A battle is coming to Game of Thrones. The Battle of Blackwater, to be exact, and it will go down in one week's time when Stannis and his army reach Winterfell.
And "The Prince of Winterfell" prepared viewers for this epic event, moving various players in to place, yet not actually moving the story along in any exciting manner.
Heck, arguably the most memorable development from the hour took place off screen: Catelyn letting Jaime Lannister go.
This led to a number of fun (Brienne dealing with Jaime), emotional (Robb telling his mother off, nearly calling her a traitor and ordering her to be locked down) and naked scenes (Robb and hot nurse girl getting it on), but it also felt like something rather important was glossed over.
What, exactly, did Catelyn tell Jaime about his permitted escape? How did he react? What about the men?
Unfortunately, this wasn't the only example more action taking place off screen than on. Again, yes, it was entertaining to watch Arya bargain for Jaqen H'ghar's life with Jaqen H'ghar himself. But the season is making Jagen look like some mixture of Batman, Robocop and Chuck Norris.
He can apparently kill anyone at any time, in any way, no matter the number. It would have been nice to actually see this honorable man make work of those three guards, don't you think?
Instead, the storyline was rushed along in order to free Arya (and pals Gendry and Hot Pie, of course) so she could play a role in next Sunday's battle.
Most of the episode felt that way. We spent scat time with Jon Snow and Dany; just enough, really, to remind viewers of their predicament. We learned what we've all assumed since last week: that Theon did not really kill Bran and Rickon, and we were left to wonder how Bran will deal with the guilt of knowing just who he did kill.
The most in-depth storyline of the episode fell to Tyrion and the inner workings of King's Landing, which at least means it was fun and revealing to watch. It's impossible to say enough good things about Peter Dinklage at this point, but he positively killed every moment of the scene where Cersei led him to believe Shae had been captured.
He was confused... then shocked... then panicked... then you could almost see his mind churning as he realized the best course of action would be to pretend that the battered woman there was, indeed, his whore. And this praise is heaped on Dinklage before we even arrived his heartfelt plea to Shae soon afterward. Just great work all around by the Emmy winner.
And a fascinating alignment that may be forming between him and Varys, as each can foresee the fall of King's Landing if Joffrey is left in charge.
That's where we stand heading into next week. "The Prince of Winterfell" was definitely the slowest episode of season two, but it was a calm before what promises to be a bloody, gory, Westeros-altering storm.
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