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Our recaps of each Game of Thrones season continue with season two, in which we see a lot of our characters spread far across the world, and the War of the Five Kings take shape.

game of thrones Stannis Baratheon
Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

AT DRAGONSTONE

Stannis Baratheon is one of King Robert’s two brothers, and the older of the two. He lives on the island of Dragonstone and received word from Ned Stark before Ned was killed that all of Robert’s children with Cersei were actually Lannister bastards, born of incest. Stannis trusts Ned’s word and thus declares himself the King of Westeros. He has allied himself with a red witch from Essos named Melisandre who believes in prophecies and thinks that Stannis is the “Prince That Was Promised” and has pledged to help him ascend to the Iron Throne.

Stannis finds himself shocked and hurt by the fact that his younger brother Renly is also laying claim to the Iron Throne, but Melisandre convinces him to use blood magic to kill Renly. Stannis has sex with Melisandre and she becomes pregnant with some sort of mysterious demon that is going to be their weapon against Renly.

game of thrones brienne of tarth
Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

IN THE RIVERLANDS

Robb Stark has declared war against the Lannisters for their execution of his father, Ned Stark. Robb proves to be a surprisingly efficient war general, leading the Stark army to victory after victory against Tywin Lannister and taking Jaime Lannister prisoner. His bannermen declare Robb the “King in the North” and press Robb to seek the North’s independence from the Seven Kingdoms. As they march toward the Trident River they realize they need to cross at The Twins, which is the only bridge that crosses the river and is held by House Frey. Catelyn Stark retreats with Lord Walder Frey and promises that in exchange for safe passage across the river, Robb will be betrothed to one of Lord Frey’s daughters.

Robb then sends his best friend Theon Greyjoy, who grew up with Robb at Winterfell as Ned’s ward, to go to his ancestral home of the Iron Islands to seek an alliance with Theon’s father, Balon Greyjoy, and he sends his mother, Catelyn to the Stormlands to meet with Renly Baratheon, the dead king Robert’s youngest brother, in an attempt to form yet another alliance.

Theon arrives in the Iron Islands and talks with his father and sister who both refuse Robb Stark’s request and pressure Theon into betraying his best friend and joining up with his real family. This is the start of Theon’s identity issues as he doesn’t really know whether he’s a Stark or a Greyjoy, but the Greyjoys persist and Theon decides he’ll join his father and sister and abandon the Starks.

Catelyn Stark arrives in the Stormlands and meets with Renly, who has a ferocious female warrior by his side in his Kingsguard, Brienne of Tarth. Renly’s greatest allies in his claim of the Iron Throne are the Tyrells who are the second richest family in Westeros, behind the Lannisters. While meeting with Renly, a shadow demon with the face of Stannis Baratheon enters their tent and stabs Renly in the heart before disappearing. The only two people that saw the demon were Catelyn and Brienne who were inside the tent alone with Renly, so it seems quite suspicious and forces the two of them to leave Renly’s camp together before being apprehended for the murder. Brienne is thankful to Catelyn Stark for taking her and protecting her and thus pledges her sword to Lady Stark.

Meanwhile, Theon leaves the Iron Islands prepared to prove to his father that he’s a true Greyjoy, with the idea that he’ll take Winterfell from the Starks while Robb is away.

Back at Robb’s camp, Jaime is still being held as a prisoner and tries to escape, in the process killing a number of guards, including the son of Rickard Karstark, one of Robb’s most important bannermen.

Catelyn Stark and Brienne of Tarth return to Robb’s camp and in the middle of the night free Jaime Lannister against Robb’s wishes. Catelyn Stark sends him with Brienne to be returned to King’s Landing in exchange for her daughters Sansa and Arya (she doesn’t realize Arya isn’t in King’s Landing). When Robb finds out he essentially imprisons his mom for freeing their most valuable asset behind his back, and then slowly starts to fall in love with a nurse in his camp, jeopardizing the agreement he made with House Frey to marry one of Lord Walder’s daughters.

