Willa Paskin of Salon writes:
The cornerstone of “Games” success is its fidelity to Martin’s big genre advancement: to write magical fantasy like a realist. “Games” is a fantasy only insofar as it’s not taking place somewhere real. Nothing that happens there is a dream. It contains all the necessary, hugely entertaining genre staples — swords and armor, jousts and magic, kings and queens — but also the emotional and physical realism, the blood and guts, the twisted and tragic motivations that characterize TV’s other best shows. It’s not just about what would happen if Tony Soprano were a king, but, you know, if Newt Gingrich were one too. The bloodletting has only just begun.
Charlie Jane Anders at io9 has many good things to say as well:
We called Game of Thrones season one an astounding achievement — and this continues to be true in season two. This show is continuing to redefine what’s possible on television. Some of the leaping around from subplot to subplot may get a bit dizzying, but you see pretty quickly how it’s going to pay off, and the show is continuing to do a great job of developing minor characters and strengthening the connections between them. Most of all, this is a great political epic, in which the nature of power and government is questioned, over and over again, and it’s left to the audience to come up with its own disquieting answers.
Mary McNamara of Los Angeles Times is still fully on board:
As with the novels, this “Game of Thrones” is breathtakingly ambitious, an ever-unfurling tapestry that threatens, at times, to overwhelm its frame. That it does not is a testament to the power of piecework — art is not defined by the space it occupies but by its details, the truth it captures. Many heads bend over this adaptation, each belonging to a master of his or her craft, and what emerges is a truly new, and miraculously accurate, definition of epic television.
Robert Bianco of USA Today demonstrates how to write a review well even if you would prefer the show more accessible and think it may reach more audience if it were a more clear-cut good vs. evil story (see, it’s not that hard, New York Times):
This is a sprawling, exciting, blood-soaked story, filled with great set pieces and wonderful actors — led by Peter Dinklage, whose Tyrion Lannister gives Game what little humor it has. Don’t, however, expect to find a rooting interest in this kingly competition. It’s better to think of it as The Borgias with tiny dragons.
Jace Lacob from The Daily Beast finds season two fantastic:
Ultimately, Season 2 is a return to a world of dragons and of bones that many of us have missed terribly. With war approaching on multiple fronts, treacherous double-crosses now de rigueur, and the possible return of long-dead magic to the land, Season 2 of Game of Thrones is fantastic, overflowing with majesty and mystery. The night, we’re told, is dark and full of terror, and so is this provocative and enthralling show. Miss an episode—or even a minute—at your own peril.
Matt Zoller Seits reviews season two for Vulture:
Game of Thrones is doing for sword-and-sorcery what the remake of Battlestar Galactica did for science-fiction on TV, and what the Godfather series did for the gangster story: foregrounding its mythic power, and showing that the genre can be brazenly serious, even ostentatiously artful, and unquestionably adult, without killing its simple pleasures.
Cory Everett of The Playlist likes it:
Most of the time ‘GoT’ plays like a medieval drama (or occasionally high-end soap opera) so when fantasy elements intrude — like the dragon birth at the end of season 1 or the “holy shit” moment that concludes episode 4 — it makes it all the more exciting. Featuring instantly quotable dialogue like “The night is dark and full of terrors” and “Power resides where men believe it resides,” season 2 should delight fans who worshipped the first season. While it may not achieve the depth of a show like “The Sopranos,” the intricate plotting and epic scope continue to make “Game of Thrones” really unlike really anything else on TV.
Christopher Orr of The Atlantic has this to say:
However one feels about Benioff and Weiss’s infidelities, though, it is clear that they know what they’re doing. The meticulousness of the show may differ in its particulars from the meticulousness of the novels, but it is unmistakable—in the first-rate dialogue, the sharp segues, the careful sowing of seeds that will bear fruit episodes later. The spirit of Martin’s epic, moreover, is ever in evidence, glinting with malice and irony.