A nasty boy king brings back 'Game of Thrones'
April 2nd, 2012
10:33 AM ET

A nasty boy king brings back 'Game of Thrones'

Editor's Note: This post contains spoilers for the April 1 episode of HBO's "Game of Thrones," as well as season 1 of the show and the George R.R. Martin novel of the same name.

A little incest, a little bloodshed and a whole bunch of folks scheming to sit on an uncomfortable steel chair - welcome back, "Game of Thrones."

The season 2 premiere, "The North Remembers," starts and finishes by driving home a point most viewers probably were already well aware of: new King Joffrey is a rotten little bastard (literally).

The episode begins with Joffrey celebrating his "name day" (think "birthday in a place where they're not sure babies are going to live") by making his loyal subjects fight to the death for his amusement. After his servant, The Hound, tosses an opponent to his death, Joffrey decides aging, drunken Ser Dontos would be more amusing with a funnel stuffed down his throat, literally drowning in wine.

It's only when Joffrey's betrothed, Sansa Stark - who's at this point a glorified hostage - suggests that Dontos would be more amusing as Joffrey's court jester that he allows him to live.

The party gets soured for the snot-nosed boy king when his uncle Tyrion (the beloved, and Emmy-winning Peter Dinklage) shows up with news that he's been named Hand of the King - the kingdom's equivalent of vice president.

The news causes Joff's mom and de facto queen, Cersei, to go all "Hitler Reacts" at a council meeting, and the obvious bad blood between the two sets up one of the season's saltier conflicts.

"That bit of theater will haunt our family for a generation," Tyrion says, referring to Joffrey's execution of former Hand of the King Ned Stark. And when he notes that their hard-nosed father blames her, the black-sheep dwarf scores one of the episode's best zings: "It must be odd for you to be the disappointing child."

Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys is learning that having three baby dragons doesn't help when your few remaining followers are stranded in the desert. She sends out her three best warriors to find water, a civilization that doesn't want her dead or, really, anything more pleasant than blistering heat.

We meet Stannis, late King Robert's oldest brother and, since Joffrey is really an inbred bastard (literally), the rightful claimant to the throne. We learn that he's a pinch-faced, sour dude under the influence of Melisandre, a mysterious fire priestess who starts out winning the hearts of Stannis' troops with a ceremony burning idols of their current gods.

Out in the field, Ned's son Robb Stark - the would-be "King in the North" - follows a chain of victories by menacing captive Jaime Lannister with his now CGI-enhanced (read: massive) dire wolf, and sending dubious ward Theon Greyjoy to ask his father to lend his fleet of war ships to the effort. (Despite the fact that the Starks have been holding Theon hostage for most of his life).

But the episode's real "Damn, That's Creepy" moment comes north of The Wall, where Jon Snow and his brothers of the Night's Watch have journeyed to seek out his uncle, Benjen, and try to figure out what's going on with the restless wildlings and the mysterious White Walkers (think zombies on steroids).

They enlist the help of an "ally" named Craster, who tells them former watchman-turned-"King Beyond the Wall" Mance Rayder has quelled the typical feuds between the wild folks, and is gathering them all together in an army. You know ... because what this world needs right now is one more king.

Craster also has the less-than-savory habit of "marrying" the dozens of daughters that run around his cabin like felines at the crazy cat-lady's place. And what does he do with those daughter-wives? Make more daughters, of course. So, what could go wrong when a bunch of rangers who haven't seen a woman in months, or years, bunk down at a house full of young women? And what exactly happens when Craster has a son? Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, back at King's Landing, Joffrey learns the (accurate) rumor spreading that he's not Robert's rightful heir, but instead the offspring of an incestuous relationship between his mother and uncle, Jaime. He confronts Cersei, which leads to one of the episode's finer moments - a well-placed slap across the chops. (Slapping Joffrey, it turns out, is a real fan favorite on this show.)

His response? Dispatching watch captain Janos Slynt (who already betrayed Ned Stark) to slaughter every child in King's Landing who may be one of randy Robert's offspring. The most brutal? A disturbing brothel scene in which a newborn is ripped from its mother's arms before Slynt does the honors himself.

And the show closes with a shot of Gendry, the blacksmith's apprentice who may not only be Robert's son, but a trueborn son of Robert and Cersei who was believed dead, heading to The Wall with Ned's youngest daughter, Arya, who has disguised herself as a boy.

There was a lot of exposition in this opening episode. But it's not hard to see the action cranking up again quickly. What did you think - great, good or disappointing? What was your favorite scene? Let us know in the comments.

soundoff (31 Responses)
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    April 12, 2012 at 2:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. korian

    What do dragons eat? Seared human flesh of course – it's got to be the only answer. I kept thinking that's what we'll see when Danny puts her brother-in-law's body parts on the funeral pyre – can't you just see it? The dragons fighting to get out of their cages, and when they do, they swoop down on the burning funeral pyre, grabbing, and pulling off, little tid-bits of cooked human flesh. When you think about it, it does make wonderful sense, doesn't it? We've heard stories of giant dragons laying waste to entire cities, destroying the inhabitants – makes lots of sense, right?

