Game of Thrones refresher: Season 2 recap


When Game of Thrones Season 1 finished, nearly everyone thought it couldn’t be matched. Season 2 exceeded all expectations and proved doubters wrong.

The first season of Game of Thrones hooked the world with a magnificent story, incredible characters, and the absolute lack of compassion for lead character story arcs. If it’s your time to go, GRRM has no problem writing you out of the story posthaste.

Which made the second season of Game of Thrones so exciting. It was new, but it wasn’t. A second first-date. If Ned Stark, who was universally loved by fans, could get decapitated, then anything can happen going forward!

Season intro

After the Starks and the Lannisters established their rivalry, the Lannisters firmly seized control, sending Westeros into a chaotic and eponymous battle for the throne. The real question is whether or not any of it really matters, since Daenerys is P.O.’d, and has actual, real life dragons that breathe fire on her command.

Episode highlights

The North Remembers. B. <ul><li>Craster’s Keep introduces incest, and the first hint Jon Snow might rule</li><li>Joffrey orders a citywide, Baratheon bastard slaughter command</li><li>Stannis learns Joffrey is a bastard, plots his invasion with Melisandre</li></ul>. Game of Thrones. S2E1

The Night Lands. B+. <ul><li>An unlikely friendship forms between Arya, Jaqen H’ghar, and Gendry</li><li>Male babies at Craster’s Keep are White Walker sacrifices</li><li>Theon nearly “Lannisters” his sister, and is rejected by his father</li></ul>. Game of Thrones. S2E2

There’s a bit more time spent north of the Wall at the start of Season 2. While southerners squabble, it turns out the Wildlings are gathering, and others are working in conjunction with White Walkers. Additionally, it seems that nobody – not the Lannisters or the Greyjoys – are interested in the offers proposed by Robb Stark. War is inevitable.

B+. <ul><li>Renly Baratheon, Loras Tyrell, & Margaery Tyrell threesome?</li><li>Despite Theon’s pleading, Balon Greyjoy confirms plans to attack the North</li><li>A girl (Arya) rescues a man (Jaqen H’ghar) and he owes her a favor</li></ul>. Game of Thrones. S2E3. What Is Dead May Never Die

Game of Thrones. S2E4. Garden of Bones. A+. <ul><li>Robb Stark wins a battle, meets Talisa, loses the war</li><li>Ser Davos takes Melisandre to birth a game-changing smoke monster</li><li>Joffrey’s sadism is exposed when he orders Sansa and a prostitute beaten</li></ul>

Robb Stark has proven himself a worthy commander, besting the Lannisters. He proves to be flawed in three other ways, however, when he doesn’t at least entice Roose Bolton to be loyal, and completely ignores the Frey-pact when he crushes on Talisa. All that aside, he also won’t consider trading his prisoner Jamie Lannister to get his two sisters back.

Image: HBO
Image: HBO /

Arya Stark’s emergence as a threat may also have started this episode. She becomes Tywin Lannister’s cupbearer at Harrenhal, and is able to lie her way out of danger, despite being inches from the head of her family’s enemy.

A+. <ul><li>Melisandre’s smoke baby assassinates Renly Baratheon</li><li>Brienne of Tarth is blamed, flees with and swears fealty to Catelyn Stark</li><li>In Qarth, wealthy Xaro Xhoan Daxos proposes to Daenerys Targaryen</li></ul>. Game of Thrones. S2E5. The Ghost of Harrenhal

The Old Gods and the New. A+. <ul><li>Theon Greyjoy besieges Winterfell, botches Ser Rodrik Cassel’s execution</li><li>Joffrey gets a cow flop facial, orders guards to kills hundreds, causes a riot</li><li>Jon Snow captures, hesitates killing, loses, then recaptures Ygritte</li></ul>. Game of Thrones. S2E6

A Man Without Honor. B. <ul><li>Theon tricks Winterfell with burned bodies, supposedly Bran & Rickon</li><li>Pyat Pree and Xaro assassinate Qarth ruling council, steal the dragons</li><li>Jamie Lannister kills a nobleman’s son, causing Robb Stark ambivalence</li></ul>. Game of Thrones. S2E7

Arya’s arrangement with Jaqen H’ghar has moved on the past few episodes. He has killed the Tickler and Amory Lorch. Waiting on the third victim is agony. Arya has all sorts of demons and she should have been using her three wishes from the death genie a little more carefully. It’s as if she knows nothing about counting or patience, like her “brother.”

Game of Thrones
Maisie Williams in Game of Thrones. Photo: HBO /

Sandor “The Hound” Clegane also saved Sansa from being raped, proving her vulnerability and his compassion. Later when she starts to menstruate, she realizes she may end up getting raped by Joffrey anyway. Oddly, there’s also a scenario where Cersei shows some sympathy for Sansa regarding her marriage to Joffrey.

C+. <ul><li>Arya obliges Jaqen H’ghar to help her escape Harrenhal</li><li>Katelyn Stark orders Brienne to escort Jamie Lannister to King’s Landing</li><li>Theon Greyjoy stays at Winterfell despite the urging of Yara Greyjoy</li></ul>. Game of Thrones. S2E8. The Prince of Winterfell

<ul><li>Tyrion unleashes Wildfire, earns his scar, and leads Lannister victory</li><li>Cersei is willing to kill herself and her children with poison</li><li>Allied with House Tyrell, Tywin’s cavalry finishes Stannis’s army.</li></ul>. Game of Thrones. S2E9. Blackwater. A+

Game of Thrones. S2E10. Valar Morghulis. A+. <ul><li>Jaqen H’ghar offers Arya training at Braavos if she says “Valar Morghulis”</li><li>Joffrey agrees to wed Margaery & Robb marries Talisa, betraying the Freys</li><li>“Dracarys” & Pyat Pree is fried, Daenerys locks Xaro in a vault and buys a ship</li><li>North of the wall, Jon Snow earns Wilding trust, Sam sees a White Walker</li></ul>

End of season recap

The Westeros South is warring and picking sides, but they don’t see the greater threats (i.e. Daenerys and her growing strength, the army of undead) headed their way. Nonetheless, the turning point for several major characters begins in Season 2. Arya is one step closer to being fierce, while Theon Greyjoy is heading the exact opposite direction. The two potential weddings are set up this season as well.

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House Rankings

  1. Lannister – Crown-holders and forming bonds
  2. Tyrell – United with the Lannisters, about to be royalty
  3. Targaryen – Real dragons, growing army, and a ship
  4. Baratheon – Crushing defeat at Blackwater
  5. Greyjoy – Theon’s down, but the family is stable
  6. Stark – Dropped significantly, house in disarray
  7. Martell – Potential Martell & Lannister union!
  8. Frey – They were looking good, but not to Robb Stark
  9. Arryn – The Sweden of Westeros

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Game of Thrones returns to HBO Sunday, April 14 at 9/8c.