Catelyn tries convincing Robb not to marry the nurse, but Robb refuses to listen to her and marries her in a private ceremony, essentially declaring war on House Frey.

game of thrones bran stark
Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

AT WINTERFELL

Bran and Rickon are the only remaining Starks at Winterfell, and they’re being tended to by Osha, a captured wildling and Hodor when Theon arrives with some Ironborn soldiers and takes Winterfell for House Greyjoy. Meanwhile Osha and Hodor help Bran and Rickon escape the castle in the middle of the night, fearing Theon will have them executed.

Theon and his men search for Bran and Rickon, but can’t find them, so they kill two farm boys and burn their bodies to try and pass them off as Bran and Rickon, so everyone at Winterfell will think they’re dead.

It turns out that the reason Theon couldn’t find Bran and Rickon is because they’d actually been hiding in the crypts of Winterfell, and in the middle of the night they actually escape.

Meanwhile, the Stark army has sent a number of soldiers to go take back Winterfell, and as they approach the castle, Theon attempts to rally his Ironborn soldiers to fight, even though they’re drastically outnumbered. The soldiers mutiny against Theon, knocking him unconscious and surrendering the castle back to the Starks.

game of thrones tyrion lannister
Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

IN KING'S LANDING

Tyrion arrives back in King’s Landing after his stay as Catelyn Stark’s prisoner in the Eyrie. He lets Cersei know that their father, Tywin Lannister, has named Tyrion acting Hand of the King while Tywin remains in the riverlands fighting the Lannisters war with the Starks.

As a result of Robb’s victories over the Lannister army, Joffrey becomes more and more angry with Sansa and starts berating and beating her in public with Tyrion being the only one willing to stand up to Joffrey to protect Sansa.

Tyrion makes it a point to learn as much as he can about the goings on inside the Red Keep, and discovers that there are barrels of wildfire being stored beneath the castle. He immediately starts thinking about how he can use the wildfire, should Stannis Baratheon attack King’s Landing.

Tyrion also decides that he needs to sure up some alliances with the other houses of Westeros, as the war with Stannis approaches, so he betroths Cersei’s daughter Myrcella to The Prince of Dorne to secure an alliance, and sends her to live there without Cersei’s approval.

Stannis’s army finally reaches King’s Landing by sea and is prepared to lay siege to the city, but as they approach they find that the Lannister fleet is nowhere to be seen. It’s a trap laid by Tyrion. A flaming arrow is fired off toward a lone ship and it ignites all of the wildfire on board the ship and floating in the sea. The entire Baratheon fleet is essentially destroyed. Only a few of Stannis’s ships remain and they all reach land and start attacking King’s Landing, where surprisingly they seem to be making headway.

King Joffrey is too scared to go out and fight with his men, so Tyrion takes control of the Lannister forces leading them onto the field of battle where one of Joffrey’s guards tries to kill him. He cuts Tyrion across the face and knocks him unconscious, before being killed by Tyrion’s squire, Podrick Payne.

It all seems lost for the Lannisters, until Tywin Lannister arrives with the Tyrell army by his side. These are the same Tyrells that once declared Stannis’s brother Renly, king. Tywin and Littlefinger convinced the Tyrells to join forces with the Lannisters in exchange for King Joffrey casting aside his betrothed, Sansa Stark, in favor of Margaery Tyrell. The Lannisters and Tyrells easily defeat the Baratheon forces and send Stannis and his decimated army running back to Dragonstone.

game of thrones cersei
Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

ON THE ROAD NORTH

Joffrey and Cersei order that all of King Robert’s bastard children are to be killed to prevent any of them from rising up and claiming the Iron Throne, but one bastard named Gendry is able to escape and join Arya Stark (who’s pretending to be a boy) on the road north to join the Night’s Watch, along with all the criminals from King’s Landing and children with nowhere else to go. On their way North, Arya reveals her true identity to Gendry as the two of them have become close friends.

On their way to the Wall, the group of Night’s Watch recruits are attacked by Lannister soldiers who are searching for Robert’s bastard son Gendry. Arya frees three prisoners locked in a carriage, saving their lives, and then convinces them that one of the boys they killed was Gendry, thus saving the real Gendry’s life. The Lannister soldiers then take all the recruits prisoner and bring them all to Harrenhal, an abandoned castle that Tywin Lannister has taken residence in while planning his war against the Starks.

