Whereas with last week’s episode Game of Thrones concerned itself primarily with setting the table, this week we find all of our characters ready to chew the scenery. This was without a doubt one of the most actor-heavy episodes of Game of Thrones in quite some time, and given the languorous and decidedly academic tone of the last episode, the shift was most welcome.
Not only are there more moments of real character action, but some of the plots that felt left in the lurch from the last season are picked up and delivered on with aplomb. From Jaime Lannister to Arya Stark and on to Theon Greyjoy, we get to see what we missed last week.
Last week the production seemed so intent on just laying out the story that we missed out on any kind of framing or mis en scene. There were moments of profound interest in a conceptual sense (the Army of the Unsullied, for instance) but there seemed to be no real feel for the medium as an opportunity for visual marvel as well as world-building. Luckily, that changed this week.
But enough of circumventing praise for this episode through denigrating the previous one. Let’s delve into this puppy to find out exactly what makes it such a marked improvement, specifically.
Arya Stark returns with her duo of hangers-on, trudging through the woods and attempting to make their way to some safe haven when they are snatched up by the Brotherhood Without Banners, the people who the soldiers at Harrenhal were looking for. And off the bat we can see why an army would fear these men, seeing as they have preternatural skills for observation and combat. The scene here with the archer and his dressing down of Arya’s portly companion was a standout in terms of comedic and dramatic sensibilities, and the ability of new characters to inject some life into otherwise tired threads of plot.
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