Over the past four years, since making it’s debut in April 2011, Game Of Thrones has grown to become a true worldwide phenomenon; it’s the most popular show HBO have ever produced (a true accomplishment for the network which gave us The Sopranos, The Wire, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire and Rome), and being based on the worldwide best-selling novels of George R.R. Martin it’s not hard to see why.
Based on Martin’s series of Fantasy novels A Song Of Ice And Fire, Game Of Thrones is set in the sprawling fictional world of Westeros, where great families go to war for control of the Seven Kingdoms, each vying to gain power, control, and hoping to secure the infamous iron throne for their own ends. It’s a show embroiled in intrigue, mystery, and fantastical elements where sex and violence are part of everyday life, everyone has an agenda, a score to settle, and not one of your favourite characters is ever safe.
So without further ado, ahead of the Season 5 premiere on April 12th in the US (on HBO) and on April 13th in the UK (on Sky Atlantic), we present the second of our Game Of Thrones “Best Of” features, celebrating the top ten moments from Game Of Thrones Season Two.
Needless to say, massive spoilers follow.
10. Theon feels up his sister
Poor Theon Greyjoy – he gets his comeuppance later on in Game Of Thrones, but in these earlier seasons, he is a law unto himself – feeling up girls and gripping onto the lordly powers he has. When he leaves House Stark to return to the lands of his father Lord Greyjoy of the Iron Isles, he comes across a girl who after some exchanges agrees to take him back to his castle. On the way there, the young Theon feels up the girl as they ride on horseback and tries to impress her with his titles. It’s only after consulting his father that he finds out the girl is actually his sister. I’ll give Martin and the screenwriters of Thrones this – when they want to do some decent, flat-out wrong black comedy, they don’t do it by half and go all the way in a disgusting but face-palmingly funny moment.
9. Tyrion loses it with Joffrey
The main struggle for House Lannister this season is setting up Prince Joffrey as King of Westeros (& as one of the best ‘love to hate’ characters in modern TV history) and dealing with his rise to power, on top of family in-fighting. After the King has too many digs or moments of letting the power go to his head, his dwarf uncle Tyrion finally loses it and slaps Joffrey across the face. Never has their been a more satisfying moment (well at that point), when an universally beloved character gets one back over one who everyone detests.
8. “Fuck The King”
A small line but one with implications – the facially disfigued but brutal head of King Joffrey’s Guard, Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane, gets fed up with the way with the Battle of Blackwater goes and after seeing his own men being set aflame, triggering his fear of fire, he downs tools and starts drinking whilst the rest of Joffrey’s forces attempt to reinvigorate the troops. Whilst being admonished for doing so, The Hound simply says “Fuck the Kingsguard. Fuck the city. Fuck the King” in front of Tyrion & Joffrey, before leaving the battle and going into the wilderness. It’s what everyone, including characters and audience members, wanted to say to the little sod of a king Joffrey, and he gets away with it… for now.
7. Melisandre gives birth to… the Gods know what
In a show about how the powers of magic are coming back to the forefront of the world again, there’s still an amount of weird which makes the show stand out. Stannis Baratheon is gathering his forces to attack King’s Landing, the main city of Westeros, and employs the corrupting Red Witch Melisandre to help his cause. His right hand man Davos is suspicious of her ways but remains loyal to his lord. In order to gain control of more troops Stannis requests Mel to take care of someone, she does this by becoming impossibly pregnant over a short space of time and giving birth to a shadowy creature who disappears in a puff of smoke in front of Davos’ eyes. This was a reminder that magic still exists or is returning to the world of Westeros and it is not a pretty thing at all.
6. Joffrey leaves his mark on girls
As part of his plans to make Joffrey “chill out” and not make all the power go to his head, Tyrion plans to make a man out of the boy, to make him grow up, and employs some of local scheming-pimp Littlefinger’s best girls. Shame that Joffrey treats the girls in such bad taste as he routinely mistreats and harms the ladies just because he can, and to get back at Tyrion. As part of a big stack of evidence about Thrones‘ questionable portrayal of women, you can’t argue the violence and abuse implied is definitely shocking and horrific, but regardless it’s more fuel for the fire and turned Joffrey from being a cartoon-like ‘lovable’ villain into a complete & utter little shit that you wanted to smack yourself.
5. Tywin & Arya
Arya Stark, the missing youngest daughter of House Stark, is keeping herself low key and learning how to blend in with the classes of Westeros. As such, she ends up as a servant girl to Tywin Lannister, the head of the Lannister family, with the knowledge that they caused her father’s execution. The two develop a bond with Tywin’s coldness being punctured by Arya’s sharp retorts. Their verbal duels were usually the highlight of the episode they were in and both Charles Dance & the young Maisie Williams bring the best out of each other, in the start of Arya Stark’s memorable buddy friendships with people she wants dead.
4. Tyrion’s speech at King’s Landing
After the relative success of the wildfire attack (see #1), House Lannister’s ill prepared military forces still have to deal with a ground attack from Stannis Baratheon’s forces who are better trained and equipped. With King Joffrey plummeting the men’s morale by agreeing to retreat inside his castle at his mother’s command, it’s up to Tyrion to be the little man with the big speech as he rouses the troops with a powerful and commanding off the cuff set of words. The highlight – “Those are brave men knocking at our door. Let’s go kill them!”
3. Theon beheading Rodrik
It’s our boy Theon again. After being influenced by his father, he turns on House Stark and pledges his allegiance to his birthplace. His first mission is to go and raid Winterfell. House Stark’s former master of arms Rodrik stands up to the cocky young commander and wanting to make an example to his untrusting men, Theon requests that he is beheaded. His former captor/adoptive father Ned Stark was killed this same way but in a brilliant counterpoint, whilst Ned’s quick and swift, Theon makes a brutal hash of it. It takes a few hacks of an axe and even a kick to finally rid Rodrik of his head in a gory and vicious display. Theon crossed a line here in a scene which was genuinely shocking in the amount of gore on display, in a show not afraid to be gruesome.
2. The White Walkers walk
With the end of season two drawing to a close with a few events left up in the air, we end with poor Sam, a well meaning & clever but bumbling member of the Night’s Watch, alone north of the Wall. He is found upon by an army of the walking undead race called the Walkers as they march onwards. One stops to eye Sam atop of his undead horse before moving on, leaving him unharmed. A powerful image to close the season on and the appetite is whetted for their eventual full return and expansion of their mythos further on down the road.
Watch from 2:10 to see the White Walkers, or the entire video for a recap of Season 2 Episode 10.
With the main build of Season 2 coming towards the eventual invasion of King’s Landing by Stannis Baratheon and the Lannister family still organising their newly gained kingdom, they have to think of creative ways to turn the fight to their favour. Tyrion is in secret council with an old magician through Season 2 and he creates Wildfire – an explosive material magic. Loading a boat up with it and floating in under the cover of night into Stannis’ fleet, the resulting explosion is an incredible dynamite success and a powerful visual of green flames. Given that Thrones is a show built mostly on it’s practical effects, the fact that a computer generated image like this stands out above and beyond everything else in this season is a testament to the crew members, as it’s not everyday you see an explosion on this scale in Westeros nor as impressive. It’s done so well it would make Michael Bay weep at how garbage he gets away with calling “pyro” compared to this.
Agree with the list? Think there’s a glaring omission or something which has no place being on any ‘Top Ten’ list? Or simply want to talk about the show? Get involved and let us know in the comments section below.