Having trouble keeping up with Game of Thrones? Finding it tough to tell your Lannisters from your Baratheons? Keep your head on! Writer and Thrones-fanatic Johnny Mansbach is here with an easy to follow recap of all you need to understand before war and winter finally arrive, not to mention those pesky little dragons.
Written by Johnny Mansbach for Tv Food and Drink
Game of Thrones tells the unflinchingly violent and often tragic struggle for power to rule on The Iron Throne over the Seven Kingdoms. The setting is tens-of-thousands-of-years Before Christ. So that’s already refreshing. The epic story is heavy drama with an element of science fiction throughout.
Now since we’re already half way through season two, let me take a moment to catch everybody up to what’s been going on. And I warn you, since there are things currently happening that would spoil other things already revealed in the first season, this recap probably contains super-advanced plot spoilers. So here we go:
The good King, Robert Baratheon, has been suspiciously murdered in a hunting accident leaving his son, the horrifically abusive 15-year-old tantrum-laden Joffrey, ruling over the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. But you think the Lords of all those lands are gonna take any crap from this little bastard?
Oh heeeeaayyll no…!
Now Joffrey supposedly rules over the various regions, organized by various kingdoms, and ruled much like mafia families run territories. In fact Game of Thrones plays out much like The Sopranos; except these tough guys use broadswords, not bullets. Each of these families has a leader, all of whom are now vying to destroy the bastard King Joffrey and sit on the Iron Throne of Westeros (hence the book title, A Clash of Kings, from whence the season is based.) So here’s the low-down on the six warring factions:
1) First are the honorable Starks and their Lord Ned Stark that rules over Winterfell. The Starks are strong allies to King Robert Baratheon, and pretty much our heroes of the saga. The story unfolds through the eyes of their children Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, Rickon, and Ned’s bastard son, Jon Snow. And that’s the way they all become the Ned Stark Bunch.
Ned was Hand of the King (sort of like a violent personal assistant) and, upon learning the bastard Joffrey’s gross little secret, was sentenced and executed as a traitor. You killed off the main star in just 7 episodes? Shocking death number one!
This scattered the Stark family across Westeros and left Ned’s eldest son, Robb Stark to declare himself the King of the North. Robb sets out to destroy Joffrey and the bastard king’s true family. Yay Starks!
2) Next come the Lannisters, the richest most Orange County family in all of Westeros. The King of this family is Tywin, a relentless warmonger. Tywin’s three children rule his political affairs. Cersei is widow and baby mama to the late Robert Baratheon, which makes her Queen Regent while her bobble-head bastard son Joffrey Baratheon comes of age on the Iron Throne. Ugly, little bastard. No, I’m not just being mean; Joffrey really is a bastard… The Late King’s heir Joffrey wasn’t a Baratheon at all; he was… yuck… an inbred Lannister!
That’s right, the incestual bastard satanic offspring of Queen Cercei’s own brother, the impossibly handsome Jaime Lannister. Now the whole kingdom knows it, triggering this entire Iron Throne revolution. Trying to save his family’s name is the dwarf, Tyrion. Played to cunning perfection by Peter Dinklage; the genius Tyrion is the Lannister’s most clever, mischievous, and knifing sibling—while also being the most civil and decent. Lannisters… Overall we don’t like these guys. Boo Lannisters!
3) Up until now Stannis Baratheon thought his nephew was sitting on the Iron Throne, but it ends up the Pez-head, bastard, inbred Joffrey isn’t family at all. He’s a Lannister. And as a Baratheon, Stannis claims to be the rightful heir to his slain brother, Robert. He doesn’t have much of an army to start, but he has something more powerful: a magical vagina. Melisandre (a.k.a. the Red Sorceress) is regarded as high counsel for Stannis. She is powerful, she is sexy, and she just gave birth to a black smoke demon that is already willing to kill kings for her. Boo Stannis Baratheon!
4) The fourth self-proclaimed king is the youngest brother, Renly Baratheon. So handsome. So stylish. So well spoken. He must be gay. I’m just sayin’… Renly has 40,000 men. I mean in his army, not… er, nevermind. Renly has a hot wife, Margaery, who has riches beyond imagination and knows he’s gay. Renly has an alliance with the Starks (yay Starks). But Renly also has a black smoke demon behind him, plunging a smoke dagger into his heart.
Well, there’s one king down. This was the second most shocking death on the series to date. Oh, and he was gay. His lover was heartbroken. See? Now his brother Stannis has gained Renly’s entire army, and a very patient widow Margaery is waiting to be optioned to another royal family… Boo death of Renly Baratheon!
5) Due to the unfortunate consequences of defeat, Theon Greyjoy has been a ward of the Starks for fourteen years. In that time he and the young king Robb have become fast friends and good allies. So when Robb sends Theon back to his homeland to gather ships for war, of course Theon does what any best friend would do… With some reluctant help from his father and sister, Theon begins to build an army to turn back around and attack Robb himself, en route to perching his own sour-grapes ass upon the Iron Throne. Boo traitorous Greyjoys.
6) And finally, far across the Narrow Sea, is our spiciest antihero Daenerys Targaryan. Yeah, even her closest friends just call her Dany. Now this chick has it all: bilingual, cutting edge fashion, leadership qualities, sex appeal, a man that would die for her, and dragons… Yeah, dragons. Well, they’re just babies now, but Dany vows to spend the next several years raising them. When they are fully-grown she intends to fly them across the Narrow Sea, scorch everyone without mercy, and take back what she claims has always been hers… of course: the Iron Throne. Yay Dothraki Khaleesi Daenerys Targaryan, Mother of Dragons…! Kinda?
Game of Thrones is a bold saga presented in true HBO style. It’s gritty and real, with extreme displays of violence and orgy-qualifying scenes of nudity and raw sex. Hot sex. Such… hot sex. Okay, I’m back. This beautifully executed adaptation from the second of George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire book series is masterfully grand in scale, pulling reliably, throughout the season, from the novel’s thousand-page story arc.
The characters are deep and multi-dimensional. Especially the stories of the Stark children: From the fragile Sansa Stark, who has been offered as fiancé to that rat bastard lemonhead Joffrey; to the resilient Arya Stark, who has survived in the wild by learning to swordfight while pretending to be a boy. And let’s not forget the courageous Jon Snow, who has dared to venture far north of The Wall to defend Westeros from supernatural beings called the White-Walkers.
YOU WILL WATCH GAME OF THRONES!
This Emmy Award winning series airs Sunday nights at 9pm Pacific (6pm Eastern) on HBO. I’ll be back each week to catch you up on the latest Game of Thrones.