on game of thrones season 2 episode 1

When I was a kid, we did not have cable and our television was an old machine with two rusty metal sticks for an antenna; we were lucky if the useless junk worked miraculously after a few friendly thumps. As a result, I had never grown fond of television shows as a child and I harboured the pretentious claim that nothing can be better than reading novels.

Of course, I wasn’t entirely right. I know now, because I have since discovered a combination of three things: the Internet, torrents, and the trusty VLC player. This week, I have done almost nothing but replay my pirated copy of the pilot episode of the second season of the Game of Thrones series (courtesy of MSF who gave me a link for the torrent), and I realize once more how, with today’s technology, you could replay the scenes in a story, in a way you could never do with books.

1. Consider this scene with the newly crowned King Joffrey Baratheon celebrating his “name day” by staging a fight tournament. When a contestant gets hammered to a bloody pulp and falls down from the sentries, Joffrey shouts, “Well struck!” And that smirk—it just helps you decide that he is surely the most evil of brats on screen since Tom Felton’s Draco Malfoy, doesn’t it? I must have replayed the scene a thousand times, nursing my hatred for this blonde spawn of Satan. I mean, just look at that face.

“They said I can become anything, so I became a brat.”

2. And then comes the Imp, Tyrion Lannister, and his charming one-liners. He offers his condolences to Lady Sansa Stark, whose father’s head was chopped off by orders of his fiancé, the evil child Joffrey. When Joffrey retorts that Sansa has nothing to mourn for a traitor dad, Tyrion rebukes him and defends Sansa so tenderly. Aww. Let’s have that again, shall we.

“Hello there, pretty girl. I’ll save you from Draco Malfoy. Just be patient, okay?”

3. There are a lot of crazy women on television. But none as deliciously annoying as this seemingly mad Wildling woman who was taken hostage by the Starks and into the service of Winterfell. She smiles ever so darkly even when there is not much to be mysterious about, mutters, rolls her eyes, and cocks her head to the side all the time while talking to a major character. Her name is Osha and in terms of possible relatives, you could choose between Bellatrix Lestrange and Sisa. Here is she, giving a dissertation about comets.

“The comet means only one thing: the Dark Lord has returned.”

4. The important thing with medieval courts on television is the talking. There’s the sex, too, of course, and the fighting, and the vast amounts of clothes and drapery. But the talking is a big deal—the subtleties laced with poison, the inane pleasantries, the weird sentence structure. In this scene with Lord Petyr Baelish and the Queen Cersei Lannister exchanging some very meaningful words, the venomous smiles provide perfect backdrop to their charming conversation.

“And how did you two manage to get yourselves hoisted up there in that old watchtower, Your Grace?”

5. Last, who seriously didn’t enjoy that part where Jaime Lannister is tied to a post, scared to death with the prospect of being eaten alive by Robb Stark’s oversized dog. I replayed and replayed the scene until the screen dissolved in greenish pixels. Take that, you little pansy.

“Such big teeth you have, grandmother!”