Summary: Joffrey chooses to marry Margaery, relieving Sansa of marrying him. Theon is surrounded by Stark men and his troops turn on him so they can go home. Winterfell is sacked by unknown people. Luwin is killed. Tyrion loses his position as hand and falls back down the hierarchy. Dany goes to the House of the Undying and has a vision of snow. She finds her dragons and kills Pyatt Pree and then she leaves Xaro for dead. Jon kills Qhorin. White Walkers arrive at the Fist of the First Men.
The Good: Tyrion's story was very good here. I enjoyed seeing him as Hand of the King but now he has been stripped of that title and we get to learn that he enjoyed the role too. His emotions come out in a terrific scene with Shae as he reflects on how much he enjoyed having some power for once. It's easy to understand his sadness as he has fallen to the bottom of the totem pole again, established by him no longer having any friends with power, and Pycelle's rediscovered confidence when speaking to Tyrion.
I enjoyed Joffrey awarding heroics to Tywin after the battle. The whole scene felt consistent to the time period and also established some important new plot points, notably Tywin's confidence in his new role and Joffrey's new wife. Regarding the latter, it was good follow-up for Sansa as she gets rewarded for choosing to stay in King's Landing. I loved seeing her smile in joy afterwards only to fake sorrow when Littlefinger goes to talk with her. That scene with Littlefinger added a lot too as it sets up another potential partnership while also assuring us that Sansa still isn't safe and will never be safe as long as she is in King's Landing.
The conclusion of Theon's story was very strong, just like the rest of his story. I loved seeing his frustrations when he realizes that he is trapped and almost certainly dead. The horn-blower was also a funny way to focus on Theon's anger and displeasure towards his current situation. I loved his conversation with Luwin where his regrets all come pouring out as he realizes all of the mistakes he has made by siding with the Greyjoys and wanting to prove himself. It would be easy to hate Theon for all he has done, but it's a testament to how good the writing has been that I actually sympathize with him and everything he stands for. The final moments in Winterfell were terrific as well. Theon's speech was awesome and he did very well to be inspiring, but he failed to give the Ironborn a reason to throw away their lives, and in return they knocked him out and appeared to have given him over to the Boltons who were outside.
Dany's story came to a good conclusion in the House of the Undying. The way these scenes were put together was fantastic and the entire vision sequence was a spectacle to witness. I loved the way everything fit together thematically as it highlighted the final confrontation between ice and fire while also signalling the threat of the White Walkers which will likely descend on King's Landing. I also enjoyed seeing Dany take vengeance on Pyatt Pree and Xaro as she gives us another glimpse of her ruthlessness which hasn't been seen at all this season (see: The Bad).
I enjoyed Jaime and Brienne once more. Their dynamic is very good and we get to learn more about them in scenes like the one we saw in this episode. The confrontation with the three Stark men was really well done and allowed Brienne to demonstrate to Jaime and to us how she is loyal to Catelyn and not all of the Starks. As a side note, I really liked the way that the man set up Brienne and Jaime to reveal the truth by asking them to both say Jaime's name at the same time.
I liked Stannis' scene too. Stannis' anger at Melisandre was warranted as he has lost literally everything and didn't end up getting what he was promised to get by her. He has lost his friends, his fleet, his brother and his end-goal of being king, making it easy to understand how he feels.
The ending scene with the White Walkers was a great cliff-hanger to make me excited for season 3. The surprise of a third horn was great and the tension was palpable as Sam was left alone within the incoming army.
The Bad: Unfortunately the final scene was hurt by the fact that the White Walker just left Sam alive. It's hard to feel threatened by them if they don't kill, so that was a pretty weak moment.
Luwin's death lacked impact since he has hardly done anything of note. Bran and Rickon's reactions also did nothing since they have done nothing to make me care about either of them as characters.
The Qarth storyline accomplished nothing and felt like a means to stall Dany for a season. She has made no progress since the end of last season which is frustrating.
The Unknown: What will become of Varys partnering with Ros?
What did Stannis see in the flames?
Jaqen is very interesting. How does he have all of these mysterious, almost god-like powers? I presume Arya will go to Braavos at a later point in the story. What will she find there?
What happened to Winterfell? Who burned it down? It doesn't make sense for the Boltons to do it, but they must have as the Ironborn surely couldn't have. What happened to the Ironborn anyways? WHat happened to Theon?
Best Moment: I'll pick Tyrion's sadness at being relegated to the bottom again after losing his position.
Character of the Episode: Theon.
Conclusion: This was a very good season finale with good closure and some strong moments to make it stand out more. The set-up for next season was good, though it didn't live up to the excellence of the season 1 finale.
The second season as a whole was a bit of a step down from season 1 but it was still pretty good. Like season 1, it started slow and picked up a lot of momentum towards the end of the season with good storytelling, powerful moments and epic twists. My one major complaint is how familiar the show still feels after this season. Through season 1, the show took a massive change in direction and every character was at a different place than they were at the beginning. I don't think that the same could be said about this season as many characters find themselves in the same position as season 1, or in similar positions, with Stannis and Dany standing out in this regard. I hope that the next season is a little more ambitious with what it wants to do so we don't end up with another season which felt like it was stalling for lengthy periods of time.
