Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Game of Thrones Season 2: Invitation to the Set

HBO released a new production video for Season 2 on February 20, 2011 entitled Invitation to the Set:

I've broken down the video and have some speculation about some of the content. I originally posted a breakdown over at the Game of Thrones wikia but am reposting it here with the speculation as that site is spoiler free. There are mild spoilers from the book A Clash of Kings below but no major characters arc endings are involved. More after the jump.

It opens with a title card. The first shot is of Renly Baratheon, crowned and armoured with a Baratheon guardsman behind him. Next is Gethin Anthony (in costume as Renly) who says "Having completed last year it was a really wonderful feeling to be part of something so big, so detailed." While he speaks we see a shot of a duel and Renly and Margaery Tyrell clapping. Renly's costume includes a gorget with the antlers of house Baratheon which looked great. His crown is fairly understated for Renly but convincingly looks like antlers.

Renly and Margaery make a good show couple. I'm sure their allies are very taken with the pair. Natalie Dormer is a fine young actress and coming off of a starring role in The Tudors, the show is lucky to have her for what is not a huge role. I wonder if she netted a starring credit to sweeten the deal. Speaking of I wonder if they will upgrade Gethin Anthony to the starring cast for his expanded role in the early part of season 2.

The duel appears to be Loras Tyrell fighting against Brienne of Tarth during the melee Renly holds. Both are too small for me to be certain but I think Loras is the knight on the right wielding the long handled axe. Brienne fights Loras in the book (A Clash of Kings Chapter 23 Catelyn II page 250) and her armour in this wide shot seems consistent with what she is wearing when she pops up again later in the clip. The melee in the book is a grander affair with multiple, mounted, combatants with Brienne and Loras the last standing. This would be expensive to shoot and has presumably been modified based on this footage.

Lena Headey (in costume as Cersei Lannister on a set) is next and she says "It's pretty awesome being back in the big sets and, not awesome wearing corsets."

Peter Dinklage (in costume as Tyrion Lannister in Croatia) says "It's so lovely to be back on season 2. Now everybody knows each other, like a family." We see a shot of Joffrey Baratheon, Sansa Stark, Myrcella Baratheon and Tommen Baratheon seated beneath a marquee as Tyrion approaches them. The marquee is probably Joffrey's seat to view the small tourney he holds for his name day (A Clash of Kings Chapter 3 Sansa I) and Tyrion's arrival with what appears to be Bronn, Timett and Chella occurs during that tourney. The new shooting locations in Croatia look fantastic but I hope they can maintain continuity with the King's Landing of Malta from the first season. The interior sets should help in that regard.

Emilia Clarke (in costume as Daenerys Targaryen in Croatia) says "There was an overwhelming sense of pride from everyone who worked on the show and I think we can get that again for this season." We see a shot of Daenerys and Ser Jorah Mormont with brightly dressed bystanders. This fits with what we have seen of Qarth from the on location Croatia clip,

Kit Harington (in costume as Jon Snow in Iceland) says "It's going to be just as exciting for viewers. It's expanded even more, it's even bigger on scale." We see a shot of Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly on a frozen landscape.

Dinklage says "I think Season 1 is topped by Season 2." We see a clap board through a monitor and then directly beginning a scene featuring Dinklage.

We see Maisie Williams in costume as Arya through a monitor. She is reading seated on a walkway a castle flying Lannister banners. Executive Producer David Benioff says "We are journeying to all new locations so whenever possible we like to get it all in camera. Executive producer DB Weiss "We have got a great team put together to put something really fabulous on television, something really exciting and cinematic." We see brief shots of riders flying green stag banners, a scene being shot on a beach with a man in grey robes and a column of black clad men traversing a snowy landscape. The shots on the beach appear to fit with Theon's arrival to Pyke as seen in the Cold Winds trailer. I wonder if one of the grey robed men is Balon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide). In the book it is Aeron who greets Tyrion but no casting announcement has been made for him.

Benioff says "There is nothing that really gives you a greater sense of scale and scope than the actual locations, so Gemma had just as much work to do this year as last year, maybe more." We see brief shots of a group of people crossing a desert landscape, a camp on a shoreline cliff and the interior of an elaborate tent. The tent is Renly's - we even see him stood before the tapestry seen in this shot in the clip. He has featured heavily in this video as he does in the first half of the story.

Production Designer Gemma Jackson says "Someone who worked on last year commented this is going to be a doddle this year, they've done all the work, don't worry about it. Its huge this year but I think we've done some really magic stuff." We see shots of Joffrey climbing the steps to the Iron Throne and Roxanne McKee as Doreah in conversation in Qarth. Doreah doesn't make it that far in the books - she becomes ill in the Red Waste and dies (A Clash of Kings Chapter 13 Daenerys I page 141). Roxanne McKee was great in her expanded role in the first season, I particularly liked her musings on dragons in her added scene with Viserys. The show has also done very little with Jhiqui, played by Sarita Piotrowski, who only appeared in "The Kingsroad" and was not seen again for the remainder of Season 1. If they were unable to retain Piotrowski then I am glad they kept Doreah around to give Dany some company with Amrita Acharia as Irri.

