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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Game of Thrones S02 E02: “The Night Lands”

Game of Thrones Peter Dinklage

(previous: “The North Remembers”)

Good gods, is there anyone here who isn’t cruel? From Arya who worries about whether there are people she can insult to Petyr who turns his gentle words to a sobbing woman into a threat to Cersei who blames Tyrion’s “first joke” for their mother’s death to Theon’s family who are very much not happy to see him returned home from life with the Starks to…

Okay, not everyone is relentlessly horrible: Daenerys comforts her kinswoman. Gendry seems unwilling to take advantage of his knowledge of Arya’s secret — but his tender teasing of her might be the only light moment in this entire episode.

Ugh! All the sex is mean and vicious and engaged in with an agenda. Babies are commodities, children are pawns.

Who is this crazy priestess of the fire god? And what sort of no-good is she up to?

Don’t misunderstand me: this is a cruel world, and these people are behaving plausibly in order to survive in it. But man oh man, was this one grim hour of television.

(next: “What Is Dead May Never Die”)

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