The Night Lands

One accusation you could never level at Game Of Thrones is that it lacks ambition. This show has more scale than the reptile house at a zoo, and you wouldn’t think it needs more, would you? Surely further characters and locations risks critical mass?

Well, the writers laugh in the face of common sense. In this episode, we get more of both, as well as extra incest, in case there wasn’t enough already.

Last week’s premiere mostly updated us on our old favourites, slipping a few new characters in with Stannis Baratheon, but this time, there’s a lot of newness. We still get Tyrion cleaning house at King’s Landing (which may get samey, but Peter Dinklage is so good that it’ll take a while) and Daenerys pops up for another “Hey, I’m still here!” moment.

Elsewhere, Gendry and Arya have a few moments on the road. They’re only returning cast who got relatively ignored last week, and the most likeable characters left now Sean Bean’s had his extreme haircut. Hopefully their double act will carry on for a while.

And in completely new worlds, poor Theon Greyjoy returns home, accidentally touches up his sister and things go downhill from there. It was an effective sequence for background to Theon and establishing the Greyjoy clan for later use, but this show has a lot of scenes where regular characters get lectured by bitter old men, doesn’t it?

Speaking of the old fall-backs, needless exposition delivered around coitus makes an aggressive comeback (no pun intended) this week. Prostitutes have a similar ethos to hairdressers in this world - punters turn up and ramble away as they work.

Meanwhile, Hannah Murray (Cassie from Skins) turns up as a character who seems minor, but I assume her story will develop because, well, she’s played by someone I recognise. Oh, there’s also a slightly underwhelming cliffhanger, as Jon finds out something that has surely been obvious since last week.

Meanwhile, we get a better idea of the religion/military conflicts going on in the Stannis camp, and the more people talk about Renly, the more I wonder when he’s going to appear on-screen. Maybe they’re trying to keep the new faces on a steady drip-feed.

But yes, a business as usual episode, with a cliffhanger that doesn’t entirely work, but the Game Of Thrones engine is definitely ticking over. Doubt fans will find much to complain about here.

Game Of Thrones airs on Mondays at 9PM on Sky Atlantic. More details on their official site.

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