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Week by Week TV: Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 2

Game of Thrones is the adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s series of books A Song of Ice and Fire. The series is a medieval struggle between noble families for the Iron Throne, sets in the fictional lands of Westeros and Essos. First aired in 2011, the show’s seventh season is now underway.

This is part of a continuing series review. Click to read the review of Episode One.

Things are running fast in this new season compared to the usual: it seems like the Stark family will be reunited soon, Euron Greyjoy has already collected the prize he promised to Cersei to prove his value in Episode One, and the long awaited meeting between Daenerys and Jon Snow will surely happen in the next episode. Overall, this episode was not so different in the dynamics from the previous one, but it promised more than the latter, cashing in on the pace that this series has adopted.

Viewers have been excitedly discussing the fact that right now half of the central roles in the series are given to women. However, the most interesting feature of their presence is not their sex, but their youth and freshness in their role of power. None of these characters have spent a prolonged time as a ruler or in another significantly influential role compared to those that now are either dead or irrelevant. From the ashes of the old, the new is rising and taking a lead in Westeros. The fathers of present characters have been killed by their own ruthlessness and unsuitability to be part of the game of thrones, and indeed to rule the continent; their successors have proven to be more capable to resist this game and to be smarter in their choices. It should be noted though, that characters such Arya and even Sansa have also proven themselves more capable than characters of a similar same age, such as Joffrey and Tommen Lannister.

Indeed, the youth of these characters and the freshness of their power leaves room for character development that we are already enjoying in this season. In the first episode, we rejoiced at Sansa’s uprising that culminated in her appointment by Jon Snow as Queen of the North while he is away to meet Daenerys, but there has been an upgrade of Daenerys too. In the last episode she spent half of the time listening and nodding appropriately to what Tyrion and Varys suggested, sometimes not talking at all. Whilst they are clearly put there to be her enlightened counsellors, it does somewhat diminish the strength and independence she’s worked hard to build. However, in this episode we see her firstly (figuratively) going for Varys’ jugular when she doubts his loyalty. Secondly, Lady Olenna Tyrell gives her the piece of advice she needs; even though her counsellors are clearly clever, she can’t spend all her time following what they tell her. It’s given permission for her strength and independence to flourish again.

As wars and conflicts loom on the horizon, we will inevitably see more power plays and strategies than previous seasons; Tyrion and Cersei are strategically-minded and so their scenes, especially as now they are both making the biggest decisions, will involve a lot of discussing political strategies and war plans. Half of the appeal in Game of Thrones has always been the violence mixed with sneaky plots and backstabbing, which were omnipresent while Robb Stark was alive and recurring with Stannis Baratheon; however, there has been a disappointing lack of it in the later seasons. And if the gameplay within noble families will not be enough, the incoming arrival of the White Walkers will surely provide materials for military planning and scheming.

This last episode has left us with a cliffhanger as it finishes with Yara, Ellaria and Tyene Sand being taken captive by Euron Greyjoy, Jon Snow on his way to Dragonstone, Arya on the road to Winterfell and Sansa ready to take her role as a queen. They’ve set a great scene for the next instalment! See you next week when we find out what happens…

Game of Thrones Season 7 airs on Sky Atlantic every Monday at 2am and 9pm in the UK. Image source: Polygon.com