Perhaps it was the high expectations at the end of the last episode when we saw the evil smoke demon being born, or perhaps it was just that we are halfway through the season and in a moment of lull before "the storm," but after last night's episode of Game of Thrones I feel a bit, I don't know how best to describe it…unfulfilled. I'm not sure if it was that there was a lack of action (and sex, surprisingly) but right now everything that happens just feels so rushed. It's as if we are checking in with each character to just do a quick status update, but in any singular storyline, there is no time for the action to breath and more importantly for the characters to develop.
Last week we ended on the shocking (especially for those of us who have not read the books) birth of a shadow baby, and we were left with this feeling that a dark and evil night was coming….which while that turned out to be true, it happened in less than a minute. In fact, it was so quick I had looked down at my computer screen and by the time I looked up the smoke baby was gone and so was Renly Baratheon. I suppose this is also a lesson in the fact that you do nothing else while you are watching Game of Thrones, but what was an incredibly pivotal point that changes the political landscape in the fight for the throne (as we have one less contender and Stannis' army has just strengthened exponentially) this incident is mostly undiscussed by the end of the episode. We did see an interesting development later as Brienne joins forces with Catelyn and vows to protect her now that her king has been murdered, and I suspect we are going to see a lot of story come out of this "alliance." But again, the story was left before we could see anything but the union solidify.
We were also treated to a fascinating conversation between Margaery Tyrell and Littlefinger when she reveals that she will not allow her desire to be Queen "die" with Renly, and revealed that she will pretty much align herself with anyone to get what she wants (enter a new partnership with Littlefinger?) However, I found myself hoping she does something about it because I like her and think she is has the potential to be an interesting and powerful female character. I also wish we had lingered with her for a moment longer and really found out how she felt about Renly's death and how exactly she and Littlefinger were going to proceed.
So back to the impact of Renly's murder...
Tyrion and Cersei acknowledge Renly's death as Tyrion expresses his worry about Stannis' strengthening army. Cersei seems to not really care because her beloved incest-baby King Joffrey has some sort of plan. Relying on King Joffrey for anything seems kind of like an insane idea since he is the one that started this entire battle in the first place by ordering the be-heading of Ned Stark. However, now that Tyrion has his rat, he was able to find out what Joffrey/Cersei's plan was and (a staggering stockpile of wildfire). So, short story is - rather than fight, the mother/son duo plan to launch cannons of a combustible substance at their enemies. While on the surface this MIGHT seem like a good idea, I'm not sure about how safe it is keep 7,000 pots of the substance in King's Landing. Foreshadowing? At least Tyrion is sane enough to take control of the stockpile but we have no idea what he actually intends to do with it…use it or get rid of it, we will, again, have to wait to find out.
In what may have been the most lengthy and developed story in this episode we finally get to spend some time with Daenerys Targaryen after she has arrived in the city of Qarth. We see one of the dragons for a quick moment and she lets us know that they are growing up and getting more powerful as "he can now find food on his own." Later at a party, Xaro, proposes marriage to Danerys in exchange for half of what is in his vault to fund her journey to take back the throne. I must say, I don't trust this guy. I know that he is the one that vouched for her, but why won't he actually show her what is in that vault? Luckily she turned down the offer after Ser Jorah promises he will find a ship for her to use and telling her he believes she would not only be a powerful queen, but a loved one. So at this point, other than Robb Stark, it doesn't seem like many of our competitors for the Iron Throne will actually be loved by their people, but rather feared, so the concept of this sat well with me. I actually thought for the first time, I might actually like Daenerys as Queen.
I know that I missed several characters (Bran, Theon, Arya) and possibly even several critical scenes (like Arya commanding murders?), which also lends to my point that there is just so much happening it is hard to keep track, and even harder to remember where each character stands. I know that the writers are doing the best they can with what I assume are fairly dense books…especially since they are following the format in which each season coincides with the events of the book (and they only have 10 episodes to fit everything in), but at this point I almost wish we could extend each episode to two hours to allow the show to actually develop. It is likely that Season 3 might be a bit better as they have chosen to split "A Storm of Swords" up in to two seasons. I don't want to sound too glum, because the show still has a lot of things going for it, I just have to say I wish we could not only just see what is happening with all of the characters, but spend sometime emotionally investing in what is going on in their lives and the land of Westeros.