Game of Thrones — Greatest Moments (Season 2)

A selection of wonderful moments from the second season of Game of Thrones.

King Joffrey and Sansa Stark.

2.1 The North Remembers

Best moment: Cersei Lannister reminds Littlefinger that “power is power”.

Why? Throughout his time on Game of Thrones, right up until his final scene, Petyr Baelish is one of the most assured men in Westeros. Cunning, intelligent, slick, and driven by motives that nobody can detect — he’s more than assured, he’s dangerous. But dangerous to whom exactly? Well, to those whose secrets he holds. When he implies to Cersei Lannister that he’s aware of her relations with her brother Jaime, he reminds her of the old saying, that “knowledge is power”. Upon hearing this, Cersei threatens him with an unbelievable power move. She orders nearby guards to seize Baelish and cut his throat, only to immediately inform them that she’s changed her mind and that she’d prefer them to take three paces away from Baelish and face the wall instead. Without saying a word in response, the guards follow her every command. With Baelish recovering from the shock he has just endured, Cersei reminds him that “power is power”, and that her ability to wield a quick blade will do more damage than his quick tongue.
Honourable mention: Robb Stark threatens Jaime Lannister with his direwolf Greywind.

2.2 The Night Lands

Best moment: Tyrion Lannister dismisses Janos Slynt from the City Watch.

Why? “I’m not questioning your honour, Lord Janos. I’m denying its existence.” Does much more need to be said? A defining scene for Tyrion Lannister, a defining scene for Peter Dinklage, and arguably the best representation of what made season 2 such a fantastic experience while he lead the show.
Honourable mention: Yoren fends off the Gold Cloaks.

2.3 What is Dead May Never Die

Best moment: Yoren gives Arya a lesson in revenge.

Why? Immediately after this scene, Yoren meets a grisly end at the hands of Amory Lorch, but before he checks out he gives advice to Arya that goes on to shape her worldview, define her journey for seasons to come, and eventually result in her ending the Long Night. Yoren tells Arya the story of how his brother was killed by Willem, a pretty boy whose name Yoren spoke aloud every night until he killed him. It’s a conversation that inspires Arya to create her list, that soon sends her to the Faceless Men for assassin training, and back to Westeros to tick off every last name. Before Arya can disappear too far into the pit of revenge, however, she arrests herself and remembers her Stark identity, going on to combine her thirst for vengeance and justice with the honest and noble intentions she inherited from her parents. She leaves behind the darkness and the worship of death, and instead uses her skills to wipe out the very embodiment of both. None of her heroic actions in the final season would be possible without the lessons taught here by Yoren.
Honourable mention: Tyrion plays the game of thrones and finds that he cannot trust Pycelle.

2.4 Garden of Bones

Best moment: Tyrion stops Joffrey’s public torture of Sansa in the throne room.

Why? Another fantastic Tyrion moment that’s housed in the second season. As Joffrey publicly torments Sansa as punishment for Ned and Robb’s “betrayal” of the crown, going so far as to strip her clothes and aim a crossbow at her, it looks as though she is about to suffer all manner of humiliations and embarrassments for some time to come. That is until Tyrion and Bronn swoop into the throne room, break up the scene by outwitting Ser Meryn Trant and Joffrey himself, and allow Sansa to walk out of there unharmed. It ends with the first display of Sansa beginning to understand the game she has to play, defiantly reassuring Tyrion that she is dedicated to Joffrey, her “one true love”. Amazed at her intelligence, Tyrion remarks that the young Stark girl “may survive us yet”. As of the final episode, Sansa is the queen of an independent North — Tyrion was right.
Honourable mention: Melisandre gives birth to a shadow demon.

2.5 The Ghost of Harrenhal

Best moment: Arya Stark as Tywin Lannister’s cupbearer.

Why? One of the show’s best adaptation decisions was pairing Arya Stark and Tywin Lannister together, and their scenes together prove that argument a thousand times over. As he tries to pry open her secrets in order to uncover her identity, the most she allows him to know is that she’s of the North. She keeps her cards unbelievably close to her chest, Tywin enjoys the back and forth a lot more than you’d expect him to, and all the while we’re left suffering through the unbearable tension that she might just let her guard down and expose who she really is.
Honourable mention: The death of Renly Baratheon at the hands of a shadow demon.

2.6 The Old Gods and the New

Best moment: Theon Greyjoy beheads Rodrik Cassell.

