First of all, we get to see Bran again, after his absence in the first episode. The dream sequence was really well done and the throw-back to the archery training with Jon and Robb in the pilot from S1 was very appropriate. Hearing Ned's voice was a nice touch as well. This scene, as well as showing us the Three-Eyed Crow again, also introduces the mysterious Jojen Reed, who is going to become an important character in Bran's story-line. I have to say I was really pleased with Jojen's casting as the actor impressed me a lot in this episode. There wasn't too much screen time for his sister Meera so I won't comment on the acting on her part. Osha continues to annoy me in virtually every scene she's in, mostly due to the actresse's mannerisms in her scenes.
Robb continues playing second fiddle to Catelyn in the scenes focusing on the Stark camp, as most of the scenes there focus on her. That isn't really surprising really, considering that Catelyn is a point-of-view character in the books while Robb is not. They touched upon the tension between Robb and Lord Karstark a bit but the sequence was mostly dominated by the "controversial" scene between Catelyn and Talisa. The scene was controversial in that it touches upon the relationship between Catelyn and Jon Snow while he was growing up in Winterfell, a much debated talking point among fans. I won't go as far as some to call it "character-assassination" as some critics have as I'm not a huge Catelyn fan but I have to say I was quite surprised by the bluntness of the scene and that Catelyn was willing to discuss these matters with Talisa. All in all, it felt awkwardly handled. Staying with Robb and Catelyn's sequence, I'm a bit disappointed that they're not giving Roose Bolton more screen-time as he is only going to become more important as the season goes on and it would be a good idea to cement him in the memory of the viewers, but it's early days still and I know he's bound to appear much more. They also need to show Grey Wind more often, because I don't think we've had a scene with him and Robb since the beginning of last season or something. Next up, I'll expect them to arrive in Riverrun of House Tully to bury(!) Catelyn's father, and meet up with her brother Edmure.
We also finally get to see Jaime and Brienne again. She's still marching him to King's Landing in chains while he insults her looks and whatnot (oh Jaime, you have the wittiest jokes). Nothing much happens except for the swordfighting scene when Jaime manages to take one of her swords. The fight is kind of interesting in that she can't kill him because then the mission has failed but he can kill her, so she has to somehow subdue him. He is malnourished and weak after being chained up for a long time and his hands are chained together but he's still one of the best swordsman in Westeros so it's by no means an easy task. The scene didn't really make it appear that way though as it instead seemed to convey him as being all talk and no skill and he seems to vastly underestimate Brienne (despite having seen her take out 3 Northmen at once at the end of Season 2?). Anyway, the fight is interrupted when Bolton men arrive. House Bolton are allied with the Starks so it would seem that Robb has managed to recapture his Kingslayer again...
In King's Landing we still have a cluster of important characters who interact with each other. Tyrion has a short, almost pointless scene with Shae, who's actress continues to give me an ulcer with her accent and overall acting. Olenna Tyrell, "The Queen of Thornes" and Margaery's grandmother is introduced, and damn was she good. Her overall attitude is a bit toned down from the books but she's still very "thorny" and doesn't take shit from anyone. Sansa's actress was very unconvincing at times in her scene with Olenna and Margaery but the scene worked well anyway, although vastly different from the one in the book. None the matter, I guess.
Arya and Gendry (and Hot Pie!) also make their first appearance of the season in this episode. The show wastes no time in introducing Thoros of Myr and the Brotherhood without Banners, who are going to play a big role in this season. Anguy the archer also makes an appearance, though not freckled and red haired. Nothing much else happened with this arc in this episode other than we get to see the Hound again, who has now fled from King's Landing following the Battle of the Blackwater. Not much to say about this arc really except that I'm very much looking forward to the next episode or the one after that because of the introduction of a certain character and a certain scene in this story-line.
Jon Snow has some short scenes with the Wildlings north of the Wall. The main point of the segment was to introduce Orell and the concept of "Wargs" and "warging", which means to enter the minds of animals and see through their eyes. This ability is very rare but runs in the Stark blood, which explains why Bran can do it. It's good that they touch upon this thing now because it's going to become very important as the series goes on.
Lastly, the show has decided to show us Theon's storyline in this season, whilst in the book it remains completely unknown to the reader. I have no problem with this as long as it's done right, and it should be without difficulty, really. It also makes sense to have him in the season as otherwise people could forget about him. I'm very excited so see his scenes with a certain character this season and I really hope they can pull it off.
All in all, a solid, good episode. The pacing seems so much improved from last season and no story-line feels slow or out of place. Hopefully it will continue because the third book (which will be covered by this season and the next) is the best by far in the series.