Holy changes, Batman! This episode was the most exciting and tension-filled hour of Game of Thrones yet, simply because I had no idea what would happen next! My full reactions are after the jump.
Spoiler Note: This post is for those who have read A Clash of Kings. As such the post itself and the comments will contain spoilers. If you haven’t read ACoK yet, our non-book-reader recap will be up later. Thanks!
The episode opens on a frantic Luwin, attempting to send a raven. He just gets it off when the Greyjoys arrive. Theon tells Bran to assemble everyone in the courtyard, where he will yield the castle to him. Bran does as Theon requests. Ser Rodrik is captured by Theon’s men outside Winterfell, as he is returning from Torrhen’s Square. He spits in Theon’s face and Dagmer urges Theon to execute him or the men will lose respect for him. Theon thinks for a minute, then takes another step down his current dark path. He (quite messily) executes Rodrik. Later that night, Osha seduces Theon. When he is asleep she sneaks out of his room, casually kills one of the guards and then smuggles Bran, Rickon and Hodor to safety.
In King’s Landing, Tyrion, Cersei, Joffrey and Sansa are seeing Myrcella off to Dorne. On the way back to the Red Keep, the mob gets restless and some dung gets flung at Joffrey. He demands the head of whoever threw it and things get worse from there. Joffrey, Tyrion and Cersei make it back to the castle safely, but Sansa gets separated from the group. Tyrion slaps Joff around a bit and berates himfor causing this riot and potentially losing Sansa. Sansa has been dragged away from the mob by a group of angry men and is about to be raped when The Hound comes to her rescue.
To Robb’s camp now, where it looks like Talisa has stuck around. Robb and her banter playfully, when Catelyn arrives with Brienne. Catelyn is introduced to Talisa (whose last name is Maegyr, apparently). Cat and Robb then walk-and-talk until Roose arrives with some news. Robb is furious with Theon and is ready to march to Winterfell and take it back himself. Roose suggests he send his bastard son from the Dreadfort instead, that he would be happy to bring him Theon’s head on a spike. Robb says he wants him alive, so he can look him in the eye and ask him ‘Why?’ before executing him himself.
In Harrenhal, Arya continues to serve Tywin as cupbearer. Tywin is berating Amory Lorch for bungling a simple letter delivery because he can’t read. He dismisses his men and then chats with Arya, after he learns that she can read. Littlefinger arrives to meet with Tywin. Arya does her best to remain unnoticed. Littlefinger proposes an alliance with the Tyrells. After Littlefinger leaves, Arya spots a letter about Robb on the table and, while Tywin’s back is turned, snatches it. Later, as she is running through the castle, letter in hand, she runs into Amory Lorch. Amory notices the letter and gets suspicious, while grilling her about the letter, Arya fears she is in trouble so she takes off. Amory heads for Tywin while Arya desperately searches out Jaqen. She finds him, names Amory Lorch as her second name and just as Amory makes it to Tywin’s door, he falls down dead.
Beyond the Wall, Qhorin’s band treks through the mountains, looking for wildlings. They come upon a small scout camp and kill all but one of the wildlings. It is a girl, her name is Ygritte. Qhorin tells Jon to kill her and meet up with them at the top of the mountain. Jon chickens out though and Ygritte uses his moment of weakness to run for it. Jon chases and catches her, but they have lost Qhorin and the rest of his brothers. Jon realizes he will need her to find his brothers again, so he keeps her prisoner and they settle in for the long night together.
Lastly, over in Qarth, Dany is attempting to bargain with the Spice King for some ships. The Spice King isn’t interested in her proposal though. He doesn’t like to make risky investments. Dany and Xaro return to his mansion… to find his guards dead. Dany runs to her room, where she finds Irri lying on the floor, either dead or unconscious, and her dragons cages empty. The final shot shows a hooded figure walking the dragons up some steps to a foreboding looking tower.
What I Liked
“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes” – Lots of changes from the way things went down in the book in tonight’s episode. Arya almost runs into Littlefinger, then she kills off Amory Lorch. Theon executes Ser Rodrik then sleeps with Osha. Jon doesn’t let Ygritte go and instead chases her down then ends up getting separated from Qhorin. And, of course, Dany’s dragons get stolen. And yet, I think all of these changes work. They really added a lot of drama and tension to the episode, but maybe that is because most of them were unexpected. As a book reader, I’m not used to unexpected things happening.
Farewell, Ser Rodrik – This scene was hard to watch. But Ser Rodrik went out with class, despite Theon not giving him the clean execution he deserved. First, he calmied Bran and Rickon and then called out Theon one last time. “Gods help you, Theon Greyjoy. Now you are truly lost.” Pouring one out for Ser Rodrik right now.
You Too, Amory Lorch – This had to be one of the funniest death scenes I’ve ever seen. And killing Lorch here was a smart change by David & Dan. Yeah, we lose the bear pit scene later, but that doesn’t bother me too much. And I guess this sets up Polliver as playing The Tickler’s role later on down the line…
The Bastard is In! – That mention of the Bastard of Bolton had me pretty stoked. That means we should eventually get “My name rhymes with meek…“
The Hound Goes Into Beast-Mode – I’m not really a big SanSan guy, but seeing the Hound rescue Sansa was awesome. One of those things we only heard about in the books, so seeing it on screen was a fist-pump moment.
What I Didn’t Like
The Butterfly Effect – While I said above that I liked the changes, they mostly served the immediate story well. I do wonder though, if they continue down this path, that things don’t start to get too far removed from the source material. Not that I’m a book purist, far from it, but I would like them to remain true to the source, if they can. But as they continue to condense and trim and modify the story, each little change could have larger consequences down the line. So far, they’ve done a good job of making the prudent cuts and changes, but things could get dicey and it remains to be seen how much what they are changing now will effect the story later.
The Incredible Shrinking Westeros – They are really playing fast and loose with the geography in this show, aren’t they? Littlefinger jumps from King’s Landing to Storm’s End to Harrenhal in the blink of an eye. But how are they going to explain why it takes Ramsay Snow so long to get from the Dreadfort to Winterfell? I’m assuming, since we wasn’t cast, that he won’t show up this season. Four episodes is a long time for him to be amassing his men and marching over to Winterfell. Unless… they cast him and didn’t announce it!
What did everyone else think? Did you like most of the changes or dislike them? Do you think they will cause problems down the line? Share your thoughts in the comments below and rate the episode in our poll!