Season 2 of hit series Game of Thrones premieres on April 1, and HBO has been releasing trailers and teasers non-stop in anticipation of a huge spike in viewership next month.
Over the past two days, no less than four character featurettes have been released for Game of Thrones, centering on some of the series' most popular characters: Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson), Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony) and newcomer Margarey Tyrell (Natalie Dormer).
These featurettes show HBO viewers and fans of the original books by George R.R. Martin what to expect from the characters in Season 2. But these teasers do more than simply give a picture of where last season left off. They also give away plot details, key differences between the books and the TV series, and allow fans to revel in some insights by the cast on their own characters and on each other's.
Below, watch all four of the newly released character featurettes, and find out ten things we learned from watching the teasers for Game of Thrones Season 2.
Game of Thrones Season 2: Renly Baratheon and Margarey Tyrell
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1. Renly and Stannis, Margarey and Melisandre
From Renly's point of view, he's the best man for the job, and that's all that should count, Anthony says of his character. But Stannis is certainly not prepared to kneel and swear fealty to his younger brother. The showdown between Stannis and Renly is one of the main struggles in A Clash of Kings, the second book in the George R.R. Martin series, and the contrast between Renly's new-found emphasis on war and glory and Stannis's adherence to unflinching duty and iron justice are in full effect in the teaser below.
But this featurette is as much about Margarey Tyrell, Renly's new wife, as it is about him, and the picture viewers get of the young queen more closely resembles how Martin readers have come to view her several books on: as far shrewder and far more political than she first appears.
Margarey's position as consort in the teaser is mirrored by that of Melisandre, the red priestess, to Stannis. Both women are influential figures working in the wings, and both are unwaveringly dedicated to advancing their respective partners. Margarey has a genuine faith and belief that an alliance between the Baratheon household and the Tyrell household is for the better of Westeros, Dormer asserts. When it comes to the good of the kingdom, her own happiness is forfeit.
2. The Loras Love Story
And nowhere is that belief, and the awareness of its price, more evident than in the fact that Margarey's marriage to Renly means that she is now the wife of her brother Loras' lover.
Only hinted at in the books, the love story between Loras and Renly is front and center in the HBO series. And in their version, Margarey knows exactly what's going on. She seems very confident within it [this political world], and she seems very practical about what needs to happen, and that's of use to Renly, Anthony explains. Dormer agrees: They make a very interesting trinity.
But one scene from the featurette, in particular, lays everything on the table. After clips of Renly shirtless and in bed with Loras, the camera cuts to Margarey. There's no need for us to play games, she tells her husband matter-of-factly. Save your lies for court--you're going to need a lot of them.
Watch the Game of Thrones character featurette for Renly Batatheon below:
Game of Thrones Season 2: Joffrey Baratheon
3. 'Leave her face. I like her pretty.'
Joffrey continues his streak as the worst king in the history of television with his relentless abuse of Sansa Stark. In past Season 2 teasers, we've seen Sansa beaten, with a crossbow aimed at her head, and stripped in public, all at Joffrey's command.
This featurette, however, assures George R.R. Martin fans that the boy king's particular brand of cruelty will be just as horrible on film as in the books. He'll make Sansa's life a living hell, sure...but he'll do it while also being as smarmy and lecherous as only a horny teenage boy with a power complex can be.
4. Tyrion's Role As Hand
But Joffrey's cruel treatment isn't limited to Sansa. He's testing his limits, Gleeson notes. And kinda finding that he doesn't have any limits.
Which is quite the headache for Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), the new Hand of the King. Tyrion has nothing but contempt for his nephew, and becomes increasingly alarmed by both how cruel Joffrey is as a ruler and how incompetent he is as a politician. Joffrey is vicious, but he's also not very smart, Dinklage says of Gleeson's character. So he's an easy target.
Of course, Tyrion has never been one to sit on the sidelines when he could also throw popcorn at someone. Based on one clip in the Joffrey featurette, Game of Thrones fans are in for a mighty power struggle between the king and his advisor, as Tyrion assures Cersei he won't interefere with her son's rule before smirking into his glass.
