Can Season Two keep up the ante in its second episode?
It seems that following up on a season premiere is getting to be something of a trickier prospect for Game Of Thrones nowadays, with Season Two's second instalment The Night Lands sadly failing to hit the heights of its predecessor. There's a few interesting minor plot developments, sure, but much is the problem with a direct adaptation of the second novel that the first half of that particular paperback wasn't exactly packed with big events like its predecessor.
We're treated to a strong variety of plot arcs being developed in some way or another, though. In the forests, Arya's identity as a girl and a lady of Winterfell becomes known to her accomplice, while Jon Snow deals with a troublesome pregnancy situation in the Northern forests that leads to a rather anti-climatic and basic cliffhanger. Meanwhile, in King's Landing we see the vicious acts of Joffrey begin to take shape behind the scenes, with Cersei and Tyrion both worried as to how things will turn out for the King if he continues his reckless slaughter campaign. Finally, on top of another minor scene of grief for Danerys and the remainder of the Dothraki tribe she commands, we see Davos witness Stannis Baratheon's corruption while Theon Greyjoy witnesses his own father's shunning of his actions for the Stark in the past.
Keeping up? Indeed, more than one colleague who was following this second episode confessed having real troubles understanding all of the various plot strands, moreso than ever in the fairly straight-forward first season. The A Song Of Ice And Fire series of novels by George R.R. Martin were always convoluted, yet there was something that seemed supremely simpler for Martin in accomplishing the various tales on paper than it does here on screen. Thankfully, though, despite the confusion, the cast keep up the ante in terms of acting quality throughout, endeavouring to make each and every performance captivating to watch.
In the end, then, Game Of Thrones: The Night Lands suffers from 'season premiere backlash', struggling to hold the same impact and gravitas as its predecessor. All the same, there's still tonnes of potential on offer here in the background, and I for one cannot wait to see the rest of this (Sky Atlantic re-run) season play out!