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Incensed over news of Daenerys’ alliance with the Dothrakis, Robert orders a preemptive strike on the Targaryens that drives a wedge in his relationship with Ned. A captive Tyrion helps Catelyn, but receives a cold reception at the Eyrie from her sister, John Arryn’s widow Lysa (Kate Dickie). Sansa is charmed by the dashing Ser Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones), aka the Knight of Flowers. Arya overhears a plot against her father.
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With this episode, we hit the halfway mark on the season and the action really picks up. Depsite the fact that we are introduced to not only a few new characters but also a new location, the episode feels very well paced, mixing a deepening of our understanding of some of the characters with significant advances of the plot.
To some extent, this is done by foregoing two of the previous locations; we do not see either Vaes Dothrak or the Wall in this episode.
We do, however, see plenty of King’s Landing. The tourney that began in the last episode reaches its dramatic conclusion, which includes the introduction of the gallant Ser Loras Tyrell, the Knight of Flowers, and a spectacular confrontation. But there is also plenty of politics afoot; Ned tries to learn more about Jon Arryn’s demise, the Small Council receives disturbing news that cause a rift between Ned and Robert and certain players of the game worry about the escalating tension between the Starks and the Lannisters.
Part of that tension results from Catelyn having seized Tyrion at the end of the previous episode, though her intentions of taking him to her sister almost spell disaster for them along the road. And once she does reach the Eyrie—which is a very fantastic reimagining of what is described in the books—she finds that her sister Lysa has indeed changed.
This episode also includes a visit to Winterfell where we are served two entirely new scenes; one serves to give some more details about Westeros and to remind us about Catelyn’s priorities, the other shows Theon. Quite a lot of Theon, in fact.
And speaking of new scenes, this episode has probably the highest count of them so far. For the most part, they are really enjoyable and feel very much like “deleted scenes from the books”. The high point is undoubtedly a brilliant exchange between Varys and Littlefinger, though the scene between Loras and Renly gives a lot of insights into their characters and lays the ground for certain future developments. The low point, for us, is a new scene between Cersei and Robert, though it does mention a certain sister of Ned Stark by name for the first time.
The episode ends in King’s Landing as Ned makes a fateful decision and pays dearly for it.
[HBO’s video preview]
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