In a surprise attack, Theon Greyjoy captures Winterfell demanding an oath of loyalty from everyone there in return for their lives. He is chastised however by the locals for turning on the family that raised him. The execution of a Stark family retainer shows just how serious Theon is. Robb Stark can't believe what's happened and swears to get his revenge. He is also growing fonder of Lady Talisa. At King's Landing, Tyrion knows better than most that war will devastate them and makes arrangements for Cersei's daughter, Myrcella, to be send away to marry. On returning to the palace after seeing her off, King Joffrey and others of the royal court learn exactly what the public thinks of them. North of the wall, Jon Snow and others are on patrol looking for wildlings. They kill a few but one of the survivors is an attractive young woman, Ygritte. At Harrenhall, Arya continues to work as Lord Tywin Lannister's cup bearer. She's taken aback however when a visitor from King's Landing - ... Written by
Unnecessary small flaws can't prevent it from being this season's best episode yet
It's clearly best to watch "The Old Gods and the New" without knowing what to expect from it, so I won't get any specific with the plot and I'll limit myself to saying: it's awesome. The first Game of Thrones episode to be directed by Emmy winner David Nutter (who later went on to direct the undisputable #1 of all GoT episodes "The Rains of Castamere") is an important turning point in season two, as everything points in the direction of war due to the events in this episode.
In the Winterfell story part, things start to go down right from the beginning. And that is actually my problem with it: that it happens right at the beginning. I'm convinced that I'm not alone with the opinion that the breathtaking intensity overshadowed the whole subsequent scene which is a well-written argument between Jon Snow and Qhorin Halfhand that should definitely not be overlooked. I'm being extra harsh on this subject and say that this is really bad editing because the Winterfell scene would've worked palpably better if used as the finale of an episode (either this one or the one before it). And while not as huge, the same applies for the King's Landing riots, however in this case, the next scene features Emilia Clarke even more feisty than usual and will gain your attention right away even if you can still hear your heart beating as a response to what just happened. But I guess I really can't judge too hard considering the vast amount of things happening, with a lot of them differentiating from the source novel quite a lot. And in this case, I have to say that I enjoyed the version of Benioff and Weiss more than George R. R. Martin's.
Besides those two scenes, which genuinely affected me, I had two other favorite moments in "The Old Gods and the New": the great suspense that comes up when Lord Baelish visits Tywin Lannister at Harrenhal who, as we know, is not aware of having the youngest Stark daughter as his cupbearer, and what happens beyond the Wall after the aforementioned Jon Snow scene. Introducing Rose Leslie as a new guest cast member, we meet the wildling Ygritte who is able to lift up the show's sex appeal (yeah, that fairly diminished with Brienne of Tarth) even though she has like half a dozen layers of clothes on. The first scene with here features one of this episode's logical goofs, but I connived at that as well since what follows is an icy pursuit that is one of the simplest but also most entertaining action sequences in season two thus far. But topping anything else is the bedtime scene with Jon and Ygritte and what I reckon to be the show's loveliest love story initiates. Not on the same level, but still surprisingly adorable to watch was Robb Stark continuing his flirtation with field nurse Talisa (sex appeal still rising). In the meantime, Jaqen H'ghar climbs higher and higher on the ladder of Game of Thrones' most awesome characters and the climactic situation at Qarth reaches a new apex with a shocking crime.
You see? The plot is really fascinating in this one and the small flaws can't ultimately mar the entertainment I had while watching "The Old Gods and the New". Outstanding performances by Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), and newbie Rose Leslie additionally help it to become this season's best episode yet.
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