In case you missed it in my rambling introduction of last week's Game of Thrones season premiere review, I will be chiming in every week with a review of each Season 2 episode before it airs Sunday nights at 9 PM ET on HBO. Be warned, though, there may be a few spoilers within this review from Episode 2.01: The North Remembers, so if you haven't watched this episode yet, read this review of Episode 2.02: The Night Lands at your own risk.
Now then, where were we? Oh yes. After my marathon Game of Thrones Season 1 session a few weeks back, one of the burning questions I had was what shall become of young Arya (Maisie Williams), who was "transformed" into a "boy" by Yoren (Francis Magee) at the end of Season 1. We finally catch up with the feisty young lass/lad right away in this episode, journeying north with Yoren, who is taking more recruits up to join the Night's Watch. While everyone in the Night's watch is considered somewhat of an outcast, it is fitting that Arya becomes friends with Gendry (Joseph Dempsie), the bastard son of Robert Baratheon. There is a fantastic scene where King Joffrey's men ride up, and Arya hides, thinking they're looking for her, when they're actually searching for Gendry, although some fast talk (and blade work) from Yoren turns the riders away empty-handed.
In last week's review, I expressed my desire to see more of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage). Episode 2.02: The Night Lands gives us much more with our favorite Imp, and sets up the notion that he just may be the right man to take the Iron Throne, even though he isn't one of the "Five Kings" vying for it. His scenes are easily the best in this episode, including a fantastic confrontation with the cunning Lord Varys (Conleth Hill), who seems to know exactly who his companion Shae (Sibel Kekilli) really is, and my favorite part of the episode where he exercises his power as Hand of the King in a way which pisses off his sister, Cersei (Lena Headey). He makes some incredibly bold decisions, and is cheerfully whistling away as he does so. There is also an important scene where the small council receives a raven, asking for more men to serve on The Night's Watch, claiming that supernatural forces are on the rise. Tyrion is the only one who actually believes this to be true, with Cersei, Varys, and the others laughing off these claims, which could be a grave mistake.
Sadly, though, we don't get much more of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). In last week's episode, she sent off three Dothraki riders to see how far The Red Waste reaches, and this week, one of the horses returns with the head of Rakharo.
On the Kingsroad, Arya and Gendry's bond grows stronger in a fantastic and rather hilarious scene where Gendry reveals he knows she's a girl... although he finds out exactly which girl she is, the daughter of Ned Stark. None of the other Night's Watch recruits seem to know her true gender, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out as this party travels north.
We get to meet a few new characters in this episode, as we journey to the Iron Islands with Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) returning home to see his father after nine years in Winterfell. However, Balon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide) is none too thrilled to see his son, thinking Theon's years up north has softened his only surviving son. I loved this scene as well, because we see how pompous and important Theon thinks he is by returning home, only to be brought down to earth by his hardened father, and even his sister Yara (Gemma Whelan), who has seen more battle than her brother since he's been gone. However, my favorite new character is easily the Salladhor Saan (Lucian Msamati). Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) meets with this pirate to secure his fleet for Stannis Baratheon's quest for the crown. I like how ballsy this Salladhor is, because one of his demands is to have sex with the queen once they get to King's Landing. This scene also touches on the aspect of religion in Westeros, with Salladhor saying he's been all over the world, and everyone thinks that they're God is the right God. Speaking of Stannis (Stephen Dillane), it becomes very clear in this episode that his new companion Melisandre (Carice van Houten) has fully seduced him, by promising him something Stannis' wife could not give her.
The episode ends in typically fantastic fashion, with the payoff of a very simple question uttered by Jon Snow (Kit Harington) in last week's episode. When they first arrive at Craster's (Robert Pugh), Snow and the others are told this wildling marries his daughters, which prompts Snow to ask, 'What does he do with the sons?' Well, we get an answer to that question... kind of... and learn that Snow is in quite a bit of danger.
If you agree, disagree, or just want to talk about this fantastic land of Westeros, you can find me on Twitter @GallagherMW.