Warning – spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 2 to follow.
10. Theon’s Choice
I’m a sucker for beautiful mise en scéne. Against a chiaroscuro backdrop, Theon stares at the letter he wrote warning Rob Stark of his father’s plans, illuminated by a single candle. It’s an image that tells you all you need to know about his torn loyalty. Then Theon makes his decision and sticks the letter in the fire, watching it burn as the music appropriately turns to the Stark family theme.
9. Littefinger Spoils the End of Blackwater
I’ll bet good money almost no one expected this to be on my list, let alone remember which scene I’m referring to. I myself wasn’t even thinking of including this scene until I re-watched the entire season to prepare for writing this list. It occurs in “The Old Gods And The New,” where during a meeting Littlefinger broaches the possibility of an alliance between Lannister and Tyrell to Lord Tywin. Tywin appears open to this idea, essentially giving away the ending of “Blackwater,” but you probably don’t remember it. Why? Because all you were thinking about during that conversation was whether or not Littlefinger was going to recognize Arya; the youngest Stark daughter’s peril worried you so much that you barely heard what Tywin and Littlefinger were saying. The writers knew you would, which is why they gave away the Lannister/Tyrell alliance like it was nothing. Besides successfully putting you right in Arya’s shoes, it’s scenes like this that showcase just how much mastery Game of Thrones has over its storytelling.
8. Tyrion’s Lowest Moment
Following the Battle of Blackwater Bay, Tyrion remains alive after Cersei’s failed assassination, having suffered a brutal injury to his face. His friend and protector Bronn is gone, he is no longer Hand of the King, and no one, not even his family, will acknowledge all he did to save King’s Landing. The battle has been won, but Tyrion has lost everything. – everything except for Shae, at whom, in grief, he lashes out. The weight of a relationship isn’t measured in grand statements delivered in times of happiness; it’s measured by what is said in times of the lowest low. For Shae and Tyrion, it is when Shae states, “You have a shit memory. I am yours, and you are mine.”
Sue me, I’m a romantic.
7. Brienne “Bonds” With The Kingslayer
I can’t quite place why Brienne is one of my favorite new characters in Season 2. Maybe it’s because she kicks Ser Loras’s ass in her first scene. Maybe it’s because she kicks ass in the medieval fantasy setting of Game of Thrones, where so many women are stuck in degrading roles. Maybe it’s because she kicks so much ass she has Jamie frigging Lannister thinking twice about messing with her. Whatever the reason, it probably has something to do with her being an all-around badass.
Now that Brienne has to escort Jamie Lannister across half of Westeros, their banter is one of the things I’m most looking forward to in Season 3. Thankfully, we got a taste of their rapport in the season finale in one powerful scene. As Brienne is about to tie up the Kingslayer so she can bury 3 girls murdered for cooperating with the Lannister army, their murderers return. Brienne and Jamie have to work together to convince the men she’s not escorting the Kingslayer’ when that fails, they again work together to kill them, during which time Brienne makes a point of cutting one of the rapists in half from the crotch up. Brienne then returns to burying the girls without tying up Jamie; the sight of the brutal death of the rapist subdued the Kingslayer far more efficiently then bondage ever could. It is a shame we have to wait a year to see their adventures continue.
6. Daenerys’ Vision
In the season finale, Daenerys ventures into the House of the Undying to claim what is hers. But before she can reunite with her dragons, Dany has a multistage vision – one which hints heavily at things to come. After searching desperately for her “children, she finds herself in a hall: the sun has blotted out, the roof has been torn open, and Winter has come. Only when she reaches out to touch the thorny arm of the Iron Throne do we realize Daenerys Targaryen is standing in the Red Keep at King’s Landing. Whether it is a glimpse of what is to come, or one possibility among many, we do not know – but the chills the scene sends down our spines remain.