It was rather odd watching Doctor Who (my very brief impressions here) and Game of Thrones back to back. They're so different in terms of exposition, pacing, and attitude. DW is fast, short scenes smashed together, whap whap whap. We're dropped in medias res and have to figure out what's going on. (Fortunately, they have a handy newbie characters to whom things are explained, in choppy little snatches.)
Then there's GoH: so slow and careful it verges on becoming ponderous. There are good reasons for that, obviously: only a small percentage of viewers will have read the book. Of those innocents, an even smaller percentage will have any familiarity with medieval fantasy worlds. The producers have to lead their viewers by the hand. At least I assume that's their thinking. I'm not entirely sure I agree: most of us have seen Lord of the Rings, and the Narnia films. We're big boys and girls. We'll cope.
Anyway, here are a few thoughts, more or less as they occurred to me.
The first thing that struck me was Cersei. She's getting more complicated as a character, moving from the Pure Eeevil of the first episode to Bad-but-occasionally-human. This was achieved through brilliant acting in a scene in which Cersei talks to Cat, in the presence of an unconscious Bran, about her own dead baby. (I don't remember this from the book, but saw instantly how it would tie in with later developments, and hope that it's an indication of the writers' willingness to deviate from the holy scripture of the novels and move things along.)
Speaking of developments, I wondered briefly if they were going to do something tasty with Daenerys and Doreah, but then, sigh, they relied on that old lesbian trope, the linked hands. It was interesting, though, to watch the evolution away from the ep's initial doggy style sex (which struck me as very porny) to face-to-face. Clearly they have a plan. Perhaps the next step is to let poor old Jason Momoa as Khal Drogo, actually say something.
Harry Lloyd is still doing a great, great job with his part--though I did wonder how come he didn't get crippled by saddle sores and rein-blisters like his sister. Makes no sense.
At this point I felt a little restless. As I've said, it felt a little slow-moving. Perhaps this is because I already know the story, but I suspect it's that the editing is just a teeny bit sluggish.
The inevitable wolf abuse was handled tastefully. It did occur to me that the fact that the storytellers (book and TV) felt the need to get rid of the girls' wolves indicated a certain failure of imagination. They couldn't figure out how to make a girl suitably helpless if she had a direwolf on her side. Yet another way the storytellers aren't escaping old-fashioned thinking. It was also at this point that I started to hope that they spend some money on CGI when the direwolves are meant to be fully grown. Right now they just look like Alsation/Husky crosses and not at all Other.
Ned seems to be getting progressively more beta boy-ish; Sean Bean isn't playing him nearly as hard and cold as he could (perhaps should) have been. This could be acting, it could be directing, it could be writing. Hard to say. But he's an iron man of the north. He needs to behave that way.
All the acting was damn good this episode, possibly because we saw much less of the bit players. Though, hmmn, the Black Hats (Sandor and Ser Ilyn) leave a bit to be desired--I didn't find them particularly menacing or believable. (The producers seem to be melding the Clegane brothers into one character, though perhaps I'll turn out to be wrong about that.)
If they've explained for the non-readers who Theon is, I must have missed that part.
I'm getting more and more fond of the music; more impressed with the acting and the production values. I still don't like the Steampunky title sequence, though.
But I'm still, most definitely, looking forward to more. I'm enjoying this.