Game of Thrones' greatest skill as a TV show is the manner in which it slips between its interwoven stories, switching between Tyrion, Cersei and Joffrey's sniping and nastiness at King's Landing, the desolate despair of Daenerys in the Red Waste and the romps and rucks taking place between the Starks, Lannisters and Greyjoys across Westeros.
Last week's season premiere showcased an even darker edge to the series and the bloody, filthy antics continued in week two with an extra dose of smut and table top sex.
> 'Game of Thrones' season two, episode one review
Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) remains the centre point for season two, throwing out one-liners and ruling the roost at King's Landing. Joffrey may wear the crown, but it is his uncle "The Imp" who really holds the power right now.
The only match for Tyrion's powerplays and wit at present comes in the shape of Lord Varys, who has befriended the King's Hand's mistress Shae. Varys is smart enough to realise that Shae was never a cook ("You should try her fish pie") and is also smart enough to hold the fact in his pack of cards against Tyrion. "I am not Ned Stark and I understand how this game is played," warned Tyrion, but Varys appears
The battle for supremacy at King's Landing between Cersei and Tyrion has been the highlight of the opening two episodes. Dinklage's performance in the show has won him awards and high praise, but Lena Headey's turn as the Queen Regent is equally as impressive, managing to install some heart and believability to one of the coldest and cruellest characters.
Tyrion may have taken control of the King's Watch security and had Lord Janos arrested and he may have a fine line in zingers ("I'm not questioning your honour, I'm denying it ever existed"), but he came out the loser in a final verbal spar with his sister this week.
While Tyrion is trading in bawdy entendres ("It's all fallen on me" "As had Jaime, according to Stannis"), his sibling dealt a crueller blow, claiming that there was "no bigger joke" than the loss of their mother during Tyrion's birth. Ouch.
A minor character in season one, Alfie Allen's Theon is now coming to the fore following his return to the Iron Islands. He wants to get his father to join with the Starks in the battle against the Lannisters, but got distracted on his journey by some unglamourous sex on a boat ("try smiling with your lips closed"), and a fumble on a horse with his sister Yara, who he didn't recognise. Nothing like a bit of accidental incest to push a storyline along.
Yara's teasing of Theon (anything with a c**k is easy to fool) looks likely to continue as their father Balon (Patrick Malahide) appears uninterested in his son's new-found riches or allegiances to the House of Stark. Theon looked quite the lost boy as Balon and Yara walked out on him with the warning, "Who said anything about the Lannisters?" as they headed off for a battle with the Starks.
The slowest and least interesting of the several Thrones plotlines at the moment is Arya's attempts to allude capture. Her blossoming friendship with Gendry (Joe Dempsie) brings a rare lightness of touch to proceedings ("I've been p*ssing in front of you and everything"), but very little has developed on this front in the opening two episodes. Ayra and Gendry are both on the run from the City Watchmen and King's Landing, but neither are doing much running at the moment.
There hasn't been much action from the new gang at Dragonstone yet, but their passion for sex and violence appears to be a match for our old favourites from season one. Liam Cunningham's Davos is recruiting some of his old pirate pals to join Stannis's battle against Joffrey. The only thing the pirates want in return is Queen Cersei. "I'm not going to rape her, I'm going to f**k her," said Salladhor Saan. A night of chocolates, flowers and romance beckons for Cersei then.
Sex was on the mind of Stannis and the devilish Melisandre as well. Clearly not a fan of plotting war strategies and playing armies, she seduced Stannis on top of a table and the pair ended up making a right old mess.
Episode two concluded with the Night's Watch gang and chubby Samwell appears to have got his buddy Jon Snow in a right bit of bother. Samwell's eye for the ladies and soft spot for a sob story scratches Jon's curiosity about the whereabouts of Craster's (the one who sleeps with his daughters) sons.
However, when he attempts to rescue a baby that Craster drops off in the wood, he gets a wallop on his head and is knocked out cold by the incest-loving villain.
Game of Thrones continues on Sunday nights on HBO in the US and on Monday nights at 9pm on Sky Atlantic in the UK.
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