Warning: This story contains spoilers for Episode 2 of Telltale Games' Game of Thrones video game. Read at your own discretion.
Telltale Games' Game of Thrones video game, Ethan Forrester, who had only recently come into power after his father was killed while attempting to flee the scene of the Red Wedding, was stabbed in the neck by madman Ramsay Snow. It was a brutal opening to what is likely to be a brutal series, so I was expecting more of the same in the newly released Episode 2, "The Lost Lords."
What I found, however, was a bit of a respite. Where Episode 1 is a gritty opener filled with death, destruction (and a lot of), Episode 2 is decidedly calmer. It's all about the politics of Westeros and Essos. And indeed, I spent most of "The Lost Lords" crafting strategic alliances with the ultimate goal of unseating the Boltons (and, by extension the Whitehills) and rebuilding House Forrester into the power it once was.
Thankfully, no new Forresters died in Episode 2, though there was ample opportunity for that to happen. For example, after cutting a deal with Tyrion Lannister that would see the Forresters exclusively selling ironwood to King's Landing, Mira Forrester barely escaped an attempt on her life by a soldier with loyalties to House Whitehill. House Whitehill, as you may recall, was installed by Ramsay Snow as the occupying house in Ironrath to keep the Forresters in check after the events in Episode 1.
Mira's alliance with Tyrion is just one turn of events that improves the chances of House Forrester's survival. The game also took me to Yunkai, where the exiled Asher Forrester (Gregor's second-eldest son) was attacked by the Lost Legion, a group of sellswords in Essos that, incidentally, was created just for the game. After barely surviving the fight, Asher was approached by his Uncle Malcolm to help recruit his own army of sellswords to travel to Westeros to fight the Whitehills alongside House Forrester. He was able to convince his badass sellsword lady-friend Beskha to come along, and off the three of them went on their long journey.
Meanwhile, in Ironrath, Rodrik Forrester (Lord Gregor's eldest son) ends up being found alive, but badly injured. He manages to roll himself off of a corpse cart that was carrying the body of Rodrik's father, as well as several other Forrester men, and Rodrik is nursed back to some semblance of health by the Maester. While Rodrik won't be picking up a sword himself anytime soon since he can't really walk without assistance, he manages to rekindle his arranged marriage with Elaena Glenmore (in my playthrough, anyway; others might not be so lucky), which brings together the houses, and armies, of the two houses.
Oh, and Jon Snow showed up in the episode, as Lord Gregor Forrester's squire Gared Tuttle is sent to The Wall to become a man of the Night's Watch. Unlike the show, the Jon Snow in the Game of Thrones video game seems to know a bit more than nothing. Aside from Tuttle picking fights with other Night's Watch recruits and deciding whether to help a guy steal a bully's knife, not much really happens at The Wall just yet.
I expect to see The Wall story arc play out in future episodes, and am kind of excited to see how Gared Tuttle handles the wildling onslaught toward the end of season 4 in the HBO show. Maybe I'll even get to take on a giant in battle, one the noble squire will almost certainly lose.
Each event in Episode 2 shows a house gearing up for war, one looking to take on the Whitehills, the Boltons and whoever else wants to stand in their way. House Forrester potentially has an army of sellswords coming from Essos, an allegiance with the Glenmores and their army and a deal with the King's Master of Coin to purchase ironwood from them and not the Whitehills.
And I am responsible for most of those things. I spent a good amount of time in Episode 2 carefully choosing responses to questions and statements from key people so I could put House Forrester in the best position. Episode 1 of Telltale's Game of Thrones game perfectly captures the dark nature of the series, where any character can be killed off at any time for any reason, and Episode 2 does the same for the politics in Westeros. Every answer I chose in conversations mattered, affecting things like whether Tyrion would agree to help me, or whether the Glenmores would fight by our side or stay out of the fray altogether.
Thanks to some of these conversations, things are actually looking pretty good for House Forrester in my game playthrough (which took about two hours), but as anyone who has seen the TV series or read the books knows, a house on the rise is a house at its most vulnerable. Will House Forrester truly ascend to become a prominent house in the North, or will it go the way of the Starks? I can't wait for Episode 3 to get a better sense of the answer.