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RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 561 minutes
• 12 Audio Commentaries
• In-Episode Guide
• War of the Five Kings
• Histories and Lore
• Creating the Battle of Blackwater Bay
• The Religions of Westeros
• Game of Thrones Inner Circle
• Character Profiles
The award-winning, crowd-pleasing fantasy series from HBO returns for a most impressive second season.
Based on the novels by George R.R. Martin, written for the screen and produced by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, starring Harry Lloyd, Alfie Allen, Stephen Dillane, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Iain Glen, and a dugout of many more talent actors.
Following the execution of Ned Stark and the cloaked murder of Robert Baratheon, power is up for grabs in Westeros. Nearly everyone with royal blood believes they are entitled to the throne and each is amassing an army and making alliances to ensure their claim. Across the Narrow Sea, dragons are growing up fast. North of the Wall, winter is sure as hell coming. The second season of Game of Thrones expanded the mythologies, locations, characters, and battle scenes culminating in one seriously extraordinary season.
Game of Thrones is a rare fantasy TV series that managed to break through the trappings of the small-screen and completely destroy expectations. That’s that HBO money! From its gripping story-telling to its dense production design, the first season knocked viewers on their asses. The second season pushed the envelope even further and now it’s available on Blu-ray and DVD – so you can rewatch Joffrey getting slapped again and again and again…
Season two advanced the stories and mythology of Westeros into new realms of political betrayal, arresting drama, and intriguing developments. The scope of the show expanded with several new characters, locations, and kings…so many kings. Showrunners and writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss did a good job of making sure those who hadn’t read the source novels would be able to keep track of the wealth of information each episode presented. As someone who hasn’t read them, I did feel slightly lost at times, (Theon was basically a hostage of the Starks?) but overall it wasn’t difficult to follow thanks to this season’s slower pace.
After the beheading of Ned Stark, his eldest son Robb proclaims himself the true King of the North and sets out to make alliances in his assault to take back the throne. The two younger Stark boys, Bran and Rickon, have been run out of Winterfell because of Theon Greyjoy’s betrayal. Arya Stark got a haircut and is surviving outside of King’s Landing with a group of young men destined for the Wall. Then there’s poor Sansa Stark, who’s at the mercy of her wretched boy king, smug shitbag Joffrey Baratheon.
The bastard Stark, Jon Snow, is still holding it down at the Wall with the rest of the Night’s Watch. After encounters with wildlings, an incestual creep, and whispers of Mance Rayder, the Night’s Watch discovered that the most terrifying enemy has just arrived in the form of the White Walkers’ wight army! Christ, what a chilling climax.
Meanwhile, Cersei Lannister engages in several power plays between Joffrey and Tyrion, who’s as clever and smooth as ever. In the absence of Ned Stark, this really was Tyrion’s season. He’s a complex character who can seem overly self-centered at times, but in the end he knows how to survive and even manages to act valiantly on occasion. He holds his own against the punk-ass Baratheon bros, Renly and Stannis – two more cats who are laying claim to the throne.
Across the Narrow Sea, Khaleesi Daenerys Targaryen and her loyal band of Dothraki stumble into Qarth, a luxurious oasis where her dragons are snatched away from her. The Dothraki manage to overtake the city and by the end Khaleesi is reunited with her fire-breathing babies. Man, dragons grow up fast.
All of it led up to the Battle of Blackwater in the penultimate episode – one of the most spectacular and intense battle scenes in television history. This episode scrapped the multiple story line format and focused solely on one location – King’s Landing. The three-tiered assault is elaborate in its technical execution and in the number of elements on and off the front line. It’s also probably the best episode in the series, so I hope the showrunners took note that focusing one episode on one location and one group of characters is okay to do.
Overall the second season was strong and I think it benefited from a slower pace. This allowed for more character development and much needed quality time with the massive dugout of personalities and motives. It felt like a transitional season, setting us up for a more epic third one, which I can’t believe is even possible.
Anyways, if you’re reading this, you’ve probably watched the show and all you care about are the special features. Is the package worth it? C’mon, it’s HBO. Of course it is. Just like they did with the season 1 package, HBO has gone all out for season 2. A staggering amount of bonus content is presented – fans can literally occupy themselves for days with all of the supplements. So here we go.
HBO presents a top-shelf Blu-ray set that features exhaustive bonus content and a flawless 1080p AVC-encoded presentation. Once again, each disc contains two episodes, giving each episode plenty of space to shine through. Everything looks as intended. This is seriously Blu-ray tech at its best. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is powerful and outstandingly used at times.
WAR OF THE FIVE KINGS: This interactive guide allows users to hop around a map of Westeros, selecting different locations and characters – specifically the players vying for the throne. You can also go beyond the wall and across the Narrow Sea. Highly informative and easy to maneuver, this is a fun and very detailed feature. So much hard work and love goes into this stuff and that’s definitely reflected in features like this.
IN-EPISODE GUIDE: When this handy, little feature is turned on, a rather unobtrusive menu is pasted to the top right of the screen during episodes. Users can select from three guides: characters, location, or history. As the episode progresses, these guides provide information on the what, who, and where concerning the scene. When not in use, the guide sort of fades into the background. This is a fantastic feature, especially if you forget who a character is or where a location specifically is and you don’t won’t to pause the disc to look it up on Google.
HISTORIES AND LORE: This feature is badass. Users can choose from several historical events, families, locations, and people then watch a narrated animation describing the selection. It’s like an animated comic book, basically. Options include Qarth, Dragonstone, the Drowned God, the Warlocks, and more.
CREATING THE BATTLE OF BLACKWATER BAY: This in-depth look at everyone’s favorite moment of the season runs 30:00 and details every aspect of creating the epic rumble. The showrunners explain how unlike the first season, it was essential to show a battle in the second one. Episode director Neil Marshall explains his approach to the battle, which includes lots of staging and logic. Fun fact: they used a massive chunk of the season’s budget building a full-size ship complete with above and below decks. Damn.
THE RELIGIONS OF WESTEROS: George R.R. Martin goes into detail about the real-life influences on the various religions in his books. He goes over all of the major religions of Westeros – their symbols, orders, etc. He was a turtle pendant on his hat, so he probably believes in the Drowned God, like the Greyjoys.
GAME OF THRONES INNER CIRCLE: This 24:00 features includes a few of the key actors and showrunners discussing many aspects of the second season. It’s apparent this is a tight-knight cast who approach their characters in an intelligent manner. They really think through every action and motivation and it’s great to hear them talk discuss this.
12 AUDIO COMMENTARIES: Unlike the first season set that only featured seven commentaries, here there are 12 tracks for 10 episodes. With this much coverage, you can bet your ass every aspect of the second season is covered in detail. Besides the main actors, you’ll also find tracks with director Neil Marshall, visual effects artists, producers, and, of course, George R.R. Martin – who gives an entertaining commentary on “Blackwater.”
NEW CHARACTER PROFILES: Actors talk about their character’s motivations and what they’re facing during the second season. Each one is about 3:00 long and they act as great refresher courses.
There are also hidden “dragon” eggs peppered throughout the menus that lead to even more content!
Top it off with DVD and digital copies, a fold-out (yet difficult to read) map of Westeros and you’ve got the best set you could ask for. This bad bitch is worth every penny for fans of Game of Thrones. Recommended with all of my heart.
Rating: Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Out of a Possible 5 Stars