The second season of HBO’s Game of Thrones has come to a close, leaving us with an unfortunate nine or so months bereft of epic medieval battles, scheming dwarves, fire-breathing dragons and near constant nudity. In the meantime, we can relive the glory that was the second season, with this special look at which characters reigned supreme this year. So here is my take on which characters were the best of the past season. It should be noted this is my opinion, and my opinion alone – I know for a fact that not all of the Culture Wedge staff will agree with. But to hell with them…I’m right!
Oh, and since we’re discussing a season that is now over, this might go without saying, but SPOILERS AHEAD.
SEASON TWO’S BEST CHARACTERS
12. Renly Baratheon
Alas, poor Renly, we hardly knew ye. Whereas Stannis Baratheon ended up being something of a bore this season, Renly, in the short time he had, was a fascinating and complex character. Truly loved by his men, but hiding a HUGE secret, you couldn’t help but root for the guy. Or at least I couldn’t – for what it’s worth, I think if I lived in the fictional world of Westoros, Renly would have been who I was rooting for to win the Iron Throne. Of those who actually wanted the crown (sorry, Robb), he seemed like he would have been the most decent and fair king.
11. Tywin Lannister
I can pretty much sum this one up with two words – “Charles Dance.” One of the best “evil bastard” actors out there, Dance brought a sinister nobility to the elder Lannister. Though I suppose it’s tempting to label him a “bad guy,” you still also always understood and even maybe slightly sympathized with his motivations. Although he was a fairly “behind the scenes” character for most of the season, his scenes were always captivating.
10. Jaime Lannister
Sure, the Kingslayer was a simple prisoner for most of the season, and as a result sadly did not enjoy as much screen-time as he did in the first season. But you can tell how important the producers realized he was to the show – from what I understand, a lot of his scenes were added in to the show, in order to make up for his overall absence from the second book. Good thing, too – Jaime’s cocky arrogance still shined through even tied up in a dirty cage, and his final scenes with Brienne were excellent, promising a much more active season three for the king’s uncle/father.
9. Sandor Clegane
I really didn’t expect much from “The Hound” when he was first introduced last season – I predicted just a simple brute character, there just to act as simplemuscle. But his gentle attitude towards Sansa Stark at the end of the season hinted at something deeper, and this season it came full circle, finally culminating in “Blackwater” with his encounter with Bronn, total ass-kicking in the battle, and finally his condemnation of both the war, the city and the king. Damn, Sansa, you really should have gone with him.
Tyrion’s loyal right-hand man, and probably the only character even comes close to Tyrion in the “quotable” department. Bronn’s no-nonsense attitude about his lack of morals but love of money makes him oddly honorable, in a weird way. Plus, “there’s no cure for being a cunt” might just be the line of the season.
7. Arya Stark
Or, as I like to call her, “the only tolerable Stark.” I was actually pretty concerned about this character in the first season – I could see where they were going with her (the little tomboy girl who wants to be a fierce warrior), but was worried that actress Maisie Williams didn’t really have it in her to pull it off. She proved me wrong this year – not so much in the “warrior” department (they didn’t do a whole lot with Arya’s sword-fighting skills this year), but she definitely brought a lot to the table in her scenes with Tywin, which were created specifically for the show. Smart move – they were a great showcase for both characters.
6. Jaqen H’ghar
Alright, alright, I know “Jaqen H’ghar” wasn’t even his real name. I don’t care. All I care about is how completely bad-ass he was. Although his odd third-person speech struck me as silly at first, I soon came to relish his interactions with Arya. And even though it might have been down for budgetary reasons or something like that, I still love that we never even witnessed any of his assassinations, but instead only saw the bloody aftermaths. Judging by his final scene, it looks like we’ve seen the last of this character, at least in this form (so long to actor Tom Walaschiha), which is too bad.
5. Cersei Lannister
Cersei was perhaps less active in events this season, but was no less compelling. Her grief over losing Jaime, her mental duels with Tyrion, her silent but obvious inner turmoil over realizing her son is even crazier and more out-of-control than she thought – Cersei had one hell of a rough year. This helps explain her resignation to kill herself and her youngest son during the battle of Blackwater. Her drunken conversations with Sansa beforehand are probably her characters strongest moments yet.
4. Petyr Baelish
I read one article that argued it was pretty unrealistic for Baelish to travel all over the kingdom so much and so quickly throughout the season, and I guess I can see some truth to that. But no matter, Littlefinger is still awesome. In a show full of schemers and manipulators, Baelish is the only one who is pretty darn upfront about what an untrustworthy prick he is. And yet people still keep making deals with him! I guess it pays to own a whorehouse.
3. Theon Greyjoy
The most improved character since the first season, by far. I didn’t care about Theon at all during that first year – the whole “he’s kind of a Stark but not really” thing didn’t seem to go anywhere except for occasional insults at his expense. But Theon’s inner-anguish over accepting his family destiny and betraying his friends this year was one of the season’s best storylines, and his brutal but eventually ill-fated siege of Winterfell displayed a whole new side of the character.
2. Tyrion Lannister
Indeed. With the departure of Ned Stark, Tyrion essentially became the show’s primary character this season. Peter Dinklage easily rose to the challenge (no pun intended). Watching Tyrion outwit his opponents, and verbally dress them down, is one of the great TV pleasures of the moment. It doesn’t really seem in the cards, but is there any way we get Tyrion some time on the Iron Throne?
1. Joffrey Baratheon
No, seriously. Joffrey is not just the best villain on television right now, he is fast on his way to being one of the best television villains of all time. The problem with most villains is that they are played so “cool” that they often end up becoming even more popular than the heroes, which in turn can hurt the impact of the story (wrestling fans will know exactly what I’m talking about). Well, it’s never been cool to like Joffrey. Can you think of a more hated character? A great deal of the interest in the “game of thrones” is not only seeing which potential king finally sits on the throne, but also a desire to see Joffrey finally get his. I’m sure that will happen sooner or later, but when it does, the show – and its fans – might just miss Joffrey more than many of his haters will probably want to admit. But hey, haters gonna hate…