Overall, I have to agree as well, this was a very good episode.
The scenes with Tyrion were each powerful in their own way. I liked the exchange with Tyrion and Jaime, it had both comic moments and pretty serious moments. I thought that it was just a bit odd that Tyrion seemingly had to explain to Jaime about Tywin's plan(s). You'd have thought that after seeing how the trial was going and then seeing how fast Tywin said "done" to his proposal that Jaime just MIGHT'VE realized he'd just got took, but no. I still liked Tyrion's delivery if not the supposed need for him to actually have to deliver what seemed obvious. I felt that Tyrion was just saying it like it is to Jaime referring to him as the Golden Son, being a Kingslayer, losing his hand and fucking his sister but STILL the golden boy, he didn't seem to me to be meaning it cruelly but Jaime kind of took it as a dig, still a nice exchange. I'm not so sure I liked the show changing it from Jaime just not being able to Champion him because he's KG and a KG cannot champion someone accused of killing a blood royal (as per the books). I mean I guess it works well enough in that Jaime is being honest enough with both himself and Tyrion that he can't hope to win, because he actually knows it's the Mountain, although he doesn't state it. Their exchange about how it would just really get Tywin's panties in a bunch if Jaime were to lose and they both had to die was a kind of cool brotherly moment we haven't really seen between Jaime and Tyrion and I liked that.
I kind of had my suspicions about how they were going to work Bronn out of it and I thought it was done well enough. I liked the exchanges they had and ultimately that they part on good terms, it felt genuine.
Of course, the scene with Oberyn is just awesome. I appreciated this scene a lot and feel that both actors really delivered each line very effectively. You just felt Tyrion's hurt as Oberyn explains to him just how long Cersei truly has wanted him dead. Then likewise you feel how Oberyn sort of empathizes with how Tyrion must feel and even feels that Tyrion is on some level right about his tirade during the trial, he has been on trial his whole life just for being a dwarf. While it was unspoken by Oberyn, I feel it's implied by the fact that he tells him the story as well as ultimately declaring that he will champion him. Now, we might say, well of course he was going to champion him, he gets his shot at The Mountain! I feel that the shot at Gregor is certainly a huge factor in Oberyn's choice but I got the feeling that he would've done it anyway even if it hadn't been Gregor championing Cersei/The Crown. You know you sort of wish Oberyn and Tyrion had gotten more time together (in the books) because I think they might've actually had a great relationship. As it is though we'll just have to be happy with Oberyn's sacrifice but I felt the scenes were all superb.
Onto the scenes with Arya and Sandor... I 'liked' them well enough, they were done well and I like their chemistry together. My only real problem was it felt to me a bit like just another filler scene, something that didn't really advance the plot any but did fill some time, but with that small criticism aside, I liked it. I wasn't a big fan of them using Rorge and Biter here and taking them away from Brienne and Pod's story arc but meh, we're still arriving in Albuquerque right? (Or is that taking a wrong turn? HAR!) The other small issue I had with these scenes was Arya killing Rorge. Not that she killed him, but she killed him with him holding a sword out already in hand while she had to unsheath hers and make a decent lunge to get him. I just felt that it didn't have enough surprise to it and seemed a tad on the unbelievable side. He could've been a bit distracted by Sandor (seeing as he was to be considered the greater threat among the two) or something along those lines that allowed Arya to get a nice easy thrust in but it's not a huge issue that I'd condemn the scene over. I also thought it was a nice touch to kind of show that while we're seeing this really dark side of Arya (because of her age mostly) that the show is trying to show the audience that she still has a softer humane side to her still in asking to dress the bite wound and likewise for Sandor to acquiesce and let her as well. A nice moment for each to show a softer side.
The Brienne and Podrick scenes felt pretty well done, although I might've liked to see Brienne be a bit more standoffish to Hot Pie at first. She gives the facial expression after he sits down and starts talking about how to make a great Kidney Pie but other than that I'd have liked a quick quip maybe from her, it seems more to her character and personality, but that was just something I thought would reinforce her personality, not that it took away from anything. I thought it was cute that she kind of gave Pod a dig about being honest about whom they were looking for after Pod had mentioned to her that a bit of discretion might be best, but I'm calling it here and now, that is going to come up again where Pod is actually wise to suggest it... I just have a feeling.
The scene with Mel and Selyse, kind of meh, I thought it was a decent thing as far the show trying to flesh out their characters a little more, especially for the non-book readers (or the unsullied I guess we're calling them), but having the scene be mainly about Shireen and whether she should or shouldn't be going with them when they sail seemed kind of meh to me personally. I liked their dialogue about the powders and the tricks more than the rest but I guess it's meant to give us a setup for something that Shireen's plot will be facing later, which we'll have to see how that plays out since we know that isn't fleshed out in the books yet.
