For the viewers at home, it’s been a long, cold wait between the paradigm-changing season finale of Game of Thrones‘ second season and the first scene of the new season. For the characters who inhabit the world of Game of Thrones, however, it seems as though very little has changed and very little time has elapsed. Given the scope of the show, it seems like an almpost impossible task to move through the various strands of plot in any real or understandable manner, so I’ll begin by talking about the characters who experience the most to move the plot forward before trickling down to the lesser elements of the story at hand.
Before we start though, we should probably briefly discuss the characters who do not appear at all in this episode. Given the size of the cast, as previously stated, it only makes sense that every now and then some storylines get left in the lurch, but some of the omissions here are rather odd. First there is Jamie and Brienne, that happy-go-lucky duo who are making their way toward King’s Landing pursued by the northmen who seek to make Jamie pay for his crimes. Their plotline is an insanely important story regarding the struggle for the freedom of the north – and it’s damn entertaining – and yet they are nowhere. Likewise, Arya, the breakout character of last season, is still somewhere in the wilderness, along with her separately positioned but likewise afflicted brothers Rickon and Bran, along with Hodor and Osha.
However, much of the cast does make an appearance. In fact, the first we see is Sam, that portly and completely ineffectual member of the Watch who can’t even kill something that’s already dead. After he is saved by a direwolf and the rest of the Watch, he lets them all know that he failed to send some ravens in warning, leading to the genesis of yet another long walk, this time with the condition that should they fail to reach The Wall in time “before Winter’s done, everyone you know will be dead.” If that isn’t incentive to walk, I don’t know what is.
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