Episode 1 The North Remembers
“The North Remembers” is the second season premiere of the HBO medieval fantasy television series Game of Thrones, which aired on April 1, 2012. It was written by the show creators and executive producers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and directed by Alan Taylor.
The episode catches up with the familiar characters and resumes their stories, with most of the protagonists having been separated across the Seven Kingdoms after the dramatic events at the end of the last season. Also, some new characters are introduced at the location of Dragonstone, where the late King Robert’s brother Stannis Baratheon emerges as yet another claimant to the Throne.
The eldest living brother of the late King Robert, Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), announces himself as rightful heir to the Iron Throne. From his court at the island of Dragonstone, he sends a letter to all the corners of the Seven Kingdoms announcing that Joffrey, Tommen, and Myrcella are not Robert’s true heirs, but rather the products of incest between Cersei Lannister and her twin brother Jamie. Stannis, though, refuses to seek an alliance with the other claimants (including his younger brother Renly) as he sees them as usurpers.
Stannis’s maester, Cressen, is preoccupied with Stannis’s late decisions and especially with the influence that the priestess Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) has over him. Having undertaken the new religion, Stannis has even converted to her Lord of Light and has ordered the burning of the statues of the Westerosii Seven Gods. Willing to sacrifice himself for Stannis’s sake, Cressen puts poison in a cup and asks Melisandre to drink from it after he has done so. While he dies almost immediately, the priestess swallows the entire cup unaffected.
A series of combats is held to celebrate King Joffrey’s name day and a captive Sansa Stark deftly saves Ser Dontos’s life by convincing Joffrey not to kill him, but rather to make him a fool in the court. The proceedings are interrupted by Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), who returns to the capital to act as Hand of the King in his father’s stead. Cersei (Lena Headey) is furious with this, but accepts the new situation after her brother assures her that he will only act as an advisor.
But after his ascension to the Throne, Joffrey is becoming uncontrollable, even by his own mother. After defying her authority and reading Stannis’s letter, he orders the City Watch to murder all of King Robert’s illegitimate children. Although Gendry was already out of the City, his old master smith reveals that he is in a caravan traveling to the Wall. Unbeknownest to any of them, Gendry is traveling in the same caravan as Arya, so both of the most wanted fugitives which the Lannisters are trying to find are actually in the same place.
King Robb Stark (Richard Madden) visits his prisoner Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), informing him that he has received Stannis’s letter about Joffrey being Jaime’s son, and the reasons why Bran was crippled and his father was killed. Robb also informs him that he intends to send his cousin, Alton Lannister, who also has been captured by the Northern army, with terms for a peace. His demands include the release of his sisters, the return of Eddard’s and his followers’ remains, and the acknowledgement of the Northern independence.
Although he has defeated the Lannisters three times on the battlefield, Robb knows that he cannot beat them alone. For this reason, he agrees to send Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) to his father, Balon, to convince him to join them with all the naval force of the Iron Islands. And although his mother Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) wished to return to Winterfell to be with her other sons, Robb asks her to travel to King Renly’s court to negotiate an alliance which would give them a 2-1 advantage over the Lannister army.
Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) is learning how to be Lord of Winterfell while his brother is away at war. He has a strange dream, where he sees himself as Summer, his direwolf, running in the Godswood.
The ranging party that set out from Castle Black reaches Craster’s Keep, a settlement some distance north of the Wall. Craster provides information on the wildlings and their leader, King-Beyond-the-Wall Mance Rayder. Lord Commander Jeor Mormont (James Cosmo) offers leadership advice to Jon Snow (Kit Harington) due to Jon’s disgust that Craster’s daughters are also his wives.
With the remnants of Drogo’s khalasar, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) is crossing the Red Waste hoping to find some shelter. The trip is hard, with her newborn dragons not willing to eat the meat they are offered, and horses dying of exhaustion. Finally, Daenerys takes the resolution to send three riders with their remaining horses to explore in three separate directions.