The scenes with Dany and Daario and Jorah were pretty good too. I know some people don't like Emilia's 'range' as an actress but I'm not sure if I think it's that or that the writers and directors are sort of asking her for a certain kind of delivery when she's having some of these dialogues she has. The parts with Daario feel as if she's trying to assert herself as the dominant one over him, despite the fact that she's physically inferior to him, but the parts with Jorah felt more genuine and natural as far as her delivery goes. I don't mind the twist with her sending Hizdahr to sort of clear up this mess in Yunkai and I appreciated that she threw Jorah a bone in having him tell Daario that it was he who's convinced Dany to alter the orders/mission. The only problem I had with the scene was Jorah telling her that if Ned had done to him what Dany wanted to do to the masters that he'd not be there now was a little out of place, especially for unsullied readers and heck, maybe even for us book readers too. If he hadn't ran off into exile Ned would've effected that result sure, but the delivery he gave made it seem like Ned had showed mercy to him when I highly doubt that would've been the case. A minor problem for me, I won't hold it too much against 'em.
The Castle Black scene felt like a lot of the same we've already seen, Alliser being an @ss to Jon simply because he could felt meh, seen it... Not one question about how the mission went (I suppose they might've had an offscreen debrief but they should've shown that instead I feel), but straight to, "keep that beast elsewhere" just seemed like a lack of imagination for a scene on the writer's part. I also have to express my distaste for how they've portrayed Janos Slynt. I get that they're trying to establish that his former position in KL is due in part to his seemingly quick rise in the NW for doing absolutely nothing but it just doesn't feel right to me. The NW sure didn't treat Jon that way when he got there being a lord's son, bastard or no, Janos is just as low as Jon if not lower being a butcher's son. It just doesn't feel right to me but I do get that they're setting the stage for a Janos/Jon confrontation later. Later in the scene in the dining hall, I liked that as far as Alliser questioning Jon's logic and feeling superior and not heeding Jon's advice about the gate. I felt that was a good scene as far as Alliser trying to make himself appear smarter and even getting some support from Yarwyck, I felt that advanced the conflict that's been brewing between the two since day one. The only part that I didn't like was that Maester Aemon is not present at the meal. I mean, I would've appreciated just a quick line that maybe explained that he was resting or was otherwise indisposed to come to dinner, but when the rest of the leadership is sitting at the table and there's no Aemon, it seems out of place for me personally.
The one other thing that kind of bothers me is the whole subplot of going to Craster's with this group of volunteers and the placement of that within the season itself when contrasted to the fact that there's a wildling contingent on the south side of the wall and that Jon has been saying that they're coming anytime now but we have this diversion of a roundtrip of 120 miles in going to Craster's and back which couldn't have just taken a day or two. That feels out of place considering we were given the scenes with Tormund and the Thenns so early in the season and the fact that last season ended with this group already on the other side of the wall. I kind of think that could've been rearranged in such a way as to make that feel tighter as a timeline, it feels like weeks or months and that doesn't feel really believable to me. I realize that the intent is that they're primarily waiting for Mance's party to get in position but having absolutely zero scenes at all this season regarding that makes these subplots feel a little forced or at the least, too spread out over time within the story. I guess I'll wait until episode nine to see if they do something that makes me rethink that position but as it stands, it felt too choppy.
Lastly of course we have Sansa, Littlefinger, Lysa and Sweetrobin's scenes. I thought that it was nice to have no real deviation from the books here, it made the scene feel smooth, perhaps predictable to us readers but satisfying nonetheless. I myself didn't care for the Robin actor or maybe just the lines he's given. He seems completely out of touch with reality, not that that is out of the realm of truth for Robin's character, it just felt sort of like he was really clueless to reality. The boy wasn't born in the Eyrie, he actually believes that all castles are built on top of/in the side of a mountain and that all have moon doors? That just didn't feel genuine to me but again a minor thing, nothing that made the scene intolerable. I wasn't entirely sold on Lysa's tears, I'd perhaps have preferred to have her have a line or two after throwing Sansa aside and before Petyr gave her his line and a helpful shove, but I will say that I liked Petyr's delivery and Lysa's facial expression just before he says "your sister" and give her the ol' heave-ho.
Still feel this is a very strong episode and even without a lot of action it felt powerful and had a lot of good one-on-one scenes with characters which I think is one of the show's strong points, they do those very well almost 100% of the time.
Edd, fetch me a block.