It was difficult to break down the Game of Thrones story this week. So much varied from the books.
The foundation remained the same, but due to the vast number of characters, many were reduced from three to one, or so it appeared, and the same went for the situations in which characters found themselves.
As always, I break down the TV show versus the novel below, while Matt Richenthal focuses solely on the former in his Game of Thrones review.
Arya was outed as a girl and working in Tywin's kitchens, but not in such close proximity to the man himself, and not with so many knowing her secret. Frankly, it never seemed that anyone cared once she was there at Harrenhal.
When Tywin asked her where she was from and what she knew of Robb Stark, I had to remind myself that the Lannisters had kept the secret of her disappearance close to the vest so as not to lose leverage regarding Jaime. Can you imagine if it wasn't a well guarded secret? Tywin would have had to be suspicious of Arya, wouldn't he?
We have yet to see the arrival of Meera and Jojen in Bran's world. I'm wondering if Osha is going to encompass all three roles. Bran's part has been fleshed out the least of all of the Stark children, and the direwolves have been just behind him, so perhaps they're just going to put as little effort into his experiences as possible.
They may say that Jon can turn into a direwolf, but we know it's Bran who made the most of that situation with the help of Meera and Jojen. Osha seems a bit thick skulled to offer much assistance, but she does have the knowledge of the three eyed crow. Perhaps I'm just rushing things.
I have no memory of Margarey having eyes to be the one true queen. While she willingly played the part of pawn in the game of thrones, she didn't seem power hungry or overly engaged in the ride to the top. The scene after Renly's death surprised me, not only because Littlefinger was there, but because of her attitude.
Natalie Dormer acted far more like Anne Boleyn than she did Margaery Tyrell. That may just be my own inability to separate her from the previous role she played so well, or it could be due to the new material being given to the character not found in the Song of Ice and Fire books.
Finally, Catelyn had no hesitation in the books pointing out that the shadow who killed Renly looked like Stannis. As a team of Renly's soldiers came after Brienne, she shouted that it was a shadow of Stannis that killed him and thought herself nuts for the saying of it.
I don't know why it was chosen for her not to agree with Brienne, when in fact it was that strange experience that brought them very close.
All in all, this was my least favorite episode of the season so far. There was too much packed into the episode. Catelyn, Dany, Theon, Jon, Bran, Tyrion, Arya, Stannis and Margaery all had scenes and that's just what comes to me off the top of my head. There wasn't enough meat in any but Arya's plot to sink your teeth into and I think the show is at its best when it has a more narrow focus in each episode.
Realizing we are halfway through the season and that might get difficult, they are combining characters and story and I want all of that to fit together in a way to gives the viewer the best experience possible in connection to the novels.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.