Episode 2 picks up in the aftermath of Jamie’s chucking of Bran out the window, with some of the best scenes coming early on. While the episode as a whole was decent, the series still struggles somewhat to find its feet and balance, as the narrative threads are still developing and a bit unwieldy at times.
Some of the very best scenes come early on, especially with Cersei and Catelyn’s scene by Bran’s bedside, and then Ned and Robert on the Kingsroad discussing (or not discussing) Jon Snow’s mother and the circumstances of his birth.
The real impact of Cersei’s revelation that she lost a dark-haired child that looked just like Robert comes later, but Cersei is at her very best in this scene, showing equal parts conniving and brutal honesty as she alternates baring her soul with blatant lies about praying for Bran’s recovery.
It’d be easy to write the whole speech off as lies but part of what makes Cersei so dangerous is her knowledge that the best lies have a good part of truth in them as well; Catelyn’s response is perfect as well, as without a word she conveys the unease and imbalance that Cersei has swept in and introduced with her unprompted and touching tale.
With Robert and Ned it’s a similar scene, where the most important words are left unspoken, and they circle warily around one another and their shared history, both bound in different ways to the path they cut through life.
Game of Thrones has gotten praise for the strength of the child actors but for me it’s kind of boom and bust; Arya, Bran, and Sansa are booms but Joffrey is a pretty big bust; not only do I continue to want to punch him in the face whenever he appears on the scree but he managed to drag even Tyrion down in the silly cliched slap-fest scene early on.
Viserys thankfully only plays a cameo, but Daenerys gets a ton of screen time, including some girl-on-girl action. Unfortunately she manages to cement her role as one of the least talented (and for me least interesting) characters in the series.
Once again the Dothraki horde is reduced to a handful of horses ambling around on trails and a campsite with a couple of dozen people milling around trying to look barbarian-like.
I’ll grant that the Daenerys-Drogo thread by necessity must develop slowly but I just find myself tapping my foot everytime we get another interminable scene with the Dothraki, and largely bored with the one-dimensional characters that we see painted with just a single color.
The action is obviously still building but this one was a bit of a snoozer of an episode; other than the early scenes there wasn’t a lot to latch onto here, with the final result being somewhat just the necessary exposition and filler to get us to Episode 3.