Summary: Both Stannis' and Joffrey's sides prepare for the impending battle. Stannis' ships arrive but Tyrion blows up a good portion of them with wildfire, including Davos' ships. Stannis lands anyways and assaults the walls. The Hound fearfully leaves the battleground after seeing fire. Joffrey flees the battlefield too leaving Tyrion in charge of the defenses. Lancel provides updates to Cersei who is hidden in the city with Sansa. Cersei gets drunk and prepares to kill her son so he doesn't have to suffer. Tyrion is attacked by Ser Mandon and critically wounded. Tywin and the Tyrells arrive to rout Stannis' forces, winning the battle. The Hound offers to take Sansa north and out of the city.
The Good: The build-up to the battle was fantastic. The whole season has been slowly building up to this massive confrontation, and the early goings of the episode made it clear that this episode would deliver the battle in full. I respect that we didn't have a single scene outside of King's Landing in this episode as it allowed for there to be full focus on this battle, which had been hyped up to be pivotal for the fate of Westeros. The first 15 to 20 minutes were great as both sides prepared for the upcoming war, putting over how deadly the consequences would be for the loser. This gave the episode a huge sense of importance and tension.
I enjoyed a lot of small things in the build-up too. Sansa continuing to mouth off Joffrey, Tyrion having funny interactions with Bronn and Joffrey and Varys continuing to be a fascinating character (see: The Unknown) were all great scenes.
With all of the hype, there was massive pressure on the battle to deliver. While I did have some big issues (see: The Bad), I thought that a lot of this was terrific. The opening few minutes in particular were some of the most tense, impressive and exhilarating minutes of television that this show has produced. The wildfire explosion was an incredible moment and opened up the battle on an exciting note, killing many of Stannis' men and presenting that Tyrion may have a chance of overcoming here. It was up to the rest of the battle to live up to the opening of this battle and I feel that for the most part they did a good job.
The best parts about this battle were the smaller moments. I loved Tyrion's story here as Varys presented him as the only man who could actually threaten Stannis. He lived up to it as he delivered a spectacular speech late in the battle, playing up to the men's personal desires instead of the honourable desires. It works like a charm and his final line of "there are brave men out there... let's go kill them!" was delivered perfectly and was a satisfying moment. Even more satisfying was watching the Lannisters destroy the portion of Stannis' forces at the gate, earning Tyrion a small victory.
The Hound's story was also really good. I enjoyed seeing him leave the battle due to the fire. It fit his character and adds more levels to him as he may not be quite as tough as he lets on and has some serious weaknesses. I also liked him going to Sansa as it plays off of the relationship they had been building throughout this season. It was interesting to see The Hound be so aggressive to convince Sansa to get out of King's Landing, which makes me interested to learn more about how The Hound feels about her.
The scenes with Cersei and Sansa were well-written as well. I enjoyed their conversations as Cersei slowly got more drunk, feeling the pressure of the battle and being separated from Jaime for so long. I enjoyed getting this new layer to Cersei, her character has been one of the most interesting parts of the show in the last few episodes.
The Bad: Unfortunately I felt disappointed overall by the end of the episode. The battle never lived up to the opening few minutes and it ended rather abruptly without any of the consequences which were hyped up. The Lannisters all win and Stannis still gets to live to fight another day. This is particularly disappointing because this entire season was structured around this massive battle, and yet somehow this large scale battle had less of an effect on the world than the execution of Ned last season. That's very bad and makes what we just watch feel like less of an epic battle and more of just a minor skirmish which can't be right.
The actual logistics of the battle unfortunately disappointed me as well. There were several strange moments in the battle that confused me as to how the battle was working. We had Stannis climb the ramparts, which should be a significant development and yet it doesn't lead anywhere. The ramparts allow easy access into the city and should have been a much more central part to this battle, yet they were totally ignored. Additionally, after Tyrion wiped out a portion of Stannis' men, we had a random horde of them come out from somewhere. I have no clue where they were and why they hadn't engaged in the battle earlier.
Lastly, while I thought the Cersei scenes were good, they detracted from the battle as a whole and ruined the flow. Also, it was tough for me to properly invest in Cersei's scenes because they felt so insignificant when there is a life-or-death war going on outside the walls. I can't be bothered to care about Shae being discovered when Tyrion's life is in danger as he prepares to lead an attack outside the walls.
The Unknown: Varys remains a fascinating character and it seems that there is more to him being a eunuch than expected. What he will have to say about how he was cut?
Is Davos dead? It wouldn't be too much of a stretch for him to survive the battle. If he is dead, it would be tough to care about whatever Stannis does next, so I honestly hope he is alive.
Why did Mandon attack Tyrion and who ordered him to do it? What are the extent of Tyrion's injuries? Will he be okay by the next episode?
How did Tywin get back to King's Landing and why? He said he was going to fight Robb in the last episode, so why didn't he end up going there?
What happened to Salladhor Saan? I was hoping to see him again in this battle but he never appeared.
Will Sansa go with The Hound then? I don't imagine she will want to stay in King's Landing.
Best Moment: The wildfire explosion was a fantastic moment which the episode never topped.
Character of the Episode: I'll pick The Hound because he was more interesting here than ever before.
Conclusion: This episode was an epic spectacle with a lot of really good moments, but it under-delivered in my opinion. While I still really enjoyed it, there should have been more of an impact on the overall story from a seismic event like this and yet it didn't happen. This is a tough episode to score because of that, as it was terrific, yet at the same time disappointing.
Summary: Yara tells Theon to leave Winterfell as it has little strategic advantage for them but Theon doesn't want to. Tyrion plots King's Landings defense against Stannis and realizes they have a massive disadvantage. Catelyn sends Brienne to take Jaime to King's Landing to trade for Sansa and Arya, angering Robb and others in the camp. Robb falls in love with Talisa and sleeps with her. Jon reunites with Qhorin who has also been captured. Dany prepares to go to the House of the Undying.
