Game of Thrones kicked off season two with an intense, riveting episode on Sunday, as "The North Remembers" lined up all the players in Westeros who are coming for Joffrey's crown.
In this edition of the TV Fanatic Round Table, editor-in-chief Matt Richenthal is joined by staff members Carissa Pavlica, Dan Forcella and Eric Hocherberger as we break down all the action, from Tyrion's grand entrance to Dany's barren wandering...
What was your favorite scene from the premiere?
Matt: I can't go with the opening credits, can I? Those get me so fired up for this show! I'll go instead with the advice Bran received about ruling as a Lord, not because the scene itself was especially memorable, but because of the contrast it marked with Joffrey and how he was raised/taught. There's a lesson to be learned here, parents!
Carissa: Seeing Tyrion strut into the small counsel. How I've missed that little wise man.
Dan: Since I am the biggest Robb Stark fan at the table, I will have to go with Robb telling Jaime what's what with the giant Greywind by his side. I don't know which was more impressive: the size of the wolf, or the ridiculous level of swag Robb was displaying.
Eric: Love pretty much all things Tyrion. So there's nothing like watching him waddle into the Small Council and declare he's the new Hang of the King. The look on Cersei's face? Priceless.
Tyrion: A good Hand of the King? Or a great Hand of the King?
Matt: So great that we need to come up with a new moniker. The Fist of the King? The Brains, Brawn and Humor of the King? The name is a work in progress, but the character of Tyrion is downright awesome.
Carissa: Either. A great king. He's the only Lannister with any compassion and yet still enough balls to do what is needed, even when it doesn't feel pleasant. It's too bad his lot in life leaves him out of the running.
Dan: It's too early to tell how good or great he may be as the Hand, but he has certainly proved to us that he is going to be every bit as entertaining as he was in season one.
Eric: Third choice: AMAZING. And we haven't even seen him make a single decision yet. Now the real problem is the rest of the Body of the King. Get it? No? I'm talking about Joffrey here. That dude sucks.
What did you think of the introduction of Stannis?
Matt: It wasn't especially captivating. I enjoyed the way he dictated that letter to his servant - referring to Jaime as the "King Slayer," but also giving him the respect due to a Lord - but Melisandre made more of an impression on me than Stannis. I'm certainly curious to see where their bond goes.
Carissa: A bit uneventful, except he seemed like a nut enamored with Melisandre. At first sight I thought Davos was going to be Stannis. Stannis, with his middle-aged balding head, looked like a wannabe, not someone who would be king.
Dan: It was fine, but probably the part of the episode I was least interested in. Does that mean they didn't do a great job introducing him? Maybe, but maybe it's just because Robb, Dany, Tyrion and the like are just that much more interesting.
Eric: Loved the Stannis intro. I thought the burning of the Seven and its introduction of the loyal Stavos and creepy Melisandre were all perfectly done. While that wasn't exactly how I pictured Stannis, I can't wait to watch the elder Baratheon on his quest to claim his rightful place on the throne. Robb is cool and all, but while Dany is still busy playing around on the other side of the narrow river, I'm on team Stannis and Davos all the way. Damn traitors.
More disturbing: a man who marries his daughters, or a king who murders children?
Matt: I mean, both these acts make naked photos of Octomom seems utterly un-disturbing by comparison. But I have to go with the murdering of children because it involves the murdering of children! Babies, even. I couldn't believe the series went there. What a terrific, frightening way to up the stakes and paint Joffrey as the epitome of evil. Might his mother even start to realize that soon?
Carissa: Since the king was all of what, 14? And killing his competition? I have to go with a man who marries his daughters... and then has more daughters... who he then marries and procreates with and on and on. Kind of makes me gag.
Dan: Whether it was Cersei or Joffrey that actually was responsible for making the decision, it still is an act of the king... and it is the most disturbing act I've seen yet. I actually gasped when it happened. With all of the incest we've already seen on Game of Thrones, a man sleeping with his daughter was merely the next logical step.
Eric: There is nearly nothing more disturbing than the incestual Caster. Did you see the look of horror on his daughters? As for the murdering of the bastards, do we really think it was Joffrey and not the Queen Regent? Let's be honest: is the whiny little punk really making decisions or just watching his hound kill people? Power is power. Or something.
Will Daenerys ever reach the end of the Red Waste?
Matt: Better question: will I ever be able to write the name "Daenerys" in a review without first looking it up? That's far more unlikely than the Khaleesi leading her people to safety. And water.
Carissa: Wouldn't be much of a story if the Dothraki just died out there in the waste, would it? Plus, we need to see those dragons grow. I wonder how many years of television that will take.
Dan: Yes. Not much of a story otherwise, eh?
Eric: Duh. The blood of her blood, whose name I can't quite place, will clearly find something for Dany. Did you see the look he gave her? Pretty sure he wants to share more than blood with her. And you know they say the best way into a woman's pants is through navigating her across the Red Waste...