The last two episodes of Game of Thrones have each been phenomenal in their own individual way. Whether it be the chaotic, dramatic scenes of “The Old Gods and the New” or the intense, witty dialogue of “A Man Without Honor,” the bar has certainly been raised this season. The antepenultimate episode of season 2, “The Prince of Winterfell,” certainly falls short to its recent predecessors, but only because of the sheer brilliance of those two episodes. On its own, this week’s installment is still quite entertaining and delivers memorable one-liners (“Why are the Gods such vicious c*nts? Where is the God of tits and wine?”). Nevertheless, while previous weeks left viewers with questions regarding the fate of characters, this week left me questioning the general storytelling.
We pick up immediately where we left off last week with Theon Greyjoy having hanged and burned what appears to be the escaped Stark boys. The episode’s title having clearly been named after him, Theon was ironically not the centerpiece of this week. Rather, Theon commences the episode with a scene in which his sister, Yara, attempts to put him back in his place, and he finishes the episode by hinting that maybe he’s known the true fate of the Stark boys all along. I’m not certain how much of a revelation it was to the viewers that the Stark boys were alive and hiding right under Theon’s nose, but considering that it was last week’s cliff-hanger, it was surprisingly downplayed in this episode.
Another storyline that was questionably downplayed this week was that of Daenerys and the self-proclaimed king of Qarth. I paid attention: there were less than four minutes remaining in the episode when she finally appeared on screen, and only half of those four minutes were dedicated to her. The scene, however, was still very good; witnessing the conflict between Daenerys’ stubbornness and Jorah not wanting her to walk into a certain trap.
To not be overly critical of this week’s episode, there was still much to praise in “The Prince of Winterfell.” Robb absolutely shined this week in his dismay of his mother’s releasing of Jaime, and had a brilliant scene with Talisa that concludes with them frantically making love. Arya’s awesome dialogue scenes from last week is replaced with her confronting Jaqen regarding her final killing. Though brief, Arya’s wittiness displayed in forcing him to help her escape was great. Tyrion was, as we’ve come to expect, outstanding as well. There really aren’t too many moments that we see him at his most vulnerable state, but after believing that Cersei may have captured Shae, we see him fall to his knees before his love – a definite contrast to how witty and righteous Tyrion has been, especially this season.
Maybe the ultimate purpose of “The Prince of Winterfell” was to simply prepare us the battle that is expected to take place next week. Although I’m left with the impression that this episode could have been so much more in regards to its overall storytelling (even Joffrey was limited this week), the storylines that it tended to focus most on, Robb’s in particular, did its best to make up for it. Even the worst episodes of Game of Thrones are still very good episodes, and I won’t hesitate to theorize that most of the disappointment (if I can even call it that) experienced in this episode was only because it failed to live up to the prior two weeks.
As Stannis’ fleet sails toward King’s Landing, we continue to anticipate for yet another week.
8 out of 10