As Robb Stark and his northern army continue the war against the Lannisters, Tyrion arrives in King’s Landing to counsel Joffrey and temper the young king’s excesses. On the island of Dragonstone, Stannis Baratheon plots an invasion to claim his late brother’s throne, allying himself with the fiery Melisandre, a strange priestess of a stranger god. Across the sea, Daenerys, her three young dragons and khalasar trek through the Red Waste in search of allies, or water. In the North, Bran presides over a threadbare Winterfell, while beyond the Wall, Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch must shelter with a devious wildling.
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In the last episode of the first season, we saw the aftermath of Ned’s execution, we saw Jon accompany Lord Commander Mormont on a ranging beyond the Wall and, most of all, we saw the birth of dragons. And now? Now we will see what comes after. After all, the Game has just begun and this season the realm is at war, with kings springing up like mushrooms all over.
In stark contrast to the opening of the initial episode of the first season, this season begins not with a prologue—as is the case in A Clash of Kings and, indeed, all of the novels—but rather drops us right in medias res and reintroduces faces now familiar to all viewers. Indeed, this episode is very much about reintroductions, beyond the Wall, in Winterfell, at court in King’s Landing and in the red waste.
But even though there’s quite a few characters to catch up with—and that is with some being kept for later episodes—we also get to meet some new faces. Some of these we meet in the snowy wilderness beyond the Wall where another member of the Night’s Watch—a fan favourite from the books—is introduced plus a certain unsavoury wildling and his distinctly unusual family.
The other new characters belong to an entirely new faction—yes, we finally get to meet the middle Baratheon brother and we get a first look at Dragonstone, the ancient seat of the Targaryens—and viewers may find that the introduction leaves some of them rather lacking in details. It is, however, a pair of fairly dramatic scenes that show us these characters. Between the Night’s Watch and the events on Dragonstone, this episode certainly covers both Ice and Fire.
In this episode, we also learn that having three baby dragons does not solve all problems for our khaleesi. And while Ned isn’t around to remind us of the Stark words, a white raven from the Citadel arrives to announce that yes, winter is indeed coming.