You get the feeling if Game Of Thrones‘ budget has been that bit bigger than this would have been one of the most memorable episodes in the show’s history. As it is, there are still a number of standout moments, but due to some questionable directorial decisions it isn’t quite what it could have happened.
Our first complaint: killing the Blackfish offscreen. One of the few areas of the TV series still covered by the books, we knew the siege of Riverrun wouldn’t last for long once Jaime showed up, but it seems strangely anti-climatic – not to mention cheap – not to actually show his demise. We’d have taken that over any one of the scenes showing a freshly murderous Sandor Clegane rampaging through the Brotherhood Without Banners (welcome back, Beric Dondarrion).
Secondly, when it does happen, the violence is surprisingly bloodless by Game Of Thrones‘ standards. Again, maybe it’s a budgetary thing (saving the visual pennies for next week’s big bastard smackdown), but we’re not used to seeing the camera turn away, and we don’t want this to continue to be the case.
It’s a shame, because the individual character moments are spot-on. People remember Game Of Thrones for the shock value it so willingly provides, meaning it’s easy to forget just how many multi-layered characters it has. The likes of Arya, Daenerys, Brienne, Cersei and Jaime all at some point seem to have lost their way – if they ever really knew what their way was to begin with.
This time round, they all seem to have rediscovered their mojo: Arya embraces her origins, Cersei embraces her ruthless nature, and Jaime acknowledges the fact that deep down he’s both an utter bastard and Tywin Lannister’s son, no matter how much he pretends otherwise.
It’s almost a shame that all these developments will be put on hold for the mandatory big battle episode, but considering how epic that will likely be, we’re not complaining.