Thursday, April 19, 2012

War rages in new ‘Game of Thrones’ season

(Published Apr. 20, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Season one of HBO’s fantasy epic series “Game of Thrones” culminates in a full-scale war between the cruel usurpers to the throne and forces loyal to the martyred Ned Stark (Sean Bean), among other powerful factions.

Based on George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” books, the series has several characters and houses established in the first season. Around the time of King Robert’s (Mark Addy) demise, his right-hand man Ned Stark discovers the incestuous affair between Robert’s wife Cersei (Lena Heady) and her twin brother Jaime Lannister (Nokolaj Coster-Landau).

Cersei and Jaime’s young child Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) usurp the throne and have Ned Stark killed, prompting the enraged Stark family to marshal loyal forces and declare war on the boy-king and his ilk.

Season two is now airing in Asia, a few episodes behind the United States. Still grim and foreboding, the first new episode of “Game of Thrones” was recently unveiled at 7th High in Taguig.

The episode wastes no time in showing different sides to the ongoing war. Ned’s son Robb Stark (Richard Madden) has become a capable strategist and continues to win big battles. He hopes to liberate his sister Sansa (Sophie Turner) from Joffrey’s clutches, and find their missing sibling Arya (Maisie Williams).

Arya, disguised as a boy, is befriended by an apprentice blacksmith named Gendry (Joe Dempsie), who happens to be King Robert’s biological son and the rightful heir to the throne.

Those tuning in for the first time will be lost; much has been established before and new characters are constantly introduced. But the familiar underdogs have enduring appeal: The dwarf Tyrion (Emmy winner Peter Dinklage) is a misfit who asserts himself in his nephew Joffrey’s new regime. Ned’s illegitimate son Jon Snow (Kit Harington) fights to prove himself. And young widow Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) now leads her fallen husband’s warrior tribe, uncertain of the future.

The supernatural aspects are used sparingly but effectively—Daenerys’ small dragons appear briefly, but the undead who threaten the woodlands have yet to make their presence felt again.

The many characters in the series keep the various connected conflicts interesting, and most of them are clearly defined by their noble or sinister agendas. It’s hard to predict which camp will claim victory, but this dark and massive “game” of cunning and strategy certainly continues to intrigue and perplex.

“Game of Thrones” season 2 will air Saturdays, 9 p.m., starting tomorrow.

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