“Men like that don’t get what they deserve,” Jon Snow says in “The Lost Lords,” the second episode of Telltale’s latest episodic series, Game of Thrones.
That fact, stated plainly and without fanfare, explains why the books and television show that this series spins off from can be so thrilling; there is no sense of internal justice in this world. Evil often wins. Good is often punished. There are small victories, but the night is dark and full of terrors.
“The Lost Lords” suffers a bit from a slower pace than the first episode, which also took its time to get to the point. The trick is that even these early episodes have to give the player the feeling that the writers and designers know what they’re doing, that there’s a destination in mind even during the early moments of the journey. There has to be glimpses at a grander design behind the feints and political maneuvers. The second episode pulls this off, thankfully, even if there are few immediately memorable scenes.
As “The Lost Lords” kicks off, House Forrester finds themselves stuck under the boot of the Boltons, but without the power to fight back. How to get that power, and what to do with it once it can be wielded, will likely be the guiding light for the rest of the season. Pieces are being moved into position, but they have little to do once they’re there.
We finally meet Asher Forrester in this episode and learn a bit of his backstory as he attempts to make his way in Yunkai as a sellsword. Mira is still trying to forge a path with Lady Margaery that will allow her to help her family. Roderick returns home, near death and looking like it. Gared Tuttle has been sent to the wall, and also seems intent to use that position to protect the house.
Each character exists somewhere on the playing field, and they’re all sending what little power and influence they can gather and send back to Ironwath, home of the Ironwood trees that are such an important resource for families who need ships and shields.
An early scene in the episode deals with how one must always appear strong, even when you can barely stand. It’s a bit on the nose, but then again the show at least is known for using nudity to make sure the viewer is paying attention during exposition.
Telltale is stuck in a sort of limbo with Game of Thrones, as players want to meet and interact with the characters they know from the show, but the game doesn’t have the power to do much with them, or reveal any big surprises that will impact the main story of the TV show. It’s not like anyone from the show will die in the game, and the first episode dealt with this tension by playing up the power and whimsy of characters like Cersei.
There is certainly fun to be had here, like the moment when Tyrion stumbles upon maidens drinking stolen wine. These characters may be safe from harm themselves, but that almost works for the story we’re being told; if they’re the power and money of this world, then House Forrester is the playground. The attempts to humanize the characters who usually provide fodder for the A-story on the show is admirable, and plays up the tension of Game of Thrones as a whole: This is a horrible time to be alive for everyone but two or three people per great family.
‘The Lost Lords’ still moves slow, but the story is making progress
The story being told in Telltale’s Game of Thrones continues to move along in “The Lost Lords,” but I have a better idea of what’s at stake now. The pace remains slow, but at under two hours the episode won’t stress even the most fickle players. It’s an enjoyable evening of gaming with a few hard decisions, but it demonstrates the hands tightening around the neck of House Forrester. If this were any other game the story would be leading towards a reckoning for the enemies of House Forrester, but this is Game of Thrones. And as Jon Snow points out there’s no reason to believe they’ll survive the season.