The effects were something I worried about from day one. Yes, ghostly blue eyes were an easy enough feat to pull off in season 1, but what of Dany's dragons? I wondered how they'd look this season (and beyond) as she/they play a significant role. And there's Melisandre and her dark magic. I'll hand it to HBO though, as the birth of the shadowy creature was no easy feat to put on screen. I'm sure it threw many non-book fans for a loop when they saw it, but I was satisfied with how it and the rest of the effects turned out. The battles were nowhere near as grand as they should have been, but all out war is costly business so I get why things were cut short. The battle of Blackwater Bay may not have wore on like it did in the book, but the wildfire proved an impressive victory for both the Lannisters and us fans.
The returning cast are fully enveloped in their alter egos, bringing each and every character to life in brilliant fashion. John Snow's trek to Mance Rayder felt a little stretched, but he'll get his due this coming season. Arya Stark stole each and every scene, especially those she shared with Tywin Lannister and Jaqen H'ghar. Tyrion remains the fan favorite, and why the hell not, his dialogue is so damn perfect you can't wait to hear him to say something else. I'm glad they decided not to follow the books in regards to his injuries come season's end. In the books, he loses a good chunk of his nose which would make him quite hideous if they went that route. He got off easy with a scar. Chicks dig scars. Oh, and how about that scene with Bronn and The Hound before the Blackwater battle? Bronn is such a badass.
GAME OF THRONES SEASON 2 is everything the first season was and more. We get new characters, betrayals and surprises all woven into an intricate, intelligent and downright entertaining plot. Yes, Dany's search for her dragons got annoying, but her end trials made it worth it. Jamie Lannister may have been a prisoner all season, but his aside with his cousin is about as memorable a scene as we could ask for, as is all his dialogue with Brienne of Tarth (played to perfection by Gwendoline Christie). I could write paragraph after paragraph of praise for this show (and for a more detailed look, check out my BEYOND THE WALL columns), but fans of the series and books know exactly what I'm talking about and like me, are no doubt counting down the days until March 31. I was also a big fan of the ending, again, something that no doubt threw people who've never read the books. A white walker army is quite a sight (poor Sam). GAME OF THRONES is one of, if the best show on TV as far as I'm concerned, here's hoping they keep raising the bar.
In-episode guide: Again, just another vehicle for getting to know the characters, lands and rich personal histories of all the houses. This is another must watch for readers and non-readers alike.
Character Profiles: A quick glance into the actions of seven characters with their actor egos. Not much in the way of new info, but cool nonetheless.
War of the Five Kings Interactive Guide: This bit really covers the landscapes and battles for those who wanted more from the war end of things. It almost feels like you're watching the History channel, but in a good way.
Creating the Battle of Blackwater Bay: A lot of work went into the Battle of Blackwater Bay and it deserves mad props for a TV show. Great work guys.
Game of Thrones Inner Circle: Five of our actors have a round table discussion about the show and the events of this season. It's always cool to hear the opinions of people playing the characters.
The Religions of Westeros: A very short look into the many religions of Westeros with hosts George R.R. Martin and producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. They could have explained this for hours, but we get the eight minute condensed version instead.
Previews: There are a couple HBO trailers, a DVD set of the season as well as bunch of Easter Eggs to be found. Happy hunting.