Game Of Thrones “The Old Gods And The New” REVIEW

Episode 2.06
David Benioff, DB Weiss, Vanessa Taylor
Director David Nutter

THE ONE WHERE Theon takes Winterfell, Jon meets Wildlings north of the Wall, and Dany’s dragons go missing in Quarth.

VERDICT Assumptions crumble left, right and centre this week, and as we’ve come to expect in Westeros, when situations turn sour, heads are going to roll. And so it goes with Theon’s sack of Winterfell, and the messy execution of Ser Rodrik at the hands of the wayward Stark ward. Theon’s turn to the dark side is now complete, and if he carries on the way he’s going he’ll soon be jostling for pole position alongside Joffrey for the title of Most Hated in Westeros. Alfie Allen’s shrill, boyish Theon encapsulates the confused Prince of Pyke perfectly. He lacks the voice of command, the faith in his convictions and ultimately the love of the people he used to live alongside, and now that the Stark’s no longer command Winterfell, he’ll have the whole North up in arms against him – an unenviable position, to say the least.

Theon isn’t the only one having to come to terms with seismic shifts in the status quo though. Jon’s trek north of the wall alongside Qhorin Halfhand (played with a gruff assurance by Simon Armstrong) leads to his first encounter with Wildlings, and it doesn’t exactly go the way he thought it would. On the one hand, it’s quite gratifying to see Jon utterly fail to kill a young woman in cold blood, but it’s also frustratingly obvious where this storyline is heading, with Ygritte (Rose Leslie) waggling her tail feather in the young brother’s direction as soon as she gets a chance. Here’s hoping Qhorin can knock a bit of sense into him, presuming that Jon actually finds him again of course.

At Harrenhal, Arya gets herself into a bit of bother with Tywin, and although these scenes continue to be thoroughly enjoyable, I can’t help but feel that this week they stretched credulity a bit. Tywin surely knows that the younger Stark sister is missing, and right in front of him is a well-educated Northern girl of the same age who has already lied to him about where she’s from. Tywin is a canny operator, and I find it hard to believe he wouldn’t have probed a little harder to find out the truth about his cup bearer. If her own words weren’t enough to damn her, then surely Littlefinger’s blindingly obvious stare at Arya were? Things felt a little too convenient with Arya this week, first with her near-outing as a Stark and then with her brush with Amory Lorch. Maybe Littlefinger will correct that in the near future.

Speaking of Littlefinger, he’s moving around the Seven Kingdoms with a remarkable speed. Isn’t travel supposed to be a little bit more difficult in a war-torn medieval kingdom? Regardless, he’s cropping up all over the place somehow, sowing seeds of possible alliances and playing his own cryptic game. It’s great to see Tywin put him in his place this week, but I have no doubt that Baelish will continue to be a Machiavellian presence loitering in the background for the rest of the season.

King’s Landing was the location of this week’s most satisfying moment as Joffrey finally gets what he deserves – poo in the face and a slap from Tyrion. Perfect! The riot felt threatening and unpredictable, the crowd bristling with menace even before they ripped that poor chap’s arm off, and Sansa’s near rape was harrowing stuff. The Hound’s arrival was another incredibly well-timed intervention in an episode full of them, but it’s good to see Rory McCann get a little action (not to mention character development).

Over in Quarth, Dany is starting to grate on me a little. She’s like a spoiled child, stamping her feet because she doesn’t get exactly what she wants. The Spice King might be a greasy slime ball, but he’s got a point – Dany never held the Iron Throne. Yes, she’s got good blood, but her attempts to get back “home” are the result of her sense of self-entitlement. It’ll be interesting to see how she deals with the disappearance of her dragons, the source of her power and her only real chance to reclaim Westeros for the Targaryens. Whoever the hooded figure was carrying them off to that mysterious tower is, they’re clearly not mucking around. Fingers crossed we’ll get some answers on that front next week…

Tyrion: “We’ve had vicious kings, and we’ve had idiot kings, but I don’t know if we’ve ever been cursed with a vicious, idiot boy king.”

Read all our previous Game Of Thrones Season Two reviews

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