Briefly, three things struck me about last night's Game of Thrones season 2 opener. I liked how they used the red comet in the sky to shift scenes from Bran at Winterfell to Daenerys in the Red Wastes of Esteros to Jon Snow north of the Wall to Stannis Baratheon on Dragonstone. There was also the symmetry of the new kings standing up to their respective strong-willed mothers: Robb to Catelyn and Joffrey to Cersei. (Turns out they should heed their mothers' advice.)
Also during the small council meeting, Maester Pycelle displayed the white raven from the Citadel in Oldtown which means the maesters had determined the long summer was over and Winter is Coming. Littlefinger noted they had enough wheat for 5 years but if the winter lasted longer, well they'd have fewer peasants, of course.
For some reason this reminded me of macroeconomic policy discussion. In the United States, the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) is generally seen as the authority for dating US recessions just as the conclave of maesters date the seasons in Westeros. And it reminded me of the way elite policymakers take an "objective" view of the fates of the "small people." Fewer peasants if they didn't store enough wheat? No biggie. Transforming cyclical unemployment into long-term unemployment and degrading the nation's productive capacity with a prolonged output gap? Oh well, won't really effect our social circle, just the common people, who as Jorah Mormont said "don't care about the games the high lords play" and only "pray for rain, health and a summer that never ends."
Charlie Jane Anders recap of season 2 episode 1 "The North Remembers"
(A couple of side notes: first, when Cersei makes a fuss over Littlefinger's mockingbird pin, was I the only one who went, "OMG, Littlefinger's in league with Katniss"? And second, the only pornotastic moment in the episode, in Littlefinger's brothel, involves newbie sex workers getting schooled in the art of fakery, underscoring that for Littlefinger, both knowledge and falsehood are power.)*George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire by Genevieve Koski and Tasha Robinson
The North Remembers (for newbies) - the Onion recap
What I find myself drawn to in the books and show are the characters who have a sense of honor and goodness.** Tyrion, Ser Jorah Mormont, Ser Barristan Selmy, Davos Seaworth and Brienne Tarth. I find it compelling even if some of them might in some people's minds have too much honor (like Ned Stark and Stannis). It makes a nice contrast in a world of such cruelty. As Robert Baratheon tells Cersei, "that's all the realm is now: backstabbing and scheming and ass-licking and money-grubbing." And then with Joffrey the people get another evil, capricious dictator not unlike the "Mad King" Aerys Targaryen who the Houses Stark, Baratheon, and Arryn rebelled against (with the Lannisters coming in at the very end).
* The Hunger Games soundtrack is doing well with two bands Krugman has promoted at his blog: The Civil Wars and Arcade Fire (although Arcade Fire were already huge.) There's also Neko Case who I love and Taylor Swift who I like but feel somehow I shouldn't like. She's too pop? Too young?
** I'm also drawn to the characters who are sort of cheeky, brave, fearless-in-a-way and smart-asses like Tyrion (who isn't afraid of his sister and talks back to his father) and Oberyn Martell who fights the Mountain - Jaime to an extent but for him its almost to a fault - and Renly Baratheon in the book. In the show to me he's painted as being more resentful of his brother Robert. In the book he comes off as more devil-may care (which turns out badly for him) although I like the actor who plays him in the show.