"Game of Thrones," Season 2, Episode 2

Season 2, Episode 2


  • Courtesy of HBO
  • RELEASE THE KRAKENS: Patrick Malahide and Alfie Allen as the Greyjoy father and son

Even with Wikipedia at your fingertips, “Game of Thrones” sometimes makes it a challenge to keep all the names straight. This week’s installment, “The Night Lands,” introduces a new character whose name is an anagram of one of our favorites. The episode begins with Arya (Maisie Williams), the Stark daughter turned cross-dressing fugitive. Later we meet Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan), Theon’s older sister and a sea captain in her own right. In the book “Yara” is named “Asha,” which sounds a lot like the name of Bran’s Wildling pal, Osha.

Rather than give Yara a completely distinct name like, I dunno, Edwidge, the show creators might be giving us a signal to compare Arya and Yara. Arya, remember, tomboyishly disdains the female courtly life exemplified by her older sister Sansa, and was learning to swordfight even before she went on the run. When she reveals her identity to Gedry this week, she clearly hates being thought of as a “Lady.” Her boyish disguise suggests a “Be careful what you wish for” situation.

Yara turns out to be exactly the kind of woman Arya wants to be (at least, the kind she thinks she wants). Once Theon learns who she is – more on that in a minute – he’s nonplussed to discover that Yara’s the de facto heir to their father Balon Greyjoy. She captains her own ship, The Black Wind, has apparently led men into battle and basks in her father’s approval. Balon Greyjoy may be a bloodthirsty old prick, but he’s surprisingly progressive in his attitudes about gender.