The Good: Theon's story continued to be very strong in this episode. We got more exploration of his relationship with Yara, which was much needed for him. Yara was really good as her experience puts her on a higher level than Theon in terms of battle strategy and she completely destroys Theon's reputation which is deserved. Yara explains with sound logic why Theon's maneuver was stupid and did nothing in the long run for the Greyjoys yet Theon's immature need to prove himself makes him not listen and still refuse to cooperate. Then the scene takes a better turn as Yara stops humiliating him and speaks with him alone, showing some genuine affection which adds even more to their relationship. I really enjoyed these interactions.
Arya's storyline was pretty good as well. I liked her trying to kill Tywin when she learns of her plans. Some will complain about her not doing this earlier, but she knows that she only has three names and she is still a child who likely isn't thinking far enough into the future to realize how significant it will be to kill Tywin. It also made sense that Jaqen wouldn't be able to kill him since he is still human after all. It's good to get some insight that Jaqen isn't a godly being or a plot device. Additionally, I liked Arya manipulating Jaqen to get out of Harrenhal quickly with her friends.
I loved the scenes which hyped up Stannis' upcoming siege of King's Landing. The build-up was tense and dramatic and makes this upcoming battle feel like a huge deal. Most of this season has been set up, and this episode did a great job of demonstrating that the pay-off is upon us and we will be getting a really satisfying climax soon. To make this better, we were treated to a number of good scenes as this went on. Tyrion's interactions with Bronn are hilarious and fantastic, I love seeing them talk with each other and I'm invested int heir unique friendship. Tyrion and Varys were terrific as usual as they discuss the happenings in the world with great wit and humour. There was also a fantastic scene between Tyrion and Cersei, albeit one with a different tone from the previous episode. This time Cersei is back to being hostile, as she begins to cave under the pressure of Joffrey's awful reign combined with Stannis' looming threat. So she chooses to cement power over Tyrion once more, threatening to kill his whore, though luckily for Tyrions he has the wrong whore.
Robb was very good in this episode too and continues to be a terrific king. His anger at his mother for freeing Jaime (see: The Bad) is certainly warranted as she has embarrassed him in front of all of his men and taken away his advantage. I liked seeing Robb open up more to Talisa as well in these times of pressure. He is still young and thrust in a major role, so it makes sense for him to need to find a way to relieve some pressure. Unfortunately this leads to him breaking his vows to Walder Frey which can't possibly end well. It's a stupid decision, but we understand easily why he chose it, and he further tries to support it by telling himself that since he doesn't need to go south anymore, he didn't really need passage at The Twins anyways. It's dumb but understandable, unlike a similar decision made by Catelyn in this episode (see: The Bad).
Stannis and Davos had some great development in this episode. It has been hard to care for them too much this season, but this one scene has done an absolute ton for their story. Now we understand their relationship, their backstory and their dynamic together, adding to my investment in them as a whole. This makes the upcoming battle much more interesting, as it's difficult to choose a side to root for. I definitely want Joffrey to be unseated as king more than anything, but Tyrion is my favourite character so I'm pretty torn.
I liked some smaller things in this episode as well. Jaime remains terrific and his scenes with Brienne were witty and well-written. I also liked seeing a brief glimpse of Jon dealing with the consequences of not being able to kill when he needed to. It's a good lesson for him and I doubt that he will make the same mistake again.
The Bad: Catelyn's choice to free Jaime is beyond stupid and nonsensical. I understand that she would do anything to get her daughters back, but I have no idea why she thinks that the Lannisters would just send Sansa and Arya back. She knows they are evil and yet she agrees to a deal which they can either choose to honour or ignore entirely. It's stupid and motherly instincts do not excuse her motivation in the same way that being young and stressed excuses Robb's.
The Unknown: What will Tyrion do to protect King's Landing? He still has that wildfire which he can use.
What was the significance of the dragonglass that Sam and the others found?
Best Moment: Tyrion goes to Shae after fearing that Cersei had captured her. His raw emotion and love for her is on full display and it makes for a genuinely touching scene.
Character of the Episode: Tyrion.
Conclusion: This was another really good episode. While this one was another calm set-up episode, I really enjoyed it overall since it has promised a ton of action in the season's concluding episodes which are coming up next. The only flaw was Catelyn's decision and while that hurts the score slightly, I still have a very positive outlook on this episode as a whole.
Summary: Theon chases down Bran and Rickon. Later he shows the burned bodies of two boys to everyone. Ygritte continues to flirt with Jon and eventually leads him into a trap. Tywin and Arya have another chat. Jaime escapes his cell by killing his cousin but he is reprimanded instantly. Lord Karstark wants him dead but Catelyn protects Jaime. Xaro and Pyatt Pree kill the other thirteen in Qarth. Pyatt reveals that he has Dany's dragons.
The Good: Theon's story was strong once more as he continues to act more villainous s he tries to prove himself. He goes too far here as he tries to kill the Starks and may have actually succeeded, though I don't think so (see: The Unknown). Either way, it's good drama and continues to show us Theon's downfall as a human as he continues to hurt the Starks.
Jon and Ygritte were terrific here. Ygritte flirting is a ton of fun and the dialogue is funny and well written. I love the arguments regarding Jon's freedom as well as they really start to explore what Jon has lost by joining the Night's Watch. They really play into the idea that Jon may forsake his vows to be with Ygritte and that makes for fun and tense viewing all the way until the surprise ending where Jon gets captured by wildlings. I really like this development as well since it will likely allow us to learn more about the wildlings now.
