Most appealing for me was the very first piece, at long last a little more about the world beyond the northern wall. We began getting a little of this in season two, but with John Snow now firmly ensconced there, it looks as if we're in store for a good cold, ghostly edge to the season. Here in reality, I've had more than enough of winter in the northeast. But in Game of Thrones, it's ever in demand.
As always, this is balanced by the fire-breathing dragons, and Daenerys's inexorably building quest to get back the throne. Tonight one of those young dragons provides my favorite scene - diving into the sea to get a fish, then throwing the fish up in the air and flame-broiling it with a breath a fire - and it looked delicious, a high fantasy version of hibachi. And there's a good addition to Daenerys's arsenal of loyal-to-the-death, highly accomplished supporters.
Probably the best segment, as usual, is the story of Tyrion. He's understandably grieved about not getting due credit for his saving of the city and the kingdom and the Lannisters. Without the green fire, the city would have fallen long before his arrogant father arrived on his horse. And when Tyrion goes to see his father, to demand what he's due, what he gets is a scathing put down about what an embarrassment he is to the family, on account of his whoring and his being a waddling dwarf. I was getting to grudgingly like Tywin a little last season, and it's good to see he's as vicious a head of family as ever he was.
The rest of the segments were done too lightly or quickly to have much impact. Robb was barely on the screen as he contemplates his next move, the scenes with Joffrey and his would-be queen were ok (though it's always good to see Natalie Dormer), Littlefinger's scene was minimal, and Stannis and his witch are still not clearly comprehensible.
But if you think of these as just nods to much bigger stories - which they are - we have in them along with the white riders, dragon, and Tryion a good opening chapter to a fantastical political saga this season.
See also Game of Thrones Back in Play for Season 2 ... Games of Thrones 2.2: Cersei vs. Tyrion
And see also A Game of Thrones: My 1996 Review of the First Novel ... Game of Thrones Begins Greatly on HBO ... Game of Thrones 1.2: Prince, Wolf, Bastard, Dwarf ... Games of Thrones 1.3: Genuine Demons ... Game of Thrones 1.4: Broken Things ... Game of Thrones 1.5: Ned Under Seige ... Game of Thrones 1.6: Molten Ever After ... Games of Thrones 1.7: Swiveling Pieces ...Game of Thrones 1.8: Star Wars of the Realms ... Game of Thrones 1.9: Is Ned Really Dead? ...Game of Thrones 1.10 Meets True Blood