Is this the real life, is this just fantasy? Seeing as Game of Thrones returns to the small screen this Sunday I'd say that so-called real life is about to be injected with a dose of weapons-grade fantasy so sweet that even the most pragmatic of my must-see TV-viewing colleagues are welcoming the series' second season like a Stark previsions winter. As an avid fan of both the books and the nighttime telly adaptation I've been gagging in anticipation with each trailer, character featurette and behind-the-scenes peeks HBO has released, like so many ravens sent to tease the bannermen. I'm so chuffed to bits about the premier this Sunday I've got to channel my excitement before I lose my head! Read on for a list of people, places and things I'm looking forward to as Game of Thrones once again takes to the sky (now with more dragons)!
Haven't read the books? That's okay (though, as is the case with most adaptations, the books are better) - taken out of context these prospects are unloaded and weightless. That is, expect mild spoilers at best.
John Snow + Ygritte = "You know nothing"
“Her name is Brienne,” Jaime said. “Brienne, the maid of Tarth. You are still maiden, I hope?”
Her broad homely face turned red. “Yes.”
“Oh, good,” Jaime said. “I only rescue maidens.”
— from A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice & Fire, Book III) - George R. R. Martin
British stage actress Gwendoline Christie has some rather large armor to fill as Brienne of Tarth, another lady I am eager to see enter the Westerosi scene - it's a good thing she's 6'3". So far I haven't seen any clips of season two that really show her off which is a shame because I really want to hear what her voice sounds like. I mean, the look above smacks of perfection. Here's hoping the show's creators deal this fan favorite a fair hand by keeping HBO's patent "sexpository" storytelling style to a minimum when fleshing out the Maid's personal history i.e. think: what would Jamie Lannister do?
The Gemma Whelan as Asha Greyjoy as Yara Greyjoy triptych
Confusing for fans of the books? Maybe just little, but anyone with braincells enough to blaze through all the yarns thus spun in RR's epic Song of Ice and Fire tapestry will surely find the mental capacity to deal with a paltry changing of the names here and there, in this case the argument being that Asha of House Greyjoy is a little too like that of Osha, the wildling woman held captive by the Starks as established in season one. Blah, blah, blah - whatever. Just don't change the names of Ser Beric Dondarrion and Mance Rayder as they are some of the coolest monickers to come out of the series (mad props to the nerdcasters at Board, Gore and Swords for acknowledging Ser Ilyn Payne as the dopest MC handle of them all).
Names 'n things aside, I'm really looking forward to the scene pictured above; Theon Greyjoy may not initially recognize that the woman he's romancing here is his sister, but seeing as we've already suffered a healthy helping of Lannister "twincest" action in season one I must say that this titular dalliance looks promising for all the wrong reasons. Let's hope they keep every ounce of the quick-witted sizzling dialogue that should accompany this hands-in-pants family reunion. Speaking of House Greyjoy...
House Greyjoy and the Kraken motifs of the Iron Islands
I am, if nothing else, a self-aware nautical nerd with a fetish for all things seaworthy. Perhaps more than any other family seat, the hard-bitten and remote Iron Islands and the Seastone Chair stronghold of the weathered Greyjoys and their clan would best suit my deep-rooted alternative-lifestyle proclivities, but then I'd have to pay the "iron price" for it wouldn't I? Knowing that I couldn't pay the frowned-upon "gold price" for it anyhow, I am in a frenzy to see it depicted in all its salt-encrusted, seagull shit-stained, seaweed-swathed, wave-sculpted, water-damaged and rust-corroded beauty. I expect the incorporation of Kraken-inspired design, the Greyjoys' House sigil, to be fierce beyond all reckoning and all scenes involving the worship of their Drowned God as palpable as any 2D sensory experience can be. Of all the Bill & Ted "No Way!" reactions while reading these books, the whole baptism by drowning in the sea with successful resuscitation signifying religious acceptance as a follower of the Drowned God thing really knotted up my guts.
Speaking of salty dogs and fringe religions...
Stannis Baratheon, his Pirate BFF and the Big Board
We've heard tale of Iron Throne heir apparent Stannis Baratheon in season one and now we're gonna get to see him make his move. But I gotta be honest: though both he and his devoted lady in red, the priestess and trusted councilor Melisandre, will have a lot to do with the ins and outs of season two I am about as interested in their characters as I am about cardboard cutouts. Stannis Baratheon is about as emotionally deep as the crease in a diet Dr. Pepper can and, with no disrespect to Stephen Dillane, a cardboard cutout would be an appropriate approach to "acting" Stannis in my opinion. As for Melisandre and her Lord of Light cult, the only thing I look forward in that regard to is actually hearing someone, anyone, pronounce the name of her God, R'hllor.
I'm more excited to see the island fortress of Dragonstone depicted, not to mention the painted table of Westeros in Stannis' solar a.k.a. the Big Board in the War Room (pictured above). Also, I have a feeling that getting to know Stannis' BFF, the former pirate turned knight and confidante, Ser Davos Seaworth will make for good TV despite the fact that said bromance leaves zero margin for "sexpositon" or otherwise. Ditto for Davos and his smuggler brother, the swashbuckling Lysene sellsail Salladhor Saan, can't wait to see him strut his stuff. I definitely carry a flame for the pirate types.
Jaqen H'ghar - "valar morghulis" baby!
While hiding out on the road with Yoren and co. Arya Stark makes the best
Margaery Tyrell - the biggest beard in fantasy since Gandalf
As far as I'm concerned Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn was the best thing about The Tudors TV series so when I learned that she was cast as Margaery Tyrell, Ms. Loras "Knight of the Flowers" Tyrell's little sister, I knew this marginal character in the book would get a fierce attitude adjustment for the show, not to mention a fair amount of sexpository screen time given that her Boleyn portrayal was very, shall we say, prone to déshabillé. My only concern is the styling we've seen thus far for Lady Margaery. Perhaps her dresses are dialed-down to make the others' look more, uh, sophisticated (or at least make miss thing look better naked) but I fear that the two or three ensembles she's shown "wearing" in the teaser clips bode ill for her wardrobe. How can it be that her husband King Renly Baratheon and his lover, her fabulously flamboyant brother, are consistently serving snap-worthy eleganza while she attempts to make it work in a gowns that smack of rejected Project Runway evening wear designed for Star Trek: TNG? Am I alone in this assessment? In related ponderings, I wonder how Renly's rainbow-cloaked royal guard will be visually realized for the show. Either way: HER!
Dragons will fix everything, right?
There's been a lot of talk about who the "main character" focus will shift to now that Ned's gone and it seems that most folks out there in the great blogosphere agree that Tyrion Lannister (portrayed by the now very decorated award-winning actor Peter Dinklalge) can more than shoulder the "giant" responsibility that comes of playing a series' figurehead, which is cool. But as much as I am living for Dinklage's triumphant Tyrion to bring the balance back as it were, I'm calmly awaiting the shitstorm of trials and errors that will bedraggle the recently widowed Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and her little band of believers, not to mention her newborn dragon babies. Check out the clip below, I dare you not to gag on the level of dragon realness. Gah! This season is going to be sooo good!
Is there anything I'm not excited about? Yeah, two words: Craster's Keep. Creeps me out.