Why? Of all the episodes in season two, ‘The Old Gods and the New’ was hardest to pick a single moment from. This is the episode with the riot in King’s Landing, it’s the episode when Jon Snow meets Ygritte for the very first time, and it features Littlefinger’s eyes following Arya around the room as he visits Tywin Lannister at Harrenhal. Its crowning jewel, however, comes from the mouth of Ser Rodrik as he speaks the words that echo through Theon Greyjoy’s mind until the day he dies: “Gods help you, Theon Greyjoy. Now you are truly lost.” It’s a chilling and prophetic set of final words from the Stark family’s master of arms, who is then brutally and haphazardly beheaded by Theon in the driving rain. The unforgettable noise of Bran Stark screaming in terror as the blade strikes Rodrik’s neck contributes to a chaotic sound design that’s brilliantly capped off by some of Ramin Djawadi’s finest work for the series.
Honourable mention: The riot in King’s Landing.

2.7 A Man Without Honor

Best moment: Jaime Lannister murders his cousin Alton and escapes the Stark camp.

Why? He doesn’t get far before being recaptured, but Jaime Lannister’s murder of his own cousin, Alton Lannister, and his subsequent escape, is the defining scene of ‘A Man Without Honor’. It’s the hope that kills you. Just when you think Jaime has taken his time in the Stark prison pens to reflect on his past misdeeds and bond with a distant family member, he beats and strangles the young boy to distract a guard (who he then kills) and steal the keys to his cell. I don’t know about anyone reading this, but when I first heard Jaime say to Alton that he would “have to die” for Jaime’s plan to work, the devastation that sunk in was unparalleled by any other emotion I felt during this episode.
Honourable mention: Pyat Pree executes the Thirteen of Qarth and threatens Daenerys.

2.8 The Prince of Winterfell

Best moment: Samwell Tarly discovers dragonglass at the Fist of the First Men.

Why? The war horn buried alongside the dragonglass in this episode may well have fallen by the wayside over the course of the show, but dragonglass remained one of the most important elements to the inhabitants of Westeros, and for good reason. It’s only appropriate that Samwell Tarly would discover it, considering he’s the only one who researches and pays attention. It allows him to kill the White Walker that attacks him and Gilly a full season later while beyond the Wall, and his discovery also leads to the eventual defeat of the Army of the Dead. It may be Valyrian steel that seals the deal, but dragonglass weapons buy the living enough time for Arya Stark to land the killing blow in that duel. Sam is one of the unsung heroes of this story and his role in it is typified by him introducing dragonglass to the realm.
Honourable mention: Bran and Rickon Stark are revealed to have survived their initial escape from Winterfell.

2.9 Blackwater

Best moment: Wildfire destroys Stannis Baratheon’s fleet in the bay.

Why? Much like ‘The Old Gods and the New’, it’s nearly impossible to pick just one moment from ‘Blackwater’ and list it as the best. The wildfire explosion of Blackwater Bay, however, might well be the moment that ignited Game of Thrones’ transition from a political show in a fantasy universe to a fantasy show outright. Up until this point, the show’s budget had always prevented it from displaying battles in real-time, which meant that this was the first display of widespread carnage in the series. But it’s the magical, fantastical element of the impossibly large and devastating wildfire explosion that really drives home the new territory the show enters in the aftermath. The garish green, the fire, the screaming, the noise — it all comes together in a single moment to produce the unforgettable epicentre of this grand battle. The slow build of tension, the silence, and then: “Matthos! Get down!”
Honourable mention: “Fuck the Kingsguard. Fuck the city. Fuck the king.”

2.10 Valar Dohaeris

Best moment: Daenerys Targeryen’s visions in the House of the Undying.

Why? With the end of the show in mind, it’s clear from watching this scene that the ending was in the minds of the creators from very early on. Daenerys Targaryen, having had her dragons stolen by the warlock Pyat Pree, ventures to the House of the Undying to rescue her children. Before she can, however, the warlock’s magic provides her with prophetic visions that come to define the end of her story. She enters a destroyed throne room in King’s Landing that’s filled with snow and ash (this literally happens), she goes to touch the Iron Throne but never manages to sit on it (this literally happens), and meets Khal Drogo and her son beyond the Wall (or rather, the afterlife). At the time, it was a small window into the potentially boundless future of this show (Would the White Walkers destroy the throne room? Or dragons? Or something else?) but with her tragic end in mind, we now know we were staring into her inevitable demise.
Honourable mention: The end of Theon Greyjoy’s occupation of Winterfell.



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