I'm both a book and TV show fan, I have read the books all to date and so am coming to the table with some foreknowledge. However the wonder of the show is not just that they are not just retelling the book instead they are putting their own stamp on events. As such watching the show has actually spoiled the book in certain plot lines. I will try my hardest not to spoil any future events but as far as I'm concerned events in this and past episodes are fair game.
A break to far or was it?
When it comes to adverts in television we in the UK are rather spoilt. When watching American shows some people fail to realise each fade to black transition is actually created for an ad break. Sky have been getting quite a few negative comments about the way it broadcasts the show and today they made quite a striking change to their programming. The show only had one advert break, this occurred pretty much half way in the episode and consisted of around 6 ads. It was a great move and it was received rather well when announced. I think we have to realise big budget shows mean more income is needed to create them. But any move like this is greatly appreciated as long as we can keep the quality of the programming.
Sticks and Stones may break your bones but words can destroy Kingdoms
The wordsmiths were out in force this episode as we got to see some of the masters of diplomacy tackling each other in Kings Landing. The genesis for these interactions was the crowning of Prince Tommen. The new king "Long may he reign" seems a lot nicer a character than his elder brother but we really have not seen really speak his mind.
Cersei finally has overcome her shock at the depth of Joffrey and dives into her new life's work which seems to be the destruction of Tyrion. This is only after she tries to play Margaery and bring her into her fold, whether this is successful or not remains to be seen but I'm sure the Queen of Thorns is on her way back home with a smile on her face.
On the other side of the narrow sea Dany is getting the chance to win the land of her birth thanks to the Second Sons. Their capture of the Meereen navy gives the Mother of Dragons the opportunity to set sail for Westeros. Instead however she decides finds out that there is a difference between capturing a city and ruling it. This echoes the conversations between Ned Stark and King Robert from season one. Robert was a proven warrior but as we now know was not the greatest peacetime leader. His decisions helped to end the life of his friend and the current predicament the 7 Kingdoms now find themselves in. Daenerys decides to put her people first and right the lands she holds before embarking on a new conquest, This feels like the right moral choice but I worry if it is the right strategic one. We will have to wait and see as the series unfolds.
On the flip side of morality we get Little Finger. This man is a genius, he should be up there with the names of Da Vinci Darwin and the like. It turns out he really is responsible for the War of the Five Kings, this felt like a great move by the writers as most shows would have a "previously on" section. Instead we got a brief but well crafted bit of exposition. It may have felt like it was not needed for some but I think it helped veteran and casual watcher alike. Where Little Finger is all craft his new bride is just crazy her interactions appear to be the ramblings of a jealous women but she has real power and that is a dangerous mixture.
The north is calling
Elsewhere we get some really great moments from Breanne and Podric on their journey to the wall. But at the top of the world Jon Snow and Bran are almost within touching distance at Crastors keep. The assault on the Nights Watch deserters is brutal but two confrontations really stand out. Hodor versus Locke and Rast versus Ghost. Brans Warging abilities have taken a leap as he is able to control the big yet gentle man, but the power he displays in killing the Bolton's Assassin is truly amazing. We get to see what a neck dislocation truly looks like and it is a disturbing thought that one man can possess that much power.
Arya tries to stick the Hound with the pointy end.
The most intriguing relationship in the whole of the show at the moment is that of the Hound and the Wolf pup. It is a truly great moment where during Arya's prayer the Hound wakes up and questions her about it. She says it's okay as she only has one name left, when she utters the words "and the hound" the look on the big man's face is priceless. It shows the fearlessness of the Stark girl but later in the episode things take an even bigger leap towards a brutal conclusion as Arya is teased to the point where she tries to drive needle in Clegane's gut only for his armour to defeat her. His look is one of shock but at this point Arya knows that completing her prayer will be harder than she thought.
Knowing the way the game is played I'm pretty sure they will.
Images courtesy of BSkyB