Last season of Game of Thrones saw the main character losing his head. While this season’s main character stands a head shorter than the rest, he is very much alive and kicking. Tyrion Lannister has fully stepped into his role as the series’s unlikely protagonist in the second episode of the second season. We see him flexing his political muscles more and more, namely in his confrontations with Varys and Janos Slynt. While the expulsion of Slynt is a triumphant memory from the book, the abrupt scolding of Varys came as a surprise. It will be interesting to see if their relationship develops similarly to the book or in an independent direction. As Tyrion’s confidence blooms the audience can’t help but root for him, even though he’s fighting for the “wrong” team. This conflict is what made A Clash Of Kings so enjoyable and the series so interesting. Game of Thrones isn’t about good vs. evil, its about people vs. people. The more we understand the motivations of the characters the less clear the right outcome becomes.
Aside from Tyrion’s continued ascendence to stardom, the second episode shows a number of important developments. The Lannisters are seeking Gendry, although they are turned away by some ballsy (pun intended) threats by Yoren. Their arrival prompts Arya to reveal her identity to Gendry, a shocking turn so soon in the series. And then, of course, we have Theon Greyjoy. For those who don’t recall, Theon was Ned Stark’s ward in the first season. His father, Balon Greyjoy, lord of the Iron Islands, lead a rebellion that was crushed by Robert Baratheon. As a result Theon’s brother was slain and he was taken captive as a young boy. As opposed to treating him like a prisoner, Ned Stark raised Theon as a ward, treating him well but keeping him at Winterfell nonetheless as a reminder to the Greyjoys of their failed insurrection. Now Theon returns to his homeland with a misguided, swollen ego. Thinking himself a prince returning triumphantly to his kingdom to bring his father’s troops to Robb Stark’s aid, he is shocked to be met by indifference from the seafaring folk of the Iron Islands. Once a random woman is finally willing to give him some attention, he responds in his typical manner with aggressive sexual advances…only to find out that this woman is his sister, and far superior to him due to her impressive track record of victorious voyages. As if Theon was not already shamed enough, his father strips him of his fancy garments and jewels, declaring him unworthy and questioning his loyalty. Theon stands at a crossroads where he must choose his adopted family or his birth family, and the next episode will surely explore his decision and the ramifications of these choices.
The next installment of the series comes this Sunday, bringing with it the revelation of Theon’s choices, the resolution of Jon Snow‘s cliffhanger, a continued look into the developing relationship between Stannis and Mellisandre, and altogether more sex, violence, politics, trickery, and treason. For a complementary summary of last Sunday’s episode, check out HBO’s video recap.