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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Action > Epic > War > Cable TV > Game Of Thrones – The Complete Second Season (2012/HBO Blu-ray w/DVD Set)

Game of Thrones – Season Two (2012/HBO Blu-ray w/DVD Set)

Picture: B/B-     Sound: B/B-     Extras: A+     Episodes: B+


HBO’s ambitious adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series of warring houses continues with Game of Thrones – The Complete Second Season.  This multi-disc, 10-episode saga adapts the events of Mr. Martin’s second book, A Clash of Kings.  With Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark dead, there’s little left to hold Westeros’ restive factions together. House Stark and its eldest scion, Robb (Richard Madden) go to war to avenge the death of his father.  Declaring himself King in the North, Robb Stark makes war on the forces of young King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and House Lannister.  Meanwhile, Robb is betrayed by his longtime friend, Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), and another front in the war opens.

While the dark magics of the Red Priestess Melisandre (Carice van Houten) claim yet another king’s life, her lover and thrall King Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) assaults the Lannisters at King’s Landing, seat of power in Westeros.  While this all may sound sweeping and grand (and it is), Game of Thrones really excels with the smaller aspects of Martin’s tale.  The struggle of young Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) to survive first in the countryside, and then as a prisoner of the very men she hates the most, provides riveting viewing.  True to the book, she recites the names of those who will die at her hands to avenge her father every night before she sleeps.  Her seemingly more delicate elder sister Sansa (Sophie Turner) is not so lucky as a political prisoner of the sociopathic Joffrey, and she suffers torture and indignity at his hands.

While these and every other performance sparkle in the show, no one inhabits his character quite like Peter Dinklage.  As the dwarfish Tyrion Lannister he owns Season Two. This conflicted man struggles with his duty to his house and family, and an inner nobility that makes him vulnerable amongst a nest of vipers at court.  As the Hand of the King he tries to both reign in Joffrey’s madness and defend King’s Landing from Stannis’ hordes. While seemingly the opposite of Tyrion, the tall and dashing Jon Snow (Kit Harington) also struggles with his duty.  As a member of Night’s Watch he lives in snowy exile in the far north, and learns of a grave and gathering threat to all of Westeros.  While Jon Snow freezes in the north, across the Narrow Sea Princess Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) also learns terrible truths while seeking the power to reclaim her kingdom.  Now with three baby dragons to care for, she finds no shortage of suitors for her favor, but also learns the dangers of trusting strangers.

While Season Two covers much of the essentials of A Clash of Kings, some really important stuff gets left out. The infamous Red Wedding is left for early in Season 3.  Much of Daenerys’ wanderings and struggles are compacted and re-worked.  Robb’s fateful decision to break his vow to the Freys and marry a woman from a lesser house gets rewritten with a completely new character.  The story of Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and Theon’s sack of Winterfell suffers a bit of trimming and re-working as well.  While these changes will niggle those readers who crave a purer film version of Mr. Martin’s books, they do not compromise the overall tale or rob it of its power. HBO and writers/showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss deliver the goods when it comes to pivotal moments, battles, costumes, and characters. Inspired casting helps a lot here.

Like Dinklage and Tyrion, Gwendoline Christie becomes Brienne of Tarth, and Iain Glen conveys all of the tragic nobility needed to play Ser Jorah Mormont.  There isn’t a single poor performance in the lot, and combined with resources and artistry of the creative crew, Thrones delivers fantasy entertainment like no other series before it.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 image and DTS-MA 5.1 lossless sound mix are great again on the Blu-ray and passable on the anamorphically enhanced/Dolby Digital 5.1 DVD versions, though I liked the first set’s Blu-rays slightly better in playback, but the differences are not substantial.  You can read more about the Season One at this link:


Ample extras in this massive boxed set include countless interviews, behind the scenes features, and making-of shorts. If you don’t currently subscribe to HBO, this boxed set is the perfect way to experience Season Two of Game of Thrones.


-   Scott Pyle


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