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29th May 2012 09:00:00
Posted by Nick Bryan

Blackwater

Review of Game of Thrones: Blackwater from HBO and Sky Atlantic.
My recent Game of Thrones reviews have featured a lot of “Nothing seems to be happening” mewling, so good news, readers: none of that this time, as the second season gives us its big action episode, and the biggest fighty moments of the series so far.

So, good fighting? Bad fighting? Did Danerys still whine in Qarth?

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You may recall, last season, the big battle sequence was quietly skipped whilst Tyrion Lannister took a nap. It was a fun narrative technique, an acknowledgment that they’d rather cheekily avoid spending the money than do a mediocre job of filming the scenes.

But, perhaps with a bigger budget after their early success, they try and meet the action head-on this year, and... it goes pretty well. There are impressive sequences like the big green explosion, and some brutal fighting, as well as a few tense periods where I really thought known characters were in danger. Probably one of the best shots at an upscale battle sequence I've ever seen on TV.

A few parts where darkness makes it hard to tell what exactly is going on beyond general chaos, but all the meaningful story beats are easy enough. Was I meant to recognise the reinforcements at the end before Lord Tywin strode heroically in? From Tyrion’s distress, I had assumed it was the Starks, choosing a really annoying time to come knocking.

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Taking the long view, it was odd to see Stannis just turn up and get repelled, and is Sir Davos really dead? After all his build-up, that was sudden. He’s probably had more scenes than Stannis himself, although if the crazy King was always going to get caned so easily, maybe that's why he's been so under-used.

So after the big introduction of the Baratheon brothers at the start of the season, they’ve both been killed or imprisoned and now we’re back to Starks and Lannisters trying to wee on each other for season three? Was that a bit circular?

And no, other characters like Danerys, Arya and Jon didn’t appear at all, and I didn’t mind that much, I think the battle needed the tension of being played continuously, imagine their storylines will get some form of ending in the finale. At least there was still some utterly pointless nudity to sooth you through their absence. So, back here next week to see how they tie all this up into a beautiful bow?

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