Game of Thrones - The Complete Second Season (Steelbook Edition)

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday November 4, 2015

Game of Thrones - The Complete Second Season (Steelbook Edition)

HBO knows its game -- its "Game of Thrones," that is. In good time for the holidays, the show's first four seasons are slated for Blu-ray re-release in limited steelbook editions featuring exclusive sigil magnets. These magnets take place of pride, front and center in the plastic housing that contains the steelbook.

For "Game of Thrones -- The Complete Second Season"'s steelbook edition, the magnet is the eye-catching sigil of House Lannister, that nest of schemers, power-mongers, and slightly unhealthy filial connections. The magnet itself is plastic -- not metal, as you might expect of a steelbook edition -- but it's going to get your inner geek in a foment.

The steelbook itself has some packaging issues, which I have gone into in detail in the review for the Season One steelbook release. But the problems I had with packaging -- and discs -- from the Season One set were consistent with the second set.

The set's five Blu-ray discs are arranged in two stacks, with three discs on top of each other on one side and, on the opposite face of the opened steelbook package, the other two discs similarly stacked.

The discs are so tight on the spindles that you have to extract them with great care, which is something of a labor of love for the determined fan. (If you know anything about how Blu-rays, DVDs, and CDs are made, you know that it's a really bad idea to flex and bow the discs -- this causes the clear plastic layers to separate slightly, allowing the thin metal coating within to corrode. This destroys audio and video discs, so if you want your Blu-rays to keep playing for year after year, it's best to keep them flat as possible when taking them out of their packaging.)

Once I had liberated my discs from the spindles and put them into my Oppo Blu-ray player (far from a cheap or unreliable brand), I found the discs refused to play -- not just one disc, but all of them. When this happened with the Season One set, I thought it was a defect in that particular batch; but the same problem recurring with the Season Two set made me wonder if there's not a more general problem happening. It took repeated re-loads to get each disc to play (and some refused to work even then).

The frustration of getting the discs to play was erased the minute the set's crisp picture and superior Dolby Atmos sound mix started up. The set's slate of extras were just as much a treat, including the indispensable In-Episode Guide and other resources to enhance your understanding of the world George R.R. Martin richly imagined for his series of novels, on which the show is based. This includes a "Histories & Lore" feature, a primer on "The Religions of Westeros," and an extra on the "War of the Five Kings." There are also audio commentaries (and you can brush up on your foreign language skills by selecting from the different options -- the episodes are also presented in French, German, Spanish, and Italian).

"Blackwater," the second season's penultimate episode, gets in-depth coverage with "Creating the Battle of Blackwater Bay," a half-hour-long documentary on the lengths to which the producers and crew went to create thrilling battle sequences. "Game of Thrones" Inner Circle" is a meaty round-table in which cast members discuss the second season and what it means for their characters; co-creator D.B. Weiss moderates the discussion, which is illustrated with clips from various episodes.

Not knowing the exact nature of the difficulties I had with the discs -- and your results may vary -- I'm going to set that aside and say what I said in the review for Season One: Audiophiles, tech-heads and completists will absolutely have to have these steelbook editions. More casual viewers, if you have not yet begun a "Game of Thrones" collection of home viewing, this is the place to start one. If you already have the series on Blu-ray and you're a casual viewer, this might not be for you -- but keep it in mind for the "GoT" die-hard on your holiday gift list.

"Game of Thrones - The Compete Second Season" (Steelbook Edition)

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.