Game of Thrones – Season 2
Game of Thrones, based on R.R. Martin’s “A Clash of Kings”, the second book from his “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, is grand. With multiple stories running through each other and countless characters it’s far from an easy series to jump into and you really have to pay attention if you want to keep up. It’s the Lord of the Rings of television but with so much more time at its disposal this series goes ten times deeper than Peter Jackson’s masterpiece. The makers, however, do succeed in putting things together in such a way that it doesn’t become a chaotic and messy piece, but guides the viewer minute by minute as the stories of the Lannisters, the Starks, the Baratheons and the people surrounding these families unfold.
Although you could point out different things as being at the centre of Game of Thrones, we feel it all turns a bit around the position of the “Hand of the King”. In the first season we saw how Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) in that position was investigating the murder of the previous “Hand”, an investigation that ultimately led to his death. In this second season it’s Tyrion Lannister’s turn, the dwarf brother of young King Joffrey, who shines in his role of master manipulator who gladly plays away the other manipulators that roam the throne.
Peter Dinklage pays tribute to his role of Tyrian and shows a multitude of emotions but what gets noticed mostly is how he rises above himself and introduces a form of moral to the Lannister family. He may be a master manipulator with some small edges (literally), he also has clear weak points and a feeling of honor that makes him one of the most popular and intrigueing characters in the series.
The death of King Baratheon has made that the sadistical Joffrey sits on the throne, but the rest of the Seven Kingdoms isn’t all too happy with that. Robert’s older brother Stannis is legally most entitled to the throne but that doesn’t stop his younger brother Renly from making his own claim. Things don’t get easier as Robb Stark out of anger for his father’s death claims himself as being King of the North and starts a war against the Lannisters to gain independence. Meanwhile, Daenerys Targaryen on the other side of the Narrow Sea is looking for a way to return to her former homeland to claim back the throne she feels is hers. And she has an advantage the other wannabe kings don’t have: three newly born dragons. While all these “kings” fight amongst themselves, there’s an imminent danger waiting on the other side of the Wall in the North that all of them seems to have forgotten…
Except for Daenerys Targaryen we see that all the fighting is done by men, but what gets noticed very much is how big the influence is of the women. Just about every pretender of the throne has a strong woman by his side who has great influence on the decisions to be made. Sex is clearly one of their means and the series therefore doesn’t mind showing off a boob or two, but it never feels cheap.
This second season has a bit more action than the first, but the stories remain very deep and intriguing even though things aren’t being made easier to follow as several characters who in the first season had a small role suddenly become more important while also new characters get introduced. You really need to remain focused, but the reward of that is equally satisfying.
If you compare Game of Thrones with a movie then season 1 is the introduction, where season 2 contains the first action scenes and the story really goes rolling. The end is far from near but everything is being built up to get to an amazing conclusion. As such, the end of season 2 may be a bit disappointing, but in the bigger scheme of things it offers enough intrigue to get you longing for season 3. Game of Thrones is a great series of previously unseen grandure and HBO shows their slogan “it’s not television, it’s HBO” is not just bragging.
Where the quality of the storylines is already extremely high, this certainly goes for the image quality of this Blu-ray. TV shows have never looked as good as Game of Thrones now on BLU. We get an abundance of locations and atmospheric images and everything is shown perfectly up to the smallest detail. Contrast is spot-on, skin tones are exact as they should be, detail is incredibly high without it becomes disturbing, and despite some images here and there looking a bit soft, generally speaking it all looks very sharp. Astonishing!
Qua sound we get equal quality. Dialogues are perfectly understandable at all times, there are many effects that come out of the different speakers and this goes from soft background noises to loud bangs and full-blown battle scenes where you hear swords klinging against each other from all sides in your living room. Game of Thrones easily can take on any blockbuster movie when it comes to sound.
Qua extras we also get a nice treatment. There’s a ton of audio commentary tracks, seven characters profiles in a 16 minute feature (you can also check them out seperately), a half hour behind the scenes look at the “Battle of Blackwater Bay”, a 21 minute roundtable discussion with several cast members on their characters and storylines, an 8 minute feature where George R.R. Martin, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss talk about the different religions in the series, an In-Episode Guide that shows which characters and locations appear in each scene, 19 geanimated stories about the legends and history of Westeros, and an interactive map where you can find detailled information on the pretenders to the Iron Throne.