Although we’re still pretty early in the second season of ‘Game of Thrones’, I think that I’m beginning to side with some viewer criticisms that the show is suffering for lack of a central character to root for. I get the sense that Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen are meant to be the main “heroes,” but both have gotten short shrift so far this season. Snow is barely in this week’s episode, and Dany doesn’t appear at all.
I understand that the books are supposedly structured similarly, such that certain characters seem to disappear for long stretches. However, the time in between in spent focused on other characters. The current season of the TV show, on the other hand, feels scattershot in approach. We don’t spend any particular amount of time with anyone. We get a brief scene with a character and then skip right along to the next one. I think the show might play better if it devoted each episode solely to one or two groups of characters. In that case, the exclusion of others would at least seem deliberate.
Anyway, let’s talk about ‘What Is Dead May Never Die’. As we last left things, skeevy old man Craster had caught Jon Snow spying on him as he sacrificed his baby in the woods. Craster is pissed, and kicks the Night’s Watch off his land. Jon Snow tries to tell Lord Commander Mormont about the baby, but it’s clear that Mormont already knew long ago and had decided not to get involved. Snow learns that being a leader sometimes requires that a man make morally ambiguous decisions that he may not be comfortable with.
And that’s all we see of Jon Snow this week. Fortunately, more time is spent with Tyrion Lannister, who remains the most fun character in the series. Tyrion really gets to plotting and scheming this episode. First, he has his girlfriend Shae appointed as Sansa’s handmaiden, a position for which the sassy whore isn’t particularly suited but will be very useful to Tyrion. Then he sets about spreading rumors that he’s going to arrange for Cersei’s daughter Myrcella to be married off for a political alliance. He tells three different people (Baelish, Varys and Grand Maester Pycelle) that he wants the girl to marry three different potential suitors, and instructs all of them to absolutely keep this information a secret from the Queen Regent. Naturally, as he fully expected, word of one of them makes its way to Cersei quickly. Thus, Tyrion discovers that Pycelle betrayed him, and has the old man arrested.
As this is going on, Catelyn Stark visits Renly Baratheon (Robert’s gay younger brother) to forge an alliance with her son Robb’s army. Curiously, she finds that Renly is married… to a woman. In fact, his new queen is the sister of Renly’s lover Loras. In a very Lady Macbeth-like moment, the bride (Margaery) reveals to Renly that she full well knows that he’s gay, doesn’t care at all, and will gladly bring her brother into their bed if it will help him impregnate her with an heir. She’s a devious one.
Also, Renly somewhat upsets his boyfriend when he promotes a lady knight named Brienne to be in his Kingsguard over Loras. To be fair, Brienne is a total bruiser who kicked Loras’ butt in a duel.
In other developments, annoying whiner Theon Greyjoy learns that his father has no intention of joining Robb’s army. Quite the contrary, while Robb is off at war, he intends to invade and conquer the northern kingdoms, including Winterfell. This seems like he’s asking for trouble.
The episode ends with Lannister soldiers raiding the Night’s Watch party en route to the Wall with Arya Stark. Yoren, the recruiter who’d been hiding Arya’s identity, is killed defending the camp. The soldiers are looking for Gendry, Robert Baratheon’s last-remaining bastard son, but a quick-thinking Arya fools them into believing that another boy they’d just killed was Gendry.
The scenes for the next episode suggest that we’ll finally spend a decent amount of time with Daenerys. I hope that’s true, because she’s had nothing to do so far this season.