Episode two review, The Night Lands

The Night Lands

Per usual the plot is thickening from word one. Goldcloaks arrive in the camp of Yoren and his recruits in search of Gendry the blacksmith’s apprentice instead of Arya Stark. It seems that Arya isn’t the only one with a secret identity. The goldcloaks, in search of Gendry, are shooed off by a well placed dagger to the testicles, courtesy of the tough-as-nails, Crow recruiter Yoren.

It's moments like these when you begin to question your life choices.

Tyrion and Varys the Spider have a nice little scene together. I thought it gave light to the “game” itself. While remaining cordial, Varys’ visit to Tyrion’s mistress merely illustrated his reach and influence. The visit itself appeared a nicety, but for viewers we knew it to be of a much more malicious intent. Perhaps Varys doesn’t mean Tyrion harm, but he certainly doesn’t want Tyrion to discount him in any way.

The famed coward Samwell Tarly grew the stones to talk to a girl, albeit one of Craster’s wives. So maybe not such a smart move on his part since the incestuous Craster threatened to dismember any Crow he caught making nice with one of his wives. But we come to see the fear that’s inherent to living on the other side of the Wall. A mean necessity dictates life to the North. While the people in the South play their games and have their wars, it would seem the troubles the Crows have will foreshadow the shape of things to come for the entire continent of Westeros.

Tyrion starts cleaning house, starting with the small council. Janos Slynt gets his just reward for being a baby killer and a backstabbing sell sword. Tyrion’s homeboy Bronn takes over in Janos’ stead and secures his future as the Hand of the King in hopes of lasting a bit longer than Ned Stark.

Sayonara Sucker.

Theon Greyjoy finally returns home to Pyke. Here we’re introduced to a cast of new characters and a whole new setting on the shores of the Ironborn. Unfortunately for Theon he unwittingly hits on his sister Asha on the way to his family keep and gets a royal disappointment from his father. Besides treating his son like crap, we find out that Balon Greyjoy intends to sack and pillage the North. Rather than side with Robb Stark and his army, the Ironborn intend to take back their former glory. Who knows how well it will work out for them this time around. Balon Greyjoy was defeated by the North and forced to bend the knee the last time he decided to rebel, so this should be interesting.

Not much word on Daenarys at this point. Her storyline is kind of at a standstill as everybody is dying of thirst in the desert. Not exactly too exciting, but once again very brief. Thankfully.

Davos, the advisor of Stannis, aka the Onion Knight, introduces us to his old pirate buddy, Salladhor Saan. Hoping to convince Salladhor of joining forces, Davos believes the promise of profit will lure the many ships Salladhor commands to Stannis’ side. And yet again we’re introduced to more characters that will become seminal to the plot. The introduction of new characters will start to open like a flood gate, so the only advice I could give for those with a bad memory is to start making some Game of Thrones flash cards.

We see the persuasive power of Melisandre over Stannis. While I can’t be certain what her motivation is and I can guarantee there’s something fishy going on there. She’s definitely playing at her own little game and Stannis is quickly becoming one of her pawns. Aside from her powers that seemingly supersede the natural, she has offered Stannis a son. This will only cement her place more firmly over him in the future.

But on a much lighter note, the episode ends with a nice little bit of human sacrifice. We find out that Craster, everybody’s favorite creepy old fart from the woods, has some sort of deal worked out with the White Walkers. Or so it would seem. At the very least he’s leaving his newborn sons out in the woods as sacrifice. Jon Snow gets to witness this act and gets a nice knock on the noggin for his trouble.

All in all it was a pretty slow moving episode. There’s a lot of build up going on right now and I’m thinking there’s going to be some pretty huge battles between all these amassing armies. I’ll be interested to see how the show approaches these epic standoffs.

Intrigue heavy was the name of the game this go around and Tyrion has proven to be quite the talent at subterfuge. So this episode’s victor will have to be Tyrion again, although he’ll have his work cut out for him in the upcoming episodes as they may not be so Tyrion heavy.

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