Dinklage says "Every location we have, every set we go to, is just breathtaking." We see a castle courtyard from above with a cluster of guardsmen and a snowy camp at night. I think this camp is the Night's Watch reaching Craster's Keep north of the Wall. Mormont's party stop here on their way further North. Craster has been cast (Robert Pugh) but we have yet to see footage of the character. I'm excited that they cast Hannah Murray as his daughter Gilly. She was excellent in the first two seasons of Skins. Harington says "The sets on this have always been incredible and it helps so much as an actor to have that because you don't need to do that work. It's all there for you." We see shots of filming in Iceland and Jon and Sam on a snowy outcrop.

Benioff says "This season there are so many great character arcs, and so many great characters, and plot twists, and reveals and it's just a fun journey to go on." We see shots of Dany in the desert, Joffrey on the throne, Catelyn in a tent, Davos Seaworth riding and Brienne surrounded by men with a Stark banner behind her. Brienne with the North men suggests that she has left Renly's side but I wonder if this is just the party of Northmen that accompanies Catelyn to Renly's camp. The coastline is still visible in the background which suggests she is still in the Stormlands here.

Dinklage says "We've brought in a whole bunch of new characters that are major characters. Characters who had very supporting roles in the first season become much bigger this season." We see shots of Melisandre lit by a glowing beach bonfire at night, Renly before an elaborate tapestry and Arya looking up fearfully. Melisandre looks amazing on the beach, the vivid colours produced by the bonfire lighting are fantastic and really demonstrate how she got her moniker "the Red Woman".

Headey says "I think this season is going to be more so, I think it's going to be more intriguing, each character seems to get darker, nobody is ever as they seem." We see shots of armoured men walking through a large door, Cersei in conversation with Littlefinger trailed by Lannister guards and Stannis gazing over an elaborate table, the personal emblem of a burning heart emblazoned on his chest. The armed men storming into the Iron Throne room is an intriguing shot. Their armour is relatively plain and I cannot decide if they remind me of Stannis' men or the gold cloaks or even Renly's men. I can't match this shot up to a scene from the book but I have read speculation from others that it could be a new scene for the Battle of the Blackwater or the ousting of Janos Slynt by Tyrion Lannister from A Clash of Kings (Chapter 9 Tyrion II page 94).

Stannis is a great character and I am pleased they got Stephen Dillane to play him. His stern, rigid and obstinate nature should work well on the screen. The costume team have done a great job with his outfit here and it is a joy to see his personal emblem on the breast of the outfit. The table with miniatures on it is hopefully the table carved in the shape of Westeros he has in his solar. I imagine this scene is adapted from the A Clash of Kings prologue and will involve Stannis seeking council on how best to pursue his rightful claim to the Iron Throne.

Clarke says "We go deeper, we take so many more turns, there's so many more shocks." We see footage of her filming scenes opposite gold clad guards and dignitaries and before her own Khalasar. This looks like Dany's arrival to Qarth to me. She is still wearing her riding gear and looks to have suffered during the difficult journey there. The party greeting her includes a number of spearmen and dignitaries. My attention was drawn to the rotund man walking away from Dany who I believe is Nicholas Blane as the Spice King. Also visible is a tall, thin, bald man in purple robes who I think is Ian Hanmore as Pyat Pree. In the left of the shot is Nonso Anozie as Xaro Xhoan Daxos (the only black character in the image). I'm interested to see what they have come up with to give Dany more to do in Qarth.

Richard Madden (in costume as Robb Stark) says "You question your alliances to where you follow as a viewer, as an audience member. If we've captured everything right you should be fighting with yourselves as much as the characters are fighting with eachother." We see Robb talking to a woman outside a tent and Jaime Lannister in chains with his face bloodied. I think it is a great strength of the book series that characters on both sides of conflicts are shown to be human and that your opinion of characters like Jaime changes over time. I hope the show succeeds in capturing that and Madden's comments here are heartening. I hadn't really noticed the woman with her back to camera but I have read speculation that she is Oona Chaplin as Jeyne Westerling. Expanding both Robb and Jaime's roles in the second season given their lack of point of view chapters in the book and separation from other point of view characters should be interesting.

Weiss says "The farther we get to go with it the more real the whole universe is going to seem." We see shots of Arya running toward a huddle of men in a courtyard and the clifftop camp at night. The shots of Arya reading earlier and running in the courtyard now all seem to be in Harrenhal. The presence of the Lannister guardsmen and Lannister banners suggest that this is Harrenhal under Gregor Clegane. I wonder if the huddle of guardsmen Arya is approaching are gathered around a corpse - perhaps Arya's kitchen boss Weasel (named Weese in the books) after being thrown from the wall by Jaqen H'Gar.

Dinklage says "It is a really great narrative and we sort of live it 24/7. I have dreams of this show, you know? It's created a world in my head that's just like, I can't shake, which is a testament to how good the show is." We see a shot of Tyrion holding a green substance in a thick glass jar. The jar appears to be filled with Wildfire, also called Pyromancer's piss, which is a volatile accelerant produced by the Pyromancer's Guild. Tyrion is introduced to the stores of Wildfire in King's Landing by Wisdom Hallyne of the Guild. In the show he will be played by Roy Dotrice who does such fine work on the audio books. I am looking forward to seeing him in the show after he had to drop out of season 1. Dinklage's enthusiasm for the show is palpable throughout his segments of this clip and is mirrored by the rest of the cast. As a viewer I feel very lucky that there is such an engaged team of people making the series and hearing their enthusiasm only heightens mine.

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