Tywin picks Arya to be his steward, not knowing who she actually is and one of the three prisoners Arya saved in the battle, named Jaqen H’ghar, approaches her and as a means of thanking her for saving the three prisoners lives offers her three names that he will kill for her.

When Tywin leaves to go attack Robb Stark, Arya, Gendry, and their friend Hot Pie plan to escape Harrenhal by calling in Arya’s favor with Jaqen. The three of them and Jaqen escape Harrenhal, and before leaving them, Jaqen reveals he’s a “Faceless Man” from Braavos, one of the most infamous groups of assassins in the world. He then gives Arya a coin and tells her if she ever wants to come learn the ways of the Faceless Men, all she has to do is give this coin to any man from Braavos and say “Valar Morghulis.”

game of thrones jon snow
Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

AT THE WALL

Lord Commander Jeor Mormont leads a group of the Night’s Watch north of the wall to try and find Benjen Stark (Jon Snow’s uncle) and the rangers that went north and never came back. Jon accompanies the Lord Commander as he is now Jeor Mormont’s personal steward, being groomed to one day take command. Jon’s best friend at the Wall, Samwell Tarly also makes the trip. The men of the Night’s Watch stay at a little house North of the Wall called Craster’s Keep. It’s the home of an old man who lives with his dozens of daughter-wives. Sam meets one of his daughters who is currently pregnant and worried that if she gives birth to a boy, Craster will kill the baby, because while he keeps all the baby girls, he sacrifices all the baby boys to the White Walkers.

After Jon discovers what Craster does with the baby boys, Craster freaks out and kicks all the Night’s Watch out of his house and the men of the Night’s Watch start marching further north. At a certain point they decide it’s pointless for them all to continue on and decide to send a smaller group out while the rest will go back to Castle Black. Jon persuades the Lord Commander to let him accompany the group of rangers heading north as he’s the best fighter of the bunch and it’s his uncle they’re looking for. Lord Commander Mormont agrees to let Jon go, and makes him promise to do whatever Qhorin Halfhand (the lead ranger) asks of him.

While marching north, Jon Snow and Qhorin Halfhand catch a Wildling named Ygritte and the Halfhand orders Jon to execute her, but Jon can’t do it. He can’t kill an innocent person. Ygritte escapes and Jon chases after her, and she leads him into a trap where Jon is now captured by the Wildlings, who already have Qhorin Halfhand. The Halfhand commands Jon to kill him, to gain the respect and trust of the Wildlings, so after a staged fight, Jon does just that, plunging his sword through the Halfhand’s heart. Jon is then taken to meet the “King Beyond the Wall” Mance Rayder, who himself is a former man of the Night’s Watch.

Meanwhile on their march south, back to the Wall, Samwell Tarly and the Night’s Watch find a buried bag of dragonglass daggers (the significance of which are to be discovered soon).

game of thrones daenerys
Macall B. Polay/courtesy of HBO

IN ESSOS

Daenerys now has her three baby dragons, a small group of Dothraki and Jorah Mormont by her side, but nowhere to go. She sends a group of riders out in various direction to try and find a city they can seek refuge at, so they won’t starve to death.

One of her riders returns and tells them of a city not far called Qarth and leads them to its gates where one member of the high council named Xaro Xhoan Daxos makes a pledge on behalf of Daenerys, allowing her safe passage inside the city. Inside the city Daenerys works to try and procure ships to take her to Westeros, but finds that her dragons have been stolen.

A warlock with purple lips reveals to Daenerys that he is the one who stole her dragons but offers her the opportunity to reunite with them, by going to the mystical temple where they’re being held captive. It’s all very strange and ominous.

Daenerys goes to the House of the Undying where she gets lost in a sort of maze. She sees visions/hallucinations while trying to find her dragons, and finally reaches them and kills the warlock that kidnapped them.

If she only knew it’s just the beginning. 

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