Tywin and Arya stole the show once more with a terrific scene of dialogue. They have great chemistry and their conversations are fascinating and develop the world in interesting ways. "Game of Thrones" has been doing a terrific job of making the story engaging despite not following normal TV conventions. This show s unique because of scenes like this, and the show benefits greatly for it. I can't think of any other TV show which has lengthy scenes of characters simply talking about random things throughout an entire episode that has gripped me this much.
Another example of this conversation is with Jaime and his cousin. The dialogue felt so organic and believable that I felt like I was watching a real life conversation. It was fascinating and both characters came off well, especially Jaime who showed that charming side of himself once more before revealing his true heart as he tricks his cousin into getting close enough to be killed, aiding Jaime in escaping his cell. The whole sequence was terrific to watch and satisfied me a lot.
The rets of Jaime's story was great too. I loved seeing Lord Karstark trying to kill him despite the orders from Robb. I would completely buy that the Starks aren't happy to keep somebody vile like Jaime in the camp and it has caused organic dissension. I also liked seeing Catelyn step up to protect Jaime as she realizes that he is the only way she will get her daughters back.
Cersei had a very good episode as well as she got to show us her experience in motherhood. I appreciated her being honest with Sansa about motherhood, also giving her some advice to help her survive. It was the first hint she gave that she wasn't happy with Joffrey, which paid off a few scenes later with Tyrion. Cersei's emotions about how terrible Joffrey is felt very real and I loved seeing her say all this to Tyrion, who she despises, because he is all that she has. It was touching and it also did well to highlight the danger of Stannis as the two siblings who hate each other are now coming closer in times of desperation.
The Bad: Dany in Qarth wasn't that good. It was hard to care about the execution of the thirteen and both Xaro and Pyatt don't really interest me. The storytelling feels lame and rushed. Furthermore, I wasn't fond of Dany and Jorah's scene. I can understand Dany being angry, but Emilia Clarke's performance isn't really working for me so I struggle to buy into the story, as well as Jorah's love for her.
The Unknown: The Brotherhood Without Banners has been mentioned again. Who are they?
Where did Barristan end up going? He was mentioned again and we haven't seen him in 10 episodes now. Surely he will reappear somewhere.
Best Moment: Arya and Tywin's conversation was really good. I am enjoying their interactions a lot.
Character of the Episode: Jaime.
Conclusion: This was a really good episode, though it was a rather quiet one. Despite that, I thought that storylines progressed nicely and there was some great character development and exploration. A much stronger episode to build the story than the others ones we have seen earlier in the season.
Summary: Theon takes over Winterfell and kills Ser Rodrik. Osha has sex with him and then sneaks out and frees Bran, Rickon and Hodor. Robb is angry at what Theon did and wants him dead. Tywin is visited by Littlefinger who is sent to make an alliance with the Tyrells. Joffrey goes through the city to see off Myrcella who is going to Dorne but a riot breaks out when Joffrey threatens to kill everyone. Sansa is nearly raped but The Hound saves her. Dany doesn't get any help from Qarth and her dragons are taken. Jon ventures with Qhorin and they ambush a wildling camp. Jon stays behind to kill a wildling, Ygritte, but he can't go through with it and is separated from the group with Ygritte.
The Good: This was a lot better and had genuine emotion and conflict in almost all of the storylines. Theon's was the best here as his character is forced to officially commit to siding with the Greyjoys over the Starks, needing to even go as far as kill Ser Rodrick to prove his commitment to being a Greyjoy. Impressively, the show does a terrific job of showing Theon's inner conflict through these scenes and the stakes are always clear about the significance of his actions. Theon has turned on his family, and soon he will likely have to face the consequences of this decision.
The other storylines are similarly great. The riot sequence was frightening and intense, increasing the tension and conflict at King's Landing while also furthering how much of a threat Stannis is since Joffrey is widely hated by everyone. The riot was intense and frightening, especially for Sansa who had no protection until The Hound arrived to viciously kill her attackers. Scenes like these work very well in "Game of Thrones" because they have a very real sense of consequence. After all, a major character did just die last episode so it feels like somebody can die at any time. Additionally, Tyrion had a great scene as he completely lost control of his emotions when talking to Joffrey. It felt like an earned moment because Joffrey has caused total chaos once more, and Tyrion has been doing everything possible to repair the damage Joffrey has already done. This time it was too much and Tyrion had enough, making for a strong moment which is satisfying for me (and probably everyone else as well) because I despise Joffrey.
Jon's story was pretty good too. It nicely establishes his honour and how he is still a young man with little experience, which was touched on by Qhorin already. It was good to see Jon's inexperience hurt him as he discovers he can't kill Ygritte and he is then totally lost. On the other hand, Ygritte was terrific as she was flirtatious and funny at great times as she tries to make the most out of her position as Jon' captive. I enjoyed their interactions and I want to see more about where their story goes.
The Tywin and Arya scenes were terrific once more as their interactions remain strong. This episode had 2 terrific sequences of tension too. For the first, Littlefinger arrives and eyes Arya as he takes care of business with Tywin. It's extremely tense because we don't know if Littlefinger will discover her and the scene is shot superbly well to aid the feelings of tension. Furthermore, we get more exciting dialogue as Littlefigner and Tywin plan out the Lannisters next moves which are very important for us to know to keep following the politics of the show. The next sequence was when Amory Lorch discovered Arya stealing the letter which was even more tense since Arya was on a ticking clock to have him dead. The final moment of Lorch opening TYwin's door and falling dead was simultaneously funny and relieving which is very impressive. If a scene can make me feel two different emotions at once, that is a sign of strong storytelling and emotional engagement.