    April 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tina

    Noochy what are you talking about? Cersei had an ABORTION in the book, she didn't give the baby to Pycelle to kill him...

    April 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Best part

    Until they give me my fill... the best part of any episode... will be the dragons. Should have tried the blood of a horse to see if that little guy would drink that...

    April 3, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Worst part

    I disagree with the part about the wolf and Jaime. The great thing about Jaime is that truly fears nothing and is able to laugh in the face of anything he's confronted with. Just seemed a little contrived and not in character, especially this early in the series.

    April 3, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  10. Nolij

    I liked the line where the Night's Watch commander told John Snow that if he wants to become a leader of men, he first needs to learn to follow.

    April 2, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. TXviewer

    I agree with Daneyko Berexan. There are so many sword and sorcerer series book out there that many more of these series can be done. My mrs got wrapped up in it and wanted to go out and buy season 1. This is something I will have to do, although we watch the reruns we both missed parts. We are dying to know how Joffrey gets his. Will it be Sansa or will it be Arya and Needle. Don't tell me I did not read the books and I want to be surprised.

    April 2, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Adam

    I think episode one was a little underwhelming. Focusing too much on making sure that each of the major plots got started without doing any real character building, however this is likely to become slower as the series moves forth. Having read all of the books multiple times, there are a few scenes which are missing but of course that is to be expected. The scene where Robb is talking to Theon, though, feels so right that I believe it really should be in the book.

    April 2, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Noochy

      I loved the Look on Jaimes face when the wolf was growling in his face. excellent acting of pure terror.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. TheMovieFan

    Tyrion should not have let Cersei off so easily in the council meeting.

    April 2, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. David

    I am glad that Game of Thrones is back on! The action looks like it will be taken to a higher level. This also helps fill the void that the walking dead, boardwalk empire, and true blood left when they are on hiatus!

    April 2, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. douggross

    It's a bit of speculation. But, remember, Cersei told the story of a black-haired boy, born before Joffrey, who died after childbirth. It's definitely not a sure thing.

    April 2, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Baelor

      That story was back in the day, I didn't even think of it. Still, that's a fair jump. Don't get me wrong, would't be a bad idea, but I wish I'd caught on to that (if it were there to catch on to). Thanks!

      April 2, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      The book makes no mention of hair color in regard to Cersei's first child. This was only added in the TV series, presumably to provide corroboration to the notion that Robert's children all have black hair. For a television or film adaptation of a book, there is no narration or internal monologue to provide background information for the story. Everything has to delivered through dialogue between characters.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • fluffy

      Where in the book (and which book) is it implied that Gendry is Cersei and Roberts??

      April 4, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  16. Baelor

    Hold on! "...the show closes with a shot of Gendry, the blacksmith's apprentice who may not only be Robert's son, but a trueborn son of Robert and Cersei who was believed dead, heading to The Wall ..."

    How did we come to the conclustion that Gendry is possibly the legit son?

    April 2, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Noochy

      Cersei's first son was not blond haired so she pulled a Lannister and told Maester Pycelle to kill the baby (as she only wanted to have pure children with Jaime) in the book ... Gendry may or may not be a legit heir. Hence, "the seed is strong" because John Arryn knew she wanted the baby did so him and Pycelle stole him away and killed a different baby to show her (in the book). Pretty much the same switch-a-roo as with Aegon Targaryen.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • kelseytish13

      i was wondering the same thing!

      April 2, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      Go back to episode 2 or 3 from last season and the explanation lies there. Gendry is working in a foundry and is spotted by Lord Stark, who figures out who he is, based on his appearance.

      April 4, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  17. Pliny

    As Daenerys would say.....Joffrey 'will die screaming'.

    April 2, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Daneyko Berexan

    I have been watching Game of Thrones since it began, and was happy to see it return, the plot seems so derivative of other stories like the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time Series (what a series that would make) that I find myself hoping that someone from Hollywood will search 'out of the box' for more Interesting fodder like Wil Adams' 'To Destroy Mankind or even his Hispanic Super Heroine The Dream Caster. Like Taco Joe, above I am tired of The Kardashians. The truth is that the 'Reality' genre was delivered a sever blow when celebrities were added to the cast in shows like Survivor, and Apprentice. Get with the program Hollywood Producers, and start looking for new writers with new ideas.

    April 2, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      This series has very little in common with Jordan's series other than it happens to be in the same genre.

      April 15, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  19. mary

    I thought it was great – it set up the coming action perfectly. And yes, my favorite scene was Cersei slapping Joffrey – that needs to happen again...and again...

    April 2, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  20. Taco Joe

    People never post unless its a blog about Kim Kardashian. The love her.

    April 2, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  21. Jeff

    I really like the talking dog that smokes cigars. That Stewie character is cool too. Those 2 really make this show width watching.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |

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