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Television Collision: Was There Enough Awesome in Season Two of Game of Thrones?

Written by: Phoebe Raven, CC2K Staff Writer

SPOILER ALERT! DO NOT READ if you haven’t seen the Season 2 finale of Game of Thrones!

Let’s not even pretend that I have to justify why I am writing about Game of Thrones again: the Season 2 finale is all the internet has been talking about since Sunday night and you know you can’t get enough geekery about this epic, will-still-be-talked-about-in-ten-years show, so let’s get right down to it.

Having watched the Season Two finale twice so far, I want to scream: “THAT WAS AWESOME!” But instead I find myself screaming: “THAT WAS… PRETTY GOOD!” I wrote about this phenomenon earlier in the season (after episode 4), that I wanted the second season of GoT to get an A, but could only manage to give it an A-. And this assessment hasn’t changed. While I was ridiculously excited at the end of the penultimate episode, “Blackwater”, because it finally featured an awesome battle in a season that was supposedly about clashing kings, the actual Season Finale on Sunday left me oddly giggling and amused instead of fiercely excited and on the edge of my seat. The final image, of the army of White Walkers marching towards the Wall, should have been epic and awesome, but all I could think was “And just like that, Game of Thrones has turned into The Walking Dead.”

Given what I thought about the second season of AMC’s zombie show, this was not a pleasant comparison. And yes, the White Walkers were awesome for the mere existence of their zombie horses alone, and yet I felt they came into the season too late to shock me the way I wanted them to shock me. As I previously stated, I wanted the tension of Season Two of GoT to come much more from the fact that all theses wanna-be kings are fighting each other when there is a much bigger danger approaching from the North. Yet for a good long while there, the White Walkers were nowhere to be seen. Daenerys Targaryen and her dragon babies could have been the other source of danger to the Seven Kingdoms, yet she was also woefully absent a lot, because her storyline moved at a different speed than the War of Kings in Westeros.

So we’ve established I wasn’t happy with the way the rise and fall of tension was handled this season and I would have liked to see more consequential danger looming in the background, yet there were still plenty of things scream-out-loud awesome about this season as well. I actually, literally, was applauding when someone finally whacked Theon. I loved to hate that character this season, although I understood his internal struggle a little bit, but ultimately I am too loyal to the House of Stark to let a traitor like Theon off the hook. So yeah, I cheered when he dropped to the ground (presumably not dead though). AWESOME!

I squealed with joy at the sight of my beloved Khal Drogo too. It was such a delight to have Jason Momoa back for that glorious moment. I hadn’t been aware of how much I missed the energy and the quality of intensity he brought to the screen last year, until I saw him again in this episode. And when Dany walked away from him and their son to save her dragon babies, my heart broke with hers all over again. Besides, Dany is one of my favorite characters anyway. The way she and her dragons brought down that creepy Qarth magician was seriously bad-ass. Those Westeros pansies are gonna have to buck up if they ever want to stand a chance against the Mother of Dragons. AWESOME!

I may have bitched and moaned a bit last year, when Sean Bean was overlooked for Emmy nominations and instead Peter Dinklage got the honor of being nominated and winning for his portrayal of Tyrion Lannister, but I have to say that his work this season appeased much of my anger about this snafu from last year. Dinklage has been nothing short of stellar all season long and Tyrion’s and Shea’s love story may just be my favorite of the entire franchise so far. (And no, this has nothing to do with the fact that the actress, Sibil Kekilli, is German and I think it’s hella cool to have a German actress in the best TV show in the world right now!) Needless to say their scene in Tyrion’s new “chambers” in the season finale just slayed me. I was sobbing like a little girl when she said “You have a shit memory. I am yours and you are mine.” AWESOME!

And then there were the small awesome moments: how Sansa actually giggled with glee walking away from Joffrey and his dismissal of her; how Jaqen H’ghar changed his face; how Brienne cut down three men in (almost) one fell swoop; and the dawning realization that – FUCK – the White Walkers are marching on Westeros, and Winterfell, the bastion against the dangers from the North, is EMTPY AND BURNED TO THE GROUND.

All in all, there was a fair amount of awesome packed into that season finale, which came as the pay-off ofa season, that had many pitfalls and was uneven and labored in a lot of places. And yet, there was a lot of evolution in the second season as well. While some critics (and lovers) of the show still take issue with the fact that the women are scantily clad even when there is no need for it, the amount of “sexposition” has been significantly scaled back. In fact, all of the sex has been scaled back compared to last season, which is all too fitting in a season that deals with things much grimmer and darker still than the dealings of Season One.

Given how impossibly complicated and intricate some of the storylines were, I thought the season as a whole handled the balance of it fairly well, even though some characters fell flatter than I had wished they would (among them Ros, Stannis, and Jon Snow, who is one of my favorite characters generally, he just didn’t get enough meaty story this year, just a bunch of walking through snow, being berated.) This is fair criticism that I don’t wish to sweep aside with the comment, “I bet this is more fleshed out in the books!”, which has become the go-to excuse for many people, who criticize Game of Thrones the TV Show, and yet feel the need to cushion that criticism. I think we are well within our rights and duty to point out where the show faltered this season, because it’s only going to get more complicated from here on out, so we want the makers of the show to be on their toes and take note of the things they can improve upon.

I believe Season 1 packed such a punch because it had a fairly singular major story arc that culminated in one of the most iconic on-screen deaths for decades to come. It was easy to rave about Season 1 of Game of Thrones. It is a bit harder to rave about Season 2, not only for the fact that I couldn’t for the life of me explain all of the events of the season to someone who hasn’t watched it. Nevertheless, by now we all have our favorite characters, who we root for and cheer on, always fearing they might be next to go, because if Renly’s death proved anything once again, it is that no one is safe in Westeros and beyond.
In the end, I am sticking to my guns and giving Season 2 of Game of Thrones an A-.

How about you?