I am really enjoying the Spice King in Qarth. The way he dismissively ignores Dany is great to watch and his retorts to her passion are great and hard to argue. The dialogue is extremely well written which I love.
The Bad: Qarth isn't working for me despite all of the dialogue. the story feels like it is stagnant and stalling to stretch Qarth out an entire season which is pretty annoying. I want to see Dany start moving towards conquering Westeros, I have no interest in her accomplishing nothing in Qarth.
The Unknown: Does Littlefinger know about Arya? He was eying her so perhaps he did figure it out and didn't say anything to pursue his own goals. Will that come into play later this season?
Who took Dany's dragons?
Best Moment: Theon executing Rodrik was very powerful and a fitting moment to put Theon on the spot to prove that he is a traitor to the Starks, nothing more. The rest of the scene was terrific too, particularly Theon's interactins with Bran who was still treating Theon as a friend at first only to realize harshly that he has changed.
Character of the Episode: Theon.
Conclusion: This was a great episode with terrific moments in every storyline. There was powerful stuff, tense stuff and fun stuff all mixed together into what I think is the series' best episode so far.
Summary: Renly is killed by Stannis' shadow and Brienne and Catelyn are forced to flee. Renly's bannermen go to Stannis but the Tyrells go back to Highgarden. Tyrion discovers that Cersei plans to use wildfire against Stannis and he wants some for himself. Theon goes to raid the Stoney Shore but he makes plans to go after Winterfell instead. Arya meets with Jaqen who is willing to kill three people for her. Jaqen kills The Tickler first. Beyond The Wall, the Night's Watch reunites with Qhorin after arriving at the Fist of the First Men. Across the Narrow Sea, Dany is proposed to by Daxos who tells her of Jorah's affections for her.
The Good: The opening scene was effective at raising the stakes for the show. Renly's death is a huge moment and to see it so early in the season, and in the episode, was shocking and a pretty memorable moment. I also like how Catelyn and Brienne ended up being painted as guilty due to the circumstances, ensuring that they will be alone and that Renly's men would not end up supporting Robb.
Tyrion remains strong in this episode. Like last episode, his scenes with Lancel are funny and energetic and they also do well to service the plot. I enjoyed seeing Tyrion learn about the wildfire along with us, making it feel like an important new development, one which will likely be used often in the series when battles occur. I also love the little detail that the people in the city don't like Tyrion because of rumours. It feels very realistic for people to do that.
While I doubt we see the Tyrells again for a little while sicne they have retreated, I was very impressed by them. Margaery in particular stuck out as she seems pretty emotionless surrounding Renly's death and she makes it clear that her only objective is to get power, much like many of the other important characters like Tywin and Littlefinger. I'm excited to see more of her in the future.
Theon's storyline had a good development as he looks to attack Winterfell. While he does have problems as a character (see: The Bad), it's easy to understand his thought process for attacking Winterfell as he wants nothing more than to prove himself to his men. Furthermore, this development is good since it will involve Bran into the main story. After five episodes in this season Bran has done nothing, so I look forward to seeing him do more.
Arya and Tywin have a nice dynamic. Tywin is fascinated by her intelligence and keeps her as cupbearer whereas Arya is frightened and is doing her absolute best to not get discovered. Their conversation was tense and allowed us to learn a little more about both of their characters and their mannerisms.
The Night's Watch scenes were solid but nothing special. As were the Dany scenes. Both storylines progressed and we learned new details, but nothing much stood out to me as particularly good.
The Bad: The show continues to expand its world and while it's enjoyable to see, it often doesn't lead to great episodes. This is an example of that, as there was nothing wrong with this episode but it wasn't very enjoyable because the story keeps jumping around without really getting us emotionally invested. I'm not invested in Jon and Dany like I was last season because their storylines only really serve to expand the world not tell their own story. We need emotional stakes to enjoy the show, not a larger world. Jon and Dany are yet to go through some real conflict, and after five episodes of slow storytelling, that's very disappointing.
Theon's story has suffered too. While his story is well written and expands the world in very good ways which I actually like, it's just hard to care about anything he does. We are getting to know who Theon is, but we aren't given any reasons to care about him. This stands out badly when so much of the rest of the show is centred around dozens of other characters who we actually care about or are interested in.
Bran is very dull to me. He has been having dreams for what feels like forever and yet we still know nothing about him as a character. He has become very boring.
The Unknown: How does Tyrion plan to use the wildfire? It has been established that catapults aren't a good idea.
Who is Jaqen and why is he helping Arya like this? Why does he talk so funny? Who is the red god? Is that the lord of light? How did he kill The Tickler? I want to know more about him.
Why is Pyatt Pree interested in Dany? Will she go see him? Will she accept Daxos' proposal? What will she do now that she is aware of Jorah's feelings for her? Also who was that girl talking to Jorah?
Best Moment: I'll pick Arya and Tywin's brief conversation. It was engaging and interesting.
Character of the Episode: Margaery since nobody else really stood out.
Conclusion: This episode had more decent continuation of the story, but so much of the story lacks proper emotion or momentum, making it tough to really care about this season's story. I'm invested in some of the characters, but it isn't enough as there needs to be more of a reason for me to care for the story.
