Game of Thrones, Season 2, Ep 1 “The North Remembers”

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

So I opened my media viewer and looked for season 1, episode 11… and there was none. It was only after a few panicked minutes when I searched online and found that season 1 only has 10 episodes in it, that I breathed a sigh of relief and turned to the first episode of season 2.

The opening credits show a new place on the map: an island called Dragonstone. I immediately thought this must have something to do with Daenerys. Maybe she takes her group of followers on a small ship to an island in the middle of the Narrow Sea and sets up a colony where she starts raising dragons. It turns out this didn’t happen at all.

Winterfell: Bran is still having weird dreams. The recap at the start of the episode reminds me of a bit from the previous episode which I think I forgot to mention last time. He dreamt that he heard Ned’s voice in the crypts where past Starks are buried, and then went down there later to investigate, and ran into his younger brother, who said he was also down there looking for their father! So something weird is going on with Ned Stark and some sort of influence from beyond the grave. I guess we might see his ghost or something at some point.

This time Bran dreams of walking through the forest, looking up and seeing a red comet in the sky, and then looking into a pool of water, and seeing his reflection – and in the reflection he’s a wolf! The red comet turns out to be real, and we see it in the sky above scenes in other locations throughout this episode. It’s clearly an omen, but of what? Various theories are mentioned by various characters, but the most convincing is given by the wild woman who accompanies Bran into the forest. She says it means dragons, but Bran dismisses this, saying dragons died out hundreds of years ago. Oh how wrong he is. He crawls to a pool in the forest and looks at his reflection, but sees only himself, not the wolf of his dream.

So, Bran’s dreams clearly mean something, but it’s not at all clear what yet. I’d venture that the three-eyed raven represents an all-seeing messenger – something prophetic. But what the message or prophecy is is a mystery still. I suspect that what we’ve seen so far will all become clear in hindsight at some point when the meaning of these dreams is revealed to Bran. For the moment, he’s denying that he’s having the dreams – telling the wild woman that he has not been dreaming lately. She sensibly doesn’t believe him.

North of The Wall: The Night’s Watch visit the home of a wildling man. I was surprised by this. I assumed the wildlings were… well, wild, and didn’t live in structures. But this guy seems just like a farmer or something. Except for the fact that he marries all his daughters and has more daughters with them, which Samwell finds appropriately disgusting. Someone raises the question of where are all the sons… but this is ominously never answered. Obviously the sons are getting up to no good – probably kicked out into the snow and turning into White Walkers or something.

The wildling guy eyes a fine axe that one of the Watch is carrying, and Commander Mormont gives it to him in exchange for shelter for the night. Mr Wildling warns everyone not to touch his daughters/wives, and the Commander reinforces this sternly. You just know someone is going to get into trouble… possibly Samwell, given he’s previously expressed a desire for female company. Though he seems a bit too meek and sensible to give into temptation here.

Robb’s war camp: Robb is settling into his role as King of the North, trying to think of a way to get Sansa and Arya back from Joffrey’s clutches. Trading the highly valuable Jaime Lannister for them would appear weak, so he gives more demanding terms to a captured Lannister cousin and instructs him to carry the message to King’s Landing.

Robb intimidates the captured Jaime, making it look like he is going to sic his wolf on him, which is the first thing we’ve seen that makes Jaime actually cringe a bit. The wolf’s teeth get very close, and Jaime shuts his eyes, but the wolf is gone when he opens them again.

Theon Greyjoy suggests that Robb ask his father for ships. Robb has no naval forces, and the Greyjoys live on an island, so are masters of the sea. If the Greyjoys join Robb, it will vastly improve his chances. But Robb isn’t so sure, and others point out that the Greyjoys can’t be trusted.

Robb instructs his mother to ride south to Renly Baratheon, Robert’s younger brother, to see if she can talk him into joining forces with Robb. This would give him 200,000 men, twice what the Lannisters have. Cat wants to return to Winterfell, but agrees to try her luck with Renly. And so we see several more pieces in the giant game of Risk that is about to unfold all over Westeros. Who will ally with who is anyone’s guess at this point, and I don’t dare venture to be so bold.

What I assume is Dragonstone: It’s not Daenerys at all. There’s a weird ceremony on a beach with lots of burning effigies, and a witch-like woman in red who says something about a sword being plucked from fire. A man steps forward and pulls a flaming sword out of a burning effigy, to cheers from the crowd. It turns out this is Stannis Baratheon, Robert’s older brother, and the rightful heir to the throne (given Joffrey isn’t Robert’s son). He looks younger, fitter, and more capable than Robert. And he has declared himself king, following the word from Ned (sent just before he died) that Joffrey is illegitimate. So we have yet another faction on the table. Turns out he hates his younger brother Renly too, and Renly has also declared himself a king! This is turning into a real mess.

King’s Landing: Joffrey continues being nasty, and Sansa has learnt to simply parrot what he wants to hear. Bu there’s still some defiance in her, which slips out occasionally. I don’t think she’s given up entirely – I think she’s biding her time until an opportunity arises for her to escape or strike.

Littlefinger, aka Lord Petyr Baelish, confronts Cersei, dropping strong hints that he too knows the secret of Joffrey’s parentage. He says, “Knowledge is power.” Bad move, Petyr. Cersei orders her men to cut his throat, which they immediately make to do, grabbing him and pulling out a blade. Cersei calls them off at the last possible second, saying, “Power is power.” Petyr had better watch his step from now on.

The rumour about Jaime and Cersei’s incestuous relationship is apparently travelling the courtly grapevine now, because Joffrey asks Cersei about it. He also has wind that since Robert never really had children with Cersei, he may have gone looking elsewhere, and there may be bastard children floating about. Next thing we know, guards are raiding Petyr’s whorehouse and slitting the throats of all the babies and drowning the children they find there, lest any be Robert’s. A blacksmith is tortured and reveals there was a grown child of Robert’s, his apprentice (who we saw several episodes ago), who has left town but can be identified by a bull-shaped helmet he made himself.

We see the apprentice and his bull helmet sitting next to Arya on the caravan north. So we have two desperately wanted fugitives in this group. Whoever finds them first will have a lot of bargaining power. If nobody finds them on their way north, I suppose they’ll eventually pass near Winterfell, which will prompt Arya to make a run for home. At least I hope so.

Dothraki-land: I thought Daenerys would head west to the sea, but it seems she’s going east, though a hostile desert. This doesn’t make any sense to me. Her band is starving, and she hasn’t found anything the dragon babies will eat yet. She knows they eat meat, but not what sort. I’m guessing they need to eat human flesh. Which shouldn’t be too long coming somehow. She sends riders off in a few different directions to seek the nearest towns or food or water or whatever. They’ll have to find something soon. I can’t imagine Daenerys or her dragons will die any time soon.

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