Game of Thrones: Season Two – DVD Review

With the third season on the horizon, how do last year’s fantasy adventures hold up?

The next season of Game of Thrones is almost upon us, and that means it’s time for the DVD release of the last one. This release schedule might be infuriating for the impatient, but I imagine they’ll shift a few units to people wanting to remember what happened.

So, how does the second season stand up? Are there any must-have special features?

The Episodes

I did review all these episodes when they originally aired, you can find them by searching “game of thrones” up top, but looking back, a few broad thoughts: it was good. Maybe not as smooth and flawless storytelling as season 1, but enjoyable, epic, engaging, other postive E-words.

You get the epic battle of Blackwater and all the fun political build-up to that featuring Tyrion Lannister, along with Jon Snow discovering the wild north, Danerys meeting some crazy foreigners, Theon Greyjoy fawning for his daddy’s approval and Robb Stark doing unwise marrying. A lot happens.

If there are problems, a lot of them are George R.R. Martin’s fault – well, a combination of Martin’s novels and the demands of television. There are several characters who don’t get much to do in A Clash Of Kings (the novel this season is adapting) but the TV show clearly wanted to keep them on-screen, so their few activities get rather dragged out. Not that all the TV shows’s changes are bad – the scenes with Lord Tywin and Arya weren’t in the novel at all, and they’re great.

Both book and series have slightly strange non-endings – there’s a huge scuffle at King’s Landing, almost no-one died, King Stannis is repelled but lives to fight another day.

Still, it’s a great adventure, and having read the third book, I know a lot of events here will come to fruitition in future seasons. This was very much a middle chapter, but it’s a compelling one. Amazing production values for TV, and great acting across the board, impressive when you consider the size of the cast. Long may Game of Thrones continue to sell epic fantasy to the masses using sex and violence.

Special Features

Plenty of commentaries from insightful people to force you to watch the episodes twice. Also – the inevitable stating-the-obvious profile extras on the first couple of discs.

In terms of more meaty featurettes, there’s a round table on disc four with the two showrunners and a few actors, and although there isn’t much searing insight, there’s fun camaraderie that makes it worth watching.

More interesting, on the final disc, a lengthy feature about how they fimed the epic battle of Blackwater in episode nine. If you thought it looked like a great undertaking on screen, you’ll still be surprised how much graft it was in reality.

Oh, and a summary of Westeros’s religions, one big indicator of how carefully thought out this world is. Nice extras, enjoyable bonus moments for fans once you’ve seen the episodes again.

And one final note: HBO have finally stopped putting full paragraph-length synopses on the episode pages of their DVDs! About time, guys. There are still tiny summaries you can blank if you’re spoiler-conscious, but at least I won’t have to stick my hand over the screen like I did with Six Feet Under. As a package, and as a primer for the upcoming third season, Game of Thrones season 2 is a good buy.

Nick Bryan

Updated: Mar 14, 2013

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