Summary: Joffrey tries to punish Sansa but Tyrion saves him. Tyrion sends him some whores to calm him down but Joffrey makes them beat each other. Lancel goes to Tyrion with requests from Cersei to free Pycelle. Tyrion agrees but also gets Lancel on his side. Littlefinger delivers Ned's ashes to Catelyn. Stannis and Renly threaten each other with war. Arya is taken to Harrenhal and is selected to be Tywin's cupbearer. Robb wins battles in the west. Dany secures entry into Qarth. Melisandre births a shadow.
The Good: This episode was a blessing for this season. The tone took a sudden shift into darker territory as scenes of this episode often unsettled me with tough to watch moments. As rough as this was, it elicited a reaction from me and made me care about what was happening on screen, making it the most tense and exciting episode in this season.
Joffrey was one of the worst parts of the episode in a good way. He is despicable and awful and I dread to see him on screen due to whatever new way he develops to torture Sansa and those around him. But this makes him one of the most vile villains I have seen in television and I don't think I've ever wanted to see a character die more than I want to see Joffrey get what's coming to him. Thankfully we do get tastes of Joffrey getting some comeuppance from Tyrion who stands up to Joffrey all the time and puts him in his place. The scene with Sansa was getting uncomfortable but Tyrion's arrival made it more lighthearted and enjoyable due to how he handles Joffrey's menace. Furthermore, there was Joffrey's scene with the two whores which I don't even want to begin to talk about. It was cruel and sadistic, and showcased Joffrey's pettiness as he gets back at Tyrion in a really awful way.
Tyrion as a whole was terrific once more in this episode. I loved seeing him counter Cersei's attempt to get Pycelle back by getting his own spy in Lancel. Tyrion's mannerisms in that conversation were superb as he turned the tables around on Lancel with a calm demeanor and made Lancel go from being dismissive to actively begging for his life. It was fascinating to watch and was a definite standout scene in the episode.
The Harrenhal scenes were very good too. There was a darker tone present as people were being starved, tortured and brutally killed, which is a far cry from the lightheartedness of Arya's storyline a few episodes ago. More notably, Tywin arrived at Harrenhal and picked Arya as a cupbearer which is really significant development as it seems to hint that Arya's identity will be discovered very soon.
I enjoyed seeing Renly and Stannis face off. It builds up nicely to an eventual battle an also does a great job of showing the contrast between the two brothers and how they are polar opposites of each other in terms of personality.
Catelyn's scene with Littlefinger was very good as well. I loved to see Catelyn get a chance to let out some pent up emotion from Ned's death and Littlefinger is a good character to receive her anger seeing how he betrayed Ned. But more impressively, Littlefigner wins over Catelyn again by the end using his mouth, proving that he is one of the most effective manipulators on the show
I really liked the opening scene as well. It had a great use of misdirection with that opening bit with the soldiers and also did a good job of showing us a brief glimpse of what it's like being a soldier in battle. I'm intrigued by the development of Robb meeting Talisa (see: The Unknown).
The ending of the episode was huge. It's the show confirming the existence of proper magic which is very unexpected, but I really like it as it makes Stannis' storyline feel very important and makes him feel like a more powerful character, similar to Dany with her dragons.
Speaking of Dany, her story was solid in this episode as she forced her way into Qarth with the help of one of the 13, but I did have some problems (see: The Bad).
The Bad: Dany's story lacks momentum still and it has been nothing important for the first four episodes. It's a jarring transition after the huge ending to the last season with the introduction of dragons. There just doesn't seem to be much to Dany's storyline this season. Also, the scenes of Dany's entry made little sense to me. I don't understand why Dany didn't just show the dragons as they would easily grant her access. Additionally, Daxos using Sumai felt like a cliché as it feels like a plot convenience for him to get Dany into Qarth.
Littlefinger is a master manipulator, but scenes like the one with Margaery contradict that entirely. Littlefigner doesn't come off as cunning when he openly reveals his knowledge to others in ways that don't give him the advantage and it hurts his credibility.
The Unknown: Will Robb break his vows to Walder Frey with Talisa? That could be very dangerous.
Who are the Brotherhood and why do the Lannisters want to know about them?
What is Sumai? I doubt we get any more information on it as it feels like a convenience through and through.
What the heck was that shadow baby? What will it do?
Best Moment: I'll avoid the temptation to pick Tyrion once more and I'll go with the ending scene for what it means for the show as a whole with the introduction of proper magic.
Character of the Episode: I'll go with Joffrey actually for being such a despicable villain.
Conclusion: This episode had a much darker tone and was all the better for it. There was a good sense of urgency here and that made this the best episode of the season so far.
Summary: Catelyn visits Renly's camp. Renly is married to Margaery who wants to give him a child to dispel the gay rumours surrounding him. Tyrion uses sneaky tactics to discover that Cersei's spy is Pycelle and he proceeds to imprison him. Shae is made to be Sansa's handmaiden. Yoren's group is attacked by soldiers and he is killed. Arya, Hot Pie and Gendry are taken to Harrenhal with the survivors.
The Good: I really enjoyed the scenes at Renly's camp. It was nice to see a war camp created by an overconfident and carefree king in Renly, providing more diversity from all of the kings we have seen so far. However his nature suggests that he won't be victorious in this war, as he sports a very defined weakness much like Ned. However, he is much smarter than Ned, as he has married Margaery Tyrell to gain power from Highgarden and also to help dispel the gay rumours. I like the detail that Margaery is aware of Renly's sexuality and is still willing to marry him for the power of being a queen. This show has such a unique dynamic since almost every character has their own personal goal which they try to accomplish, and this Renly storyline continues to add to that dynamic.
Theon's story is good even if it does pander to the books a bit too much for my liking (see: The Bad). It's easy to understand his conflict as he is split between siding with his true family or the only family he has known throughout his life. Obviously, we want to see Theon side with Robb since he is treated like crap in Pyke and Balon is not a good person, but Theon understandably and tragically chooses to side with his family, a decision which may come back to haunt him later.
Sansa's scenes were good too and her character remains sad to watch. Her scene with Shae was lightly funny but also pretty depressing as Sansa had to exert control over the only person ho she has power over. After being forced to listen to so many of the Lannisters without being able to voice her opinion, she will naturally want to boss somebody around to get out all of her pent up emotions.
Tyrion remains the very best character in the show by quite some distance. His schemes in this episode were a ton of fun to watch and delivered some very exciting moments. I loved the editing while he told Varys, Pycelle and Littlefinger different ideas about what he plans to do with Myrcella. The scenes transitioned beautifully and we were able to figure out what Tyrion was planning to do. The scene this led up to was terrific too as Pycelle was forced to abandon his "old and frail" act to beg for his life. It was cathartic and entertaining to see Tyrion outsmart the spy and give him what he deserves.
One of the standout scenes was Tyrion talking to Varys though. The acting was terrific throughout and the conversation was enthralling as Varys explored the realities of power in King's Landing and how important it is.
I really liked Yoren's story to Arya as it demonstrated the values of revenge to her and how important it is to her. The story was engaging and I'm excited to see what Arya will take from it. The battle which followed afterwards was also very good and exciting.
The Bad: The Greyjoys haven't been developed enough for me to really care and I feel like I don't have enough details to fully understand their role in the story.
This episode continues to have that slow paced feeling that this season has had so far. While this episode did have better moments, it still feels like the season is missing the same meat to its bone that season one had.
The Unknown: Will Gilly return later? Surely there will need to be some payoff for Sam leaving her a gift.
I feel like I need to bring up bran's dreams again as they are getting more and more realistic and will likely lead somewhere. He seems to have a connection to his direwolf, so does that make him one of those mystical creatures that Luwin was talking about earlier?
Why is Tyrion sending Littlefinger to the Stormlands to meet with Cat? What are his motives behind that?
WHat will happen to Arya and the others after they get taken to Harrenhal? Didn't Tywin's army go to Harrenhal too? That could be very bad for Arya.
Best Moment: Tyrion capturing Pycelle was a great moment. The scene was spliced with some fantastic humour and I loved seeing Pycelle start panicking when he realizes that he lacks control of the situation. Lastly, I loved the character detail of Tyrion paying the whore extra for what she had to go through.
Character of the Episode: Tyrion.
Conclusion: This was a good episode with some really fun moments, but the season still isn't clicking as well as the last one.
Summary: Soldiers attempt to get Gendry from Yoren but he sends them back. Gendry and Arya bond. Tyrion takes charge in King's Landing and sends Janos to The Wall while assigning Bronn as leader of the City Watch. Sam talks to one of Craster's daughters and learns she is pregnant. he wants to help her escape but Jon tells him to stop. Theon arrives at Pyke and meets his father and sister. Davos gains the allegiance of Salladhor Saan for Stannis. Melisandre seduces Stannis. Jon sees a White Walker in the woods.
The Good: I enjoyed the Arya and Gendry scenes quite a bit. They had good interactions and have started to develop a nice friendship which I presume will continue to blossom throughout the season. The other scenes with Arya were very solid too as we got development for other characters like Lommy and Hot Pie. Furthermore, the storyline still has some tension as we are aware that Yoren's group is a target now that Yoren has sent the soldiers away without giving them what they want.
Tyrion was the highlight of the episode as he showed us the significance of being Hand of the King by making all of the power moves that Ned was too honourable to make. I enjoyed seeing him combat Varys' threats as it appropriately demonstrated how Tyrion differs from Ned in his approach, while simultaneously allowing Tyrion to learn that King's Landing is a dangerous place and that he is going to need to take drastic measures to ensure his safety. And he does that later in the episode as he banishes Janos to the Night's Watch and assigns Bronn to the City Watch, ensuring that he has soldiers who cannot be bought from him (see: Best Moment).
Davos has started to stand out as a character now. We understand his motives and dedication to Stannis and after a few conversation scenes we have a good idea of his history, personality and relationships with other characters. He is likeable and has carried the Stannis scenes so far because Stannis is currently lacking a lot (see: The Bad). I also love the small detail that Davos can't read, which keeps up with the medieval world this show takes place in.
Sam's story was fine too. He has always talked about how much he likes girls, so it's fair that he would start talking to one of Craster's daughters despite being told not to. I also like that Jon has learned from the last episode and is now keeping his mouth shut, instead of helping Sam smuggle Gilly out of Craster's Keep.
Theon's story was nice as his homecoming didn't go as expected. While there wasn't a lot of meat to his story, it does set up for the future as it appears that Balon has no intention to help Robb or Theon.
The comedy in this episode was really well-written and it fits in the world with men making fart jokes and inappropriate jokes about women as well as Hot Pie being too stupid to understand what a battle while trying to act cool.
The Bad: Too much of this episode was spent with side characters who we don't really know very well so that makes this easily the least gripping episode so far with very little for us to latch onto. Furthermore, the pace lacks urgency once more and despite the ending to the previous episode, the story still hasn't picked up and feels quite lethargic at the moment. It makes episodes like these difficult to enjoy and be engaged with despite the fact that I'm really into the story.
The Stannis and Melisandre scene left a lot to be desired. It felt like a basic way to introduce us to some of Stannis' character but it was nowhere near as interesting or engaging as Davos' character introduction and the moment where they had sex completely lacked any significance.
I like the ending as a whole because it's always cool to see White Walkers and it raises tons of questions (see: The Unknown), but the ending doesn't suggest that the story will pick up in the next episode which is disappointing.
The Unknown: Why did the White Walkers take Craster's boys? Do they have some use for the children or do they just kill them? Are Craster's donations the reason he is allowed to live so far beyond The Wall?
Why did Melisandre tell Matthos that death by fire is the purest death? Does that foreshadow something or is it something else?
Best Moment: Tyrion dismissing Janos was a great scene as Tyrion carries himself in that charismatic way he always does. It makes his interactions gripping to watch and his insults to Janos are wildly entertaining, adding even more enjoyment to the scene. Furthermore, this is a great way to give us some justice for Janos' betrayal back in "You Win or You Die".
Character of the Episode: Tyrion.
Conclusion: There wasn't anything outright bad in this episode, but it was fairly bland and uninteresting to watch. The story continues to expand, but it remains very shallow in depth this season which is hurting the quality. Hopefully things will get better towards the end of the season, like it did in the first season.
Summary: Joffrey enjoys his name day with Sansa whos till despises him. Cersei tries to discipline him but Joffrey is out of her control. Tyrion arrives. Robb makes plans to ally himself with Balon Greyjoy and Renly. On Dragonstone, Stannis has a red priestess named Melisandre who he follows. Melisandre worships the Lord of Light. Beyond The Wall, the Night's Watch arrive at Craster's Keep, owned by Craster who has only daughters and he marries them to make more daughters. Jon doesn't take kindly to this. Across the Narrow Sea, Dany travels across the Red Waste and is slowly starving to death.
The Good: This was a fine opening episode with some good moments.
Joffrey remains compelling as the out of control villain. His interactions with Sansa remain cruel and it's sad to see that Sansa has accepted her role in an attempt to save herself, resorting to saying predetermined lines about her love for Joffrey. The opening sequence was a good way to show Sansa and Joffrey's conflicting personalities, while also showing that The Hound may be out to help Sansa as he confirms what was likely a lie on Sansa's part to prevent her from facing Joffrey's wrath.
Speaking of Joffrey's wrath, I found it very compelling to see Cersei lose control over Joffrey. It was expected that Cersei would essentially get control with Joffrey as a king, but Joffrey is so horrible that he only does what he specifically wants. It's nice to see that everything doesn't go according to the plan for the Lannisters. Furthermore, there is good irony in having Cersei realize for herself that power is power, echoing what she tells Littlefinger in a different scene.
Tyrion was terrific in this episode as usual. I love that he casually strolls into the council meeting bearing the news that he is Hand of the King. It's nice to see him embrace and immediately flaunt his new role to Cersei, showing that he does in fact have some power in his hands which he will likely use in a more wise fashion than Joffrey will.
It was good to get information on Mance Rayder as well. He was mentioned in the season 1 finale but we didn't learn that much about him. Now that we have learned of his significance in that he is recruiting a massive wildling army, he becomes more of a clear villain who will likely be the main focus of the Night's Watch storyline this season.
Robb was very good in this episode. I loved his threats to Jaime, ensuring that he understands that Robb won't treat him well or act like a kind and moronic king. As a whole, this is a good reason to get behind Robb as he is not like Ned and he understands that to get things done he will need to set honour aside and be smart at times, making him an even more endearing protagonist. It was really easy to root for him and I like seeing him make a strategy to help take King's Landing by allying with both Renly and Balon.
I liked the ending of the episode a lot. The killing f the bastards was powerful (see: Best Moment), but I also really like that there is an open hunt for Gendry now who happens to be with Arya at the moment. It adds a lot of tension to their storyline as we are now aware that the two of them have an enemy chasing them.
The Bad: The problem with Mance Rayder is that we are all aware that there are White Walkers beyond The Wall. Mance Rayder doesn't feel like a big threat because there is a much more pressing issue at hand which I'm already more invested in. This worries me because I feel that I won't get invested in the Night's Watch vs Wildlings storyline that is being set up.
This episode as a whole had a pretty awful pacing and sense of momentum. Coming off of the last episode, I was expecting more of a bang to open up the season but all we got was a scene-setter episode which lacked any sort of forward momentum and urgency. The most exciting parts were of Stannis, but those scenes were brief and didn't accomplish much aside from setting up some interesting new plot threads (see: The Unknown). I wish that this episode accomplished more for the plot as it ended up feeling too much like a catch up episode to refresh fans as to what each character was doing prior to this season.
The Unknown: What does the comet symbolize and what has it appeared for?
What happens to Craster's sons? I'm sure that there is a story there.
How did Melisandre survive the poison in the wine? What or who is the Lord of Light and how does it aid her? Regarding Stannis story as a whole, I'm unsure of what to think. Stannis seems like a straightforward man but that makes it much more awkward to see him following Melisandre. I also wasn't sure what to feel when the old Maester died because I don't know how he was significant to any of the other characters in the story.
Best Moment: The ending with the killing of the bastards was pretty harrowing and was Game of Thrones at its miserable best. It was also the only moment in the episode with a sense of forward story momentum.
Character of the Episode: Robb.
Conclusion: This was a fine episode to reintroduce us to the story, but I felt that it lacked forward momentum or a real purpose. There just wasn't much meat to this episode and that makes it one of the weakest so far despite there being nothing bad happening in the story.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.