The second season of Game of Thrones has come to a close, forcing us to wait nearly a year for more of the epic tale.
The show closed this season much like its predecessor. However, with the major characters spread to the corners of the world, there are a few more stories to follow, and the series seems sometimes to hit a reckless pace.
I was glad for the focus of the ninth episode of the season, which depicted Stanis’ attack on King’s Landing without shifting around the kingdoms to follow what was happening to anyone else. Still, most other episodes spent a lot of time flipping around, and I can only imagine the challenge for the writers. As it is, they have trouble making the scale of time understood. In the show it seems only days pass where months elapse in the books, and there are a lot of little subplots and side-quests that have been cut in favor of more telling scenes.
Especially foreshortened is the story of Daenerys. The character is a fan favorite, and in the first season seemed to practically split the show evenly with the Starks. In this season, she receives significantly less screen time, getting only a couple of scenes per episode, and even those are very short. Nearly every thread receives this treatment however, as there are simply so many to follow.
One thread HBO left almost completely underdeveloped - though surprising it exists at all since it doesn't happen until book 3 - is Jamie and Brienne’s journey to King’s Landing. Perhaps I only feel this way because the developing antagonistic relationship is one of my favorite sub-plots of the books, and I want to see it well done. It’s not until the season finale, though, that this thread begins to stand out against the rest, and to feel like a real part of the tapestry. It’s now clear the journey they take together will be a turning point for both characters.
I suppose it’s quite positive that the next book is being split between seasons three and four. It will allow the writers to make sure that none of the lines are left in the cold, and that they can keep as many of the great characters as possible. I’m all for splitting up the story as much as needed if it encourages improved development, and clearer explanations for the audiences who have not read the books, even if it means waiting longer for the story.
These pacing issues do not detract from the show, however. The actors, scenery, and individual scene writing is superb, and still leaves me satisfied with my decision to stop reading the books.
As far as differences with the plot between the source material and the adaptation, I’ve only been disappointed once, and it was an understandable change once considered. There are limitations of what make-up can do for a character, and so, when I was expecting a character to lose his nose in combat, and instead he only received a wicked slash, I could only shrug. Why? Because the meaning is still there, the character is forever changed, and the important moments that will follow will still follow.