughters. You got a nice wet twat between your legs?
Jeor: (to Jon) You want to lead one day? Then learn how to follow.
Jaime: Have you grown fond of me, Stark? Is that it? I’ve never seen you with a girl.
Jaime: Three victories don’t make you a conqueror.
Robb: It’s better than three defeats.
Shae: This city stinks… Like dead bodies.
Tyrion: A bit corpsey, yes.
Shae: And shit.
Tyrion: I thought you wanted to come here.
Shae: I love it.
Tyrion: You love the smell of dead bodies and shit?
Shae: And cum and garlic and rum.
Tyrion: You can smell cum from the balcony?
Tyrion: Ned Stark actually slept on this. As if the poor man didn’t suffer enough.
Littlefinger: Prominent families often forget a simple truth I’ve found.
Cersei: And which truth is that?
Littlefinger: Knowledge is power.
Cersei: Seize him. Cut his throat. Stop. Wait. I’ve changed my mind. Let him go. Step back three paces. Turn around. Close your eyes. Power is power.
Robb: If he disregards this command, he shall suffer the same fate as my father, only I don’t need a servant to do my beheading for me.
Catelyn: They say a million rats live in the sewers of King’s Landing. Shall we rally them to fight for us?
Robb: (to Catelyn) You married one rebel and mothered another.
Ros: She pretends she doesn’t speak the common tongue so that people will think she’s exotic. She grew up just down the road in flea bottom.
Daisy: She’s beautiful.
Ros: She’s a dumb slut, really, but a lid for every pot.
An excellent season opener filled with promise. Here’s to a great sophomore season!