(HBO) Winter is coming! The fantasy adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s famed series, A Song of Fire and Ice, became a cultural phenomenon as soon as its opening credits rolled, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down. Though Game of Thrones (named for the series’ first book) has what seems like an endless amount of characters, as well as a plotline interwoven with meticulous back-story, mainstream audiences immediately responded to the violent HBO drama. Twelve hour-long episodes never seemed so short as when the first season ended at the brink of war. Lords were beheaded, kings killed, and alliances sworn. Come April 1st, we find out just how severe the repercussions will be.
For those unfamiliar with the show, do yourselves a favor and buy the first season on DVD. A brief summary will do no one justice, least of all the characters. Those who have mined through the first few episodes know that the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros find themselves, yet again, in upheaval as the nobles fight for control of the Iron Throne. If the relationships from last season weren’t complex enough, season two introduces a host of new faces to keep track of and falll head over heels for.
The recently deceased King Robert’s older brother, Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), finally makes his way into the game, bringing with him witchy Red Priestess Mellisandre (Carice van Houten) and steadfast ally Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham!). Stannis faces against his baby brother Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony), Robb Stark (Richard Madden) of the North, smug boy-King Joffrey Lannister (Jack Gleeson), and his scheming mother, Cersei Lannister, for control over the Kingdoms.
When we left the feuding families, Joffrey had taken his supposed rightful place on the throne, with Stark daughter Sansa (Sophie Turner) as his hostage fiancé. Emmy award-winning Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) makes his way back to court as the Hand of the King, and Daenerys Targaryen, Dragon Princess, heads East to seize her family’s long-lost right to rule. Confused yet?
Each character has their own personal arc and intentions, but all of them have one thing in common – they will do anything to stay alive. As last season demonstrated, no one is safe from the blade. Nedd Stark (Sean Bean) was hailed as Game of Thrones' hero, until he was struck down with one tragic, fatal blow. Suddenly their “big name” star was out of the series, and fans were left to deal with the fact that innocence does not necessarily mean safety or survival.
And that, above all, is what makes Game of Thrones unlike anything else on TV. Of course, the thrilling production design and costumes, bold female protagonists (and, for that matter, antagonists), and brutal battle scenes all make for a tantalizing show. Yet it's the surprising plot twists and intricate characters that keep us hooked.
HBO has released a series of trailers for the second season tantamount to a gripping film trailer. Whether the scenes showcase Sansa by her sniveling husband-to-be, Arya (Maisie Williams)'s disguise as a young boy, or Jon Snow (Kit Harington)'s adventure outside the Walls, they all send a chill down the spine. Game of Thrones returns to keep fans guessing Sunday, April 1, 2012.
For Fans Of: The Borgias, Rome, The Tudors
Why We Like It: Violent fantasy drama, intricate plot, intriguing characters, strong heroines
Watch the other Season 2 trailers at the 'Game of Thrones' official YouTube channel.