5. Cersei's Struggle
Joffrey's relationship with Tyrion has never been a good one, so it's unsurprising that the king and his Hand will end up in a power play that will stretch for much of the second season. The truly shifting dynamic is actually between Joffrey and his mother Cersei (Lena Heady), who has groomed him for rule only to discover his complete ineptitude for it.
She doesn't have any grip on Joffrey, Heady says. What clips HBO gives fans of their interactions show how much Joffrey has become, as she puts it, this monster that she's created--that she loves. The situation is further complicated, of course, by the fact that Joffrey is not the rightful heir--and Cersei knows it. Our enemies will say anything to weaken your claim to the throne, she tells him in one scene. It's not a claim, Joffrey replies, incredulous. The throne is mine.
Watch the Game of Thrones character featurette for Joffrey Batatheon below:
Game of Thrones Season 2: Daenerys Targaryen
6. A Stronger Woman
At the beginning of Season 2, Dany is essentially bereft. Lat season, she lost her brother Viserys, her husband Drogo, her son Rhaego and almost all ties to her old life as a princess in exile. The only connection she has to Westeros lies with Jorah Mormont (played by Iain Glen). But Dany's path to take back the Iron Throne, while a lonely one, has also begun to appear more and more like fate. It's her destiny, Clarke says. She can't fight it.
And in the meantime, Dany has begun to form a new family, made up largely of her adopted people, the Dothraki, and Mormont. She's altogether a stronger woman, Clarke notes, all the more because her new family members are all her devoted followers. Her struggle to find her bearings, to survive and to take power will make up much of Season 2's plot.
7. The Danger Of Having Dragons
But until that happens, Dany must face the fact that the dragons that she awoke at the end of Season 1 are currently a hazard for her, not a help.
Her situation is pretty desperate, Clarke says. You'd think the dragons would fix everything. In fact, in their fledgling state, Dany's three dragons make her a target for raiders, not a khaleesi to be feared.
Already, however, the featurette hints at just how powerful her dragons will become, and how much these same creatures will come to define her. They are her most powerful weapon, Glen says of Daenerys. They characterize her, and they will grow to be incredibly fierce creatures.
Clarke agrees, with one slight addendum: They're my babies!
8. A Side-Plot For Doreah?
Roxanne McKee's character, Doreah, played only a minor role in the books, and barely appeared in the first season. The fact that her character is singled out in a Season 2 featurette, however, seems to suggest that Doreah will play a larger role in Game of Thrones. After a life in the pleasure houses of Lys, she may even come to take on more a warrior-like existence.
Certainly, for those under Daenerys, anything is possible. Those that follow her have great faith in her, Glen notes. And great belief in her.
Watch the Game of Thrones character featurette for Daenerys Targaryen below:
Game of Thrones Season 2: Jon Snow
9. Wildlings And White Walkers
The Night Watch... is all about duty, says James Cosmo, who plays Joer Mormont on the HBO fantasy show. Once you join, everything that's in your past is in your past. While the Seven Kingdoms is embroiled in civil war, and Dany builds her army in the East, the Night's Watch must head beyond the Wall to investigate the growing wildling threat.
As the featurette hints, however, wildlings will soon be the least of the Watch's problems: the white walkers, dead men re-possessed by the Others, are a far more deadly threat. There's no sign of Ygritte, Jon's wildling love interest, in this featurette, but she may have appeared in the The More You Love teaser released earlier this week, giving hope to fans of the books that her character has survived the TV transition intact.
10. Jon's Loyalties Are Still Torn
Sam continues to grow closer to Jon, and to view him as his inspiration for a future in the Night's Watch. For Jon Snow, however, life at the Wall has become considerably more complicated, thanks to the death of his father and his half-brother Robb's rebellion.
This featurette, however, indicates that Jon has decided to stay with his brothers in the Night's Watch, and is determined to do whatever it takes both to prove his loyalty and to protect them. Do you want to lead? Mormont asks him in the trailer. Then learn how to follow. This advice is especially notable for those who have read the original book, and know about the choice Jon must make in the second book.
Watch the Game of Thrones character featurette for Jon Snow below: