One of the complaints levelled at this second season of Game Of Thrones is that ‘it’s a bit slow’, which generally hasn’t been the case, but this episode, The Prince Of Winterfell, well, it was a bit slow.
Of course, it can’t all be swords and sex and dragons, and I’ve not had any problem with the more exposition-heavy episodes we’ve had, because they’ve always been full of great dialogue and several layers of meaning and intrigue.
The problem here was that it felt like, for the first time, you could have missed the episode without missing too much. Sure, it did a good job of setting the scene for what seems like an epic episode next week, but there were only a couple of plot points that seemed to develop.
And, no, I’m not counting the ‘revelation’ at the end that Rickon and Bran weren’t the two children burnt last weekend by Theon. I was slightly disappointed that they waited until the end of this episode to reveal that, when it hadn’t been much of a trick in the first place.
So the only real developments this week were that Arya missed her chance to kill Tywin when he left Harranhal and left her behind (only for her to escape, with the help of her assassin friend), and that Cat made the surprising decision to free Jaime, entrusting his return to King’s Landing to Brienne. An unlikely pairing, but one with potential.
By the time they get there, who knows what will be left of it though, with Joffrey’s idiocy knowing no bounds and Tyrion growing increasingly concerned about how easy it will be for Stannis and his overwhelming army to, well, overwhelm the stretched Lannister forces. And then there’s his vengeful sister to deal with.
Their relationship seemed to be thawing last week, with unspoken hints about Joffrey passing between them, but Cersei had promised revenge for her daughter being packed off away from the city. This week she tried to exact it, by punishing Tyrion’s ‘whore’. Unfortunately for her, she mistakenly chose Ros, though she had him seriously worried for a while.
It was a more vulnerable side to Tyrion than we’ve seen recently, and the scene when he has to hide his relief at who has been brought before him, while also seemingly being genuine in his regret at the situation Ros finds herself in, was a masterclass in subtlety from Peter Dinklage.
Elsewhere, things progressed slowly, with Theon getting slapped down by his sister (again), Stannis and Davos bonding (again), Jon Snow getting into trouble (again) and Robb flirting with Talisa (again), though that final one did actually lead somewhere. The discovery of some ancient stuff by the men of the Watch held some promise though.
Maybe I’m being harsh, after all, each of those did hold more about them than I’m mentioning there, with motives and hidden agendas abound. It just felt like this was a holding episode ahead of some really big events, and even a really good holding episode (which this was) is going to leave you itching for what it’s building up to. Bring it on…