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"Game of Thrones," Season 2, Episode 8

Season 2, Episode 8

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  • Courtesy of HBO
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Last week on The Vulture blog, “Game of Thrones” recapper Nina Shen Rastogi described how she started watching Season 2 wondering who would replace Sean Bean’s Ned Stark as the center of the show. She assumed it would be Tyrion or Robb and said, “I’m surprised to find that — of all people — Theon Greyjoy has become the heart of the show for me. Part of this is thanks to the fact that... Theon has had the most consistent presence and the clearest arc,” Rastogi writes, going on to argue that Theon’s storyline explores such central themes as power, family and loyalty.

I don’t know if I’d describe Theon as the “heart” of the show – the term usually applies to a character with a moral compass or sense of humanism, and Theon been making horrible, unethical choices. But Theon’s also one of Season 2’s most active protagonists, and has been changing the most: from Robb’s right-hand man to Stark family betrayer, from Greyjoy prodigal son to bloodthirsty usurper. Theon engages us partly just because we see him go places, do things and make decisions. Other regulars are held prisoner (Jaime, Sansa), remain largely passive by circumstance (Jon Snow, Cersei) or do their most dynamic things off-screen: we never actually see Robb Stark in a battle, for budgetary reasons. That may change next week for many characters, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.